On the weekend of June 17-19, Wizard World Comic Con flew back into Sacramento for the third year in a row bringing many new experiences along for the ride.
A lot has changed in the three years that a show from Wizard World has been held in California’s capital city. The original show in 2014 had all the celebrities and fun of their shows but was on a slightly smaller scale as they had less of the Sacramento Convention Center floor to use which led to the crowds being tightly packed at times, especially on Saturday which is always the biggest day in regards to most of the offerings. They also only had a few of the meeting rooms to use for panels, which made sense for a show that was trying to gauge the local scene.
Year two brought about the full use of the convention floor meaning there was far more room for people and they expanded to the bigger meeting rooms on the third floor so everything was far more spaced out and a lot of new engaging panels and celebrity Q&As came along as well.
That brings it to year three where the show has seemed to find even more of its groove. Even with the addition of the brand new gaming areas for the new Wizard World Gaming shows that are added onto the regular show, the convention floor felt spacious and never very crowding. Even on the very busy Saturday it didn’t feel like you were going to end up stuck trying to get through a row with feelings bordering on claustrophobic.
While the number of vendor stalls seemed to have declined from the previous year, the addition of the gaming area was a pleasant one. In Portland this year, where the Wizard World Gaming kicked off, the gaming area was in the back as a different area separated from the main convention floor while in Sacramento it was right smack dab in the middle of the convention floor where it was incorporated into the entire show floor offerings.
Both were excellent setups, but having the gaming right in the middle everything made it feel more harmonious between the different worlds of fandom that inhabited the halls over the weekend. It felt like one smooth running operation where you could walk between worlds just by turning a corner.
The best part of the gaming floor, besides the awesome array of games that anyone could try out, was being able to sit and watch your fellow convention-goers engage in battle for the Tekken 7, Naruto and Street Fighter V tournaments. These tournaments, each offering a cash prize ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 for the winner, bring a whole new experience to the convention. The cherry on top of it all is the shoutcasters who offer commentary and play-by-play analysis of the matches while it’s all simulcast on Twitch, allowing anyone who isn’t at the convention the chance to watch along at home.
One of the biggest draws at conventions is the celebrities, from movie stars to TV stars to voice actors, that are available to interact with in Q&As or get a picture or autograph from down on the show floor. This time around the convention brought along William Shatner, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan and Evan Peters just to name a few of the great talent that was assembled.
While celebrities offer one draw at the convention, the other panels that were offered in the programming were fantastic as well. Everything from lively discussions about feelings on the recent superhero films to panels giving details about joining the world of cosplay to talks about diversity in pop culture to panels about various aspects of writing and even one centered on the changing world of journalism. If you love something or had a passion for something, there was definitely a panel that would fit your needs.
The beauty of these conventions is the opportunities they provide from meeting your favorite celebs to learning more about a particular subject to just being able to meet other people who love the same things you do. Most will never be able to attend a convention as large as the San Diego Comic-Con, but with a show like the ones Wizard World provides throughout the country people have a chance to touch more of that world right in their own backyard.
Year three brought a lot of great changes to the Wizard World Sacramento show, and hopefully, the show continues to grow and change as it continues its stay in the city of trees. With these sorts of changes, it definitely can make you excited for what they might bring along next year.
Wizard World will return to Sacramento for its fourth year on June 16-18 2017.,