Magfest “Legendary Calamari / Bad Streak Breaker / Is that Fireball?” 2018 Review
TL;DR Darkfox Gold 9.5/10 Let’s be real here, the only possible negatives I have for this convention are seriously petty things, that I basically have to ‘reach for’. Aside from not scheduling more shoots in advance (Due to last minute advertising after the Christmas rush), there wasn’t much more I could have asked for at this festival. Magfest was important to me in that not only was it an excellent time, but it also broke a streak of bad con experiences that I had been having towards the end of 2017. So it definitely brought in the new year excellently. Here are my thoughts:
To put it into better terms how petty my cons are for this event, I’ll list them below. Feel free to laugh.
Cold Showers: Maaaaaan you would think staying at a resort hotel that waking up extra early in the morning to take a shower to wash away the sins of the previous night would be simple and rewarding right? Nope. Each time I took a shower over the weekend, the water was frightfully cold, and not only that, but the water pressure was an absolute joke. While further away, the Westin, and a few other national harbor hotels never have this issue, and they also usually book to capacity for Magfest
Scheduled Shoots: Magfest would have been the perfect opportunity to schedule more shoots with people, but as I mentioned above, my lack of advertising during the busy month of December led to this, and this is in no way the fault of the convention
Leaving: Despite not wanting the event to end, on Sunday, most everyone did leave, however, I felt trapped at the hotel due to the Gaylord garage having wait times in excess of 45 minutes, just for leaving. I stayed at the convention for two extra hours to let the situation work itself out, only to find that when leaving myself, I was still stuck in a line of cars for over half an hour, and I wasn’t even parked on the rooftop level of the garage. The hidden reward in this lies in parking having been absolutely free for the weekend, so again, I have to reach just to mention this. I feel truly sorry for those who paid for parking in the Gaylord garage
Temperature: Due to the wind and extremely cold temperatures, it was literally a ghost town outside of the Gaylord, which unfortunately took away some excellent locations for certain cosplayers for photos. I managed to get outside for one shoot, but within 15 minutes, my fingers had to give in to the icy cold. Big ups to Kassandra for braving the weather for me!!
Accessibility?: Arriving Thursday night to see the larger fountain area blocked off for removal of the ‘Christmas stars’ and then to see that even after they were taken down on Friday that the area was still blocked off for the majority of the day was a bit disappointing. The group shoots had to smash themselves together on the front side of the fountain, and needless to say, this makes getting proper photos disastrous and sometimes even impossible unless you were there when the group initially formed. In addition, there was almost no way to walk through the front fountain area, especially during the larger gatherings
So, now that most of the jokes are up and out of the way, let’s talk positives!!
The Games: It wouldn’t be a proper Magfest review if I didn’t talk about the three different expanded rooms filled with games, from rhythm, to pinball, to console, to good old fashion arcade setups, the selection was simply breathtaking. I want to take a special moment to highlight the Indie gaming section this year. All of the content creators were extremely helpful, passionate, and simply pleasant to be around. Their ingenuity and cleverness were off the charts, and whenever I sat down to play a new game, you could tell that they simply beamed with an enjoyment and inner satisfaction so fierce that it builds exponentially on current inspiration and excitement. When you talk about the spirit of a convention, or of a festival, or of an event, I definitely saw it here, in the Indie games section. Also, shoutout to Mag for having a pretty dope tabletop gaming setup
The Music: Again, this is Magfest, so to neglect mentioning the music would be a huge disservice. So I’ll comment here that the musical selection was pretty wonderful, and that there was something for absolutely everybody here. Whether jumping to the music in the concert hall, rocking it out late night at Pose, or stumbling across the scattered Jam Spaces and pausing to appreciate the sounds, there were tons of great places where you could just vibe and enjoy yourself. My favorites would definitely have to be the DJ’s that set up on registration level, turning the hallways into thumping dance circles that exuded pure energy
Convention Staff: Well versed veterans who worked really well in conjunction with each other to keep things running smooth. The all star of this happens at registration, which no matter what always goes off without a hitch. If you are waiting longer than 30 seconds at Magfest to pickup or to buy a new badge, then I’d be surprised, and that’s saying something, given the huge attendance numbers this year (21,600+)
Chill Time: Magfest is a wonderful opportunity to just hang out with people you always, or even those you rarely get to see any other time. I enjoyed going out to eat with friends, playing games and laughing together in various hotel rooms, watching RWBY with a full group, and of course gaming with friends. I have to mention this as a positive, because most conventions I’m seemingly so busy that my only down time involves recharging my external and internal batteries in my hotel room before making the trek back out to shoot. It wasn’t like this at Magfest, and that was a wonderful thing
Alcohol/Party Availability: I’m always weird about adding this section to my reviews, but the fact of the matter is, if you were looking to turn up, it just happened. Magfest has a generally amazing community across all standards, and as long as you aren’t the foulest person on the planet, then there were plenty of parties or places to get drinks available. Even if you couldn’t find any and you simply bought from the hotel and danced at one of the many music events, prices were well enough that you could still have a very good time. Also, Magfest parties are definitely something to write home about
Photos: By now, everyone knows the features that are inherent when it comes to choosing shooting locations inside the Gaylord, but what’s also true is that with the right eye, there are always new discoveries to be made. That was true with this year, where gratefully, there was no crowding for specific shooting spots, and whether you had your own portable lighting setup or not, there was plenty of opportunity for amazing shots. Magfest actually breathed more life into me in regards to low light shooting, and significantly bolstered my confidence with shooting after sunset
Dealer’s Room: A lot of people immediately write off Magfest’s dealer’s room because it is very clear that they prioritize the three gaming rooms (plus tabletop space) instead, but the beauty of it is that Magfest’s dealer’s room is also dedicated to that focus as well, games. From Genesis to Present Gen, you had import gaming options, you had brand new in box purchase options, you had used games, and you could bring in your own things to trade with almost any vendor that sold games as well. Maybe it was just me, but seeing all of the Pokemon Mods (Ash Grey, Obsidian, etc) on original GBA cartridges marked a huge turning point in game distribution at conventions. With original design cartridge art, and some even with their own box designs, it was pretty hard not to geek when I went to that booth. Picked up some new EVA gear for a deal as well, which is always nice
The People: This year I got to squad up with some amazing friends and get closer to others. We ate together and enjoyed the sunset, we drank together (and drank more together), and partied until the night was over. I had no negative experiences with staff, or other convention guests, and even though there was more I wished I could have done, I fully enjoyed those I was able to hang out with again. It seems so rare now that I get to see people from out of state (especially my New England area peeps), and to find them at Magfest again this year and to catch up means more than a little something special
To sum up, Magfest (again) was amazing this year. I’m going to do better to plan for photo shoots next year, but all in all, I had plenty of fun without maxing out on them. I saw all the people that mattered, and went on many adventures. As a last minute for the record, it was totally cinnamon Jack Daniel’s and not Fireball (yes there’s a difference). Elevate yourselves gentleman. 9.5/10 Party like a rockstar
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