Among people I talk to about cons and comics, about half won’t bother to go to Wizard World Cons, about a quarter might go, but usually have mediocre things to say about them, and about a quarter haven’t ever been to one but haven’t totally ruled it out. This is because Wizard cons are known for their overriding pop-culture focus, which gives place to comics, but not focus to them, and at least half of the focus of any Wizard cons seems to be on celebrity presence and autographs. When Wizard announced a return to NYC this year and dubbed it an “experience”, an unusual use of terminology, but in a venue they had never used before at Pier 36, there was some speculation about what it would be like and whether Wizard had changed its tack at all when it came to comics.
I ventured there on Saturday, the biggest day for the con, and found it a little difficult to get to, the nearest subway stop to its riverside location being East Broadway with a bit of a walk from there to the warehouse-like exterior at “Basketball City”. But I found that the use of space was reasonably clever, with booths placed outside for tickets and a large fenced in courtyard area containing its largest events tent, a plethora of food trucks, and shady picnic tables for ticketholders to use. The portaloos were a little less appealing, but good as back-up for interior restrooms. The space wasn’t quite what I expected. It was smaller than the Philly Wizard Con I’d been to before, substantially smaller, but it was very clean and well presented with newish carpeting, a strong attempt at air conditioning on a hot day (a little challenged once crowds built up), one large main floor area, and an upper, small mezzanine for panel events.