After attending all four BlizzCon events, I guess you could call me a bit of a veteran. You could also say that when I first attended I had no idea what I was doing. This was perpetuated by the fact that I had come all the way from Australia (by myself) and it was the first time I had been to Anaheim. I had been other events such as E3 (in Los Angeles), but I really didn’t know what to expect from BlizzCon. I also have to admit up to that point, some of my experiences in L.A. had tainted my views of what I expected from the event.
Thankfully that idea was quickly replaced by what BlizzCon actually is: is one big community with the same love for a company (strangely enough) and the games it had created. Since then, BlizzCon has become one of the highlights of my year.
One thing that arises every year are the same set of questions, “What should I bring?”, “Where should I stay?”, “I’m coming alone does anyone want to catch up?” These questions lead me to write this guide to BlizzCon - I will keep updating it as more information arises, and I see questions and items that aren’t covered.
Table of Contents:
Before you leave:
BlizzCon is a massive undertaking, but to make the most of it coming prepared will make everything that little smoother and more enjoyable, so here are some of my suggestions
1. FLIGHTS: Book early! The closest airport to BlizzCon is John Wayne Airport in Orange County, however many people prefer to fly into LAX. Because of the Anaheim Convention Center’s close proximity to Disneyland, it is simple to catch a shuttle bus or Super Shuttle from the airport to your accommodation. (I do however suggest booking this in advance because you will have to fight with 15-20,000 other people to get a seat!) Also, make sure you arrive at least on the Thursday (if not the Wednesday), and try to leave late on Sunday. You will be able to pick up your tickets the day before BlizzCon, and as the line is always huge, you will want to get that done nice and early. Saturday night also has a habit of turning into many large parties, and you really don’t want to have to cut your fun short to catch that 6am flight. (You also probably don’t want to be too drunk or hungover for it, either!)
2. HOTELS: If you are staying in a hotel, book it early. Every year all the closest hotels to the Anaheim Convention centre sell out almost as fast as the BlizzCon tickets themselves. I recommend staying at the Hilton or the Marriot, they are the closest hotels to the venue, and your feet will love you for it. It is also worth checking out if it turns out to be cheaper to stay longer at the hotel - I know the Hilton at least will often charge much less to stay 5 nights rather than 2, almost to the point it can almost work out to be the same price. Of course, there are also other great hotels around the area (such as the Anabella), all with varying price. This year Blizzard have done some deals with nearby hotels, the details of these can be found here.
3. SOCIAL: BlizzCon is a social event, so keep your eyes on the forums and fansites, there are always a couple of good community parties both before and after the event. I do suggest not booking yourself into anything on the actual days of the convention, as you don’t want to miss the BlizzCon evening activities! It might also be worth checking with your guild, to see if they are attending and what they will be doing.
What to bring:
Of course, the most important thing to bring to BlizzCon is yourself, with an open mind, and a sense for crazy excitement good extras. However on a more material note, let me suggest a few things that will make your event more enjoyable.
1. CLOTHES: Nobody likes someone who smells, and after all the fun of the event (and the drinking you will mostly do or be around), combined with the L.A. heat, you will smell. So, for everybody’s sake bring a change of clothes (or two). If you are like me, carting camera equipment around all day, you’ll start smelling sooner than everyone else. Bring a change of clothes to wear in the evening, and of course put your hotel shower to good use if you have one. (I would like to point out this a good guide for your day-to-day life also.)
2. TOILETRIES: Obviously bring them, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, maybe some face wipes, hand sanitisers, etc. Once again, if you want to meet more people at BlizzCon it pays to not offend them. So make sure you clean your teeth and you don’t have that several-hour-old coffee breath (ew). If of course you forget them, don’t stress too much - your hotel might have some, and there is a 7 Eleven and an ABC Mart just around the corner at W Katella Ave / S Harbor Blvd, a short 5 min walk away.
3. BAGGAGE: Every year I have been to BlizzCon, I have left with a lot more then I have started with. And I’m not just talking about a couple of bits of paper, last year we left with reasonably-sized figurines, a stuffed Murloc and other swag that we needed to find space for on the way home, no easy challenge if you don’t account for it. Make sure that your bag is big enough - not just for the stuff you're taking over, but the stuff you'll be bringing home, too.
4. INTERNET: Make sure you bring some kind of Internet device, over the weekend there are thousands of things going on, and you don’t want to miss them because you didn’t bring something to check the Internet with. Twitter will also be going crazy (have #Blizzcon in your search box) so it is well worth having that on the go also.
5. COSTUMES: One very common thing at BlizzCon is cosplay, there is even a competition on the Friday night. So if you are that way inclined make sure you frock up. You will need to enter the competition online before the expo, and make sure you check out the rules beforehand.
6. VITAMINS / SUPPLEMENTS: This is a added extra, make sure you bring some vitamins and supplements with you if you’re into that sort of thing. The last thing you want to do is get sick, and conventions like these are a breeding ground for all things flu-like (they don’t call it Convention Crud for nothing!). Don’t wreck your BlizzCon experience by getting sick.
7. ID & MONEY: Last year I saw someone attend who had left his ID at home, BlizzCon is licensed and most of the extra activities are in bars, don’t be left out because you can’t get in. (You will need it to pick up your passes too, by the way.) Also, it’s worth remembering that even outside of the convention, Anaheim isn’t cheap: start saving now.
8. WHAT NOT TO BRING: You can’t bring weapons, alcohol, fireworks, glass bottles, cans, or large containers into BlizzCon. You also can’t bring desktop computers, laptops or any other storage devices. If you violate any of these you will be kicked out, and that would be bad. Of course, I also suggest you leave any bad attitudes at home, nobody wants them (of course unless that is part of your costume).
Picking up your badges:
Traditionally this is the biggest nightmare at BlizzCon, however if you like long lines and waiting for ages you might just be in luck. If you have been to a BlizzCon in the past, you would know that you could - and most likely will - be waiting hours (please note some of this is based on last year’s event). Tickets can be picked up Thursday, October 21 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, October 22 and Saturday and October 23 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
2. STANDING IN LINE: You could be waiting quite some time, I suggest catching up with a group of friends, or making some while you wait. As a rule, everyone at BlizzCon is very friendly, and willing to chat – we’re all there for the same reason! Protip: bring some water and food. Last year you could buy some near the line, however it’s not worth losing your hard-fought spot because you got the munchies.
4. I’VE LOST MY BADGE: Too bad, so sorry, Blizzard won’t replace a lost badge, so don’t lose it. (And a note, last year’s badge-holders had a habit of coming undone, keep an eye on this, you don’t want to drop it!)
At The Event:
So you have arrived, what do you do now? What is there to see? Why are you being tormented by a troll? Obviously, I can’t tell you specifics about what you can do and see just yet because nothing has been announced, but based on previous experience, here are a couple of suggestions.
1. ATTEND THE OPENING CEREMONY: Generally around midday on the Friday is the Opening Ceremony, this is where all the big announcements happen, it is a must see. If you want a good seat though, you'll have to get there early. There are repeater screens so the people up the back can see the stage, but - honestly - the atmosphere up the front is electric (literally - last year had pyrotechnics!).
2. BUY SOME SWAG: BlizzCon each year has some awesome swag, some of it in limited BlizzCon Editions. The swag is on display with clear pricing (and a catalogue is often included with your swag), so you can figure out what you want and get in line. You will want to do this soon though, as it often sells out by the end of the event. You will find that these lines are very time consuming. Don’t start waiting if you want to watch the Starcraft final in half an hour, because you will miss it.
3. TOURNAMENTS: Speaking of which, don’t miss them, as they are amazing. Even if you don’t think you’re into competitive gaming or eSports, the tournaments are totally worth a look! The Starcraft final is always a highlight, and the competitors put the average gamer to shame. (But, as with everything else, make sure you get there early - it is always busy.)
4. PANELS & Q/A: During the event there will be panels and Q/A sessions. These are a good chance to find out what the devs, artists, and storytellers are thinking, followed by questions from you. Make sure you check out the list, as there is something for everyone, including some which focus on new, never-before-seen game features.
5. PLAY A GAME: A big part of BlizzCon is that you can get down and dirty with new titles, often well before others get their hands on them. There are generally upwards of 200+ computers playing WoW, StarCraft II, Diablo III and any other game they haven’t told us about yet.
7. FRIDAY NIGHT ACTIVITES: On the Friday night of BlizzCon each year are the fun and games, Cosplay competitions, Sound alike Competitions, and of course the infamous /Dance competition. These are not to be missed, and if you are concerned about a lack of beer don’t, the event is licensed (the pizza is good also).
8. SATURDAY FINALE: Saturday night is the Closing Ceremony, generally with a couple of bands. In the past, there has been The Offspring, Video Games Live, and last year Ozzy Osbourne, always supported by Level 60/70/80 Elite Tauren Chieftain.
BlizzCon doesn’t stop when the doors close, the party continues; There are a lot of bars in the area and even more people to fill them. Check out the nearby hotel bars, and the pool areas, and keep an ear out to find out where the cool stuff is happening.
2. WHERE IS EVERYONE: The answer of course is "on the internet"! Just ask Twitter or follow #Blizzcon, and you will quickly get an answer. But generally the Hotel Bars or Pool deck are a good place to start looking
3. TIME TO PLAY WOW: Seriously, every year you glance in hotel room windows to see people playing WoW. You are at BlizzCon, people! Go out and meet some of these characters in real life! (Don’t be that guy/girl...)
Other general bits and pieces:
Of course, there are plenty of other things you will need to know on the weekend so we will try to help you out with some things we have discovered from previous years
1. I NEED FOOD: Simply put, there is food both in- and outside the convention centre, however if it isn’t open here are some suggestions. You could try the Disney Walk, it’s approx 15min away, and there are plenty of places to get some food there, including Sports bars, a Mexican place and a House of Blues. However, if you are running on the cheap, try S Harbor Blvd: head South for fast food (Carls Jr and Dennys), or north for Ihop, pizza, Subway or cheap Mexican, also a ABC Market and a 7 Eleven. Or there’s always room service at your hotel.
2. I’M HERE ALONE WHAT DO I DO: Make friends! I’ve been to a lot of expos and conventions, and I have never been to one as friendly as BlizzCon. Try talking to someone - ask them a question, “Are you having fun?”, “What do you think of...?”.
3. DON’T ANNOY THE BLIZZARD STAFF: BlizzCon allows a level of access to Blizzard staff that is unheard of in this industry, but you need to remember they are people too - and like all people, they need to be treated with respect. If you see them in a bar, don’t be a drunken fool and drill them for info on why your character is so underpowered compared to some other character. Do feel free to chat to them (I haven’t met one that isn’t nice yet), but don’t act like a fool by bringing up trivial complaints.
4. WHAT TO ASK IN THE Q/A’s Ask something that everybody else will be interested in, not just you. They have limited time, so make it interesting for the whole audience. Don’t ask them why they made a certain mount green when red is way cooler, and don’t ask them why you keep getting killed in quests. Keep your QQ to the forums where it belongs.
I'm what you get when you cross a Pig and an Elephant. I like Video Games, Video, and tormenting small creatures. Twitter me, Punkley
Jimmy the Geek