Anime convention tips!
Are you looking to attend a convention? If you’re new to the scene, it may be overwhelming at first. There are so many things to see and do at a convention. What are the rules of a convention you need to know? How do you navigate the hallways of a convention in a way that’s most enjoyable?
Well not to fear! In this post, I will go over 20 Anime convention tips you NEED to know. All these tips will help you navigate an Anime convention much easier and having a better time overall.
These Anime convention tips come straight from my own experiences attending a bunch of cons throughout the years. So I’m sure you can trust my personal experiences and wisdom. 🙂
Without further ado, let’s get started!
1. A cosplay emergency kit (cosplay bag) is a must!
If you plan on cosplaying at an Anime convention, I HIGHLY recommend bringing a cosplay emergency kit. What is this? It’s just a small bag of things to carry in case your cosplay malfunctions during the con. Trust me; it’s happened to all of us, and it’ll probably happen to you! No worries though, as most of these malfunctions can be fixed on the spot with some bobby pins, superglue and some needle/thread.
Sometimes the convention itself will have a “Cosplay Repair Station” with all the things you need to fix your cosplay. At Otakuthon they had this and it saved my Marth cosplay armor!
But not all conventions offer a repair station, so it’s always good to have a cosplay bag on-hand. What should you put in your cosplay emergency kit? Check out the video above to decide what to put inside.
2. Picking up your Anime convention pass can be hit or miss.
Because we get so hyped about the convention on our first day there, I feel like we tend to forget how awful it is lining up to pick up your badge. For me, I’ve been through and seen it all (good and bad):
- Walking right into the registration desk and getting my badge within seconds
- Waiting over 3 hours in line up to pick up my weekend pass, even though I pre-registered (one time the pre-registration line was longer than the one who chose to buy at-the-door)
- Somewhere in-between waiting in line for 10-20 minutes to get your badge
So the point I’m trying to make: be patient and give yourself lots of time to get your badge. Sometimes it’s quick and fast; other times it can be chaotic. Buying your convention pass in advance doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your badge right away, at least from my experience. It’s hit or miss.
Some conventions offer the option to buy a weekend pass and mail it directly to your home. Although it costs extra, this option is definitely the most convenient. And it guarantees you won’t have to lineup for your badge at all, saving you lots of time!
3. Set aside at least $60 USD to stay full and hydrated.
Don’t skip out on food and water during the convention! I see a lot of you younger people who try to get by the entire weekend without eating anything at all. Either that, or only eating small things like Pocky or ramen. Please don’t do this! You will feel tired and less happy if you’re not getting enough food in your belly.
So do yourself a favor and set aside at least $60 USD to get yourself a nice meal at least twice a day. So $20 a day for 2 meals for 3 days = $60.
Trust me, you’ll feel much better and happier at a convention if you have food in your stomach! As for staying hydrated, I recommend just carrying a water bottle around with you. Not only will that quench your thirst, it saves you from having to buy multiple water bottles.
4. The 6-2-1 rule
The 6-2-1 rule is fairly simple to remember. During a con, remember to follow the 6-2-1 rule per day:
- 6 hours of sleep
- 2 meals
- 1 shower
By following the 6-2-1 rule, you’ll be good to go in terms of energy and being hygienic.
5. ABC – Always Bring Cash
I always advocate for carrying some cash on you at all times when going out, because not every restaurant or shop will accept debit/credit cards. But at an Anime convention, this is especially true. If you’re planning to buy things in the dealer’s room, a lot of the time the vendors will only accept cash. And it sucks taking out cash at the ATM inside the convention.
Not only are the line-ups super long for the ATM, but you’ll also get charged an extra fee because it’s not your bank’s ATM. So save yourself the hassle and always bring cash with you. Bring more if you plan on buying a lot of stuff in the dealer’s room. But be sure to save some cash for meals, as mentioned previously.
Always Bring Cash!
6. Check into your hotel as early as possible.
Ok, so I’m not sure if this is just my own experience, or something that regularly happens in the hospitality industry. But whenever I happen to check-in at a hotel for the convention really late (i.e. past 6 PM), weird things happen:
- One time I almost didn’t get the hotel room and the hotel wanted me to take a shuttle bus to/from the con at a different hotel far away (even though I had a reservation booked a long time ago). I was not happy about this, but fortunately, we worked things out and I was able to get the hotel room I wanted. Imagine winning the hotel lottery for a convention and being so excited that you get to stay right in the middle of the action, only to find out last-minute that you can’t stay at that hotel after all. It would be heartbreaking.
- Another time I also arrived fairly late but instead of something bad happening, I got really lucky. I originally booked a standard room but because they ran out by the time I got there, they gave me a premium room with a beautiful balcony view for free! I was super happy about this.
Sometimes things are out of your control and you can’t arrive to your hotel early. But if you can and you want to avoid any surprises (good and bad), then I recommend getting to your hotel as early as you can to check-in.
7. Wait until Sunday for discounts on things you may want to purchase. Buy the thing you really want RIGHT AWAY.
The dealer’s room is open at the convention for the entire weekend. But depending on what you want to buy, you may want to wait until Sunday for some potential deals, or buy it right away.
Here’s what I recommend:
- If you see some items that you like but you can “live without,” then wait until Sunday. Perhaps by the time of the last day of the convention, the price for that same item could go down and you could save some money. But if someone else bought it already, then it’s not a big deal for you.
- If you see anything in the dealer’s room that you REALLY like and/or it’s unique, buy it right away. Although that item could go down in price by Sunday, someone else could have bought it by then. So you don’t want to miss out on an item you really want to take home. It’s worth spending the extra money in this case.
8. Always ask for permission before taking a photo.
Always ask for permission before taking a photo of a cosplayer.
This is definitely one of the golden rules of cosplay. For most of us, it’s like second nature. But if you’re new to cosplay or attending convention, then you must know that you need to ask for permission first, before taking a photo of the cosplayer. A simple, “Excuse me, can I take a photo of your cosplay?” will do the trick.
Again, it’s considered proper etiquette to ask before you snap a photo. That way, the cosplayer can prepare a pose and look their best before the photo is taken.
Here’s a video showing proper photo etiquette at a convention. And I made an entire guide on cosplay rules (click here to read).
9. Big convention doesn’t necessarily mean better
Naturally, big conventions like Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con get all the attention and spotlight because they’re so huge. But that doesn’t mean that small conventions are bad or not worth attending! Chances are, you live in an area with smaller Anime convention events taking place. I recommend attending those conventions as well.
There are quite things to like about small conventions, compared to large conventions:
- Easier to meet and socialize with others. It can be difficult socializing at a large con when the hallways are jammed and everyone is running around trying to reach their next panel or photoshoot. But at a smaller con, things are a lot slower and it’s easier to socialize and meet others with the smaller schedule and pace.
- Lower cost. Smaller conventions tend to cost a lot less, because the organizers themselves don’t need a big budget to run the convention. So the price for a pass will be much cheaper.
- More time with your friends: At a smaller convention, there are generally less things to do, so you’ll have more time to spend with friends. If you’re like me always busy working, small conventions make for good catching up time with close friends.
I wrote an entire article about why smaller conventions can be just as fun as large conventions. Click here if you want to read it.
I’ll admit I’m no expert at this. But if you have a disability (both physical and non-visual), there are many conventions that will help and assist you if needed! Do check on the convention website to see what services are available to you.
Some of the services include:
- Having seats available for a specific event or panel for you
- Asking a volunteer to help you out
- Getting a volunteer to stand in line for you if you need to leave the line
11. Report to security if you ever feel unsafe during the convention.
For the most part, everyone has a great time at an Anime convention! However, it’s not always that way. If you look up “convention horror stories” on Google, you’ll see tons of stories of cosplayers dealing with creepy people or even straight up being harassed by someone. That doesn’t mean you have to tolerate that kind of behaviour though.
If you ever feel unsafe or someone is harassing you at the convention, report it immediately to a convention staff or volunteer. They will help you deal with the issue and whoever is bothering you.
12. Let your friends/family know of your convention plans.
This is more of a safety/peace of mind advice. If you plan on attending a convention alone (click here to read my article about how to do so), let a friend or family member know where you’ll be, and when to expect you to be home or at your hotel. That way, if you need assistance, then at least they know where you are.
13. Take lots of breaks (break in the hotel room, at a restaurant or cafe, at a panel or video room)
When you think about it, cosplaying at an Anime convention is quite the workout!
- Walking around the convention for 12+ hours (assuming you get there early in the morning all the way into the night)
- Wearing a bulky costume…
- With a colourful wig on top of your head
- Sometimes carrying a cosplay prop or merchandise from the dealer’s room
- Doing photoshoots that require precise posing
- Stopping and posing for people that ask for your photo
- Doing all this with thousands of people walking beside you when it’s also hot outside
Conventions can be VERY exhausting, physically and mentally. So you definitely need to take lots of breaks during the convention. Here are some ideas to take breaks into your convention schedule:
- Sitting down and watching a panel or some Anime in one of the rooms
- Getting some food and drinks at a restaurant or café
- Going back to your hotel room during the day to take off your cosplay and wig for a little bit
14. Save a slot for dinner plans with friends!
For me, one of the most enjoyable things I like to do during a convention is going out for food with friends or people I met at a convention! Not only is it a nice way to relax after a long day at the con, but you can also share some memorable moments together with people. So I recommend setting aside some time in the evening to go out for dinner with people. Either before the big rave, or after the convention is over.
As someone from Thailand once told me, the three keys to happiness are: good food, good friends and self-reflection. You can achieve all this by making dinner plans with friends at a convention.
15. Plan out your booze plan!
This is for you guys that want to get your drink on during the late night convention hours! Before you attend the convention for the weekend, you want to plan out where you can buy alcohol. Some conventions such as Otakuthon and Youmacon have convenience stores onsite to buy alcohol, which is really nice. But other conventions such as Holiday Matsuri and Anime North are located in the middle of nowhere, so no beer or grocery stores.
With that said, almost all convention hotels have a bar onsite where you can buy alcoholic drinks! They will be more expensive but they’re usually good.
16. Getting your face ready the night before.
Shave and groom the night before the convention, so your skin will be fresh and ready for the con. I don’t know about you, but for me my facial hair grows really fast. So I suggest shaving the night before so you don’t have to do so during the convention.
Click here for a complete guide on makeup/grooming right before a convention takes place.
17. Check if the Anime convention offers coat/bag check services.
A lot of Anime conventions offer the option to check in your bags, coats or both. If you don’t plan on staying at a hotel nearby, being able to store your stuff with the convention makes a HUGE difference! Not having to lug around a big bag at the con is super convenient. And besides, cosplaying a character looks nicer when you’re carrying a reusable bag or backpack with you.
So if you are only planning on attending the con and going home at the end of the day, consider using the coat/bag check service to make things easier for you.
(Side note: If your friend is staying at a hotel, you can also ask them if you can drop off your stuff there while at the convention and picking it up after you’re done. Only downside to this is if you split from your friend, you’ll have to wait until you see them again to collect your stuff.)
18. Which day of an Anime convention is best?
Don’t feel obligated to be at an Anime convention for the entire weekend. If you only have time or the money to attend just one day, then that’s totally fine!
In short, here are the pros and cons of each day. I’ve been to MANY Anime conventions throughout the years, so I definitely have some experience with this:
|+Most energetic and most positive vibes due to Friday being the first day of a con
|+By far the most programming and activities will be on the Saturday
|+Usually the cheapest day to attend
|+Good amount of programming on the first day that usually runs late into the night
|+If you want photos of cosplay, this is the best day. Everyone brings out their best and most elaborate cosplays on Saturday
|+Dealer’s room has the best deals on Sunday, due to merchants wanting to get rid of their stuff
|-Only half a day for some conventions
|-Most crowded and most expensive day to attend, can be exhausting due to the crowds and amount of activities
|-Only half the day available (cons shut down early at around 3-6 pm on Sundays), not the best day for cosplay photography as many cosplayers treat Sunday as “casual” cosplay day
I wrote more about each day in this post I made a while back. If you’re interested in reading, click here to read!
19. Come to the Anime convention with no expectations.
Not all cons will be perfect or happy experiences and that’s okay. Don’t pressure yourself to have a good time. I know what it’s like. Sometimes it’s not your fault and things happen. Being a cosplayer or congoer is sometimes being let down at a con, but you only grow smarter and better for future cons. Not all conventions will be a 10/10 for you. Some conventions will suck, or someone or something will make your experience less enjoyable. But that’s okay. You have another convention horror story to share with the world when this happens. 🙂
20. Wash your face before going to bed!
After a long night of convention-going and party going, be sure to wash your makeup off before you go to bed. You do not want to go to sleep with makeup on! Makeup while sleeping has negative effects, such as aging your skin and aggravating your pores. Not to mention you’ll probably get the pillows dirty. So if you can’t take a shower cause all your roommates are asleep, then hit up a washroom in the convention lobby and wash all that makeup off! Makeup wipes (or Micellar Water with a reusable cloth) is also very handy at removing that stuff off your face.
To summarize, here are the 20 Anime convention tips you should know:
- A cosplay emergency kit (cosplay bag) is a must!
- Picking up your Anime convention pass can be hit or miss.
- Set aside at least $60 USD to stay full and hydrated.
- The 6-2-1 rule
- ABC – Always Bring Cash
- Check into your hotel as early as possible.
- Wait until Sunday for discounts on things you may want to purchase. Buy the thing you really want RIGHT AWAY.
- Always ask for permission before taking a photo.
- Big convention doesn’t necessarily mean better.
- How to navigate an Anime convention with a physical disability
- Report to security if you ever feel unsafe during the convention.
- Let your friends/family know of your convention plans.
- Take lots of breaks (break in the hotel room, at a restaurant or cafe, at a panel or video room)
- Save a slot for dinner plans with friends!
- Plan out your booze plan!
- Getting your face ready the night before.
- Check if the Anime convention offers coat/bag check services.
- Which day of an Anime convention is best?
- Come to the Anime convention with no expectations.
- Wash your face before going to bed!
And there you have it; 20 Anime convention tips for you! I hope you found these tips useful.
If you enjoyed this article, check out these other posts that’ll help you as well:
- Anime convention guide: everything you need to know
- The 5 Best Anime Conventions You Need to Attend
- Anime Convention Packing List: The Ultimate Guide
If you have any questions or tips you’d want to share, leave them in the comments below.
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!