Denver Comic Con: A Panel Experience That Worked!

A view of the nearly full house for the Animaniacs Sing Along in the Main Events room. Denver Comic Con's panel experiences were much better than I thought they would be. Another reason why DCC is the place for families to get their geek on. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
A view of the nearly full house for the “Animaniacs Sing Along” in the Main Events room. Denver Comic Con’s panel experiences were much better than I thought they would be—another reason why DCC is the place for families to get their geek on. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Full disclosure: In the past, I tended to frame my con panel experiences around the “easiest” events on the schedule. In other words, I’d attend panels that I figured wouldn’t have the same popularity as the more celebrity-laden ones. For instance, we attended an International Space Station panel at Dragon*Con that wasn’t at all crowded.

Some of the members of my family have a pretty hard time with crowds. They crave their personal space and when things get out of hand, they tend to shut down and just want to leave the event. I was planning to focus mainly on more vapid panels for Denver Comic Con to help mitigate that.

But then the press releases for the “Animaniacs Celebration” and the Weird Science 30th anniversary cast reunion came out.

Oh no! Those are going to be big events! I quickly changed my scheduling to include those two events and prepared my family for the “big panel” experience. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the entire experience went at Denver Comic Con.

I made it clear to my family that I was going to move mountains to see the “Animaniacs Celebration.” Not only did I want to get into the room, but I wanted to sit nice and close to get good photographs for GeekMom.

The "Main Events" room, which seated several thousand people. At the two events I attended in this room, the room was very full, but not quite at capacity.
Denver Comic Con’s “Main Events” room in the Colorado Convention Center seats several thousand people. At the two events I attended in this room, the room was very full, but not quite at capacity. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

At other cons I’ve seen, some queueing areas that were smack dab in the middle of the convention floor, adding to the chaos, but this is not the case at Denver Comic Con. Right as my sons’ claustrophobia was kicking in while meandering through hordes of cosplay towards the large panel rooms, we were pleased to see that a separate space was dedicated to the “Main Event” queueing.

The Main Events room was the largest of the panel rooms. There was also a Mini Main Events room, as well as several dozen smaller panel rooms.

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This is a closed-off room, expressly for the Main Event panel queueing. I thought this was a great idea. There was some serpentining going on, but once you set yourself up in the queue, you could have a seat to read your new comics or upload photos of your favorite cosplay to Twitter. We were also able to come and go from our spot in line; everyone around us was very good about letting us save our spots. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

When the queueing area filled up, other guests were allowed to remain in “overflow” out on the main floor of the Main Events area.

For both of the large Main Event panels that our family attended, the full queueing area only encompassed about a third of the room. Once the overflow crowd was allowed in, the room nearly filled to capacity, but not quite. I saw a couple rows’ worth of seating still available in both cases.

Our family attended one panel in one of the smaller rooms. It was a Geeky Parenting Panel hosted by AnomalyCon director Kronda Seibert and artist Sarin Tatroe. Unfortunately, the target audience for that panel was more for newer parents, but that room could hold 200 guests or so, and there weren’t more than 50 people at that particular panel. For starters, the panel rooms were set rather far apart from the main convention floor that had celebrities, vendors, comic artists, and food. DCC’s earlier panels didn’t have the best participation while the guests were still trying to make their way around the huge Colorado Convention Center trying to interpret the maps.

The view from our seats in one of the smaller panel rooms. You had a great view from anywhere in the room. The audio and video support were also well-done. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The view from our seats in one of the smaller panel rooms. Guests had a great view from anywhere in the room. The audio and video support were also well done. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Finally, I’d like to address DCC’s efforts at making the fan panel experiences relevant for everyone. After Kelly’s hilarious post about how to ask a proper con question, I’m convinced DCC took her queue and set up reminders throughout the panel rooms.

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It appears DCC took a queue from Kelly’s post from last month? These were slides displayed before the large panels, and there were also posters on easels at each microphone. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

To conclude, if you’ve all but written off the ability to see some of the larger panels at larger cons, hopefully you will feel inspired by the great experience our family had at Denver Comic Con. With some schedule planning and some time in the queueing rooms…heck, even if you try at the last minute to see a panel, with very little exception*, you will be able to see all of your favorites!

*There was a Joker 75th Anniversary panel that was put in one of the smaller rooms. It filled to capacity pretty quickly; perhaps it should have been considered for the Mini Main Events room.

With some planning, and about a 50 minute wait in the queueing area, you could be this close to the cast of Weird Science! Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
With some planning and about a 50-minute wait in the queueing area, you could be this close to the cast of Weird Science! It looks like Ilan Mitchell-Smith is looking right at me, doesn’t it? Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

GeekMom received family media passes to Denver Comic Con for review purposes.

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Patricia Vollmer is the proud mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 12 & 14. She serves part time as a meteorologist with the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, sharing her love for Disney and Star Wars, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.