Senpai’s Fan Expo review!
Ah yes, the iconic Fan Expo Canada. Not only is this convention the biggest comic con in Toronto, the event is also the largest fan convention in Canada! I myself have attended Fan Expo over the years and it’s crazy to see how the convention has grown from a smaller comic con to the enormous show that it is today. There are over 100,000+ attendees that show up every year, so you can bet that there are giant crowds!
In this post, I’ll give you my personal Fan Expo Canada review. I’ll be going over the pros and cons about this convention, as well as what I liked and disliked about the event. I have attended Fan Expo several times, so I do have a lot of personal experience.
Overall, Fan Expo is a big and fun comic convention that is great for many attendees, but the event may not be for everyone.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
What is Fan Expo Canada?
I wanted to emphasize that the Fan Expo I’m reviewing today is Fan Expo Canada (I.e. the one that takes place in Toronto, Canada). For those who don’t know, there are many Fan Expo events across North America as they are run by the same company, Informa Connect. So don’t get this review mixed up with any other Fan Expo. Fun fact though: many Fan Expo events are some of the biggest comic cons in Canada and the U.S. If you want to see which comic cons in America is the biggest, click here to see my list.
Anyways, let’s talk about Fan Expo Canada. Like many comic cons, Fan Expo has all the things you’d expect such as the large dealer’s hall, a plethora of celebrities and guests, gaming tournaments, panels and more. While the focus is of course on comic book series, Fan Expo has always been about multiple different genres. Even back then when the convention was a lot smaller, there were different genres featured such as Anime, Sci-fi and horror. So even if you’re not into comic books, you can still find a lot of stuff you may be interested in.
Fan Expo takes place right in the heart of downtown at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). Put simply, the MTCC is THE premier convention centre in Toronto; there is no venue bigger or (arguably) better than this place.
It’s an interesting complex to say the least. The MTCC is actually 2 buildings and they’re separated by rail lines. They’re connected by a beautiful elevated walkway!
Fan Expo is definitely an event for all ages. Whether you’re a young adult who is into cosplaying, or an older family with kids, I see all different age groups coming together to attend Fan Expo. This comic convention is definitely mainstream and very popular in Toronto and the surrounding areas.
Alright, now that you know what Fan Expo is all about, let’s talk about the good things about this convention.
Top tier celebrity and guests
If you’re someone who absolutely wants to see or meet the biggest pop culture celebrities, then Fan Expo is definitely for you. Each and every year, we see big-name guests show up. Some past celebrities and voice actors include:
- Stephen Amell
- Hayden Christensen
- Charlie Cox
- Zachary Levi
- Christina Ricci
So if you have always wanted to meet a few celebrities, then Fan Expo is a great opportunity to do so. However, meeting them will not be cheap. Not only will you have to pay for an autograph, but also for photos with them as well. Expect to pay at least $100 each for both of them.
Also keep in mind that the guest list is never guaranteed and I’ve seen many guests cancel last-minute due to a variety of circumstances that’s not the fault of the convention organizers.
Gigantic dealer’s room
Oh yes! The MASSIVE dealer’s room is the heart and soul of Fan Expo. It’s like paradise for us geeks and even Otaku’s! Here you’ll find pretty much everything you want, including:
- Video games
- Autographs and photos
- Food and drinks
You’ll probably be spending a good portion of your convention in this big showroom. It’s a great and fun atmosphere, if not a bit chaotic.
You’ll definitely see a lot of wonderful cosplays at Fan Expo! Because of all the different genres at the event with different demographically coming together, you’ll see all sorts of cosplayers. Some of the cosplays are truly amazing. I think the best one I saw was a combination of Stewie and Brian from Family Guy; it was so creatively genius!
Alright, now that we’ve gone over the great things about Fan Expo, let’s talk the things that are not so good (in my opinion)…
If you’re thinking about attending Fan Expo for the first time, then right away you’ll probably notice the high badge prices right away. Yes, it’s pretty expensive to attend Fan Expo. If you want to attend all 4 days, then expect to pay well over $100 CAD, even if you buy in advance.
And single-day badges costs even more to purchase. For example, a one-day badge to attend on Saturday was supposed to cost $69 CAD, which to me is a lot of money for just one day. In comparison, I only paid $34 CAD to attend MCM London Comic Con on their Saturday of their convention (click here to read that review). Also maybe not a fair comparison because these are Anime cons, but $69 is almost as much an entire weekend badge for Anime North and Otakuthon. Fan Expo is definitely not cheap to attend.
On top of that, you’ll have to factor in the stuff you may want to buy when you’re inside the building. That could include merchandise and autographs with your favorite celebrities. Overall, you could be spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars for your entire weekend at Fan Expo, especially if you’re bringing the whole family along.
So in short, Fan Expo is a not a budget friendly convention! The convention is still great and offers so many things to see. But you’ll definitely have to save up quite a bit of money not only for the badge, but for the other things you may want to buy inside the convention (e.g. autographs, photos, merchandise).
As mentioned previously, Fan Expo is the largest comic con in all of Canada with well over 100,000+ attendees every year. And despite the Metro Toronto Convention Centre being very large, the convention still gets very crowded. In the years that I went, I found it difficult to move around the convention. Expect to be shoulder to shoulder with your fellow attendees, especially on Saturday when the convention is busiest.
So if you’re someone who doesn’t like being packed like sardines at an event, then Fan Expo may not be for you. However, you can always attend on the Thursday or Sunday of the convention when the event has fewer people. Of course, you won’t get to see the best cosplays and activities those days, but you’ll get a cheaper price to get in (click here to read my article about which day you should attend a convention).
With that said, I never had any issues with line-ups at Fan Expo. I was able to get into the dealer’s room pretty quickly and any panel or event did not involve lining up for several hours like most big conventions. The only line-up I had to wait considerably was to pick up my badge, but every big convention is like that.
Much like a lot of comic cons, the hours for Fan Expo Canada aren’t too extensive like Anime conventions. That’s always been my main gripe with comic cons; they’re mostly a daytime event. This is especially true on the Thursday of Fan Expo, where the convention only runs for 4-5 hours (between 4-9pm). And on Saturday, while the convention starts relatively early at 10 A.M., everything closes up by 7 P.M. which is pretty early to me.
While Fan Expo does have after parties and late events, these are outside of the convention grounds so it’s not quite the same as attending a late night panel or dance party right at an Anime convention.
On the plus side, since the convention closes at an earlier time, which also means you don’t have to stay beside the convention. You’ll have plenty of time to commute back home or to a hotel outside of the city centre, where it will be much cheaper to stay than in downtown. And Fan Expo is conveniently located near Union Station, which is Toronto’s main public transportation hub. So you’ll find it easy to get home after the convention is done.
It’s great that Toronto residents and surrounding areas get an enormous comic con like Fan Expo Canada. Although comic cons are fairly common around many parts of the world today, Fan Expo has been around for a long time and to this day, the annual event is still the biggest one in Canada.
While Fan Expo Canada has drawbacks such as the high price point and crowdedness, the event is still a must for many attendees for the true comic con experience and to see the big-name guests that show up every year. If you can save up your money and don’t mind having 100,000+ attendees around you, then you’ll have an awesome time at Fan Expo!
Overall grade: 7.5/10
I hope you found this Fan Expo review useful and helpful!
And if course, if you have any questions or feedback, write 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!