In 2015, I took my daughter Astra (who was 9 at the time) to Minecon in London. One parent, one child who can now (mostly) cope with queues, noise and overwhelm. Astra was able to handle the conference as well as I could. So by 3pm on Saturday, we were both floating around in a slightly uncomfortable – but not entirely unpleasant – daze. For all of my best intentions, we’d not had enough sleep. When you’re travelling from afar the day before – in our case we had to travel from afar on the Saturday morning – or perhaps needing to get from your distant hotel to the conference centre by 10am….well, it was hard to plan around. It didn’t really matter though. In hindsight I’d have insisted we take things easier – we could have left more for the Sunday. The Saturday was a REALLY long day, and it was overwhelming at times, but there was more than enough time to do everything we wanted.
‘Meet and Greet’
After visiting a large number of stationery shops, I had found an old fashioned autograph book for Astra. Most people used their recently purchased diamond swords or T-shirts for signatures. So, the queue for the ‘Meet and Greet’ was predicted to take 3 hours. As we sat waiting, inching forwards, I made my own calculation. It was going to take 4 hours at best, most likely longer. There were no promises as to which You Tubers would be behind the screens once you got there…but we looked at the schedule and figured out that in four hours Stampy and Squid were due on stage – so they would not be in the Meet and Greet. We’d already queued for an hour, so I was loathe to give it up – but thankfully Astra was sensible and decided that we forget about Meet and Greet. I am so glad she did! Almost immediately, Astra spotted ‘LDShadowLady’ and ‘Smallish Beans’ hanging out with their friends. No-one had recognised them, so we had a couple of minutes on our own with them. I gushed excessively, Oh my gosh, you’re so TINY!! I Love you!! (Thankfully I got better at this as the weekend progressed).
We spotted ‘I Has Cupquake’ wandering with a photographer, so we posed with her. On Sunday we bumped into her again, with her husband Red, and we had a little chat with them. On Sunday night, after it was all over and most people had gone home, a bunch of You Tubers came out to play. Rumours were flying as groups of people raced to Door 1, Door 7, no wait, he’s by the main exit…Stampy did not appear in the end but DanTDM did. We missed Dan but we spent time with PrestonPlayz, Vikkstar, AmyLee33, JeromeASF, Netty Plays and a couple of others we didn’t recognise! They were all incredibly lovely and generous with their time. It all happened outside the conference venue, a few in the venue itself – I suspect it was better than the formal ‘Meet and Greet’.
The only information we had was the time and place marked on the schedule. We duly turned up, gave some final tweaks to Astra’s costume, and joined the queue. Pretty soon an official approached and said, no, sorry, I don’t know what you’re all queuing up for, we have already picked the entrants for the competition. Wow. They’d sent out scouts in the moning, looking for cool costumes to put in the competition. Astra hadn’t even been wearing hers, so cumbersome it was (we are talking Minecraft here!).
A particularly vocal parent managed to persuade the officials that it would be terrible to disappoint so many children, and so we were all allowed to go onstage after all. It was a debacle and I have faith that it won’t be repeated this year. Or maybe seasoned comic-con goers will tell me this is how it’s always done?! Either way, if you want to be chosen, be good. Be REALLY good!
There was a lot of free stuff being given away in the Expo Hall. Some of it was fairly worthless tat, but some of it really very nice. Which stalls would be giving things out, and at which times, was randon and unpredictable, and they all ran out quickly. The best freebies were on the Saturday.
The Saturday Night Show
Was awesome. Do Not Miss! I know a lot of people left with their young children, and maybe that was necessary – but if you possibly can stay for the show, DO!
Getting Good Seats
Stay focused, stay alert. Show up at the end of the previous talk, and send your 9 year old in to dodge between the knees of the lumbering adults. It IS possible to get good seats, we had front row seats when we put our minds to it. Well, you can’t get front row seats as they’re reserved for staff and special guests, but you can get the first row behind them! They say that everyone has to leave the venue after each talk/performance, before they re-open the doors for the next show. That was carefully observed for the first couple of talks, but pretty soon it became possible to be so slow to leave that you were still loitering near the front when they allowed new people in. Being at the front is really worth it for your favourites, actually watching them is far superior to watching them on the screens (which we do at home all the time anyway!).
This stuff is unimportant when compred to the *experience* of Minecon. If it IS important to get this or that T-Shirt, or plushie, or whatever, buy it on Saturday. Things did sell out.
Minecon 2015 was one of the most incredible experiences Astra and I have ever had, and we are both super jealous of those who are going this year! It’s going to be even bigger and better, you are in for such a treat!