wizard worlds

NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion's opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

If you’re like me and you’re a nerd — and I’m assuming you are, because who isn’t these days — you probably know about Mechacon. If you don’t, let me give you a quick rundown while you look for somewhere to live other than the rock you’ve been under.

Mechacon is an anime convention held in New Orleans every July. The convention usually lasts three days, starting on a Friday morning and ending on a Sunday afternoon. It’s regarded as one of, if not the, largest anime conventions in South Louisiana.

Mechacon was one of the firsts. Without it, there most likely wouldn’t be the large number of cons in the area we have today.

Unfortunately, Mechacon is closing its doors for the final time on July 26, 2020. The reason was stated by the convention as the convention having served its purpose.

“When we first decided to do this show in 2004, there was little to no convention presence for anime fans in the whole of Louisiana, so we set out to fill that void and put Louisiana’s fan community on the map. Now, in 2019, with the proliferation of fandom-oriented conventions throughout the state (both grassroots and corporate), we feel that original mission has been accomplished,” said a press release.

Many fans are upset by this, myself included. In South Louisiana, there isn’t another convention quite like Mechacon, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to fill that void.

Or maybe there is.

A few minutes away, held every January, is the Wizard World New Orleans Comic-Con. Wizard World is held in many other cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia and St. Louis, and it is hosted by Wizard Entertainment.

This year, Wizard World was held on Jan. 3 through 5 and welcomed many guests, such as stars from hit shows Charmed and Smallville, both of which are shows I personally enjoyed.

I attended Wizard World this year, and while I was there, I tried to determine whether or not Wizard World could truly fill the void that Mechacon will surely leave. And honestly, folks, it isn’t looking good.

There are multiple differences between the two conventions, but as far as similarities go, there are a few. For instance, both conventions manage to have entertaining and engaging panels held by an assortment of people, as well as being able to snag some really exceptional guest speakers.

The two conventions also both have live performances, although Mechacon usually has them as panels, whereas Wizard World has a stage set up in the main convention area for people to watch as they peruse the different merchandise booths. Both conventions also offer on-site food; Wizard World has different food stalls, and Wizard World has the restaurants in the hotel that hosts it (Hyatt Regency in New Orleans.)

Despite those similarities, there are just too many differences for the two conventions to compare to each other.

Mechacon is much bigger. Wizard World offers many booths and tables for artists and other vendors to sell items, but Mechacon is known for having both an artists’ alley and a dealer’s room. Each room is approximately the size of the one Wizard World hall, so Mechacon offers more opportunities to get really unique merchandise.

Mechacon is also hosted in a hotel, whereas Wizard World is hosted in a convention center. This makes it easier for con-goers who like to do intricate cosplays, because it allows them to have a place to quickly go to if they need to change or fix their outfit. Although there are hotels close to the convention center, it still requires walking across and down a busy New Orleans street, which is less than ideal. It also makes it feel safer, because it requires less walking through New Orleans, which still has a high crime rate.

And of course, you can’t have Mechacon without the added events. Every Friday night there is a ball held, where cosplayers can attend in formalwear and dance. Saturday nights host a rave, with everything you would expect from it. Loud remixed anime music, black lights and nerds who don’t really know how to dance.

Mechacon is a really unique convention, and unless Wizard World is planning on making some big changes, it seems unlikely that it will be able to replace Mechacon completely. Yet, it isn’t Mechacon’s uniqueness that’s keeping Wizard World from filling its place.

The real problem is that these two conventions have already been coexisting for too long. Wizard World can’t replace Mechacon because they’re already their own established convention. It’s like having two cakes, and then having one taken from you. The remaining cake can’t replace the cake that was stolen, because you were used to having both cakes.

All of that being said, I don’t actually think Wizard World needs to replace Mechacon.

Mechacon leaving is sad, and I’ll definitely miss it, as will many other people. But Wizard World is honestly a really good convention in its own right. It might not be as flashy as Mechacon, but the food is cheaper, the performances on the stage are always great, and although they have fewer vendors, the ones that they do have are usually top-notch.

With Mechacon closing, you should definitely go to this one last showing of it. But be happy that Wizard World will still be here for us.

Go to Wizard World, but not because you need something to replace Mechacon. Go because it’s a great convention. Even if your heart is heavy as you think about the impending doom of Mechacon, at least you can console yourself with some of the good nachos they sell right inside the convention.

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