Whilst it isn’t technically travelling, my experience at the Heroes and Villains Fan Fest (HVFF) in London was incredible and I want to talk about it (and there were plenty of people from other countries so I’m counting it!).
HVFF, for those non-nerds, is a mini Comic-Con for TV shows in the DC Universe (Arrow, Flash, etc.). There are celebrities and costumes and you can even get a tattoo done while you’re there (I was tempted but decided not to in the end). There are booths where you can get autographs and photos with your favourite stars and panel discussions where they talk about the latest and upcoming events within the DCU. Around the exposition floor, there are stalls selling all kinds of merchandise from swords to artwork to jewellery and cuddly toys. I bought a couple pictures to add to my incredibly nerdy room!
I won’t lie, it can be quite expensive to go, I paid £42 for my ticket and that was just for general admission, for the Platinum VIP package it was close to £1000! Individual autographs and photos can cost around £30-60 so depending on what you’re going for, it can be one heck of an expensive weekend. It is possible to make it work without spending all your hard-earned cash though, and I would like to share my experience on how we did that.
I went with a few of my friends and to start with we were fairly unimpressed. Everything seemed to cost so much money and general admission didn’t really count for anything – higher pass holders get various things included in their passes and priority seating in the panels. The most popular panels are insanely busy so if you have general admission it’s best to get there early to queue if you’re really interested in the panel.
My tips for the panels is to go to the earlier ones in the day as fewer people are around, especially on the Sunday. Also, if you don’t get in, there are screens which display the panel that are subtitled. So if it’s something you’re really interested in and you didn’t get a seat then you can watch these and be able to see what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. There were some really interesting panels; I would encourage you to try and get into at least one, even if that does mean queueing up for a while beforehand.
In terms of the rest of the day, one thing I would recommend if you’re going to be getting a lot of autographs is to bring cash with you. The autograph tables are cash-only and, whilst there are cash points at the venue, all five of them ran out of money by around 2pm. Most vendors accept both card and cash but if you’re likely to be spending a lot I would suggest bringing plenty with you.
It isn’t necessary to spend money though. A lot of the celebrities genuinely do want to give back to the fans so offer meet and greets at their stands. This means that you don’t have to buy anything; you’re welcome to just say hi or whatever else you want to say to them. You do still need to queue so some of the bigger celebrities (Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak) etc.) don’t offer this as it would take too much time.
It’s always worth asking the volunteers if that particular celebrity offers meet and greets or not, but we found that most did. Once we figured this out we got to meet a fair few people, including Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance) (who I’m now a little bit in love with), Juliana Harkavy (Dinah Drake) and Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow). We also met Josh Segarra (Adrian Chase) who is one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Some of the meet and greets are quick and formal but others were incredibly genuine and have made me appreciate the actors much more. We had an amazing conversation with Mehcad Brooks (James Olsen) about his music and he even gave us a free demo of his upcoming album (it comes out July 13th, it’s surprisingly good and I would recommend checking it out). I also had a slightly random conversation with Juliana Harkavy’s husband, but all-in-all it was a great chance to meet some incredible actors – and we didn’t have to pay extra for any of it.
The whole idea behind HVFF, and other cons like it, is to give back to the fans, so there are ways to work around the big price tags for those of us fans that aren’t loaded. It was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to go back next year, although I would be tempted to get a higher package to get chance to meet some more of my favourite actors.