Colossalcon East 2018 “The Truth” Review
TL;DR –7.5/10 When I look back at the great memories that come from this convention, all of them sprouted from meeting new people, or spending time sandwiched in my friend group, which by far is what a convention is all about. Nevertheless, when I think about convention specific events and what most people actually took advantage of, then I start to wonder if this is any kind of convention at all, and simply a high-priced vacation to take with friends instead. It scores 6/10 as a convention, and 9/10 as a vacation, which is how I calculated my final score
Keeping in line with my new reviewing structure, first I’ll list the negatives that I experienced during the weekend.
Signature Drink Price: This is only my second Colossalcon experience, so I’m not sure if it’s usually standard, but the price for the signature drinks increased across the board, essentially making the ‘refill’ price close to the same as the full drink price (with cup) the year prior. I’m mentioning it first because it’s an expense that most people would run into during the weekend. Should you forget your cup from last year (as I did), or leave it in your room because of other circumstances, expect three large drinks to push you over 100 dollars. They’re good if you stick to what you know, but if you don’t, expect to pay dearly for it, in more ways than one
Weather: It must be a Colossal East curse, but again, this year there was rain throughout the whole weekend, so once again the outdoor waterpark and swimming pool area was closed. Since the con grew in size and renovations aren’t due to finish until next year, you can bet that the indoor waterpark was crowded almost everywhere for photos and for general swimming
Check In/Out Line: While the staff was adequately knowledgeable and relatively fast with handling and processing new clients, I hardly think there was a time during the weekend where the line of people coming in or leaving wasn’t a long one. Sunday in particular was a nightmare for many trying to effectively check out by the 11:00am time
Photographer Pass: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no significant bonus in purchasing a photographer pass at this event at all. Per the website, the additional permissions (from a regular badge) involve making one post in the official group to advertise your shooting rates, and being listed on their website (your name as a hyperlink to your work among a sea of other photog names). So for an additional $10, it’s a decision that is a no-brainer. There is no enforcement of badge type at con to prevent non-registered photogs from bringing their own lighting gear and adhering to the rules
Food Options: Maybe it’s me being lazy, but I certainly wasn’t about to leave the con center and lose my already far away from entrance parking spot to go get food. So resort prices aside, I was hoping that the food options at the Kalahari would be much, much better. I’ll tell anyone about my over the top Double Cut venture, $21 buffet with lackluster options, and how an $6 breakfast croissant from the coffee shop across from the candy store on the lobby level was the best thing ever for a second year running. Yet again, I was wholeheartedly willing to only order from that shop all weekend long. I felt, resort aside; there should be a bit more diverse, economically priced options. The buffet definitely shouldn’t have been as bad as it was, since I feel it had the capacity to feed the most people, but both breakfast and dinner options there were equally unappealing for the price
Wi-Fi: New year, but nothing new here as far as resolution. I found that if I stayed in my room on a laptop, that the Wi-Fi was 20x more stable and strong, but for cell phones, it was a tough road all weekend long. This made it harder to call friends via a messaging app, since signal wasn’t the greatest up in the mountains unless you were outside
Waterfall: For all of the trek it took to get there Saturday morning, I was vastly underwhelmed by the ‘sacred waterfall of CCEast’. Additionally, its growth in popularity meant that all it took was one Final Fantasy group and the best locations were blocked for quite some time. It also didn’t help that someone had set off a smoke bomb in the forest, which was visibly effecting me, and some of the other attendees in the area. Unless you have a very specific shot in mind, I would go as far as to say don’t travel further than a five minute walk away from the actual resort
Sunday: Not going to rant too much about the photography cancellation, but there also wasn’t much cosplay still at con to shoot regardless, and there seemed to be far less people staying this year than ever before. When the normies flooded in, the cosplay definitely made an exit, even before being essentially forced to do so around 12:45
Photography Locations: This applies to both indoor and outdoor, but things are starting to get stale really fast. It actually became a small challenge to purposely use different areas of the outside (when rain wasn’t a factor) to take different styles of shots, but not much can be done about the inevitable wave pool/arcade/forest shots that most certainly everyone is going to have from the weekend. Indoor crowding doesn’t help this at all, nor do complaints to the convention all weekend from concerned parents about getting their kids on camera
Let’s move on to the positives for the year!!
Staffing: Hotel staff was perfect and polite, our server at Double Cut was so nice that I gave him a 33% tip (despite feeling that I had spent too much on what I did get), all buffet/store clerks were great, and housekeeping was extra careful (they called front desk to call our room since we had forgotten that our do not disturb sign was on the door and they didn’t knock to disturb us). This adds up to an all in all amazing experience when dealing with any staff personally. The only demerits I can give here are for one bartender in particular which we had to give a formal complaint about, and the particular disrespect shown by security on Sunday when photography was shut down. Other than that, staff here was phenomenal
Relaxation: At CCEast, I can spend much more time in my room without feeling guilty about it at all. It’s so natural incorporating time to recharge my internal and external batteries, and that made for more bonding experiences with roommates and with friends, speaking of…
Roommates and Friends: Yeah we might have missed the huge lobby party, and even most of the world famous suite party that happened all weekend, but it’s because we were having our own room parties and bonding with each other. In fact, a good 85% of my weekend was probably spent directly with some of the people I could spend my entire life with at conventions and not be dispirited at all by their company. I am grateful for each of them, in addition to those that took a little extra time out to chill and talk with me. This is definitely a con for your friend group
Hot Tub Bars: Yeah they might be loud and annoying at certain times, but if you find a place to settle with your drink, you might just have the most relaxing time of the weekend. Combine this with the friend group I just mentioned, and it becomes a piece of the story that you have to include no matter who asked you about what you did during the weekend
The People: Canadian cosplayers and most of my New England area peeps that I usually only get to see once or twice a year for the major cons in my area were able to make it out, so of course it was really nice to be able to see all of them! I made new friends with strangers, and the atmosphere was always relaxed and amicable
Alcohol/Party Availability: I could probably say one 4-digit number and it would be enough to put a huge check mark in this positive box. Even if I didn’t though, there were plenty of parties going on, whether it was relaxing in the actual waterpark, or enjoying a nice view of a suite, or dancing in one of the regular rooms or even the resort lobby. There were also several bars where you could purchase drinks that would last you awhile. Big plus here
Communication: In line with the big photography event that happened Sunday, the matter was addressed rather swiftly online, and I received a personal email within two days from the head of the convention with an acceptable apology and call to action for Colossalcon East 2019 within. Whether or not this becomes an issue next year, we will all have to see, but they were quick and courteous when it came to addressing the mass influx of photography and cosplay complaints that came with Sunday’s fiasco
In closing, the magic from Colossalcon East’s first year is all but gone, making it that much harder to endorse this as a ‘convention’ to attend for the year. I didn’t break any photo records this time around, nor did I find extensive time to peruse some of the limited convention-specific offerings. Don’t get me wrong, it is very, very easy to have an amazing time here, but most of it will hinge on the friends that are with you, and the experience you have at the waterpark, not what the convention itself is offering. I find myself recommending this as a trip you save for all year, to go all out and have a blast partying with your friends, rather than another con to add to a circuit. If you’re traveling a significant distance like I was, then you’ll find the expenses adding up lightning fast, and that does put a damper on the overall experience, even if it has been consistently good. Add to this poor weather and that Thursday/Sunday are more or less wasted days (based on convention activities/cosplay attendees, not other issues) and you seriously have to consider if the price is going to make it worthwhile in the end. All in all, I don’t think I’m ready to count the Kalahari out just yet, but I am very much aware that in its second year, the rose colored glasses are off. 7.5/10 Did you think the same, or have a different opinion? Log In and Sound Off Below!!!