Some 50,000 people showed up to the Calgary Expo this weekend to hear the complete Star Trek: The Next Generation cast reunite to share a cup of Earl Grey tea, and also perhaps spot Kate Beaton or Peter David. Although it wasn’t really a riot, there were wayyyyy too many people Saturday, and the Fire Marshal shut things down, leading to many people not getting in and the show offering ticket refunds for those who were shut out. People who showed up to buy tickets on site were turned away, say reports.
The high demand for tickets to this year’s event caused headaches and heartaches for fans who were turned away or locked out when the popular event reached crowd capacity at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo on the weekend.
Organizers had anticipated 35,000 fans — about 5,000 more than last year — but the Stampede Park BMO Centre was mobbed by a crowd of nearly 50,000.
There was anger among those who were shut out and left outside holding their bags of spirit gum.
Sean Flint arrived for the weekend from Regina, but was locked out Saturday.
“People were packed in like cattle. My wife was on the inside,” he said.
“I was on the outside with everything prepaid. They told us we had to go home, no one else is being let in at 3 p.m. The volunteer used a bullhorn to announce this. They sold too many tickets for the event. It was not a rush hour. They ruined my vacation.”
“I am beyond angry,” said Andrew Caswell, 43, who drove six hours from Whitecourt, AB only to be denied access. “This is beyond acceptable. They obviously sold more tickets than they had room for.”
Nikki Coubrough, 27, who was dressed as a female version of The Riddler from Batman comics, was flustered too. She and her friends (also dressed as various Batman villains) had made the 14 hour drive from Winnipeg, accruing big costs for gas and hotels along the way.
“They haven’t given a definite answer as to whether or not we could get in,” Coubrough complained. “They said ‘Go stand over there’ and ‘maybe.’ There’s lineups all around the building and you can’t get through anywhere.”
Andrew Cardinal from Edmonton got to the event early enough to get in, but he made the mistake of stepping out for a cigarette around 1 p.m. When he tried to get back in he says he was denied access, even though he had four family members inside, including his children, 13 and 11.
Organizers promised better organization next year, although they aren’t backing down: they have an idea for a Star Wars cast reunion at the show in 2013.
In case you’re wondering, Calgary is the third biggest city in Canada with a population of just over a million. However this con had such a stellar guest list that people traveled from Australia and Italy to get in on the fun.
Here’s what we see as the ultimate resolution of all this: a TV movie is made about one man dressed as the Joker getting separated from his wife, dressed as Poison Ivy in the middle of a crowded media expo and their desperate struggle to reunite.
And then in 10 years the actors who star in this movie are guests at a media expo!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.