Magfest 2019 Review!!!

Magfest “Bringing in the New Year” 2019 Review

TL;DR 9/10 This year I came back for more photos and games, and I left with a comprehensive package of good feelings, and strong memories made from a remarkable event that started the year off right. If Magfest didn’t feel like a welcome extension to your New Year’s holiday festivities and vacations, then you simply didn’t do it right. Here are my thoughts:

It’s always much easier to go through negatives at this festival, because there never seem to be any that impact my experience in a major way, so true to format, I’ll start with the cons.

Room Drama: To start, this isn’t really a negative of the event itself, but it’s worth mentioning. There was some room drama this year that wasn’t too pleasant to be a part of. Outside of some personal issues on Thursday, none of it held any significant weight to detract from my Magfest experience

Nearby Enemies: I can’t say I’m surprised that my stalker showed his face again at this event, but he seemed pretty amped up to try and befriend me, and then stab me in the back the same night. I’m pretty glad that I’ve long since learned how to see through ill intent, and that I’ve become a wizard with dodging bullets. A few people that I did not want to see were here as well, but again, their impact was not very large and they were easily ignored

Event / Panel Seating: I was disappointed that for some of the larger panels/events that there wasn’t enough seating available in the hosting space, especially considering the fact that some of these ran for at least two hours with brief, if any intermissions. This made the appeal of said events dwindle, because most people don’t want to stand for longer than half an hour in a cramped space. Because of this, I had to leave a few panels I was excited for, due to the fatigue of the day wearing on me

Golden Hour: I got pretty bummed missing out on Golden hour shoots for Saturday afternoon, and there were some people I didn’t get to shoot with during the time that I was excited to work with again

Party Shutdowns: This year they were quite serious when it came to shutting down most of the Gaylord parties that took place, especially if you booked a suite in the hotel. I heard that some groups dodged the bullet on this one, but I was told directly by head of hotel security that they were cracking down hard this year on the convention parties, surprisingly enough, even on Thursday(s). With that being said, it’s hard to have an enjoyable night when you have to hop from party to party and only get to chill for less than half an hour before the room has to be cleared out

Saturday Rave?: There was an issue with technical difficulties, and the rock concert was postponed in the main space for the convention rave, so one of the previous concerts dragged almost an hour or so into the scheduled rave time. My group wasn’t the only one disappointed to arrive to something very different than the dance music we had come for, and it would have been better if there were some sort of signage, or advance notice made available through the event’s social media or the online guidebook (there ended up being reddit posts about it after that night). All in all though, while I did enjoy dancing at the main rave, I feel like I had more fun in chipspace with another DJ. Throwing that all together, I felt like if I had chosen to go to Pose instead, that I would have had a substantially better time

Vendor Wi-fi Issues: I talked to a few people who didn’t experience this at all, but when shopping on Sunday in the dealer’s room I couldn’t make purchases at a few of the vendors because all I had was my debit card, and their chip readers (mostly through Square) were not getting good enough signal to process transactions. I’ve run into this before at different events, where vendors have to move somewhere physically with client cards in order to process transactions, but in the Gaylord, that’s not really feasible, and it isn’t a smart practice regardless. So needless to say, I spent less money than I wanted to this year because of it

Dealer’s Room / Artist’s Alley: This year simply didn’t come across as too impressive for me in comparison to last year’s offerings. For Eva gear, there was a small, scattered, limited selection, and the prices seemed to be inflated across the board for different merch

So, despite the few mishaps under the event’s control, it still earns one of the best ratings I have given for an event or convention, and this year continues its trend. Why is that? Read on.

Temperature: While it remained relatively cold all weekend long, toughing it out with the right people produced some wonderful outdoor photos. Historically there have been much lower temperatures for the beginning of the year, and sunny Sunday especially became a great opportunity to take advantage of the natural lighting and lack of people in the outside areas

Games: You can’t attend Magfest and not enjoy the many options you have for gaming, from the tournaments, to casually playing Smash, to discovering new works in the Indie Gaming section to laser tag and so much more. This year proved no different in offering some of the best gaming opportunities around, period

Event Staff: Well versed veterans who worked really well in conjunction with each other to keep things running smooth were throughout the Gaylord. The prime example of this occurs at registration, which no matter what always goes off without a hitch. Even with a line system in place, staffers were efficient, and things were always processed swiftly and accurately. I had no problems whatsoever with staffers anywhere, from registration, to panels to security, and that’s a big plus

Programming: The programming at Magfest was very, very good. I found myself visiting more panels than I have at any event in the last five years at Magfest, and enjoying each and every one. I did outline some seating issues above, but don’t mistake that for poor programming. Panels and guests were extremely enjoyable, and definitely worthy of a shout out

Board Gaming: Positioning the board gaming in the outdoor ballroom building was a stroke of genius on behalf of the event. I always saw it full with smiling faces and it was a great way to fully utilize the space. Since it was finished, I have seen other events fail to utilize the outdoor space for programming, and have always been a little disappointed at that, when the inside is really nice. Magfest did it right

The Music: Again, this is Magfest, so to neglect mentioning the variety of music artists and performances would be a huge disservice. Therefore, 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. This hasn’t changed year over year and is a standout feature

Down Time: Magfest is always a wonderful opportunity to hang out with anyone you’d like to, whether old friends or new. I enjoyed going out to eat with my friends, playing games and partying together in various hotel rooms. 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: 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 (despite most parties getting shut down rather quickly). 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 reasonable enough that you could still have a very good time

The Yakuza Disco Party: Shoutout if you were there, because that was an epic time and one I was all too happy to get dressed up for. The event had me laughing to tears and dancing without a care in the world. We all flashed back to Japan in the 80’s for a little over an hour, and there wasn’t a bad experience across the board to be had (Also, shoutout to the winners of the pocket tissues. May you never be searched by the police without warning again lol)

Photos: By now, everyone knows the features that are inherent when it comes to choosing shooting locations inside and around 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. Natural lighting continued to shine throughout the weekend in photography, while shooting on the pier was also a great experience this year

The People: This year I got closer with a few friends. We ate together and enjoyed the sunset, we drank together (and drank more together), and partied until the nights were over. I had no negative experiences with staff, 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 / Canada peeps), and to find them at Magfest again this year and to catch up meant a lot

Chipspace (Saturday): I have to give a shoutout to DJ Taylor Senpai and the rest of the talent over at Chipspace on Saturday night, because they kept jam after jam rockin. Thowbacks to high school hits with anime theme songs and straight classics kept the mood positive and the floor moving. I didn’t spend an overwhelming amount of time there, but it was pretty clear to see that for the most part, things were thumping there all night long and the crowd was responding well

To sum up, Magfest was great this year. I met my goal with planning a few more shoots, and managed quite easily to have a great time, seeing all the people that mattered in the process. While I did run into some personal issues, most of these are in no fault of the festival itself, which is why Magfest keeps its all-star rating at the top of my events list year over year. 9/10 This is how you start the year off right

Thoughts? Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you think!!

"Don't be a shy little devil, you"

#DarkfoxPhotography #Magfest2019 #Convention #Review #Travel #Photographerlife #Devil #Selfie #NewYear #NationalHarbor

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