C2E2’s on once again, and just like your favorite superhero who is–yet isn’t–quite the same, it’s being held again in the same place, but different. (Oh, how I await the day when it takes up the entire complex! 2.6 MILLION sq.ft. of exhibit space! 60 acres! 45 football fields! Can you imagine the programming going on all over the building? The theater? The ballrooms?)
Here’s the scorecard for each year:
2010 Lakeside Hall D 300,000 sq.ft.
2011 West Building Hall F 470,000 sq.ft.
2012 North Building Hall B1 369,000 sq.ft.
2013 West Building Hall F 470,000 sq.ft.
2014 South Building Hall A1/2 430,000 sq.ft.
So here’s the layout, with some insider tips from your intrepid exploring reporter!
When you enter from the square, you’ll see the concierge desk and the dancing water fountains. Immediately to the south is the ballroom,
host to various fannish activities. (It’s divided in half: one half is for gaming and other geekery, the other side is for families. Brilliant planning… it’s part of the show, but removed just enough to create a safe space.) This is where registration is located. Walk all the way to the back, where the friendly and helpful staff will hand you the correct Image-branded badge. Aside from the coat check near the gateway to the CBR Bar BarCon at the Hyatt Hotel, the only other item of interest on this floor are the hotel shuttles.
Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: Walk down that long hallway southward. You’ll see the massive escalators which lead to the show floor (but not working this weekend). There are vending machines squirreled away behind and beneath these escalators. Since McCormick doesn’t always refill the machines in the buildings on a timely basis, you might have better luck here on Sunday. (But check Lakeside…it’s not being used this weekend. Level One.)
If you forgot a power chord or other necessity, the Hyatt has a vending machine in the hallway leading to the check-in desk. The Hyatt is also where you can catch a taxi, although you might want to “New York” everyone and wander south on MLK Drive a few blocks to catch a taxi before it pulls into the line.
Just north of the bus stop, there’s a bike sharing rack here, know locally as “Divvy“. $7 for 24-access, 30 minutes per ride, overtime if you take longer. If you cycle, and want a scenic route, head north on Calumet, there’s a path that will lead you under the railroad and then south to 18th, which takes you under Lake Shore Drive. From there, you’re in the Museum Campus, and then Grant Park.
Level 2.5 (the mall)
This eclectic food court offers several options to choose from: Little Italy, Pacific Rim, American Grill, Fiesta Brava, Express to Go Sandwiches, Salads and Snacks as well as a fabulous Soup Bar.
There’s also the First Aid station, and a FedEx Office supply store (helpful if you need to rent a computer, or purchase a poster tube). This level also connects to the food court in the North Building, where McDonald’s and other eateries are located. Starbucks is located on Level 2.5. And on North Level Three, right across from the show floor entrance. And at the “Daily Grind” in the Hyatt Hotel. McDonald’s also serves coffee. Doubtful that this location has been renovated into a McCafé…
Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: The restrooms (at least the male ones) next to McDonalds in the North Building are quite large, if utilitarian. Right next to these bathrooms are vending machines with two microwaves. There’s a vending machine alcove near the retail stores as well.
Level 3 (the show)
C2E2 is only using the front three-quarters (Hall A1 and half of A2), so there are no shortcuts you can use. (There is a hallway behind A2, which leads down to bathrooms, and runs the width of the South Hall from . But you’ll probably be arrested for trespassing.)
Registration is right across the Grand Concourse, in the North Hall. They’re just using the front section for check-in. Starbucks is here.
Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: There is an escalator on the east side which runs from the show floor to the Fourth Floor meeting rooms. This may be blocked by the attendee lines.
Under the food court (that section in the middle)
should be are restrooms and vending machines. Unknown if that will be open during the show.
Also, this level connects to the Grand Concourse, so you could wander over to Lakeside. Forage for vending machines on the second floor of Lakeside (site of the very first C2E2).
Level 4 (the panels)
This is where the event hall is located all…the…way…at…the…(are we there yet)…end…of…the…hallway. The panel rooms are located here as well. It’s a nice sunny hallway, so rest when needed. There usually are water stations strategically placed along the way.
Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip:
The Fifth floor above this is accessible from the Fourth. The rooms should be locked, but the restrooms and public spaces should be accessible. A great way to view the crowds below, and escape the hustle and hubbub. Also a great space for cosplayers to hang out.
(I took the elevator up from the McDonald’s level to take some pics, and an employee politely informed me that floor was off limits.)
There are also two small panel rooms on the fourth floor, accessible from the North Building: S400b and S400c. That walkway and hallway is a bit tight, but there are restrooms located over there, and it’s accessible via elevator from the South Building. That walkway is also a good place for an overlook.
Also on the Fourth Floor, via the bridge seen in the schematic at right, are the panel rooms for the North Building. This is where the various fan, family, and cosplay rooms are located this year.
The West Building is also accessible, but distant. There is an auto parts trade show taking place over there, so the 400-seat food court area and 200-seat fine-dining restaurant should be open. Also, the coat check on the first floor!
Lots of accessible wall outlets! I recommend the fifth floor of the South Hall.
If you can locate access in and out from Lakeside, I highly recommend taking some time to enjoy the lakeshore. (Test the doors to make sure they open from the outside before shutting them.) If you have a lot of time in the morning, it’s a nice walk south through the museum complex to the convention center. The big question, of course, is getting into the convention center from the lake shore… there isn’t a pedestrian overpass if Lakeside is locked. Perhaps you can find an employee to pop open one of the doors…
Got any suggestions? Tricks? Let us know!