Colossalcon East 2019 Review!!

CCE “What more can I say, I was on vacay” 2019 Review

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TL;DR - 8.4/10 As long as you remember that you’re on a vacation first, and at a convention second, this is one of the easiest conventions to have a blast at. Gone is the question of “is this more of a convention, or is this more of a vacation?” In my opinion all you have to do is treat it as a vacation, and you will have a wonderful time, even if you forego most of the ‘convention specific’ events that require more than a room at the Kalahari to enjoy (but enhance the experience). There may have been some hiccups with upper level management before the event took place, but to my knowledge, they picked themselves up off the ground, replaced problematic personnel, and still managed a very successful event

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To start, I’ll list some things in my personal experience that weren’t so great about the event.

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The Drama: I’d be remiss not to mention some of the drama surrounding this con. Coming from last year’s photography ban on Sunday, and then sexual harassment/racist/ethics issues surrounding and leading to executive personnel changes this year, and specific attendee problems that came to light before even day 0 of the convention, many people were in question about the overall safety and value of this event. For most, it was far too late in the process to skip attending, but that level of uncertainty just before a major event can’t be counted as anything but negative

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21+ Wristband Process: This was a little confusing, as when I went to obtain my wristband, there was only one possible location to get it, and that was inside the central bar that was inside of the waterpark. I’m not certain why the main level bar, or the associates that worked either the hotel front desk, or the main waterpark desk didn’t have these on hand to make the entire process easier and more manageable, but it did seem like unnecessary hassle to have to go most of the way into the waterpark simply for a wristband that could easily be provided elsewhere

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Food Options: I knew what to expect this year, but I’m still not sold on the limited, yet very high priced food options available at the Kalahari without leaving the venue. If you read my review last year, then you know that outside of Java Manjaro and their killer croissants and sandwich options, that there aren’t many good, economically priced food options here

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Sunday: Even without people screaming at the staff to get photogs to vacate the premises, Sunday was a rather boring day at the con. In fact, for all intents and purposes, I would go as far as to say the convention this year was pretty much Thursday evening to Saturday night. Sunday was practically a ghost town in the way of cosplayers that remained and people enjoying the waterpark

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Photography Locations: This hasn’t changed either, but your location options are very limited if you are looking for new backdrops to shoot. Take the indoor waters (because outside of a brief period, the outdoor section of the park was closed for yet another year based on weather concerns), the arcade, or the forest nearby, and that’s all you have without turning your room space into a creative studio

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Late Swim pricing changes?: Since I didn’t attend last year, I thought it would be a good idea to enjoy late swim one of my nights at CCE. I’m not sure if there was confusion in the pricing or not, but I was told by multiple people at the event that they had received their late night passes for $40/2 nights or $25/night (like the year before). You can imagine my surprise when going to the purchasing table to see that it was in fact $50/2 nights or $30/night. Yes, the difference is only ten dollars, but even on the iPad with Square system, when checking you out, they have in the list of their pricing options $25 bands used specifically for this event. I was more than upset watching the associate check the $30 option instead for the same product, which makes it seem, at least to me, that there was some kind of instance at play where people were able to get the cheaper option that wasn’t clearly explained before the con. Especially since to my knowledge, the late night passes were not available to pre-order at all

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Cancellations: In no fault of the general convention itself, I had a few photo shoot cancellations that had me scratching my head and pretty upset when those same few showed up to the event regardless without a word in passing. I heard from a few photog friends that the same thing had been a minor issue as well

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Despite all of that, this is an 8.4/10 review! So let’s break down the many good things!

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Check In: The check in process was extremely easy and painless. Since I arrived early Thursday afternoon, I was checked into my room within 5 minutes, and unloading my car into it in the next 5. Staff there gave me everything I needed, and made helpful suggestions to make the process even simpler

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Hotel Staff: No issues whatsoever, and the workers at the shops and restaurants were all very nice. Housekeeping always had what we needed on hand, and did not disturb us throughout the weekend otherwise. Bar staff this year was much better than prior years, especially at the indoor grotto

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Cup is King: Bring back your largest (or any) Kalahari cup from years prior, and enjoy the $25 refill price for monster-sized drinks all weekend long. You can bet I brought two of them to fill up

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Themed Drinks (with spirits) / Food: The themed drinks this year were particularly great available in rocks style or frozen, and excellent enough so that if you asked anyone what their favorite was, they would tell you by Thursday night. Since I frequented Java Manjaro, I really loved to see their video game and anime inspired cupcakes, cakes, pops and more sweet treats. Even with the vacation vibe set in place, it was very clear that you were at a convention, which was nice

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Late Night Swim: While I wasn’t particularly keen on slides this time around, I really enjoyed having the late night swim available. It made it so much easier to find friends, to relax without judgment, and to truly enjoy what the resort had to offer without excessive wait times, kids running around, or other distractions. While personally I wouldn’t recommend both nights if you take advantage of what is offered on your first night, I would definitely recommend that everyone attend at least one late night swim, even if it’s only to relax

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Alcohol/Party Availability: 5 stars. If you know 4 digits and you’re on the right side of the Kalahari, then you’re pretty much set for good times. If you’re more of the solo type, then from the lobby to the waterpark, there are plenty of places to stock up on a good old Kalahari specialty drink, which would last you a decent amount of time. With parties, even if you chose not to go to a room, the lobby was jumping itself, provided you stayed up late enough and were chill. Otakus With Attitude led the charge on Saturday, and that was pure excellence. Speaking of…

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The Lobby Party: Saturday night gets a mention all on its own, with a great party in the lobby that was jumpin’ and very fun to dance and chill at. I kicked back with a few old friends, and danced for the gram like there was no tomorrow

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Relaxation: Most cons are extremely hectic with so many places or shoots to constantly go to. With CCE, I could recharge for hours in the hot tub, or head back to my room for a quick reprieve from shooting and hauling gear and that time is worth everything. It was great fun swapping stories and bonding with others during this down time as well

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Roommates and Friends: Even if you weren’t partying, there are so many opportunities during the con to meet new friends, or to catch up with groups you might not see as often. Along with down time comes real bonding time, and total relaxation in the hot tubs one of the perfect avenues here to facilitate that

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Hot. Tub. Bars: It’s a staple of the con now to tell stories involving one of the three indoor / outdoor combo hot tub bars every year, no matter what. It is the perfect place to unwind, to talk with friends, and to meet new people. Depending on where you were, there were also other events taking place, but outside of those, they acted as impeccable places to relax and shrug off the worries of the day

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Wi-Fi: Compared to previous years, Wi-Fi actually held up really well through most of the venue, and even outperformed mobile data in some cases. It was great to stay connected with people at con, and even good friends back home that weren’t able to make it to the event

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Addressing Previous Concerns: I have to give the new staff for CCE some props because last year didn’t end so well at all. Yet, for this year, photogs in particular that were affected were given complimentary badges, there was no major incident during the event that threatened public safety, and many of the fears some people had going into the event were appropriately addressed and dealt with. That is commendable

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To close, I’ve completely changed the way that I look at Colossalcon East as a whole, and recommend many others to do so as well. Contrary to popular belief about most conventions, for this one, I would be fine recommending to treat convention related activities as enhancements to the Kalahari resort experience. There are great dances, voice actors and guests to meet, formal and informal costume contests, and more that come together in a really nice (but not mandatory) package to rejuvenate the waterpark experience year over year. So if you choose, you can always spend a little more to participate in a plethora of activities, but if you don’t, there is still plenty of fun to be had either way. Grab your friends, get a room at the Kalahari, and enjoy this September vacation. 8.4/10


Until next time folks!!

#DarkfoxPhotography #kalahari #pennsylvania #anime #convention #relaxation

#ColossalconEast2019 #CCE #Review #Kalahariresort #CCE2019 #fun


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