Fans of pop culture and comic books make their way to the Washington State Convention Center every year for Emerald City Comicon. This year’s event, held on March 28–30, draws fans of all ages, many of them clad in the costumes of their favorite characters.
Now regarded as the third largest comic convention in North America, this year the con is expecting almost 75,000 attendees – many of them families. “Last year we had somewhere around 10,000 families,” says Michael Byers, Programming and Events Director for Emerald City Comicon.
Emerald City Comicon is one of the most family-friendly comic conventions in the country. If you have a mini-Thor or Wonder Woman in your family, you’ll be the hero of the day for taking them to see their idols up close and personal. Here are nine tips for planning ahead and navigating through the bustling halls of Emerald City Comicon with your kids in tow.
1. Buy tickets early
With no passes sold at the door, you’ll have to plan ahead. Buy tickets online now. And don’t forget to grab a kid’s pass for every member of your family over the age of 3.
If tickets are sold out (which is already happening, try calling a comic book store to see if they have any passes left, or you’ll have to find a third-party seller.
2. Take your kids to Emerald City Caped Crusaders HQ
Each year, the con sets aside a dedicated area for kids, with the generous help of sponsors like NASA. For 2014, ECCC is teaming up with the Seattle Symphony. “The entire [kids’] area is our Emerald City Caped Crusaders,” says Byers. “It’s their headquarters, which we did a little bit of last year and we’re expanding that this year. It’s more interactive with the kids being able to participate in what we’re calling training areas, where they can train like the crusaders.”
Kids can pretend to be superheroes by running through an obstacle course, get glitter tattoos, and even watch a fairy tale princess puppet theater, and parents will get the welcome chance to relax a little before heading back to the exhibitors.
3. Stop by Artist Alley
In Artist Alley you can pick up custom artwork from some of the creators who work on the comic books and characters your kids love, from My Little Pony to Batman. Decorate your child’s playroom or bedroom with one-of-a-kind art that you’ll only find at Emerald City Comicon.
Been looking for a way to get more bang for your Halloween buck? There’s no better place to re-use a costume than Emerald City Comicon. It doesn’t even have to be a superhero costume. Attendees decked out in costumes – known as cosplayers – can dress up as anyone, from Power Rangers to princesses to Ghostbusters.
5. Don’t forget the camera
If your kids do happen to run into a cosplayer dressed as their favorite Avenger or video game character, they’ll want to remember the moment forever with a photo that’s not out of focus and hastily taken from a phone. It’s polite to ask permission first, but most cosplayers are happy to strike a pose with any enthusiastic kid – or adult.
6. But avoid the zombies
While the costumes worn by attendees are fantastic and highly detailed, parents with young kids should keep an eye out for costumes they'll want to avoid. Some costumes are revealing and skimpy, and others may be graphic or gruesome. While that's not the norm for most cosplayers, you may need to take a detour to dodge an inappropriate costume (We always avoid the zombies.)
7. Bring something to do in case you end up in the autograph line
Parents will likely be more excited than the kids to check out the celebrities attending the convention this year, from luminaries from shows like Star Trek to a former NBA star. Kids might get a kick out of meeting some of the actors from their favorite cartoons, including Goofy and Adventure Time.
If there’s a chance you might end up standing in line for an autograph, don’t forget to bring along a coloring book or other activity for your family members waiting with you.
When you and your family step on to the show floor, you’ll be dazzled by the amount of booths, vendors and artists waiting to show you their wares. While several of the exhibitors do take credit cards, you’ll find many independent or smaller vendors that don’t. And if you or your kids want a photo or autograph from the special guests at the show, only cash will be accepted.
9. Pack snacks and water
While there are food vendors at the convention center and plenty of restaurants around, you’ll save time and money by finding a spot to sit down and take a break. “What we recommend for families is kind of the same thing we recommend for everybody,” Byers says. “Stay hydrated, bring a bottle of water, or we have plenty of places that sell [water].”
If you go ...
When and where: Emerald City Comicon is being held at Seattle's Washington State Convention Center from March 28–30.
Cost: $30–$40 for a day; $10 kids (ages 3-10); $75 for a three-day pass. Buy tickets online (some days already sold out).