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Navigating Pop Culture Conventions

#30: Pop culture conventions, where fans and geeks gather to celebrate their fandoms, are often the most anticipated experiences of the year. This year, Stef and Ariel were blessed with the opportunity to speak as panelists at both WonderCon and the mega San Diego Comic-Con. In this episode, they share the ups and downs of navigating pop culture conventions.

Read the blog post for this episode for additional references and resources.

Become a member of Geek Therapy on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/geektherapy

Transcription

Stefanie Bautista 0:10
Hello, everyone, welcome to the Happiest Pod on Earth. I’m Stef and educator who uses her passions and fandoms to help her students grow and learn about themselves and the world around them.

Ariel Landrum 0:21
And I’m Ariel, I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist who uses clients passions and fandoms to help them grow and heal from trauma and mental unwellness.

Stefanie Bautista 0:29
And here at Happiest Pod, we dissect Disney mediums with a critical lens.

Ariel Landrum 0:33
Why? Because we are more than just fans, we expect more from the mediums we consume. So Stef, what Disney Experience are we discussing today?

Stefanie Bautista 0:40
So it’s been a while since we’ve, you know, recorded and we’ve gotten back into the game. I know, as we always say, in our practices, mental health is number one. So we decided to take a little break for ourselves pay attention to what we need, the things that we need to do on our lives. But we went back into it full force with conventions. So it’s not necessarily a specific Disney experience. I think this is more of it encompasses everything that has to do with all geekiness all nerdiness anything fandom, definitely Disney is a big driving force in a lot of these things, because of all of its franchise acquirements. But conventions is our topic today. And we have done a lot of conventioning, haven’t we?

Ariel Landrum 1:27
Yes, yes. We have gone to a lot of conventions, I think maybe more you than me. Because I went to WonderCon and Comic-Con.

Stefanie Bautista 1:36
Yes. And I went to Anime Expo, which is one more than you.

Ariel Landrum 1:39
Yeah. And then we didn’t do Midsummer Scream because that’s always right after Comic-Con and I need like a break. And we are I know that both of us are going to try D23.

Stefanie Bautista 1:51
Yes, we are going to try with all of our minds and all of our Disney magic to do that. Because as you all have probably been seeing a lot of these in person conventions are coming back for the first time in 2022. So many people are eager, they’re willing to come back to the convention space to be with their communities, and also be with their tribes basically. And so what we’re finding is that a lot of these conventions are selling out. I know for myself, when I was preparing for Anime Expo this year, I did not realize that I was going to see many posts on Instagram saying they were sold out which is beyond anything that I’ve ever experienced before. I mean, for all of you con convention goers you all know that these things never sell out.

Ariel Landrum 2:35
I mean, with the exception of San Diego Comic-Con

Stefanie Bautista 2:37
With the exception of the big one. These almost never sell out. They’re usually still very niche communities that come together cosplay. But I think over the pandemic with the releases of so many platforms and so much accessibility to content. We’re just getting fans from everywhere. And it’s not a niche community anymore. As they say it’s cool to be a nerd now, right?

Ariel Landrum 3:02
It’s cool to be part of the geeky community.

Stefanie Bautista 3:05
It is it is so yeah, we attended quite a bit of conventions. We went into it. I know, both me and Ariel had been a little hesitant to be in the public space, especially since you know we are still in the middle of a pandemic. But we have been given some great opportunities, right?

Ariel Landrum 3:20
Absolutely. So So previously, before the pandemic, we would go to conventions every year, and on a different platform that’s been archived we actually went as press. And then even before that we were attendees. And even before that, I worked as a booth babe, which is somebody who passes out free things and stuff.

Stefanie Bautista 3:37
Ohh! Booth babe! Booth babe! I did not do that. I was always an attendee.

Ariel Landrum 3:43
So we have had many types of experiences of the convention. I think, the only experience that we haven’t had is being an exhibitor. I haven’t.

Stefanie Bautista 3:51
Yes.

Ariel Landrum 3:52
You?

Stefanie Bautista 3:53
But accidentally you were going to be an exhibitor this year at Comic-Con, right?

Ariel Landrum 3:56
Yes. And the other new experience that we had at WonderCon. And Comic-Con was we were panelists.

Stefanie Bautista 4:03
Yes. And I feel for us, it was just like a dream come true. I never thought that we would be at the level at this stage of I guess, in our geekiness that we would be presenting topics that people really wanted to hear about connecting with people who think just like us and share the same passions and fandoms as us and having some really meaty and meaningful conversations that lasts beyond the 45 minutes that they allow us to have.

Ariel Landrum 4:32
Yes. Being a volunteer or working at a booth working it’s essentially a W2 two or 1099 job you have to apply. When it comes to being a volunteer you also have to apply but usually volunteers. If you particularly San Diego Comic-Con because it’s so big. If you apply early and get approved, then you get passes for the whole shebang. So you end up not having to pay but you have to be prepared to work you have to be Be prepared to answer a lot of questions about the convention floor where things are about the panel’s. Really good volunteers who get chosen again next year are ones that create that connection and do the deep dive to learn about the convention and its size and where to walk around. But when it comes to doing something like press, being a professional, doing a panel, that’s it’s a whole other bar, where you have to, like, fill out paperwork, do a proposal. And when we had done it for press, you had to prove that you had a following you had people reading your content, or if you’re a podcaster, are listening to your podcast, or, you know, watching your YouTube channel, if you were saying that you were public, like a publication of some sort, you have to prove that. So for anybody who wants to have a press pass, if you don’t already work at a…

Stefanie Bautista 4:35
Like an established publication…

Ariel Landrum 4:48
You have to be willing to put in the work to make your own which means consistency, because that’s usually what garners the most attention.

Stefanie Bautista 6:02
Yes, definitely. And with those different levels, it’s kind of like, as an attendee, yes, you want to have fun a little bit. But when you have a purpose there, it’s all of a sudden, a different game, you have to make sure that you’re working having trying to have fun at the same time. But also, knowing that you have a responsibility there and knowing that you have to have a game plan coming in. Because when you’re making that jump from attendee to either volunteer or attendee to even press, you have to make sure that you’re getting what you need to get done. Because as you all know, who do attend conventions, the day just slips by, and it goes by so fast, and all of the sensory overload all of just the people overload, everything just kind of ends up getting in the way. So I know for myself making the jump from attendee to at least press, I had to, like totally prepare myself in a different mindset. I know for sure, I didn’t want to be a volunteer, because I didn’t want to work. I wanted to have fun. I didn’t want to work. But this type of work was a little bit different, because then I could put my perspective on things. But I did run into the problem of gathering all that information into a digestible way. And putting all of those things because there’s a lot you’re looking at a lot of things, a lot of things are being thrown at you, you’re experiencing a lot of different like either panels, Artist Alley, all that stuff. And then to be able to condense all of that information into something that’s digestible is not easy for a lot of people to do. So, like Ariel said, there’s many different avenues to be part of what is essentially a convention, but you just have to find the one that works the best for you.

Ariel Landrum 7:42
And burst a little bit of a bubble. Just because you get the press pass doesn’t mean that you get access to all of the things. There are even tiers, if it is a bigger convention, like San Diego Comic-Con, sometimes press gets special seating, but at smaller conventions, they don’t get preference in seating at panels. And they don’t get to automatically interview whoever they want. Obviously, larger press publications will get access to celebrities to be able to do sit downs, and Q and A’s. Whereas general press that comes from like blogs or YouTube channels that aren’t well established, but are still enough following that they can get a press pass, you’re probably just going to be able to just attend for free, which you know, is a money saver. So it’s not something to sneeze at. But don’t step into wanting to do those things thinking, “I’m going to now have these magic doors open to all of these and I get I get to meet like my you know, Chris Evans?”

Stefanie Bautista 8:39
Yes. Don’t think because you have a press faster, you’re automatically going to be IGN. And then you’re going to just give a sit there and people come to you. That’s not how it works. Although that would be great. That is definitely not how it works.

Ariel Landrum 8:53
We did press and we talked about being a volunteer and certainly being attendee is you just enjoying yourself. And we will focus on the attendee experience in a little bit, because that’s going to be everyone’s more general experience. But the next thing is being sometimes what they call a professional and the professional are usually individuals who get to be on a panel. Who either are running or moderating the panel, or are the key panelists in either a workshop or q&a format. And that was the the new thing that Stef and I were able to do this year starting with WonderCon and which is the sister convention of Comic-Con, so a little bit smaller, known as like the TV convention around here and is in Anaheim. And then we actually were able to because of that score, doing a panel at San Diego Comic-Con like the mothership of all geeky conventions.

Stefanie Bautista 9:49
Yes. And I think because there are sister conventions like that that is a way to get into the big leagues, right. I didn’t really think of it at first because is when we were at WonderCon, I was like, “Oh, this is it. We made it ya’ll.”

Ariel Landrum 10:03
“We don did it!”

Stefanie Bautista 10:05
“We don did it. We’re here in Anaheim, this is great.” Like, and they were coming out with so many cool things at WonderCon. Like people were actually like, bigger panels because I think I’ve only attended one or two WonderCons prior. And I think that was when Shazam first came out. And I remember this, like the size of it, because it was small, it wasn’t as overwhelming as Comi-Con, it was so much more accessible. And you know, of course, we’re next to Disneyland. So it’s always all good. And the people who normally would be Disney fans were there. So it felt a little bit more like home. We were, I felt very comfortable there. And I felt that it was a great foray into being a professional and a panelist because it didn’t feel foreign, even though we haven’t been in that space for a very long time.

Ariel Landrum 10:51
Well and then we’re talking about so for you and I, how the process went was we put in a proposal at WonderCon.

Stefanie Bautista 10:59
Months prior.

Ariel Landrum 11:01
Yeah, we put in, we put in each our own proposal, because what we’ve found out from peers who had done panels was that volunteers are the ones who look over the proposals, and they just get a pile. So we’re like, “Oh, well, we can increase our chances, if we each put one in. We didn’t think that they would both get chosen, where one of us had to do like you had to change the title of your panel and some of the goals.

Stefanie Bautista 11:26
And it was funny that I had to do that. And it was so nonchalant. They were just like, “You could just tweak it a little bit. And you know, we can we can accept it.” I’m like, “Oh, it’s that easy.”

Ariel Landrum 11:35
“It’s that easy?” And then we also had a friend Lorran, who also had a panel approved that she had asked me to be a part of and I was just like, “Oh, well, if our panels don’t get chosen, then maybe hers will.”

Stefanie Bautista 11:48
Yeah.

Ariel Landrum 11:48
So I went from like thinking I’d be on one to being on three.

Stefanie Bautista 11:53
And you’re really only preparing to be on one because I mean as as an attendee, you don’t even think you’re gonna get to that level at that point, or like, “Why? Why would they choose me?”

Ariel Landrum 12:03
Yes.

Stefanie Bautista 12:04
However, all these conventions, their goal is to connect with the people who love the content, right? Yes, they want to involve as much of the general public as possible. That’s what conventions thrive on. So knowing that they want to have real life people who can, you know, explain and talk about things that the general populace loves. So it is not that much of a surprise when you think about it from that perspective, because they do want a variety of programming. They just don’t want people going to a DC or Marvel or a Disney panel. They also want people who are consumers of this media, whatever platform you have, talking about why they love it, and in different angles too.

Ariel Landrum 12:46
And I think it’s worth it to note that a majority of these conventions, at least when it comes specifically to WonderCon and San Diego Comic-Con, they’re nonprofits, they’re huge. They look like they’re profitable. They’re nonprofits and, and not in their their mission statement involve education on pop culture media. So having panels that focus on learning about how to create a comic book learning about comic book law, learning about what it’s like to be a podcaster, learning how to voice act, all of those things are what make it rich. So for us, we we had three, I have three panels, Stef had two panels. And when we were chosen for our specific panels, we had to decide how we were going to do moderating, if it was going to be like co-moderating who we were going to have how we were gonna split it up. So the first panel was Lorran’s panel that I was a guest on and it was, Why Diverse Stories matter: Voices from the BIPOC LGBTQ+ Neurodiverse Community. And so the what we learned from Lorran, who had been doing panels at SDCC and WonderCon, consistently for a few years now, is that you want a variety of panelists, if yours isn’t niche, like we’re only talking about creating a comic book, then, you know, make it as diverse as possible. So she had actors, she had producers, she had comic book creators and graphic designers. So when we were thinking about the panelists for our panel, we had Coming Together on an Honoring AAPI Voices in Pop Culture, which was Stef’s panel, and then Celebrating AAPI Voices in Media, which was my panel, we wanted to do the same. So we had chosen panelists who were diverse in their professional background from our own.

Stefanie Bautista 14:39
Yep, exactly. And in doing those different types of panels, we had to make sure that the content had variety and that you know, we were attacking you know, the subject in different angles that were pretty much similar but a little bit different. And I think in crafting that it’s kind of like your writing up a podcast episode, or you’re writing up even just like a short essay, like, “How are we going to split up the subject in a meaningful way where everybody’s voices are heard?” And that is all dependent on your moderators, the people on the panel, their level of comfort of talking in front of an audience, because we also do want to honor that not everybody is great with public speaking, and they don’t have to be. And many of you know, the professionals that we had on our panel either had a lot of experience in that or maybe had little to no experience and that. For us, we were coming in as newcomers. So we are used to talking to each other on this podcasting, the resume, or also just talking with a bunch of friends. I think, finding the balance between those two is what we had to navigate and learn. And by the time that we did our San Diego Comic-Con panel, I feel like we kind of achieved a lot of the goals that we wanted to achieve. Because not only was the content, of course, all of our content, we love talking about all of it. But talking about different different subjects really impacts the flow of the panel and the flow of the conversation.

Ariel Landrum 16:09
And with our two specific panels being on the AAPI experience, the Asian American Pacific Islander experience, we had, of course, wanted panelists who were part of the community because it was meant to uplift the voices and celebrate the voices and honor the voices of our community. But we also wanted a diversity even in the AAPI. Oftentimes, you when you hear Asian American people immediately think of someone who’s East Asian. So we had a lot of Southeast Asians. And we didn’t have anybody who’s Desi or or Indian, but, you know, maybe something for the future. And we had a for my panel, a specific Creator, who was like, featured on all of the WonderCon like, advertising.

Stefanie Bautista 17:01
Yes.

Ariel Landrum 17:03
I was talking to her sway about like, I have to pick some people for a panelist and he was like, “Why don’t you just tweet at some people?”

Stefanie Bautista 17:10
Yeah. And honestly, that’s like, a felt like a reach for us. I remember when we were talking about it. We’re like, “Could we just try it?” And that is how we got Trung Le on our panel, because Ariel tweeted at him. And we’re not big tweeters, like, we’re not on Twitter all the time.

Ariel Landrum 17:28
Nope.

Stefanie Bautista 17:28
So this was totally like, shot in the dark.

Ariel Landrum 17:31
Yes. Yeah. And I did the same for our San Diego Comic-Con panel, which was titled,

Stefanie Bautista 17:40
“From the Screen to Your Plate: Food In Pop Culture.”

Ariel Landrum 17:42
Yeah.

Stefanie Bautista 17:43
I said it enough times.

Ariel Landrum 17:45
Yes. However, nobody responded to that. I was hoping Binging for Babish would want to be on. Or Feast of Fiction.

Stefanie Bautista 17:52
Or we got our panelists in very different ways for Comicon. And I think, see, and this is the power of the geek community and the power of our subject, which was food and pop culture, we were able to get some amazing artists and amazing collaborators, just by chance.

Ariel Landrum 18:15
Yes. Okay, okay, so for WonderCon I had asked individuals who I had known personally, they were my friends or individuals that Lorran knew. So these were these were all close friends and they had been on panels or her her friends had been on panels before. And then my my friends who was a psychologist and two app based creators, so they were in the graphic and and programming and web design art community. They were flying in from San Francisco, but they were someone that I had been collaborating with on creating apps. However, when it came to Comic-Con Stef and I did the divide and conquer where we both submitted proposals, we actually submitted five.

Stefanie Bautista 18:59
We did. Each.

Ariel Landrum 19:02
And with San Diego Comic-Con, only one got accepted. And even though we submitted the exact same thing with different names,

Stefanie Bautista 19:10
So we thought, “Oh, for sure, like our AAPI is gonna get picked for like something,” like because, okay, when we did the WonderCon panel, we had some meaningful conversation about what it is to be Asian American. I was like, I was so emotional, because I really feel like it’s a subject that I don’t get to talk about a lot, let alone with other female Asian American Pacific Islander creators, and to have a platform and to have people say, “Oh my gosh, I never thought that I would see like a whole full panel of female Asian American Pacific Islander creators and people who just liked the same things that I like, talk about what it is to see themselves represented in media.” That’s a deep topic y’all like 45 minutes could not contain the amount of knowledge and amount of just emotion and also real life situations that we could have dived into and we need like a part 1-234-567-8910 for it.

Ariel Landrum 20:02
Yes.

Stefanie Bautista 20:04
So going into Comi-Con we’re like, “Oh, for sure that’s gonna get picked.”

Ariel Landrum 20:07
Yeah.

Stefanie Bautista 20:07
Of course, lo and behold, the one that gets picked is the one about food.

Ariel Landrum 20:10
Yes, yes. So, when we were coming up with ideas, we thought about a Geek Therapy one, we thought about different AAPI ones. And we did we did one on Disney princesses, which we presented before, The Evolution of the Disney Princess, and then we’re like, “Hey, I don’t like the number four. I want the number five.” Number four is bad luck anyway. So let’s do five. “What should we do? We’re like we food.”

Stefanie Bautista 20:36
And I was like, of course, we can do food, there is so much to be said about geeky food. And we are always at a pop up, or we are always going to a themed ice cream day. Or we’re always like ever since you mean, me and Ariel have been friends. We’ve been doing pop ups and like consuming all sorts of foods that are themed from the time that it existed. So we were like, “Okay, no brainer, let’s do this.” And we came up with like, a really quick description was the last one that we submitted. And of course, that is the one that got picked. And we’re like, “Okay, well, then our approach is going to be a little bit different because we don’t have to have super professionals on this panel. This is going to be a different approach from all the other panels that we’ve done.” Which is like four.

Ariel Landrum 21:18
Which is four.

Stefanie Bautista 21:19
Four.

Ariel Landrum 21:20
the the thing about the food panel and proposals in general to be a panelist or to host a panel, yes, is that you need to request months in advance. And so as soon as WonderCon ended, Stef and I just put in our paperwork for San Diego Comic-Con, simply because one, we knew we were going to be busy and we didn’t want to forget the deadline. And two, we were just fresh off of that like glow from a convention.

Stefanie Bautista 21:45
Oh for sure.

Ariel Landrum 21:45
And like we just wanted to get do all the things.

Stefanie Bautista 21:47
Oh, yeah.

Ariel Landrum 21:48
Do all the things.

Stefanie Bautista 21:48
We can conquer the world.

Ariel Landrum 21:49
Conquer the world. And we just need to harness that energy. And so it had been like two or three months had gone by before we even heard anything. And a whole other thing of a Vegas trip happened with me and my friend Malaysha. That’s that’s its own thing. But I met someone on the plane, who, Joon and he is a shoe designer, and was also like opening up a K-popcorn chicken restaurant with his cousin. And I was like, “Oh, hey, we I made a proposal with my friend to San Diego Comic-Con. Would you be interested in being a panelist if it got chosen? And we just like exchanged Instagram and that was a thing. Low and behold, four days later, that was the one that was chosen. I told him about it. And he was our first agreed upon panelists.

Stefanie Bautista 22:38
Our first agreed upon panelists and I happened to be in San Diego visiting family at that time. And I was like, “I wonder what happened to our proposal?” Because I am literally across the street from the convention center at the Children’s Museum with my family. And I was like, “I wonder if I just searched Comic-Con and they ever responded?” And there it was, we were approved earlier that day to have our food and pop culture panel and I told Ariel, she was like, “I already have a panelist!” And I was like, |Get out of here!” And so we’re like, “Oh my gosh, we’re actually doing this like this is actually happening!” And so we had Joon on board, we had our good friend chance on board…

Ariel Landrum 23:15
Which you may remember him from the villains episode.

Stefanie Bautista 23:18
Yes. Fantastic. Fantastic human being also goes with us to many, many pop ups and you know, loves to eat just like us. So we were like, “Okay, great. We have four people, but two of them are moderators. So we kind of need a little bit more.” So we were, you know, kind of searching through, you know, our network of people. And we knew that as Asian American Pacific Islanders, Filipino Americans specifically, we knew that there were a lot of great Filipino projects that were going on around, Lumpia With a Vengeance,” which is a Kickstarter movie that had a part one, but is now advertising a part two. And we met a lot of the really awesome people over at WonderCon ironically, because of Chance as well.

Ariel Landrum 24:00
Yes, it’s a Chance. So what we’ve learned about panelists setting up is it’s oftentimes who someone else knows.

Stefanie Bautista 24:06
Yes it is who someone else knows it. I mean, it truly goes back to it’s who you know. And in this industry, even though we don’t consider ourselves to be mega part of the entertainment industry, there is bits and pieces of that. And I think we can definitely say as geeky professionals, we are in that industry now. It is definitely who you know, and the people you want to support and with the platforms that you have. So definitely as Filipino Americans, we did want to uplift our kababayan which is our, you know, our kin, and pretty much have people that are represented because they have a lot of really great projects happening. Like I said they had a part one now they’re gonna have a part two.

Ariel Landrum 24:46
A comic.

Stefanie Bautista 24:47
Yeah, a comic book as well. And ironically, they were doing a screening at San Diego Comic-Con. So we were like, “Hey, let’s see if we can get somebody on board from their team.” I was linked up to their PR person who was amazing and awesome. And I didn’t realize that we also worked around the same area because I work in historic Filipino town in the daytime. And we were able to get a Earl Baylon, which is one of the he’s a voice actor, he is on Netflix. And he is also one of the producers for Lumpia with a Vengeance. So he is also a very big foodie. And he also had a podcast and a YouTube channel where they would recreate recipes, and he was a perfect fit. So he was our number three. Yes.

Ariel Landrum 25:29
When it comes to going to conventions, one of the things that Stef and I love the most as Artists Alley. We love celebrating people who are creative fans that recreate our fandom, and also incorporate their own culture, their history into their artwork. I remember that when when we went to WonderCon we stopped by a booth where I had bought a Jollibee pin.

Stefanie Bautista 25:56
Genevieve Santos, she’s amazing.

Ariel Landrum 26:00
And so in doing that, you start to make connections. And sometimes you become a fan of even these artists, like there are regular artists that I visit regularly. And then there are actual like artists creators, so I had like signed comic books at San Diego Comic-Con. So creating connections with them ends up being a vital part of the community development when you go to conventions.

Stefanie Bautista 26:22
Definitely. And also seeing like, your culture represented. I think there are so many of us AAPI creators that are really starting from the ground up because you know, we weren’t always encouraged as young kids to be artists and you know, to love what we do and, and also represent ourselves in our craft. So like Ariel said, we love going to Artists Alley because that is where the grassroots of fandom like pretty much start off. Because I I myself, I’m an avid pin collector, I love collecting pins. I have so many pins everywhere all at once.

Ariel Landrum 26:55
Disney pins specifically.

Stefanie Bautista 26:56
Disney pins Yep. Disney pin pins specifically Anime pins, all of it. And going to Artist Alley. So timeline goes we did WonderCon. Anime Expo was next that I only went to. And I decided to go with, of course my family and I also decided to bring my little niece with me because it was her first convention. And she dressed up as Nezuko. And there were like 1000 Other Nezukos out there from Demon Slayer because everybody loves Demon Slayer. And that was my day to chill. Because like Ariel said, we always try to now have a day where we buy a lot of stuff our day to chill our day to you know, be with family or be with friends, what have you. So we go to Artists Alley, but then that was our chill day without my niece and we were like let’s go and see what we can buy pin wise. I had just bought a new Ita bag. And for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a clear bag that you can basically display all of your pins and buttons on. And it’s kind of like a walking advertisement of you. And everything you love. So if you see somebody who likes like Anime or like something that is similar to you, you can strike up a conversation with them, be like, “Oh my god, I love your pin!” And that is part of community building. So Artists Alley this year is kind of like other years at Anime Expo where it’s located in the basement of the convention hall because it used to be a small part of the exhibit hall but it has grown so much because anime content creators are its own thing. And like all artists from all source all parts of the country come to Anime Expo to have a booth and people can buy their items and not have to pay for shipping. Or back then before shipping was even really a thing you could only find them in Artists Alley. That’s why that is one of my favorite things to go to Anime Expo because you’re not always going to find official Japanese merchandise at a price point that you can afford anywhere. So artists are really what saved the day. So I’m walking through these halls and it is the Saturday of convention it is the most packed it is almost near impossible to get through one aisle, let alone I think they had 10 aisles of Artists Alley because people are packed like sardines and I am here with a stroller. My son’s asleep thankfully my my husband goes out to use the restroom or whatever. And so I’m like inching my way I live this is like worse than a busy day at Disneyland. I have literally walking inches to get to the end of the hall. And I happen upon this. This booth that look like a little cafe. I love coffee y’all.

Ariel Landrum 29:29
Oh no, no wait. She loves coffee so much that the one we worked as baristas at Whole Foods. They made a large cardboard cutout of her that people would hide in the freezer of her loving her coffee.

Stefanie Bautista 29:40
Yes.

Ariel Landrum 29:40
She was the lead coffee specialist.

Stefanie Bautista 29:42
I was the lead coffee. I bought all the coffee there so I I knew all of the coffee bars and I was we were getting coffee for free all the time. It was good times. So I love coffee a lot and so this booth automatically catches my eye because it has little awning. It has like a little cute pin display. Bored. And I’m like browsing around as I do. And mind you, there are people everywhere. So I can’t even move at this point. So I have no choice but to look. And I see that they had little pins that looked a lot like soda in a bag. And for those of you who have visited Southeast Asia or any, anywhere in Asia, really, when you buy street food out there, soda doesn’t come in a can. It doesn’t come in a cardboard box, it comes in a bag.

Ariel Landrum 30:25
A bag with a straw in it, and…

Stefanie Bautista 30:27
A bag with a staw in it.

Ariel Landrum 30:28
And if you go to Storytellers Cafe you can get a cereal milk in those bags in the straw. So what’s what has been what was street food is now bougie.

Stefanie Bautista 30:41
Is now bougie at the Grand Californian. That’s so funny. Um, but yeah, so I see it in a bag. And I asked the guy behind the counter like, “Is this Royal True Orange, which is the orange soda in the Philippines in a bag?” And he’s like, “It is!” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is so cute. Like, who makes the pins?” He’s like, “Actually, my cousin makes the pins.” And so I’m like, “Oh, that’s really awesome.” And then I’m browsing a little bit more. And I’m like, “Hey, you know what, I’m gonna get a couple of these pins.” I got that. And also polvorón which is like a really sweet dessert that’s kind of powdery that comes in a little wrappings. That meant a lot to me, because I used to make those with my mom when I was younger. And it was like a really sweet treat that I love. And I still love to this day. And I was like, “I’m gonna buy some of these pins. But also, would your cousin be willing to talk to me because I actually have a panel…” And then I go into my whole spiel about how we have a panel at San Diego Comic-Con. And we would love to have creators like her who are artistic and use their craft to express themselves and their culture through food. And he’s just like, “Wait, are you serious? Are for real? Let me text her right now!” And then so he texts her and then the next day I set up a meeting with her her name is Celena, Sacramento, also known as Celine, Celena Bernice, and she is from LA. Ironically, she was, I think, getting lunch or something at that time, so she wasn’t there. But she had to step away from the booth a little bit. But Anime Expo was the only place that she would sell her things at that time. And she’d only been to San Diego Comic-Con as an attendee, and she was just like, “I would love to be on your panel.” She migrated here from the Philippines not that long ago. And she had some amazing stories to tell about being who she is in that space as a graphic designer. And it she said it also helped reinvigorate her craft. So I think it was like a win win situation. And I was so happy to have her on the panel and have her perspective, because it was such a unique one. And it made the conversations just so awesome.

Ariel Landrum 32:42
Yes. Now we have talked a lot about the panels that we did, and they will actually we’ll be putting the audio on the podcast and or if you want to actually watch them, we’ll be putting them on YouTube. I think that you all will enjoy sort of that adjunct to what we do.

Stefanie Bautista 32:57
Yes. And forgive us. We do not have professionals recording us. So if the audio is a little wonky. Forgive us we will improve…

Ariel Landrum 33:04
One was recorded on a phone my people we are not like, like, it looks like we’re that life. But we’re not that life.

Stefanie Bautista 33:10
No we’re not. We are grassroots just like you all. If you have tips and tricks about recording panels, we would love to hear about that. Because like I said, are like we said, being on these panels we are, they kind of just leave you to your own devices. And you kind of have to figure out how you want to record it. When you want to take your pictures. I know everybody has like the cute picture in front of like the in front of the panel and like the background, but you literally have to like take two seconds to do all of that stuff. Because you have like no time to prepare, and you have to just get it in or else you’re just not gonna get it in at all.

Ariel Landrum 33:45
And when it comes to managing expectations, some of it is some of your panelists might not show up, because their previous panel ran late or they aren’t able to attend anymore. Joon’s cousin who owns the K-Popcorn Chicken with him couldn’t come. So that’s why we had four instead of five, which was totally fine, because four ended up being the perfect number. And at San Diego Comic-Con, the slides wouldn’t load any of the images, because the internet was wack.

Stefanie Bautista 34:12
Beautiful, this beautiful slide. And because we were talking about food, you wanted to have recipes. And we wanted to like tell everybody how much because you know food, there’s so many different ways to communicate that and we wanted to attack it from all levels. And we had a QR code for everybody, which we will have hopefully on the podcast website for all of you guys to see. And none of it showed up. So we had to describe every picture.

Ariel Landrum 34:38
Which grateful that the QR code worked because people on their phones were able to see what you’re supposed to be able to see.

Stefanie Bautista 34:44
So yay for accessibility. We did it. Yeah, so things are not gonna go the way you want it to for all my teacher friends out there, you know, you can prepare a lesson to the tee to the minute to the second and have it be perfect. And then once you get up there at all falls apart. So this is just one of those things that it’s just the reality of it. And at the end of it, we all just had really fulfilling conversation that the audience was so engaged. Thank you for everybody who attended. Hopefully, we will see you all again. Because the guy there’s so there’s a guy in there who click click clicks away to see how many people are in the panel, and homeboy on the side just kept clicking away. And I was like, “Oh, whoa, there it is.”

Ariel Landrum 35:28
Yeah, the first three panels we did at WonderCon, WonderCon one a smaller convention. So we didn’t expect a lot of people. And then they were very niche. They were on AAPI experiences, or diversity. And so the the panel rooms, I would say, maybe like 40?

Stefanie Bautista 35:45
I would say, yeah, for WonderCon. Definitely, Maybe no more than 50?

Ariel Landrum 35:49
New Yeah, no more than 50 in the room. So we were just kind of expecting the same thing at San Diego Comic-Con. While there are more attendees at San Diego Comic-Con, we really factor that in. And oh my god, everybody loves food. And the interesting thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a food panel. So maybe people were like, mind my phrase, hungry for this panel.

Stefanie Bautista 36:10
Oh, yeah.

Ariel Landrum 36:11
How many people do you think that we had in that room? And they just kept coming? My my my….

Stefanie Bautista 36:15
Oh, they just kept coming. And I was like, Are you lost? Did you Okay, so that was a couple of things that I thought about, actually, since it’s happened, because now I’ve had time to digest…

Ariel Landrum 36:24
Haha digest!

Stefanie Bautista 36:26
For me, I totally forgot how big the rooms were. And our room is 24 ABC. So I was like, okay, ABC. That means there’s three sections of a room that’s all compact together. And this is at the San Diego Convention Center. So we’re just right above the exhibit hall. Our panel is at 6:30. All the exhibit halls close at six o’clock. So afterwards if there isn’t a major panel in Hall H or like ballroom 20, which are the two big ones are the Indigo ballroom over at the San Diego Bayfront Hotel. If those are not as popular as people think they are, they’re going to want to just chill out before dinner. So I’m guessing a lot of people who were A just registering because it is the first day of convention center.

Ariel Landrum 37:09
Yeah, ’cause it was Thursday.

Stefanie Bautista 37:10
Registration was just down the hall from us. We were very accessible. And we were very fortunate to have that time slot because there weren’t a lot of big things going around. People just want to see what the convention is all about. And that is when you go see whichever panels are happening. And they always have a little agenda in front of every single room to see which panels are going on. And because some of them are niche, most people did gravitate, I feel like towards arts because it was a subject that everybody could relate to. Because people were dressed up as your friends and Good Burger costumes and.

Ariel Landrum 37:44
Ahh yes!

Stefanie Bautista 37:46
Your your little adoptees that you umm…

Ariel Landrum 37:49
We will talk about that in a little bit.

Stefanie Bautista 37:51
Yes. And it was right before dinner. So maybe people were a little bit hungry or just wanted to hear something a little bit different because like you said, I’ve never seen a food panel ever, and we’re not chefs, you’re gonna We’re home cooks at best; home bakers. We’re just foodies, and have lovers of foods. So I think maybe that also compelled people to just come check it out. And we were hyping there. I don’t know about anybody else. But that was the most hype panel that I’ve been on because the subject wasn’t so heavy. But it was very meaningful. But we were so excited to talk about it. I think that resonated in the room as well. So I would say maybe at the end of it, I would say near one about 100 people were in that panel?

Ariel Landrum 38:37
Well that day. So the the thing about our QR code and where our slides are, it counts, like how long or how many people have viewed or accessed it in that day, there was at least 120 people who viewed it. Just that day. And since then, I guess people are are viewing it afterwards, because there’s been over 300 people who have now viewed our slides to get the recipes.

Stefanie Bautista 39:02
That’s madness. I love that.

Ariel Landrum 39:06
What? You are accessing slides?

Stefanie Bautista 39:11
Slides that didn’t even work.

Ariel Landrum 39:12
Yeah, so thank thank you to those people.

Stefanie Bautista 39:16
think yeah, thank you to all of you.

Ariel Landrum 39:19
Rolling back a little bit. Okay, so, in talking about conventions first, do you want to hyper focus on this year’s conventions, and maybe starting off with Anime Expo because I didn’t go so what was that experience like for you?

Stefanie Bautista 39:33
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I go to Anime Expo every year, whether it’s just for one day, two days, all four days if I have the stamina, and also because Anime Expo always falls on the Fourth of July. There’s always a lot of family stuff going on. And it’s like the first. It’s the first holiday for all of the schools. So I always try to go in any way shape or form and I’ve been going since 20 a 2006, 2007.

Ariel Landrum 39:57
Wow!

Stefanie Bautista 39:57
Back when it was in Anaheim, where WonderCon actually is at the convention center. But man, it was Weeb Central. Like, you’re getting like the super niche…

Ariel Landrum 40:08
You’re like an Elder Weeb.

Stefanie Bautista 40:10
I am an Elder Weeb now I can say I mean, I feel like now a lot of a lot of people have been calling us Professional Geeks, which is awesome. Because we have achieved that level of success. But an all thanks to you all. But anyway, Anime Expo to me has always been home convention because A it’s always been somewhere in and around LA, whether it be Anaheim or the Convention Center where it now lives. And it always had a lot of opportunities for me to connect with anime that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to because we live in America, right anime is Japanese based. A lot of their products are just simply not here. I am very fortunate to live in Los Angeles where we do have a big Japanese American population. And so I can always travel to either Little Tokyo, Carson, Torrance… Any one of these enclaves even San Francisco, they have a big Japanese population out there to try and connect myself with merchandise with you know, like any little sort of thing to help me represent the anime that I love. So this year, was Anime Expo’s 30th anniversary. I had no idea. So there were a lot of cool things happening with Anime Expo because it was the 30th anniversary they were really hyping it up. It was back at the convention center in LA. And so…

Ariel Landrum 41:23
Okay the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Stefanie Bautista 41:24
Yes, the Los Angeles Convention Center right next to what is now called the Crypto.com Arena used to be called the Staples Center, not anymore…

Ariel Landrum 41:31
Dang crypto.

Stefanie Bautista 41:32
As a native Angeleno, I’m never going to call it the Crypto.com Arena, but that’s…

Ariel Landrum 41:36
Staples Center.

Stefanie Bautista 41:37
That’s a personal opinion of mine. It’s always gonna be Staples Center, always Kobe’s House. But they implemented a lot of different things that I feel like could have been done better. I understand that, you know, at first, when they were first advertising it, they said they were not going to verify COVID vaccinations. A lot of people were very upset about that, because they just said, “You know, you just have to monitor your health and make sure that you’re not sick.” But a lot of the panelists a lot of people who were coming from Japan, because Japan is still a closed country right now, they are not accepting any tourist, they are going to have a lot of they were or are going to have a lot of professionals at Anime Expo. And they didn’t want to risk exposure, which for all of us, especially for anime and the reach that it has now for younger audiences, a lot of parents and you know, me, myself, having my son, you know, having his first convention being Anime Expo after WonderCon. I didn’t want to risk that exposure either. And they realized that they needed to do a shift. So that’s when I first realized that we needed to do COVID vaccine verifications. And how they did that was they made you walk around the Convention Center, pretty far from where the actual entrances were, at the main Convention Center around the Staples Center, and into there’s like a street. It’s called Figaro. And it’s right between LA Live, which is like a shopping entertainment district, and the actual Staples Center and Convention Center. You had to walk all the way over there, get your COVID verification, and then come back. So it was a lot of walking. And mind you this is like the beginning of summer. So it’s just getting up into the 90’s here in Los Angeles. And so if you didn’t take advantage of that first registration day, all conventions, they normally have a day zero because there’s usually four days of registration. And Day Zero is when you get registered, especially for professionals, anybody setting up for the convention that has your day set up, get situated, get all of your credentials, everything that you need to have a good time at the convention to do what you need to do, basically. So if you didn’t take advantage of that day, you’re kind of screwed. Because you…

Ariel Landrum 43:43
Did you take advantage of that day? Did you know?

Stefanie Bautista 43:45
I definitely did I knew… because I had been doing this for so long. I always know to get my badge not on the day that I want to start doing convention things like going to the exhibit hall like seeing what I want to buy seeing what panels I want to attend. So luckily for me, because I don’t work too far from downtown. I was able to go get my badge first. But then with the amount of walking that I saw that I was going to do and the amount of walking people are going to be doing…

Ariel Landrum 44:10
Yeah…

Stefanie Bautista 44:11
In cosplay.

Ariel Landrum 44:12
Yes.

Stefanie Bautista 44:13
I was like, “Oh, I don’t know about this one.” So not only that, but they were also filtering out the lines that came into the convention center. I know for San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon. You basically just walk into the doors, you verify your badge and you go in. This one they wanted you to be in a singular line and two entrances. And so these lines would snake around the Convention Center, around the Staples Center loop all the way back around… It was like being in line at Disneyland but like way more score connected. So for me, I know if you have been attending our panels, I am currently six months pregnant. So I am expecting a little one very, very soon. And convention going for me has definitely given a mama perspective as a different perspective altogether. But yeah, expecting Mama is definitely a even more different perspective because you have to think about how you are feeling. And if you are up for conventioning. Because for a lot of our friends who are considered disabled or it’s hard for them to get around, they have to think of other ways for them to be comfortable during convention because it’s a lot of walking a lot of sweating a lot of people around you, and you just want to be comfortable and enjoy yourself at the convention too.

Ariel Landrum 45:34
And I know even like prep work wise before attending a convention, at least the two or three weeks before I will start increasing my step count to be able to tolerate the amount of foot traffic and depending on the convention, like at San Diego Comic-Con this year, they didn’t renew the carpeting. So you were just walking on cement unless a booth had its own special carpeting or its own padding, at which the Star Wars’ booth had the best padding right next…

Stefanie Bautista 46:06
Oh I didn’t go to that one..

Ariel Landrum 46:07
Oh it was one right next to the Naruto bowl.

Stefanie Bautista 46:09
Oh!

Ariel Landrum 46:09
I just likes I would like slowly lean into those like costumes. Stand on the plantform.

Stefanie Bautista 46:15
That’s why you are standing over there. “I was, why are they, they’re not moving?”

Ariel Landrum 46:18
Oh. It was so good!

Stefanie Bautista 46:22
Yes, yeah, that’s definitely something that you have to take into consideration because not everybody can go full force 4 days straight. It’s like doing Disney World in a sense, because you have to make sure that you are your stamina is up to speed to be able to withstand and not be, you know, just dying at the end of the day of exhaustion and what have you. But anyway, I was actually able to be tipped off by somebody because I didn’t really want to walk again around the Convention Center to be in that line to get in because I was tired. I was with my two year old and my husband. And I was like, “I’m not gonna stand…” and pregnant. So I was like, “Is there another way that I can get into another line?” And they’re like, “Well, since you are pregnant, you can technically get an ADA badge, which is American Disabilities Act badge, because you are considered in the category of people who need assistance.” And so I’m like, “Oh, that’s fantastic.” I was able to get that badge and my husband was my helper. And because of that convention, the convention was so much more easier for us to navigate because I did not have to extend myself or overwork myself to the point of exhaustion.

Ariel Landrum 47:31
So in getting the badge, so you didn’t have it essentially, like the first day you got it the second day?

Stefanie Bautista 47:37
I did get it the second day.

Ariel Landrum 47:38
Okay. And then what were some of the accommodations that you received at Anime Expo? And how like, how did it change your experience?

Stefanie Bautista 47:48
Oh, absolutely. So the first day when I did not have the badge, I went into the general line. And people are just like, kind of like, shoveling you through kind of like cattle. It’s like, “Okay, scan your badge, make sure you scan it,” all that stuff. And that is a very stressful process. Because if you don’t know how to you have to scan your badge to the RFID scanner to make sure that you paid for your ticket, all that stuff. And that whole thing just to get it right. With my ADA badge, I went to a different line with much more friendlier people. And it didn’t seem like you know, they were hating life at that point. And, yeah, they were very accommodating. They were like, “Oh, it’s okay, you can take your time, we’re not rushing you.” There was no line to get in. They were very friendly. They made small talk with me. And then I was able to go into another entrance next to the main entrance. But it led right to the elevators to go up because there’s a lot of stairs around the convention center. But because of that, we had special seating for certain things. If you wanted to play video games, there were always like a separate section for people with the ADA badge. And if they saw that you did have an ADA badge, they would let you go into different entrances that made it easier to access certain things like panels, and also just special things that like giveaways and things like that.

Ariel Landrum 49:10
Okay, so I think maybe because Anime Expo is smaller than San Diego Comic-Con, it sounds like they gave you more accommodations then what it seemed like what we saw at SDCC.

Stefanie Bautista 49:22
Yeah, definitely. And on top of that, I guess it’s worth mentioning that even though you did not have an ADA badge, they did have special rooms that were quiet rooms and like manga reading rooms for people who wanted to just get away from the convention floor. And those were accessible on the second level of the convention, the Convention Center and all you had to do was just you know, go in there would just monitor how many people were in there. And if it was too loud outside you could go in it was air conditioned, quiet. Everyone’s just kind of on their phones with their headphones on. And yeah, you could you did not have to have an ADA badge to access that. And also a quiet manga reading room where you could just go in, and it was just a room full of manga. And if you didn’t want to be on the convention floor with all of the hullabaloo, you could just sit down and read manga and get your fix that way. And so that was really good, because you did not have to have a certain special badge if you just really wanted to get away and unwind, but also not leave the convention, you could utilize one of those two rooms as a regular attendee.

Ariel Landrum 50:30
Yeah, I think that accommodation is the one that one access to general public because you know, everyone kind of needs a moment to be able to decompress. And I know in talking to Josué, the Geek Therapy Podcast, and obviously founder of our network, he has worked with the Take This at conventions, and they have an AFK room Away From Keyboard.

Stefanie Bautista 50:57
Oh I love that!

Ariel Landrum 50:59
Where you get access to you just sit with a mental health professional, you get access to decompress, you’re given sort of additional supports, and it’s volunteers, as well as clinical staff. They don’t provide mental health services, like you’re doing therapy, but they help, you know, give you some emotional support, or maybe give you some support tools if you are becoming overwhelmed by the convention floor. And that is something that they had it like more gaming conventions. I think that is something they should implement at every convention.

Stefanie Bautista 51:29
Every convention. Especially the big ones!

Ariel Landrum 51:32
There’s just too much stimulus too much.

Stefanie Bautista 51:35
Yeah.

Ariel Landrum 51:36
There is a lot going on, and particularly for new people. But I also think of like kiddos who could just like need a place to like nap in their in their stroller or something.

Stefanie Bautista 51:44
Yeah, definitely, I know of just a thing that happens at conventions, you see people sitting everywhere, everywhere, any nook and cranny or wherever they can sit they will sit, because it is exhausting. Just doing all that walking constantly, you’re wanting to see everything you’re wanting to go out every floor, you want to go to every like experience. You just need a break sometimes. And you will see you know, people in cosplay just lying out on the floor or you know, just taking a break finding a place to eat. Because there’s very limited seating in front of where you can get food or the food trucks are outside or what have you. And so a normal thing is just seeing people laid out everywhere. But if we implemented something like that quiet room, or maybe even just like, even setting aside half of one of the halls just for a bunch of tables just to sit down, you don’t have to sit on the floor for those of us who can’t sit on the floor, or it’s hard for us to get up from the floor. That is definitely something that would encourage more people to go to conventions.

Ariel Landrum 52:43
Now, when it comes to accommodations, San Diego Comic-Con does a really good job. And they also do a very bad job. And this is where I think some conventions need to create like a pamphlet. So you you get a sticker or a special badge, you get something that markers that you are that you’re utilizing accommodations. And so for those who don’t know, I have a lot of severe allergies, one of them being Cholinergic urticaria. And what that means is I’m allergic to my sweat. Like, like y’all, San Diego Comic-Con in the heat…

Stefanie Bautista 53:27
It’s sweat city!

Ariel Landrum 53:28
In line. So I not only use a fan, I actually have a cool gel patch that I wear fairly regularly, I have an asthma inhaler to help me breathe, because what will happen is if my body gets too warm, and I start sweating, I will not only break out in a rash, but I will actually go into like an anaphylactic shock where I can’t breathe. So I finally decided this year that I would access the accommodations. That because my condition had just gotten so much worse, it was less manageable. I’m older, you know, it’s a thing you have to accept.

Stefanie Bautista 54:01
Yes.

Ariel Landrum 54:01
And you will go in and they will say, “Who needs accommodation?” You say “Me,” they’ll give you a sticker. And that’s it.

Stefanie Bautista 54:09
That’s it. Yeah.

Ariel Landrum 54:10
You have to figure the rest out. I don’t understand why they don’t have a pamphlet that says like, so there were outside activations that you needed to pre check in at the ADA booth. I didn’t know that.

Stefanie Bautista 54:21
I didn’t know that either. I thought you could just show up and then it just happened.

Ariel Landrum 54:24
So some of them, some of them you could show them and they have a separate line for you. But others like this year was the Game of Thrones, the House Targaryen one you needed to check in and some sort of virtual type check in at the booths. There were exclusives that had a specific line for individuals ADA again, you would have had to check in the booth. They didn’t tell me any of these things. They also didn’t explain how many people your handler badge could be given out to. Because what if your handler isn’t there that day or doesn’t have a badge? So remember that to get an San Diego Comic-Con you will are on a lottery. So you may get Thursday and Aunday but not Friday and Saturday. So who was going to come and assist me if I needed assistance?

Stefanie Bautista 55:08
Correct yeah.

Ariel Landrum 55:09
There were temporary day badges that you can get. But of course, I wasn’t aware of that. And so unless you are integrated with the community that has used these accessibilities, you would not have been aware. And then even when it was time to check in for you, we had asked, is there a decompression room and there wasn’t! How is it that small Anime Expo which isn’t a small anymore, but still a lot smaller in San Diego Comic-Con has a decompression room and yet San Diego Comic-Con doesn’t? They did have a nursing room. But it was literally a fake wall with curtains…

Stefanie Bautista 55:43
Yes.

Ariel Landrum 55:43
Behind the ADA check-in.

Stefanie Bautista 55:45
for those of you who breastfed not as comfortable as some other nursing rooms. I’ve been in nursing rooms in many different stadiums, and at least they have a plant in there’s, and a reclining chair.

Ariel Landrum 55:56
Nope, nope, none of that. And then even with some of the like the areas on the hall, like we talked about the decompression room is somewhere to sit. There, there’s nowhere to sit and they will tell you to stand up, they will tell you to get off the ground. If you were if you look like you’re blocking traffic, which makes sense. We don’t want to, you know, make a hazardous environment in case there’s crisis. But part, like part of the accommodation is that you can’t stand for long periods of time. And yet we have nowhere for people to sit?

Stefanie Bautista 56:28
Yes, exactly. And you’re right, they do a great job. And they don’t do a great job. Because although the verification process to get an ADA badge, of course, they’re not going to interrogate you and ask you lately, let me see your proof. They’re not going to do that. But the follow up to that is kind of like you said, you have to figure it out on your own. And unfortunately, for a lot of people who do fall into the ADA category, a lot of their lives are already figured out on your own. And so without that prior knowledge, you it can either make or break your convention experience. And so I think, you know, having that decompression room, or having a pamphlet of saying, you know, I feel like even and correct me if I’m wrong Disney, they have a specific like, they tell you where all of the ADA accommodations are on the map, I’ve seen that before, when you open it up, you see the little ADA little symbol that’s blue, and it tells you all of the different ways that you can access ADA accessibility through those things. So I think that system can be easily implemented into a four day convention where you’re not doing it every single day. Just a little thing like that. Because yes, there is a program guide that has, you know, it’s pages and pages of like descriptions and things like that. There’s also a map that is like, has all of these different explanations and things. So you know, these little tweaks could make a convention goers experience all the more better. And although more comfortable seeing that it’s already a pretty stressful situation.

Ariel Landrum 57:57
So just like our an older episode about managing expectations, when you’re going to Disneyland, you need to manage your expectation when you go to any convention, and particularly the bigger ones like WonderCon or San Diego Comic-Con. And the reason why is because in particular with San Diego Comic-Con, it is wider, it is longer there is a lot of like foot traffic you have to go through to get from one area to another. So if you have a panel that is at the San Diego library, which they do, then that’s part of Comicon. And then you’re trying to get all the way to Hall H that’s literally the other side of town, essentially.

Stefanie Bautista 58:37
Yeah. And when you’re on foot, it’s like and you’re walking outside, you’re not walking in like air conditioned vents.

Ariel Landrum 58:43
And so this is where I would say people who aren’t from SoCal and who don’t live in this area. I don’t think that they they immediately think San Diego, nice, cool, consistent weather in the 70s. And I think what you’re forgetting is that you’re in an area where a lot of the ocean breeze is being blocked by large buildings because it is in the Gaslamp District, and you are doubling the amount of people outside which just increases the heat. And then Comic-Con is always in July. And so the sun is just blaring on you. There’s where there’s barely any clouds and there certainly isn’t any like rain or cool mist.

Stefanie Bautista 59:20
Yeah.

Ariel Landrum 59:20
So you have to prepare for it being hot.

Stefanie Bautista 59:23
Yeah. And there is a level of humidity to your you’re physically walking. So depending on the amount of sweat that you produce in a day, whether it be doing 10 minutes of exercise or hours of exercise, which you are essentially are doing when you’re walking around Comic-Con you have to take that into consideration and know when to take your breaks. I know for myself I took a lot of breaks even just from walking to the parking from the parking lot where I parked which was near Petco Park where the Padres play and going to the Convention Center. I took a break at the Hilton just to decompress because I knew I needed it. I wasn’t going to make it all the way to the Convention Center. And even if I did, would it really be worth it because once I got there, would I be even able to enjoy what I wanted to enjoy because I was so exhausted.

Ariel Landrum 1:00:09
Absolutely.

Stefanie Bautista 1:00:10
So I mean, that. And parking is a whole nother thing too if you’re not from the area because San Diego Comic-Con is the only convention that I know that does not have super accessible parking right away for somebody who does not know how the process works beforehand.

Ariel Landrum 1:00:27
some of the things you have to be mindful of is how you’re going to get parking how you’re going to get around, and what you’re willing to carry. So what any convention if you can bring at least water and snacks, you are pretty good. However, most conventions have free swag, and your bag starts to fill fairly, fairly fast, and it starts to get tiring to carry. And if your car is nowhere near the Convention Center, if you had to park off site, like if you went to WonderCon had to park in a completely different parking structure, then you have to be willing to know that either, “I’m going to carry this around all day. Is it worth it? Is this is this swag worth it for me?” And when it comes to the scheduling, if you are wanting to your what I have found, I should say what I’ve found successful is having a specific day that is like your convention floor day and having a specific day that is your panel day and just sacrificing on my floor today, I’m not going to those panels on the panel day, I’m not going down on the floor. So I’m probably not going to collect every day’s buttons for something or enamel pin. And I know that I’m not going to see whatever it is a large panel for whatever TV shows going on. So I have to after really be willing to sacrifice so that’s part of managing my expectation.

Stefanie Bautista 1:01:42
Yes. And of course, as it happens, whatever you have to do at the Convention Center, something’s always going to collide with it, something’s always just gonna be either 10 minutes into what you wanted to do, or 15 minutes into, you know what you are doing. So you just have to manage those expectations. And you have to just say to yourself, you know what, I’m going to try to do my best, I’m going to try to enjoy what I need, enjoy, get whatever I need to get done, and enjoy everything else. Because everything becomes way less enjoyable when you have these high expectations for yourself. And you know, logistically, it’s just not going to happen. I know for for WonderCon. And this is kind of going back to the different levels of convention participation. You you are nervous to you know, be a professional, you want to do your best you want to show up for both your panelists, your audience and everything. So even from me that’s nerve wracking…

Ariel Landrum 1:02:36
Oh, people know that you’re professional, because your badge says so…

Stefanie Bautista 1:02:41
Yes to you, you have to kind of change your mindset a little bit. And for me doing WonderCon for the first time, I was definitely butterflies in my stomach, I did not know if it was gonna go off well, or if people are gonna like me, or if people are gonna, you know, be engaged with what I want to say. And all of that, you know, me and Ariel, I feel like we’re very, you know, good in preparing most of our content. And even with that level of preparation, there’s still a lot of anxiety that comes around it like, is everyone going to show up on time, like, there’s a lot of moving parts to that. And I think managing the expectation of let’s just get up there, do what we need to do, and enjoy it afterwards. Definitely, I had to keep that in the back of my mind in order to survive.

Ariel Landrum 1:03:27
Okay, so my Comic-Con babies. Here’s the thing big. Because San Diego Comic-Con is so large. And I think for people who don’t go to conventions, they don’t understand. It is so large, it literally takes over all of San Diego. If I go to the Ralph’s grocery store, everybody’s dressed up as a superhero. And they’ve got Excelsior, like on the windows and cardboard cutouts. And they have like Monster Energy drinks that they’re handing out because they’re know that there’s going to be more people. And they that’s a great way to advertise, give out free swag.

Stefanie Bautista 1:03:55
For sure.

Ariel Landrum 1:03:56
If you even if you don’t get into the convention, you could just go to the town and walk around and get so many free things and see so many experiences that aren’t exclusive to badge holders.

Stefanie Bautista 1:04:06
Yep.

Ariel Landrum 1:04:07
And pretty much every three years or so, if you go for three years in a row, you kind of got the idea of what you need to do. And that’s around the time where you meet new people who it’s their brand new time and you do something called you adoptees where you adopt someone into your group you into your fold. And so my my friend Alex, he his adoptees are these two really cool Canadians, Ravi and Shawn. And so this year apparently was my adoptees because I adopted Xavier and Greg and they weren’t new to conventions, but they were definitely new to San Diego Comic-Con and we spent almost every single day together once we adopted them the very first day on Preview Night and there was there’s some benefits of being essentially adopted or or at least included in the fold right for From your Comic-Con attendees. One of them being this year because of COVID. And needing to get the bat, the wristband that says that you’re vaccinated, they had two areas where you can get verified. And so there was the one right out front of the Convention Center, which snaked around the entire Convention Center like…

Stefanie Bautista 1:05:22
Oh, yeah…

Ariel Landrum 1:05:22
Four times.

Stefanie Bautista 1:05:23
I’m sure that’s those are the pictures that you all probably saw on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook of just like the madness of what that line was because it was right in front of the Convention Center where everybody takes all their pictures of cosplay everything.

Ariel Landrum 1:05:35
And what ended up being as if there was another one that was actually a lot shorter than not a lot of people knew about, and it was at the Marriott Hotel. So we immediately told them, “Go to the Marriott Hotel, get get your vaccine verification there, because the line is gonna be a lot smaller, and you’re gonna get into the convention sooner.” And remember, these tickets are very expensive. So you want to make use of as much time as you can. And if you have Preview Night, Preview Night only lasts I think from like six to nine so you don’t have a lot of opportunity to go into the convention floor and check it out. So that was our one of our first tips. Our other tip being the free shuttles. What most people don’t know is that Comic-Con has free shuttles that will take you from different hotels, so even if you’re really far away, you don’t even need to get a car or parking if you don’t plan on carrying too much stuff or you do the check in like we talked about.

Stefanie Bautista 1:06:29
They’re like huge charter buses to they’re not just like, you know, short buses…

Ariel Landrum 1:06:32
Short but yeah, they’re not they’re not they’re not like, like passenger vans.

Stefanie Bautista 1:06:38
Yeah, they’re not passenger. We’re not like like shuttles you would think they’re like big charter buses.

Ariel Landrum 1:06:42
Yeah, huge charter buses. And then the other suggestions that we’d given them was ways to get onto the different activations. Ways to get into Hall H we didn’t get into Hall H on the big mega Saturday. And we we stayed out in that line till 2-am ya’ll.

Stefanie Bautista 1:07:02
Oh my gosh!

Ariel Landrum 1:07:03
2, 2am There were some shenanigans happening and lots of our group was honestly the noisiest I’m sure there’s a Twitter Thread out there of someone who’s just trying to like sleep. And yeah, I think that, remember that that’s part of the culture and the community. I hope that if any of you decide to go to conventions, you can find an established group that looks cool that you can integrate yourself with because having convention friends, friends you only see at convention, it’s like a whole different vibe. It’s a whole new level.

Stefanie Bautista 1:07:33
And just a disclaimer, I was not in that line until two o’clock, I tapped out early because since yes, I am six months pregnant. Me and our friend Chance, who was kind of my my handler, like all of my handler, we were each other’s handlers. Because you know, we both have accommodations that we needed to take into consideration. We tapped out early. So we were kind of on a different trajectory as everybody else had had been a couple years earlier. I would I was right there with Shawn Ravi and our friend Alex and I would be at those lines, just you know, having a blast because like Ariel said, having convention friends that you only see at convention is very special because it is something unique and special to you. And you know, that sense of community is just irreplaceable.

Ariel Landrum 1:08:16
In switching to Disney specifically because the Disney podcast there is a Disney convention.

Stefanie Bautista 1:08:25
Oh, yes.

Ariel Landrum 1:08:27
Called D23 which basically as mega San Diego Comic-Con, because Disney owns so many of the franchises that we love. Have you ever been?

Stefanie Bautista 1:08:35
I’ve never been I do have friends who are part of D23, which is a club. It is a fan club that you have membership to not as exclusive and not as exclusive as Club 33 where you have to be invited in and it’s just like, you know, a whole thing. But D23 is where you get special releases. You get like a newsletter in the form of a magazine with like special art. There’s a lot of different perks to being a detail D23. Member. Yes. But yeah, D 23 was founded in March 10 2009. So it’s not very old, not very new. But I think as a convention that has grown over the years, because of all of its acquisitions, it has become something that is now its own entity. I know, being a part of San Diego Comic-Con and being a part of WonderCon they would always have like a Marvel panel, they would always have like, you know, some sort of Disney panel or Pixar or whatever. They have slowly been pulling away from these conventions because they want to focus on their own. So every year, just like this year, “Marvel’s not going to do a big thing!” And you know, “Marvel’s gonna do it all at the D23.” Yeah, this year at San Diego Comic-Con Marvel did the most and had like literally everybody under the sun for Phase Five and Six and yeah, total lie.

Ariel Landrum 1:09:45
Lie.

Stefanie Bautista 1:09:46
So now I don’t know what they’re gonna do for D23. It has to be something big because it is their own thing. So it is that is definitely the next milestone for us as a Disney podcast.

Ariel Landrum 1:09:57
Neither of us have been and it is a September this year. And we have a goal to, to get there in whatever way possible, but preferably, we were hoping to try and do press. I just I don’t think that we could create and propose a panel at this point. It’s actually too late. Like we’re recording this episode in August and it’s in September. So I’m assuming that that is, that’s close.

Stefanie Bautista 1:10:26
And, like we, it’s, it’s nearby, it’s in Anaheim. So hopefully, fingers crossed, we can get there. But if you know you have any experiences with d3 23 Please shout us out and tell us your experiences because we’d love to know we’re going into this blind.

Ariel Landrum 1:10:46
So if you have any ideas of how we can get into D23.

Stefanie Bautista 1:10:51
Shout us out. Let us know.

Ariel Landrum 1:10:54
If you have some convention experiences or if you’ve incorporated people to your group, some adoptees, just, you know, tweet at us @HappiestPodGT or DMS on our Instagram @HappiestPodGT.

Stefanie Bautista 1:11:07
Yes, we are so excited to be back. I know that we have a lot of content coming up. I know we’ve been pushing out a lot of episodes that we are kind of backlogged on, you know, life gets in the way. And that’s totally okay. We are all for taking care of ourselves and taking care of yourselves. In this new season. Now that we are coming semi out of this pandemic a little bit into more normal times, we understand that when we first started this podcast, it was a whole different world. So now we are navigating this in a different space. And we would love to hear your experiences, or maybe even at our next panel whenever that happens. Let us know and if you have any ideas of what other things we can think and talk about, we would love to hear from you. Because if we learned anything from these conventions is that creating a network of geeky professionals like you and I really makes this community so special.

Ariel Landrum 1:12:04
Yes. All right. Have a great rest of your summer. Buh bye!

Stefanie Bautista 1:12:09
Alirght bye, everyone.

Media/Characters Mentioned
  • Good Burger
  • Demon Slayer
  • Lumpia With A Vengence
Topics/Themes Mentioned
  • ADA
  • Accessibilty
  • Pregnancy
  • Nursing
  • Chest feeding
  • Conventions
  • Community
  • Integration
  • Friendships
  • Friend groups
  • Scheduling
  • Managing expectations

Questions? Comments? Discuss this episode on the GT Forum.

 Website: happy.geektherapy.com
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 | Stef on Twitter: @stefa_kneee | Ariel on Instagram: @airyell3000 |

Geek Therapy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with the mission of advocating for the effective and meaningful use of popular media in therapeutic, educational, and community practice.
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