With bags packed and tickets bought, the sun had just risen and DJ and I were on our way to “The City Of Brotherly Love”. Which, in all honesty should be renamed to “The City Of Go Fuck Yourself.” I swear, everytime I goto Philly I have some sort of face to face confrontation and encounters with the most disrespectful people on this planet. If you have read my previous stories, you may recall a certain incident inside a Wendy’s bathroom. People say New Yorkers are known to be rude….yet, no place I have ever traveled to have I ever encounter rudeness like I have in Philadelphia. Not to mention, the city smell reeks of human urine and week old body odor. Sadly, that body odor isnt coming from the homeless either.
We arrived into Philly around 8am. As we were driving to the parking garage, we went right by the convention center for Wizard World. Outside we saw a line stretching down several blocks. We expected it….so we didnt sweat it. With the Wizard World lineup so stacked with big names like David Boreanaz, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Norman Reedus, Nathan Fillion, Lauren Cohan and more….we knew that Saturday would be a ridiculous amount of people. Once parked, we walked back to the convention center and found the line was already let into the building. So we were able to walk right in. Once inside, we went to the registration booths so DJ could recover his VIP lanyard for Stan/Mackie. I was lucky to get a vendor pass from a buddy of mine, so I did not need to register. We were then shown the escalators going up and went upstairs to the main convention floor. Once upstairs we found the VIP line and waited. Sadly, DJ realized he left his paint markers in the car and I didnt have the colors he needed. So he ran back to the car, while I held his spot in line. It was a LONG wait and only the first of VERY long lines and VERY long waits,I was gonna have. Again…..expected. When DJ returned, I headed back downstairs to pickup my vendor pass and was let into the convention floor. The calm before the storm, as they say. Got a chance to scope out this year’s setup, visit vendors without the headache of crowds and even get my tickets redeemed for autographs and photo ops. I saw a very cool Commander Rogers tshirt that I picked up.
VIPs were let in and it was like watching a herd of cattle trampling the grounds. People ran into the main floor and were headed for the autograph booths. Fillion, Cohan and Reedus were drawing the biggest lines….as was Sebastian Stan, which I was a little surprised by. After DJ redeemed his tickets, we walked around a little bit. We both didnt have our first stops till 11am for photo ops. Through our strolls we came across The Guardians Of The Galaxy booth. Here you could get a green screen photo in the GOTG prison lineup photo. After you got your photo, you were given a full size 27×40 movie poster, which was selling as high as $60 on ebay. So we made sure to score one each and then headed to photo ops. DJ headed for the fairly short Whoopi Goldberg line and I was in the somewhat long David Boreanaz line. I was pleasantly surprised to find his Saturday line to be reasonable. Whoopi started and DJ started moving through the line. As he went through the curtain, I noticed I still had not taken a step forward. Soon, DJ came out and walked over to me and I was STILL standing in the very same spot. After a few more minutes, the line started moving and once it got moving, I found my way through the curtain pretty quickly. Per usual, photo ops were moved very quickly. But still, it was awesome to knock off a big want like Boreanaz off the list. I loved how well my photo op turned out too. By that point, it was time to start lining up for Eliza Dushku. I knew DJ wanted to split some ops that werent as important to him, so I agreed to split them even though I despise this idea. And after getting them…..I now hate them more, as there is no good way to crop them without some serious photoshopping. We had a bit of a wait, but once the line got moving….so did we. Once we got inside, she cuddled up to me nicely and we got our photo. While it was nice to have Eliza cuddled up next to me, but it caused the photo to become semi uncroppable.
Once we were done with Eliza, DJ headed to Mackie’s line and I headed to a booth that offered free phone charging. They had some nice comfy chairs to sit and wait for your phone to charge. I sat there for about 20 minutes before I got up to head back over to grab my Boreanaz photo, Dushku photo and get lined up for Sebastian Stan. Sadly, while the stations were nice, I got 3% battery charge on my phone for 20 minutes. At home, I can score a good 15% in 20 minutes. Oh well. Grabbed my photos and hit the EXTREMELY long Sebastian Stan line. It was gonna be a VERY long wait, as I arrived 45 minutes early and the line must have been 500 people long. There were 2 VIP lines and 3 GA lines. This was not gonna be fun. When DJ was done, he came over and joined me for a bit, before he started the heart of his photo ops. It took forever to get through and my feet were KILLING me after this wait, but it was cool. Stan was very nice. Even agreed to hold DJ’s Cap shield, which he allowed me to use for my photo op.
After Stan, my buddy Won and I headed over to the Purge trucks to register for The Purge Experience. Its kind of a murder mystery or escape the room type event. You have several different stages and you have to solve puzzles in order to find keys in order to unlock doors. You have 30 minutes to escape or the Purge begins and the killer will come and kill you. Most places, you can do this for $25…..Philly was $40. Still, it was something I was very interested in. Since Won and I were but 2, they were going to pair us up with other people to a max of 6. Won and I were hoping it was gonna be just the 2 of us, but after doing it…..2 is not enough to survive. More on that later.
DJ would spend pretty much the rest of the con caught up in all kinds of chaos of the photo ops lines. I snagged his Stan/Mackie VIP badge and attempted to use it to skip the GA lines. I wanted to get my Cap poster and my Stan photo op from earlier signed. My photo wasnt printed yet, so I figured I could just do it later or the next day. After a little debate, I was allowed to hit the VIP line. They tried to convince me that since the lanyard was punched already, I was not allowed in the VIP line. But before doing so, I decided to grab some food. This is something that I avoid at 99% of the cons. Usually the food tastes like crap and will cost you an arm and a leg. I knew we would be going to dinner after the con and it was 5pm by this point, so I wanted to get something small. I opted for the chicken fingers and fries. I expected this meal to cost me about $12-15. It was $17. But that wasnt the worst part. For my $17 I got 2 chicken fingers. Thats right. Thats not a typo. I got 2 chicken fingers. Each finger measured approximately 4 inches long. My basket of fries was more like a handful….maybe 10 in there, Insane. I ate it very quickly and spent the next 30 minutes just taking a load off. Texting back and forth with DJ, he was having all kinds of issues with the photo ops and people running behind, disorganization, etc. I headed over to Stan and was at the head of the line, using the VIP to skip right past all the GA people. I got my poster signed and got to spend a few seconds of face time with Stan. I thanked him for the photo he took with me on the streets in NY and he said it was his pleasure. When I was done, I proceeded to Mackie’s line and once again was first. Got lectured by the WW volunteer there, but it was too late as Mackie arrived and was waiting for me to come over to get a signature. Now before he started to sign, he was very engaging with the crowd and even got into a friendly debate with Sebastian Stan. It was quite funny. They agreed to settle the fight in Cap 3, where Mackie said he fights dirty. I got up to Mackie on my Cap poster. I asked for a selfie, as DJ had gotten one. Mackie said they told he cant do it anymore. I asked him nicely and he said go for it. Sadly before the flash went off, WW told him to sign the next item and the pic went off with his eyes closed.
Would have been nice to have that selfie, but not the end of the world. I rejoined DJ for a minute before I had to leave to goto my Purge event. DJ was none too happy concerning the chaos of the photo ops lines. The time came for The Purge, so I headed over to meet with Won. When we got there, we waited for our other team members. The first guy showed up and we discussed strategy. We agreed on how to search the rooms, solve the puzzle etc. We also talked about the possibility that there might be someone inside that requests that we free them and take them with us. We agreed….no. We free no one. Why would they put a cast member in there to help us? They would have to be there to sabotage us. We were told that less than 1% of teams will survive. But we were determined to be apart of those select few. As we were getting ready to enter, there were 2 last second additions to the team. I filled them in on our agreed strategy already. We stepped inside and we found ourselves in darkness. A minute later, a girl appeared and was handcuffed and locked in a prison. We got the key pretty quickly and were able to unlock the first door. She screamed she wanted free and we proceeded into the next room. She kept screaming to free her and I told her, we would not. The next door had a electronic combination. The girl kept freaking saying we had to free her or we couldnt proceed. I still didnt want to free her, but one guy broke ranks and freed her. I told him that she will be the death of us.
In reality, we did need her. HOWEVER, to be fair…she did get us killed too. Some the puzzles were harder than others. It was fun though. At one point, there was a little door that we needed to walk through. I attempted to bend down and walk through, but banged my head on the metal. So I decided to try and dive through. What I didnt know was that the floor was made of gravel in the next part and ended up cutting up my hands and knees. When I exited, I found my shorts had all kinds of blood spots on them. We did make it to the final stage, but were unable to survive. When time ran out, the Purge began. The girl told us to get into this closet and hide, it was our only chance to survive. I refused. I knew if we entered, it was over. I wanted to continue to solve the puzzle, but my team mates went into the closet and the girl kept screaming I had to go or I would die. After a small protest, I went inside. As soon as I did, she shut the door behind me and locked it. A minute later, the killer came through a hidden compartment and fired his shotgun at us. The game was over and we failed. I really wished we had finished. But it was a thrill to participate. I highly recommend to anyone who likes puzzles, riddles and mental games to play this. Its awesome. Definitely would do it again.
DJ was finally done with his photos, but not all his ops were done. The show was over and everyone was told to go downstairs to retrieve photo ops. They also moved Norman Reedus line down there, as Reedus agreed to stay and finish his line out since he was like 3 hours late. Downstairs was complete and total chaos. We couldnt get anywhere near the photo ops. There had to be nearly 2000 people downstairs. People were freaking out and WW had lost total control. I plowed my way through and got to the other side, where WW employees were. I ran down to where DJs last photo op was and snagged it. I raised it high in the air screaming I found it and I was free. We got out and opted to get out of there. This was just gonna take all night.
We were finally free and headed back to the car on fumes of energy. I didnt have much, so I can only imagine how DJ was feeling with as many lines as he was in. We got to the garage and DJ went to pay, while I hit the soda machine. I put my money in and pressed for a Mountain Dew. Nothing came out. I tried others and nothing. It wouldnt give me a soda. I asked the parking attendant and he refused to refund me my $1.35. Instead he told me to call this 800 number and someone would come from the soda company to give me a refund. Thats ridiculous. He told me it wasnt the garage’s machine. I asked why it was here then. He wouldnt budge. No refunds. I told him since it wasnt his machine, he wouldnt care if I break it to get my money back. He said he could care less. I then proceeded to destroy the soda machine. Kicking it, punching it and even cracking the fiberglass on the front of it. Complete horse shit. I will NEVER park in that garage again. Its a lousy $1.35 for a machine in your garage. Its good customer service to give me the refund. So once again, I am in Philly and having an explosion of anger over rude service.
We head back to the hippo. Our original plan was to stop at Tony Luke’s, but we both somehow forgot and just drove past the exit. We agreed to just get good at the Denny’s next to the hippo. The rest of the evening was pretty much a blur. Exhaustion had settled in. I did grab a shower before heading to bed, as I just felt grimy from the con. We would be up early again the next morning and do it all over again.
Sunday morning arrived and my lazy ass didnt want to wake up, especially since DJ was trying to get to the con an hour and a half early when it was completely unnecessary. DJ’s big need was Reedus and he pretty much devoted his entire day to getting Reedus on Sunday. But since I had the vendor pass, it didnt matter if we arrived at 9am or 10:29am….one minute before VIP pass holders would be allowed onto the floor, as I would still be in there before them. We arrived a tad past 930am and DJ joined the absurd line. The line for Sunday VIP was worse than the Saturdays. Then again, we did arrive 2 hours in advance of Saturday and only 1 hour in advance of Sunday. DJ got into line and I went into the convention. I walked around a bit and the con was dead. Most of the vendors werent even there. WW staff wasnt there. It was pretty much worthless to be in there. I figured I would just goto Reedus’ booth and hang there…..cept there was no Reedus booth. I walked up and down the aisles, but where his booth was on Saturday was empty. This wasnt good. Could they be keeping Reedus down stairs? Did he cancel last minute for Sunday? Luckily for DJ, the answer came quickly thereafter. WW staff started to reassemble Reedus’ booth and I got into line. I was told that Reedus did not finish all of Saturday’s people. So they would do Saturday’s VIPs, then Saturday’s that had met Reedus and then Saturday’s GA and then Sunday’s VIPs and THEN finally, DJ. The volunteer here was very nice and knowledgable. She explained to me that they changed WW policy this year with the VIPs and did not tell anyone. She was still honoring them though. She encouraged me to talk to her boss if there was an issue.
The buffalo trampled in at 10:30am. DJ got over and claimed his spot and I left to tackle Sebastian Stan again. I wanted to get the last few autographs from him, as my 8×10 was finally printed late the night before. Of course, they wouldnt let me in his VIP line and also proceeded to tell me that Stan was sold out today. She told me that they may be able to get some GAs in later in the day, if time allotted, but he had a flight to catch. They wouldnt even allow GA to lineup. Said to come back around 430pm. I went upstairs to the WW offices to explain my issue and try and get resolution. But the woman upstairs would have none of it. She spewed lie after lie saying that this has always been the WW policy and a VIP pass only allows for one line jump. She then told me that if you buy extras, you can still only get the one VIP autograph signed and must exit the line and join the GA line if I want extras. None of this made any sense and she was a rude and nasty bitch. I tried to be diplomatic, evolved into professional anger and finished with telling her off about the poor service that WW provides. She absolutely no sold it and didnt care.
Back downstairs, I found Samantha, who showed me who her boss was. I attempted to speak with him, but he was taking Reedus to his booth….who was like an hour late. Another gentleman came over and asked if he could assist. I explained what happened with the VIP pass and then what occurred in the office. I explained that this woman was a total nasty bitch, which he responded……”thats my mom.” In my quick wittedness and an attempt to diffuse the situation I told him I was guessing he was adopted. Didnt go over well. He told me that there was nothing that could be done and that if I did not get my autographs, they would refund me my money. I explained I didnt come here for 1 autograph ….but stopped there cuz I knew what was gonna come next. It was a repeat of the whole incident when they refused to refund my admission to WW when they cancelled all their major guests with a week to go before the con. Why would a con want to be so quick to issue a refund to a customer that has paid for a VIP and several extras, makes no sense to me. He said I was free to take it up with his boss, but would get the same answer. I took the chance. I had to wait about 20 minutes, but his boss came over and said he was informed about my complaint. He said he didnt want to see me unhappy and would get me in the VIP line. So they escorted me over the Stan’s VIP line and instructed the person there to let me in the line. She refused. They told her that it wasnt her call and she began to tell them that letting me in would only cause more issues. They told her she has been over ruled. She then said she refused to show me where the end of the line was. What is with these people?!?!? So they found the end of the line and I joined it. I was told by the volunteer managing the line that I would be the last person allowed in until after his photo ops were done later in the day. Once his line got moving, it moved quickly. I got the front and Stan recognized me from the day before and said he had a bone to pick with me. He said he saw me cheering on Mackie during the friendly battle they were having. I told him that was just not true. I was Winter Soldier all the way. I bought 1 Mackie auto, but I got 3 Stan’s. He laughed it off and I was done.
I went to check on DJ and found him in absolute hell. My poor friend looked like someone kicked his dog. I even spotted Ray who asked me what was up with DJ? His facial expression was almost indescribable. We were past 12pm and he hadnt moved. It would be nearly 2pm before DJ was done with Reedus. Once he was done, we headed over and got into Sean Astin’s line. I’ve always liked Astin as an actor. I think most people know him from Lord of The Rings. I dont. What I know him from is The Goonies, Like Father Like Son, Toy Soldiers (my favorite Astin movie), Encino Man, Rudy and 50 First Dates. Astin was really personable and I enjoyed the conversation. But once again, cropping wasnt gonna happen on this split. While Astin put his arm around me and I to him….DJ struck an En Vogue pose and Astin’s other arm just dangled in front of DJ.
With Astin done, it left me one last…..Jason David Frank aka The Green Ranger aka The White Ranger…aka Rangers I never cared about. The guy is ultra personable and does a fantastic job in marketing himself. Its why he draws so well at every con and he is AT every con. For me, I really wanted The White Ranger in gimmick photo op. I want the Green too, but thats his standard. He only breaks The White out at special cons that he feels are drawing big. Well….he added White for Sunday, so it was on. I even got a chance to appear on his FB video chanting Best In The World at him…..as he has been challenging CM Punk to an MMA fight for quite some time. I got my photo and our day was just about done.
I had heard that if you go up to the photo sales booth, they can print your photo ops right then and there if it was an emergency. So we hit the booth and got our photos printed. And NOW it was over. Finally. For me, this was a very unpleasant experience. I’m stoked I got some great photo ops. Honestly, I thought Celeb Photo Ops handled things MUCH better than Wizard World. Their staff doesnt try and fuck anyone over. They try and make things right. Wizard World, most of them, are just money whores. I met a family that was standing in line for John Cena photo op….which sold out like a few days before the con. They said they called WW and was told if they showed up on Sunday, they would sell them one. Of course it was a lie. When they got to the front, they were denied. Mom, Dad and their 2 young kids who were all dressed in Cena gear. No photo ops. All were sold out. And when they explained what happened….they were told it wasnt true. They asked for a refund for the admission and was denied. Why? Same reason. Admission is to get in….not to meet celebrities. You can still stay and enjoy the con. I have been to Walker Stalker, Creation Cons, Fan Expos and none of them treat their patrons so poorly like Wizard World does. Not sure if its Wizard as whole, as Wizard in Toronto was very nice to deal with. But its unreal how poor the customer service is. I felt so bad for those people and those kids.
So back to the car and a DIFFERENT garage we parked at and we got back on the road. On the way home, we stopped at my favorite Turnpike stop, that is now downgraded as Sbarros is gone. Went inside to get some food. After coming out of the restroom, a very attractive blonde was waiting outside the ladies room and stopped me to tell me she liked my shirt. It read “Orgasm Donor”. I asked her if she wanted a donation, which she giggled at and walked away. I ordered some food from Roys. I waited about 30 minutes for it. Unreal. Then I ordered a slice from this new pizza place to give it a try. NEVER AGAIN. They put my one slide in a styrofoam container. After a few minutes I opened it to eat it and lifted the pizza to watch all this great pour down into the container. The container though had no bottom, as the grease had eaten away at it. I think a deep fryer has less grease in it. It was horrid and I couldnt eat it. So take note if you are on the PA turnpike headed towards Harrisburg and encounter this stop with the Roy Rogers in it….DO NOT….I repeat…DO NOT, eat that pizza.