Last month, Chris and I went to A-Kon for the 7th time in a row, but in contrast to previous years, this year the convention didn’t take place in Dallas, Texas at all. It took place in its sister city, Fort Worth.
History of A-Kon
A-Kon, also known as Project: A-Kon, is a convention held annually in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. The convention started in 1990 with only 380 attendees and usually takes place on the first weekend of June. It is also North America’s longest running national anime convention and the 2nd largest North American anime convention. A-Kon hosts anime fans and guests, and offers other items of interest ranging from gaming to independent film, all in the quest to provide the best experience for the fans and bring the most engaging and educational entertainment to the anime community.
Chris and I were a bit bummed we weren’t able to go to many panels again this year. Honestly, it felt worse than last year, even though there were so many panels we wanted to attend. Unfortunately, the main convention events ended up happening at the same time. It also didn’t help that Saturday night I got con flu and we had to leave early because I felt like death.
Project: STAR ☆ Light
Project Starlight is a Love Live idol group from North Texas who cosplay and perform dance routines from the famous anime. This year they had their own private performance, which was pretty spectacular. If you ever have the opportunity to see them, I would highly encourage doing so. Below we have some fantastic photos of the girls in action.
Caleb Hyles Sing-Along
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get photos from Caleb’s panel, but he gave the attendees a sneak peak of his newest music video which is now public for everyone to watch.
A-Kon 27 Breakdown
The ones with (*) are personal experiences from my staff and I being Press. While they shouldn’t deter you from going to the convention, they are something that only applies to Press, which might need to be taken into consideration.
- Located in downtown Fort Worth (next to Sundance Square)
- A ton of free/paid parking options (several parking garages near the convention center) compared to previous venue’s parking (which was extremely limited to none)
- A ton of restaurants/bars/movie theater/comedy clubs/coffee shops within walking distance
- You won’t run out of things to do (a ton of panels and outside of convention entertainment)
- Free transportation from Molly the Trolley
- Located close to the TRE train station & FWTA bus station
- Huge venue (Fort Worth Convention Center) which allows plenty of room for the convention to grow
- Massive Exhibit Hall (fused Artist Alley with Dealers Room into one massive room, which allowed industry to have bigger, more elaborate booths)
- A ton of fantastic places for photo shoots (located next to the Water Gardens)
- Smoother cosplay contest compared to last year (only lasted 2 hours versus 3-4 hours in previous years)
- Plenty of places to sit down and charge your phone (a lot of plugs along the wall)
- Friendly Volunteer Staff (especially Press staff)
- Multiple Concerts
- Bring good walking shoes. You will walk your feet off to get from place to place
- Shoddy internet reception in the exhibit hall, so could only pay in cash and face a $4 fee charge for using the ATM machine
- Not much of a Funimation presence and zero presence of Crunchyroll
- The evening dance/rave only lasted an hour, which upset a lot of attendees, who ended up continuing the dance outside of the convention center in the Water Gardens instead
- Lack of Japanese guests
- *Horrible scheduling issues for events and interviews (J-Fashion tea social took place the same time as cosplay contest)
- *Massive hiccup with convention staff’s internal communication which caused a lot of press to lose their opportunity to interview guests
- *Accosted and pulled out of line by a volunteer because they believed I had a fake Press pass. Reported them to convention staff
While we love the venue and location, we believe A-Kon is still experiencing growing pains despite being the oldest anime convention in North America. The large rifts between staff caused a lot of press to miss out on opportunities. We have already expressed our grievances to them, and they promised they will strive harder next year to lessen the chances of that happening again.
If you’re just an average convention goer, I can guarantee that you will have a great time. There is plenty to do, tons of places to eat, several parking locations, great local transportation, and several hotels within walking distance compared to the previous two venues that hosted A-Kon (Downtown Dallas Sheraton & Hilton Anatole).
In adherence to the convention center’s rules, there are no outside food or drinks allowed, but A-Kon outdid themselves by offering several food trucks and a massive food court that came with a large eating area. The perks of the convention being located in downtown Fort Worth and Sundance Square means you have several restaurants, bars, Starbucks and other entertainment/food nearby. Also, there are plenty of water fountains scattered throughout the convention where you can fill up an empty water bottle.
Parking has improved greatly due to the location change. You can see a massive list of prices and locations of where you can find parking on the Sundance Square website.
A-Kon can be a bit overwhelming in general for children and parents, but if you live in the DFW area, we would recommend Anime North Texas. ANT is also located in downtown Fort Worth in the Sheraton (which is across the street from the Fort Worth Convention center). While it isn’t very large, it has potential to be a great convention (we checked it out 2 years ago).
Below are a few of our favorite pictures we took over the convention weekend.