Ace Comic Con Arizona – Was It Worth It?

Ace Comic Con finally kicked off at Gila River Arena in Glendale. It wasn’t long ago that news broke of this “mystery” convention that would be bringing some of the biggest actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to Arizona. It eventually was revealed that the convention was being put on by the Shamus Brothers, who were involved in making the Wizard World line of conventions what they are.

What happened to that 11:30AM check in time?

Full disclosure, my review and opinion of Ace Comic Con is based solely on my time at the con on Saturday. I only purchased one day because I wasn’t willing to invest over $100 on a convention I had never attended. My morning started by arriving at the arena a little after 10AM as Ace put out a schedule earlier in the week with all the different ticket type check in times. General admission had a check in time at 11:30AM and the first panel of the day, arguably the biggest of the entire con, was set to start an hour later at 12:30PM. The advertised check in time came and went. The gates didn’t open until 12:04PM and after going through security and then getting my wristband, it was 12:22PM. I got seated for the Captain America panel with a few minutes to spare and even though the seats were high up in the arena, the view wasn’t terrible. Much easier to see the stage when you are higher up compared to further back in a large room. The panel went 30 minutes and was an entertaining panel featuring Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, and Sebastian Stan.

After the panel, it was time to explore. Besides the panel portion of the arena, there were vendors and artists that had been spread out between three different areas. You had the main show floor and then the main concourse and upper concourse. I started with the upper concourse and would work my way down to the show floor. The upper concourse featured the autograph tables and some vendors. The main concourse featured all of the creator guests and artists as well as exhibitors. I didn’t mind the concourse set up, it was a little out of the ordinary but there was a slight issue. At various points around the concourse, the hall way narrows because of tables/booths/displays and when you have 6-8 people all in the same spot in those narrow points, it gets really congested.

Finally, I got down to the show floor and it was a mess. The exhibitors that were featured on the floor were your vendors that were selling tshirts, Funko Pops, mystery boxes, and so on. A few vendors were selling collectible toys as well as comic books which was nice to see. The main issue which caused the floor to be a mess was the lines from the photo op area wrapped around the show floor, cutting off access to some of the exhibitors and causing major traffic jams at certain points. I tried navigating the floor 3 times at different points of the day and left after 10 minutes each time.

Let’s talk about something that Ace did that I liked. I thought putting the panels on the arena screen was a good idea. There was obviously plentiful seating in the arena outside of the panel stage so it was quite easy to grab a seat and watch whatever panel was happening. It also gave attendees the chance to watch/hear some of the comic creator panels as well. The amount of attendees actually seating in front of the panelists might have been small but their stories were broadcast to the entire arena.

Overall, I was not impressed by Ace and it’s debut in Arizona. If you were attending because you purchased a photo op or autograph then the price of entry might have been worth it but if you were going to enjoy a panel of two and spend the rest of the time taking in the sights (there wasn’t a ton of cosplayers) and doing some shopping, it wasn’t worth it in my humble opinion. The cost of getting your foot into the door (and parking) for just Saturday was $85 after fees. There wasn’t enough to keep the average convention attendee occupied and entertained. If I had spent two hours at a Ace and then left I would have been content, but I stuck it out for five and tried to find things to make it worth it. It never happened.

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