Scream Horror Magazine

Your First Horror Con: Tips For a Fabulous Experience

Posted on: July 5th, 2024

There are so many cool things about being a genre fan. You can take part in a genuine community or fandom of people who are as passionate about that genre as you are. There is no limit to the ways that you can creatively express your love for that genre. And, there’s a level of accessibility that people who enjoy more mainstream entertainment simply don’t get to enjoy. All of these amazing things come together perfectly at conventions. That’s why every horror fan should make an effort to attend at least one horror con.

Sounds awesome, right? Of course, it does! Before you jump in and buy your tickets, there are a few things you should know. Conventions can be pricey and overwhelming, but they are more than worth it. The key is to follow these horror con survival tips.

Know Your Limits
Cons can be intense. They are very “people-y”. You will need to cover a lot of ground, and some venues are more accessible than others. Some people find the experience to be challenging physically and mentally. Despite this, you can have an amazing time. You just have to know your limits. Are you a 20-year-old with no limitations and bounds of energy? In that case, hit the ground running! On the other hand, if you’re a mature woman or man, have a disability, or get overwhelmed by too much sensory input, you may need to take things slowly.

  • Work in a break every couple of hours
  • Wear comfortable clothing – A stuffy convention hall is miserable when your clothes are stiff or scratchy
  • Skip things that are going to be too loud and crowded for your enjoyment

If you can, schedule a day or two of downtime when you get back home. That recovery can make all the difference.

Have a Plan of Action
There’s a lot to see and do. You don’t want to miss out on any chances to meet your favourite celebrities, attend cool panels, and check out all the vendors. It isn’t necessary to account for every minute at a horror convention, but you should start with a plan of attack.

Start with a prioritised list of must-do events. These are things you’ll be heartbroken to miss. Find out when these are happening and build your schedule around that.

Be Flexible
Planning is important, but don’t let your plans prevent you from enjoying some spontaneous fun. Sometimes, opportunities to see and do really cool stuff will come up when you are at a con. It’s okay to make changes on the fly.

Go With People Who Share Your Con Style
You and your bestie have a shared love for horror movies, graphic novels, and other scary stuff. There’s a horror convention coming to town, and you can’t imagine going with anybody else!

Then you arrive and learn that despite your amazing friendship, you have no compatibility when it comes to convention. You want to go to bed before midnight and be ready to go in the early morning. By contrast, your pal wants to bring folks back to the room to party until the wee hours of the morning, and then sleep until noon. Both of you end up grumpy at the other.

Before you invite someone to experience a con with you, have a conversation. Learn what their idea of a good time is. It may turn out that the two of you will be better off in separate hotel rooms. No worries! You can still hang out during the day.

Bring Cash
Most shops and vendors at a convention can take your debit card. But, there are some advantages to carrying cash. First, vendors don’t have to pay any banking or processing fees when you use cash. They’ll appreciate the convenience. Cash also talks when you are bargaining for a special deal.

Show Vendors Some Respect
The vendors you see work hard to create or source products, set up their booths, and serve customers during cons. Most of them don’t make a lot of money doing this. The vendors you interact with likely feel as passionately about the horror genre as you. Treat them with respect.

  • Don’t disrespect their work by giving them lowball offers
  • Treat their merchandise well – don’t handle things if they ask you not to do that
  • If you don’t like what you see move on without making snide comments

Build positive relationships with the vendors you encounter. Ask them about their merch. Many have stories to tell.

Stay Hydrated And Fed
It’s late in the evening on day two of your first con. You feel hot, tired, and out of sorts. Everyone in your friend group is getting on your nerves.

Have your friends suddenly turned into obnoxious jerks? Nope, you’re just hangry. Go get something to eat, sit down for a bit, play with your phone, and drink some water.

Treat Celebrities With Respect
As a group, performers in the horror genre are amazing with their fans. They attend conventions where they happily sign autographs, answer questions, and pose for pictures. If you have a chance to attend a panel or Q&A session with a favourite actor, director, or writer – don’t miss it!

Just be respectful. Don’t make rude or sexist remarks. Don’t overload them with a bunch of merch to sign when there’s a line of people waiting behind you. If they want people to mask, put on a mask. Don’t grab or hug celebrities or do things to make them uncomfortable.

Yes – There Really Are Stupid Questions
You’re at a Q&A with an absolute horror legend. Even better, you’ve been chosen to ask a question. Everything’s cool, cause there are no stupid questions. Right?

Oh no. There are stupid questions. These are:

  • Sexist or otherwise inappropriate questions
  • Questions the celeb already answered while you were playing with your phone
  • Deliberately baiting or insulting questions that you ask to be edgy
  • Questions that ask the celebrity to gossip or bring up bad blood in the industry
  • Weirdly personal or intrusive questions
  • Anything that has been asked and answered a thousand times

Don’t blow an opportunity for a great interaction with someone you admire. If you think poorly enough of someone that your only goal is to irritate or insult them, then pick another panel.

Have Fun With Cosplay
Cosplay is for everyone. It isn’t only for people with years of experience putting together costumes or hundreds of dollars to spend. When you attend a con, you’re going to see a full range of cosplay. Each one of these is amazing because every costume represents that person’s creative efforts.

Don’t feel as though you shouldn’t participate just because you perceive your cosplay isn’t good enough. Put something together, and walk through those venue doors with your head held high. Then, talk to people! Cosplayers love to share tips and tricks with other community members.

Take Care of Your Feet
Every single thing you have done to ensure you have an amazing time at a horror convention can be taken away by a bad blister or ingrown toenail. Take care of your feet. This is not the time to try out the stiff leather boots that you’ve never worn before.

Put on comfortable shoes. Bring a change of socks. Soak your feet at the end of the night and put them up. Use moleskin at the first sign of a blister. If you do wear heels or other shoes that are more fashionable than comfortable, break them in before you go. Treating your feet well isn’t optional.

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