It's the rumor that makes the rounds every summer. That Comic-Con is soon going to abandon San Diego for some other convention-friendly city like Las Vegas or Anaheim.
The only problem with this rumor is (at least for the timing being) is that it can't possibly be true. Given that -- back in September of 2010 -- Comic-Con International (i.e. the parent company of this pop culture phenomenon) signed a deal with the San Diego Convention Center which then ties this event to that waterfront venue through 2015.
Mind you, this hasn't stopped the comic book community from spinning out entirely new conspiracy theories about this organization. Take -- for example -- Comic-Con International's recent decision to move WonderCon from its usual home in San Francisco's Moscone Center down to the Anaheim Convention Center. There are those that will tell you that this was kind of a consolation prize for the Anaheim city council. That -- because they ultimately weren't able to persuade SDCC management to relocate their biggest con down to Orange County -- Anaheim opted to go after Comic-Con's little brother (i.e. WonderCon) instead.
According to David Glanzer (i.e. Comic-Con International's director of marketing and public relations), that isn't what happened at all. To hear David tell the story, the real reason that WonderCon isn't being held in San Francisco this year is because of all the work which is still being done in and around that city's principal convention center.
"The Moscone has almost completed its two year-long expansion & renovation program. This $250 million project will not only upgrade this building's facilities, it will also double the amount of show floor and meeting space that this convention center previously had available," Glanzer explained. "The only problem was -- what with all of the finish work which still needs to done -- there just wasn't going to be enough space available for us inside of that building to properly present WonderCon. Not this year, anyway."
So with the Moscone temporarily out of the picture for the first half of 2012, David and his team carefully considered their options. If they decided to postpone and/or cancel WonderCon outright this year ... Well, that might then have some unfortunate blowback on this 26 year-old Bay Area event. Which had been held in Oakland, CA. until just ten years ago. Which was when Comic-Con International then decided to shift WonderCon across the Bay to San Francisco.
"More to the point, we have publishers -- both big & small -- as well as writers and artists who really count on this show as a way to get the public excited about their upcoming projects. And if we were to cancel WonderCon, even for just a single year, that decision would then really hurt a lot of people. Not mention disappointing the tens of thousands of comic book & pop culture fans who annually attend this event," Glanzer explained.
So since cancellation and/or postponing this show no longer seemed like viable options, David & Co. then began exploring other ideas. Like temporarily shifting this San Francisco-based con to some other city's convention center.
"But when you're talking about an event the size of WonderCon, not just any convention center will do. Last year, we had 50,000 people come through the Moscone's doors over of the course of this three day-long show. And to properly handle & support a crowd of that size, you need lots of hotel rooms. Not to mention plenty of onsite parking. Plus the hundreds of volunteers that you need to properly man & staff a show like this size," Glanzer continued.
Luckily, thanks to its proximity to the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim had hundreds of hotel rooms available for rental around that city's convention center. And what with offering discounted parking to those people who were willing to leave their cars at Angel Stadium and then take a free shuttle bus over to the venue, WonderCon found a pretty eco-friendly way to deal with this event's potential parking problem.
"The people that we've been dealing with in Anaheim have just been terrific. They've risen to every challenge that we've tossed their way. Which is why I'm hoping that this weekend's show really goes smoothly," David said.
And what will the crowds who actually come out to the Anaheim Convention Center see at WonderCon 2012? Plenty of celebrities, for starters. Take -- for example -- Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Who will be appearing in this venue's Ballroom on Friday afternoon to promote their just-opened big screen remake of that 1980s cop show, "21 Jump Street."
And Channing and Jonah aren't the only film stars who'd be schlepping on down to Anaheim to help hype their latest projects. Over the course of the next three days, select members of the cast & crew from "The Amazing Spider-Man," "Battleship," "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" will be appearing at the convention center to talk up these big spring / summer releases to film fans.
"Me personally, I'm most looking forward to Sir Ridley Scott's appearance at Fox's 'Prometheus' panel on Saturday afternoon. I've long been an admirer of Scott's work as a filmmaker. And I'm intrigued to see how he and Damon Lindelof have linked 'Prometheus' in with the rest of the 'Alien' film series mythology," Glanzer stated.
Here's hoping that David actually gets the chance to attend a panel or two over the course of this coming weekend. Or -- for that matter -- doesn't have to deal with having to temporarily relocate any other Comic-Con International shows anytime soon.
Which isn't to say that Glanzer will actually have any say in this matter. Especially since the San Diego city council -- in an effort to make sure that their city can hang onto mega-conventions like Comic-Con -- approved the basic funding scheme for a $500 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center back in January.
And given that a construction project of that size might then make San Diego's convention center temporarily unavailable for Comic-Con ... Well, how does David feel about possibly having to find a new city and/or facility that is capable of handling the 130,000 people who annually attend this 4 1/2 day-long pop culture event?
"Please. One show at a time," Glanzer laughed. "Right now, all I'm really concerned about is how I'm going to carve out enough free time over the course of this weekend so that I can then leave WonderCon, go across the street and check out Disneyland."
Jim Hill is an award-winning entertainment writer who lives in New Boston, N.H. Over the past 30 years, he has interviewed hundreds of veterans of the animation and themed entertainment industry and written extensively about the Walt Disney Company.
Jim is currently working on a behind-the-scenes history of the development and construction of Disneyland. For his more immediate musings on movies, TV shows, books and theme parks, please check out his blog, jimhillmedia.com.
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