Sci-Fi Expo: Everything You Need to Know

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Sci-Fi Expo will be held Febraury 8-9 at the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas.

If you’ve never been to a convention before, you may not know what to expect and have a bunch of questions! For those of you who have been before, you know the basic drill, but you also know that every convention is different.

Sci-Fi Expo is no exception, and that’s what makes it so unique and fun! I’ve attended Sci-Fi Expo for at least four years now (ever since it was hosted at the Plano Centre) and know the layout pretty well; so I’m going to do my best to answer all your questions about this awesome convention!

Q. How much is the convention?

Saturday (11 a.m. – 7 p.m.): $35

Sunday (11 a.m. – 5 p.m.): $25

Weekend Pass: $50

Kids 5-12 weekend pass: $5 (4 and under are free)

If you purchase your tickets online you will be able to enter the convention center before on-site ticket purchasers.

Q. Who can go? How old do you have to be to go? 

Anyone can go! From little kids to great-grandparents, everyone is invited!

Q. What are essential things I need to bring?

Money, camera, phone, ID, snack, small backpack or bag to carry items in if you plan on buying things or loading up on free stuff.

Q. What kind of parking should I expect?

There are two parking garages at the Irving Convention Center. One is pretty much attached to the convention center and fills up very, very quickly. The second is about half a mile down the field from the convention center, but don’t worry, there is a bus that is designated to pick up people from this garage and take them to the convention center and vice versa. You also have the option to park on the field, but be fore-warned, if it looks like it may rain, don’t park here! Last time people parked here when it was raining and several cars got stuck in the mud! The cost is typically $5 for parking.

Q. Do I need to cosplay/dress up in costume? What should I wear?

I have never encountered a convention where dressing in costume was mandatory. In fact, although the cosplay culture has exploded, I think it’s still safe to say that cosplayers are in the minority. A good chunk of people attend Sci-Fi Expo to get autographs and buy exclusive merchandise, comic books, and artwork.

In short, the answer is no, but I would definitely encourage a costume if you have something handy! I think that dressing in costume can really enhance your experience and break you out of the norm of street clothes.

If you decide not to dress up, it’s pretty standard to rock a nerdy tee (TeeFury is a great place to start, Hot Topic is great in a pinch!) and some jeans. Comfy shoes are definitely a plus! I also see a lot of girls wearing cute, funky outfits and a bit of nerd flair like a bow or nerdy purse.

Q. If I cosplay, who should I be?

My biggest suggestion is to be someone you really want to be! Think about your favorite movies and characters from when you were a kid. Who was your role model? Who did you have action figures of? Even though this is labeled as a Sci-Fi convention, there are no limits to who you can be.

Sci-Fi Expo also hosts a red carpet event on Saturday and Sunday where if you are dressed as characters from specific series, you get the opportunity to walk the red carpet and have your picture taken.

Saturday:
3:00pm Bring your camera! Cosplay Red Carpet Photo Ops* (1st floor lobby) for:  Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Marvel Heroes and Villains Stargate / SG1, Video Game Characters.

Sunday:

3:00pm Bring your camera! Cosplay Red Carpet Photo Ops* (1st floor lobby) for: Star Trek, Doctor Who / Torchwood, DC Heroes and Villains, Steampunk / Golden Age of Sci-Fi, Animation / Anime Heroes and Villains.

Q. What day is better to go? Saturday or Sunday?

Both days have something different to offer. Saturday’s of conventions typically draw the highest attendance. There are pros and cons to this. Higher attendance means more cosplays, more people to take pictures of you (if you are flaunting a costume), typically some of the biggest celebrities only show up on Saturday, and also you have the largest amount of merchandise to explore. The downside to this is that it can be really crowded, hard to navigate, and the lines for things can be very, very lengthy.

I usually prefer attending Sunday. I have had great success not only finding awesome merchandise and artwork, but meeting celebrities. It seems on Sunday the atmosphere is more relaxed and there’s a lot more room to walk around and explore. Of course the ideal path would be to attend both days for the most optimal experience, but either day you really can’t go wrong. Be sure to refer to the website to see which celebrities will be appearing on Saturday or Sunday only.

As of today (1/30) these are the Saturday only guests:

-Stephen Amell

-Karen Gillan

Q. How much money should I bring?

If you haven’t already purchased your ticket, be sure to bring at least enough for that. From there it’s really a matter of what you can afford. Most artists charge anywhere from $10-$50 for prints and commissions (requested artworks) are in an even higher bracket. Merchandise can have any price range, especially if you are looking for limited edition and vintage items. Autographs are also an extra charge, so if you plan on getting something signed be sure to prepare to pay for it. Most autographs range from $20-$60.

If you are going and don’t have any specific items in mind, my go-to amount is about $60 in spending money. This way I have some money for a couple prints and a small action figure or item of some sort.

Q. What’s free?

Ah, so glad you asked. Free things are the best! Big Fan Boy has a room dedicated to freebies from the latest and upcoming movies. From posters to stickers and even apparel, the Big Fan Boy room is a must visit. There’s always a line to get in, but it moves very quickly because once you walk in, you just go down a line of tables stuffed with free things.

Saturday: 3:00pm to 7:00pm, Sunday: 12:00pm to 3:00pm.

Q. Are there places to eat at the convention?

There are two snack spots in the convention center and a guy with a roasted nuts cart. The snack centers offer your typical snacks like hot dogs and nachos. Sometimes food trucks will also pull up and offer a variety of foods like the Nammi (vietnamese tacos and sandwiches) truck. If you are able to, my suggestion would be to bring snacks like granola bars and apples. If you are trying to be healthy or would rather save your money for merchandise rather than overpriced snacks, bringing your own food is your best bet!

*I’ve been informed no outside food or drink is allowed in the convention center this go-around, but since reentry is allowed it’s just as easy to keep your food in your car and go take a break.

Q. How do I meet the actors/actresses? How much are autographs? Can I take pictures with them?

The media guests are usually spread out around the convention but it seems most recently they are mainly being grouped together on the top floor.

Guests will be easily identified by a big banner with their name behind it. A volunteer will be stationed at their table to help you get in line. If you want an autograph or photo the price will be posted at their booth. Most of the rates are posted here. Typically only cash is accepted. However, in my past experiences, just wanting to wait in line to shake hands and meet a guest is totally free.

Q. Can I bring my own camera to Sci-Fi Expo?

Of course! There will be professional photographers (freelance and media crew) roaming around the convention center but it is very encouraged that you bring your own camera! Most everywhere at the convention allows anyone to take photos. If you are going to take a picture of a cosplayer, just make sure that you ask first! Most are more than willing to stop and pose. If there is an area where you are not allowed to take pictures, they will be designated by signs that read “No photos”.

This should cover just about everything you need to know about Sci-Fi Expo! I will be there Sunday and hope to see you all there!

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