-Atlantic City is extremely expensive. We brought extra friends to split the hotel room and food, so we ended up spending <$20 a day on food and only $100+ on the hotel, plus gas. But if you're going solo, this may not be feasible. At the very least bring food or split the hotel.
-The Sheraton is the only hotel within reasonable distance of the con center. I was very happy we were able to have a locked space so we didnt mind leaving our stuff in the hall.
-Atlantic City is very pretty. It was nice to feel like we were in a party city, lots to do for attendees.
-Oh my god it was FREEZING. I was in heavy cosplay (2 shirts, armor, pants, and boots) and still physically shaking. If there had been a lot more people it would have counteracted, but there was so much space, you never felt crowded. People with health problems or like me who are always cold were suffering and it made everyone miserable and depressed, it was absolutely terrible. Not the staff's fault, I know it usually is on the venue.
-The con center was beautiful. I could see it becoming Otakon or Acen levels, it has a ton of room for expansion.
-There was food right in the exhibition hall, including ice cream, candy, concessions, and even a daily meal special. However, it was all rather pricey.
-Way too many exhibitors. They must have doubled the artists/vendors due to the expanded space even though we all knew the move would cut attendance.
-Staff was helpful and friendly as always! I liked that they had us check out and that there was a dedicated AA table. Friends got an unsold table and the staff was super helpful in getting them one closer to mine. Checked in on us constantly, always knew where staff was if you had a problem. They're half the reason I keep coming back.
-Other than the one staffer who screamed at people about “no photos” and started arguing with a attendee with a press badge. I understand the no photo rule, but cosplayers are such a big part and the one staffer handled it poorly (the rest were polite and not screeching) The aisles were wide enough you could take shots and no booths/tables would be visible. It's clearly different taking a pic in front of a booth vs the aisle, and of taking a pic of a cosplayer vs a product/table.
-Picked up badges on Thursday. Were told to wait in the normal line, and they'd come get us? It worked but it was odd and we ended up further back than if we'd just stood there like we wanted. They should have just had an exhibitor line with a sign to begin with, especially with so many vendors. But other than that, pick up was painless due to the QR codes.
-The misprint on the badge was a mess. No one knew if the email or the badge was wrong until the last minute. They should have just let us stay open later.
-Saturday hours were cut (used to be 10am-10pm, now 10am-7pm) which gave us time to work on commissions but we could have used some extra hours of sales at this point.
-We opened late?? either that or people were congested in the dealers section because we didn't see ANYONE but staff/exhibitors for the first half hour on Friday and Saturday and we had a clear view of the entrance.
-Bless you for individual garbage cans. It made our lives so much easier!
-Tables were thinner than I expected? Definitely shaved off a few inches. I personally don't mind (my stock prefers longer to wider) but I know others may have been affected with displays.
-I did not like the layout at all. Dealers in front meant you had far more sellers in the back, it was unbalanced and there was no real distinction of AA and Dealers. The “front vs back” was not as good as “left vs right”
-AA aisles were super nice and wide! People could wander freely but the excess space made it feel empty. Can be solved with more people.
-Dealer aisles were not as wide, the only time I ever felt crowded was walking through there. Just another 3 or 5 feet and it would have been perfect.
-The Dealers had a nice clean line system. You could easily go up and down each aisle and see every dealer.
-AA did not. The island system was a good idea in theory but in execution it fell flat. There was no “true path” to see all the tables – you had to backtrack and cross over. Had people all weekend saying “I have been around this hall five times and keep seeing tables I missed!” and I felt the same. The hallway approach may have been better, or combining the islands into larger ones.
THE CON ITSELF
-I walked around a few times. Loved the games room and the cosplay repair room, though the latter could benefit from some donations. I liked the schedules being posted everywhere. However, I didn't feel like there was a lot going on. Nowhere ever seemed crowded.
-It actually felt empty a lot of times, maybe centralizing the events onto the first two floors would have made it seem busier. Even in the exhibition hall, there was so much empty space we never had a “rush”
-People were nice, saw lots of excellent cosplays. Not a lot of big buyers – we usually make lots of larger sales, but we got nickel-and-dimed most of the weekend. I think people were overwhelmed with the amount of sellers, and again, the double island layout made it so hard to find specific tables.
-Sales were definitely affected. I talked to lots of other artists and they all had the same response “Doing okay, but not what we usually make.” Talked with the staff and they said the dealers were feeling the same way.
Overall, we will still probably come back as we made a decent profit (just not our usual there) I hope the attendance picks up next year, and if they cut back on the exhibitors it would be a big help to everyone. Considering this was a huge move and essentially a first year for them, I was impressed with how well things went in terms of the con itself, they just need some tweaking and minor adjustments. to get it back to what it was in 2015.
Pretty standard Exhibitor/AA area for a large con -- poured concrete floors, high ceiling, and frigid temperatures. The bathrooms were poorly ventilated, so the smell was frequently an issue, but luckily it was confined to the immediate restroom area. Everything else seemed clean and well maintained. The convention center provided several water coolers and cups for attendees, which was a much appreciated touch.
Generally friendly but kind of disorganized. The people manning the registration booths didn't know what the check-in process was for AA, so we ended up walking around the (at the time closed) show floor for a while before being sent back to registration.
The AA tables were arranged in square islands with three tables on each side, and a row of tables in the rear of the Alley. Nothing too unusual. As some have already noted, the show floor could have benefited from some signage, and there were probably more vendors than the attendance warranted. I will say that even the back of the Alley had reasonable traffic flow, so kudos there.
The show floor never felt empty, but there were definitely some unusually slow periods on Saturday and Sunday. People seemed to be attributing this to the move to Atlantic City.
The table and badges themselves aren't terribly expensive, but Atlantic City is a pricey town. My sales were actually decent, but after hotel and travel costs, I ended up making something like $50 profit. I'm guessing the numbers were better for local artists, but as someone who had to travel from out of state, it wasn't worth it financially.
Not great but also not the worst. I'll probably sit next year out and see if the show can establish itself in AC before applying again.
The set-up and space was pretty standard- although there was a strange rule about not allowing artist displays to be set up behind or in between the tables (everything had to be on the table). Needless to say, every artist disregarded this rule and set up how they wanted to and the staff didn't say anything about it- so that was fine. They also told us that we were not allowed to use four-wheel hand carts, which none of the staff said anything about later. The few staff members that we interacted with were all very friendly and seemed excited to be working the con, which is great to see.
The layout was a little confusing because there were SO many artists and none of the blocks were labelled. I heard from many artists that it was a little hard to find their own table after getting up for food/bathroom breaks. Some simple labeling would be great for next year! Also, like everyone else says, it was very cold. Which is definitely better than being very hot in a room full of people, but a balance would obviously be best.
The word at the con was that AnimeNEXT attendance dropped by half from the move to Atlantic City, which you could definitely tell by the slow sales on Saturday. But despite that, the people who did attend were very willing to spend money on artist alley items. Most seemed like this was not their first convention, and they knew what the artist alley was and how it worked, which is a great crowd to have.
AnimeNEXT is definitely going to need time to grow in its new location, but I don't doubt that it will be back to its normal attendance. It was definitely not the worst turn-out for the first year in its new location. I would definitely love to come back to this con again next year.
-First time at AnimeNEXT
-Local, did not pay for hotel
I know that dealer's rooms usually end up being pretty chilly for the people that have to sit there all day, but this place was FREEZING. It was unbearable. I'm not really sure why nothing was done about it.
Staff seemed... okay? We were standing in line on thursday for a good 30+ minutes for our badges. I got to the front of the line, and they promptly let other artists just straight up walk in front of me and get their stuff without qualm. They watched them cut and said nothing about it, didn't send them to the back of the line or anything! Needless to say all the people behind me that saw it were NOT happy. I asked the staff member directing the line what that was about and all he said was 'I'm just directing traffic'. Very helpful, random staff man. Obviously you're not directing very well.
Opening and closing times were not well enforced AT ALL. We were supposed to be open at 10 on friday and saturday, but they never ended up opening the doors until at least 10:30. I don't know what that was about, but if I have the opportunity to get another 30 minutes of sleep, I would really appreciate being told about it. Also, no one had megaphones or a speaker system or anything, so staff was trying to usher people out of the room past closing. It was very frustrating. We just want to leave! It clearly was not very well planned out.
This has ended up sounding pretty negative. Uh... I appreciate that they gave each table a garbage bin. That was nice. Also, the actual convention *center* staff, as well as the loading dock guys and the parking garage workers... probably the most friendly service people I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Like... they were SO nice. They were probably one of my favorite parts of the con... haha.
Again, this was my first AnimeNEXT. I didn't come up in the red, so I'll probably give it another shot. I think the best word I have for this con is "underwhelmed".