WonderCon 2016: How Does the New Location in Los Angeles Compare to Those of Yesteryear?


[Note the “Los Angeles Comic-Con trademark. CCI has also registered similar marks for San Francisco and Anaheim. There should be an ® next to “WonderCon” and the star swirl.]

Comic-Con International has released the floor plan for WonderCon 2016, scheduled for March 25-27 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

After four years of steady growth in Anaheim, CCI has moved WC to downtown Los Angeles. Some wonder if the site is suited, given the lack of hotel rooms and the location. (Yes, these are probably the same people who complained when WC moved to Anaheim, competing with Disneyland for attention and hotel space.)

So… how do they compare, at least from a cold, analytical comparison of the show floors? Let’s find out!


The bullet points:

  • This is the South Hall of the convention center.
  • It offers 346,890 square feet of space.
  • 112 Small Press tables
  • 57 Dealer tables
  • 27 Autograph tables
  • and 350 Artists’ Alley tables

For comparison, CCI: San Diego offers 216 AA tables, while New York Comic Con, setting the bar high, offers 460 tables in a light-filled, column-free space (which is slated to be demolished and replaced by loading docks, parking, and event space).

The scorecard (as tabulated from previous maps):

Year Location Halls Used sq.ft. Artist Alley Small Press  Dealer  Autograph Fan Groups
 2016  Los Angeles  South Hall  346,890 350 112 57 27 18
 2015  Anaheim  B/C/D 524,292 284 117 39 28 18
 2014  Anaheim  B/C  303,008 290 121 42 18 18
 2013  Anaheim  A/B 293,176 267 92 19 27 15
 2012  Anaheim  D 221,284 261 110 22 33 19
 2011  San  Francisco  South A/B/C  260,560 165 75 35 30 10

The square footage is only for the halls used for the show floor. For example, in Anaheim, CCI used Hall E, which is underneath Hall D, for box office and other uses. Also note, in 2015, unlike 2012, CCI did not use the angular southern end of Hall D for booths.

What’s interesting about this is that WonderCon’s show floor  is 2/3rd of last year, although the “non-commercial” areas tabulated above have not changed significantly, or have grown.

Are there fewer booths this year? Probably, or the average size is smaller than previous years. (No, I’m not going to compare and contrast that… I’ll leave that up to the attendees, who will determine the ultimate fate of this year’s show.) It appears the “lounge” areas have been downsized as well. Was there less demand due to the new location?

What is significant is the WonderCon has a better Artists’ Alley than San Diego. San Diego, it should be noted, subsidizes and curates that section, possibly leaving it as a vestige or link to a bygone era. (Given the crowds, I’m certain that CCI:SD could support an Artists Alley of 1000+ tables, even if they charged a fee and placed it in an offsite hotel ballroom.)

WonderCon attracted some 60,000 attendees in 2014. Comic-Con hit that number back in 2002 before hitting capacity in 2007. WonderCon is a large regional convention, although not as well known as some. DC Comics has a major press event scheduled this year, and given its proximity to Hollywood as well its Spring date, will probably become just as big as San Diego within a decade. Think that’s crazy? Anime Expo hosted 90,500 unique attendees last July, with a turnstile figure of 260,700! (Here’s their map!)

CCI has room to grow in Los Angeles (they only use about half the space this year), especially if Los Angeles commits to the planned expansion announced last year. Add in the programming space available from the Staples Center and LA Live, and WonderCon could eclipse or rival San Diego.



  1. says

    Also, The AA tables at SDCC are 3 feet long where as I believe most other shows have 4-6 foot tables.
    That being said I’m afraid I’ll be skipping WC this year. While I love the crowds and it’Comic Con-lite atmosphere, the move to downtown LA was a deal breaker. Despite LA Live, the area is a dump and there are no decent walking distance hotels.

  2. Jackie Estrada says

    I’m looking at the map, and the Artists’ Alley tables are the same size as the dealers’ tables.

  3. LW says

    San Diego and Anaheim are much more well equipped to handle the huge crowds than downtown LA. As the comment above states, the hotels are not that close by and the area surrounding the Convention Center and LA Live is a demilitarized zone. San Diego has over 11,000 rooms, Anaheim has over 13,000, and LA has under 5,000. Even with the Convention Center expansion, Anaheim is the clear choice for a much better experience. CCI’s ulterior motive is to entice more of a Hollywood aspect to the convention. However, they are sacrificing attendance now by doing this. The convention is smaller this year, the hotels and parking are fewer and more expensive, the area is less desirable, and, here it is 3 weeks until the show, Saturday just sold out March 3rd, 2016. The badges went on sale December 14th, 2015! It only took about 6 weeks last year for Anaheim. To me the writing is on the wall.

  4. zakin says

    LW: I don’t believe that the convention selling out a week later than it did last year means that ‘the writing is on the wall’. It moved to a new location, so I’d expect attendance to be down the first year or two — similar to how the first two years in Anaheim had a lower attendance than the last year in SF.

    It’s true that Downtown LA has fewer hotel rooms than Anaheim or San Diego; however, DTLA is currently building hotels at a breakneck speed and in a couple years could have a similar number as Anaheim or SD. Here’s an article that talks about the current building boom (dated 2012, so some of the properties in the article have already been built…but they have accomplished a lot of what they have talked about so far:)


    Downtown LA is also served well by the Metro, so even if there aren’t as many rooms downtown, it’s an easy access from many other parts of the city.

    Also, I think the area is more desirable than Anaheim. DTLA is at an exciting time right now; it has an existing downtown urban infrastructure, yet still has plenty of room to build up and grow. Anaheim just doesn’t have room to fill in much more than it already has, and is overshadowed by its current selling point: Disneyland. SD downtown is great, but will also most likely never be more than it is, as it’s harmed by bureaucratic nonsense that will guarantee that any changes will be slow, painful, and expensive, if they even happen at all. (see: SD Convention Center Expansion)

  5. Betamax says

    zakin, obviously you are bias to LA

    but as someone who went to the convention, it seemed small. and yes the fact that it was in LA did make it less desirable to stay in the area. hotels were way over priced. it would have cost 500 dollars alone for the room. versus $300 in Anaheim, where it the hotels were connected to the convention center.

    and yes not selling out is a big deal.

  6. Bardo Ambrz says

    Betamax, I couldn’t agree with you more. Parking was a pain almost every day, the area is a real dump no matter how much sprucing up they try, and don’t even get me started on the overcrowding with Staples. While it may be easier for me to go to downtown LA, I prefer Anaheim because of the area and atmosphere. Parking for me was a major issue because lots in LA are notorious for driving up their prices during events (games, AX, wrestling shows, pretty much anything at Staples center), say what you will about Anaheim, but they are pretty consistent with their parking fees and the area seems way safer

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