When this con was originally announced, it was something I was interested in…..but definitely not going to attend. There was but 2 names that I wanted….Stephen Amell and Lauren Cohan. I had just gotten Stephen in Dallas and Lauren was going to be at Philly Wizard World. So I couldnt see making the trek to Chicago.
Over the next few weeks, this Walking Dead themed convention started to be over run by Arrow names. Anyone who knows me, knows that Arrow is my favorite television show. So from Stephen Amell….they added David Ramsey, who plays Diggle and has also starred in Blue Bloods as the Mayor. I REALLY wanted to go after Diggle was announced, but it still seemed like quite a bit of an investment to attend for 1 big need.
Then some money freed up. With Wrestlemania XXX looking like absolute garbage and the WWE itself going down the toilet creatively, I had decided going to WM was going to worthless. I had always wanted to visit New Orleans and planned this trip back the previous Summer. But now it just seemed silly to go. So, I quickly changed my plans. I cancelled my flight, hotel, etc. and freed up some cash. But again…..was this where I really wanted to redirect my flight to?
Thew answer came shortly thereafter when Emily Bett Rickards was added, aka Felicity Smoak. I LOVE Felicity! No….I mean I LOVE her. So now….I had to go. With the extra freed up cash, I made the plan to attend.
Tickets bought, hotel booked all late in the game and for a pretty decent price, all things considering. I decided to go VIP for Stephen Amell. I figured, the line cutting would be a huge help since I was getting several names and several photo ops. Plus, you never know when things can get behind and I dont want to be late for my flight coming home. I didnt really want to attend the con all 3 days, but I also didnt want to fly in the morning of this con. Turns out, flying in morning of would have worked out fine……but oh well, attending Friday was by no means a waste. More on that later.
The shitty part was I had a ridiculously early morning Friday flight and ridiculously late Sunday night flight….really the opposite of what I wanted. But because the trip was put together less than 2 weeks before the con….I was at the airline’s mercy. Schedule flight time was 6:45am….airport no more than 30 mins from my house. I was up at 4:30am and out the door at 5:05am. I made great timing to the airport and arrived about 1hr and 10 mins early. They always say you should arrive at least 1 hour early for your flight and being that this is Harrisburg and very small airport AND one I have flown out a multitude of times……an hour would be overboard, but better to be early than late.
Something told me NOT to park in long term parking. It would cost 70% less to park there, but is also 2 miles from the airport. Not sure why……but I parked in the short term, expensive parking. Maybe a guardian angel looking out for me….or maybe me being lazy. But whatever. I parked, got out and headed to check my bag. I walk into the airport and I see a SWARM of people at the security check. The line is going from the security gate and into the hall that connects to the parking lot. As I get closer….I find the line is actually snaking. So….going that far deep and then snaking back. There had to be 300 people in the security line! Evidently, they had several flights leaving at this time and security doesnt open till 6am and the first flight out is at 6:20am…..that makes NO sense. I motor to United’s check in with my printed boarding pass in hand. Sadly, I find a line 50 deep. WTF?! For the first time ever….I think I am gonna miss my flight. We got angry customers everywhere and the line doesnt seem to be moving. There are just 3 people working the counter and the line doesnt seem to be moving. We got people trying to get to DC, Minneapolis and Chicago. 6:20, 6:45 and 6:50. I talk to this one guy in line and said and asked if he thought they would hold the plane. He said NO WAY.
I am there a good 15 mins and notice the line has not moved at all. This is when I have discovered that the reason the line is not moving is United’s printer isnt working to print baggage tags or boarding passes. In fact, their system isnt working….as people cant even get checked in using their automated system and they have to do it manually. My flight boards at 6:20 and they are already calling the first group. Its not till 6:30 that I finally get my bag checked and race to security. I get there and I am 40 people or so deep. I hear LAST CALL for my flight. How am I gonna make it?!
I’ve never seen security move so quickly. They must have violated all kinds of TSA rules. I got through the security line in less than 10 minutes. Luckily, my gate was the second gate on the right. I grabbed my shit, jumped in my shoes, slid half my belt on and raced to the gate. I got there and handed my boarding pass and finished getting dressed. I was on the plane. The closed the plane with the guy behind me. I found my seat and got settled in.
And then we sat on the runway for the next 20 minutes as there was some issue with the runaway being available for takeoff. Seriously?! All that and we cant even take off?! I do have to say, I was happily surprised that the plane was actually a full sizer. Usually out of Harrisburg, I am on a puddle jumper. But this one had 3 seats in each row on both sides. It was actually larger than the flight I took to Dallas. So I was definitely happy about that. The plane did take off and we made it to Chicago.
It was a short flight and with the hour time difference, I was in at around 7:45am. I called for the hotel shuttle and then jumped on. The airport and the hotel were no more than 10 mins away and I made it there very quickly. When I planned this trip, I worried I would get stuck waiting in the lobby for my room since check in wasnt till 3pm, but they had my room ready for me at 8am. This was huge. I could go, unpack and take a nap before heading over to the con.
The original price on this Doubletree room was $295 a night. Priceline got it for me at $80 a night. I couldnt be more impressed. The staff was very friendly, helpful, efficient and they get 4 stars! The room was awesome. The bed was comfy, had a couch, fridge and even a bathroom with a separate shower and tub. Best of all….the convention center was across the street and they have a sky bridge that connects to it. The only reason I wont go 5 stars though……no free wifi. $12.95 a day…..but they do give you a full 24 hours of usage. Still….that cost sucked.
So I got in my room and unpacked and caught that nap. The con wouldnt open till 11am. So I got myself a good 2 hour nap. As I was checking twitter, I found a location for where Chicago Fire was going to be filming. Its one of my favorite shows. I check on google maps and find its but a mere 7 miles from the hotel. I MUST hit this. Landing some Chicago Fire names would be awesome.
All I want to do at the con is just head over, scope out the lay of the land, pick up my tickets for the event and buy my downloadable jpegs. I goto Will Call and get my lanyard for my VIP pass and head inside. The con is all but dead. Hardly any convention goers are here. Celebs are not supposed to be here till mid afternoon. So I head to the photo booth and buy my jpegs. I take a quick walk through and everything is nicely setup. All the Arrow names are in the same aisle. Stephen Amell has the largest line setup. Vendors and snacks are on the other side of the floor. Yes, everything is on the exact same floor. Very easy to navigate and it was VERY well spaced out. That way….no running into people or lines running into one another.
I got what I needed from the con and headed out. Its time to mark out for Chicago Fire. I head back to the hotel and the bellman gets me a cab. I jump in and explain where I want to go. We pull out of the hotel and get to the traffic light. Not sure what possessed me to do this…perhaps that guardian angel again, but I asked about how much would this ride cost me. Cab driver pulls out onto the main street and begins to drive. He tells me about $40. YO!! Its a 7 mile drive. What do you mean $40?!??! He tells me its about a 45 minute drive and its 30 miles. I quickly pull up google maps and show him its 7 miles and he tells me Google is wrong. Wait…Google is wrong?!?!?! He asks me who am I gonna believe him or Google? Does this question actually need a response? TURN THE CAB AROUND! The driver pulls onto the ramp for the highway. I ask him what are you doing? He said…..you want me to turn around? I ask why not just turn around up the street. He explains he knows how to do his job. In other words…..he knows how to rip off an out of towner! Two minutes later, we are back at my hotel. The total bill….$14.25 rounded up. I pull out a 10 and a 5. He counts out my $.75 and I take my change. I get out of the cab and do NOT shut the door. Driver screams at me to close the door…..I cant….Google wont let me. I walk back into the hotel and the bellman asks me if everything is ok. I explain what happened. He tells me you have to watch Chicago cab drivers. Yeah…clearly.
So no marking out. Fine. I need to eat lunch anyway. There is a nice steak house called Gibson’s connected to the hotel. I walk over. I get seated at a table and immediately can tell my jeans and hoodie aint cutting it. I got suits and ties, Louis Vutton dresses,……just high class and up scale. You know what that means? The menu arrives and a steak dinner is $75. I know I am in trouble. I ended up getting a Ribeye steak sandwich, which was VERY good. It came with fries. I ordered a Coke and they brought me this tiny 8oz bottle, which cost $3! I drank 2. The best part of the food was the free chips that were provided. Like many restaurants that offer some bread….this place offered some self made chips. They had some sort of spice on them and were absolute delicious! I wished I had gotten some to go. The bill was $25 with tip…..so not awful. And the quality was there.
When I was finished with lunch, I washed up in my room and headed back to the con. It was now past 4pm…..so I might as well see if more people were there and see what celebs were there. Maybe I can pick myself up a deal on a very slow day.
Once inside, I do the once over again and find that there are about 4 to 5 names there….only 3 I cared about. Daniel Thomas May, Nestor Carbonell and Stephen Amell. Daniel Thomas May sadly was not at his table. I didnt bring my poster tube anyway, so it wouldnt really have had helped since I needed him on my Vampire Diaries poster. Across his aisle was Nestor from Lost/Dark Knight Rises. In Lost he played Richard and in Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises…he is the Mayor of Gotham. Lost is one of my favorite shows, but still….he was not a favorite actor in the show. I didnt want to spend $40 on a photo op…so I thought I would go over and talk to him and see what I might be able to work out. $10? Yeah…that sounded fair. I went to his table. He was very nice. Spoke to him for a few minutes and asked how much for a photo op. He thought about it for a second…..ummm….nothing. Free today. So day 1 and photo op 1……FREE! What a win. A free photo op and for someone that I know and actually care about. NICE!!! I thanked Nestor and headed over to Stephen Amell’s table. Stephen had no line, so I walked right up and said hello to Kelsey, his manager and then immediately was greeted by Stephen….”Jay…you made it to Chicago!” Stephen Amell knows my name! He thanked me for all the shirts, mug and hoodie that I gave him in Dallas. He said it was very thoughtful and he loved the designs. He was really cool as usual, asked me how life was treating me and if I was having a good time in Chicago. I was actually kind of star struck or shocked or whatever you wanted to call it that he remembered me. Security came to get him for his photo ops….so I said goodbye and would see him tomorrow. WOW! What a way to start the first day off. Walker Stalker was beginning to be one of those epic cons.
Day 1 was in the books. I was back at the hotel and ready to order some dinner. I asked the front desk about delivery and what they recommended and they suggested Giordano’s. Said they have this really deep dish Chicago style pizza that is awesome. Ok….sounds good. Lets experience Chicago. So I call up….place an order for a Bacon and extra cheese deep dish, an order of tiramasu and a pepsi. They tell me its gonna be 1.5hrs…..no biggie, cuz I am riding high.
Hour and a half goes by and there is a knock at my door. The driver has my food and tells me my total is $31 and change. FOR SOME PIZZA?!?!?! Turns out that pizza comes with a $5 delivery charge!!!! I was still riding high from earlier, so I paid it and sat back down to eat. I flipped through the menu, but couldnt find any info about the delivery charge. $5?! Though. Here in central Pa…..most places dont charge it. And when they do…..$2 MAX.
I opened the box to find, not bits of bacon, but slices of it covering the top…but it was a tad bit burnt. This pizza was so deep, I could put my entire hand into. It was nuts. It starts with a layer of crust then a mountain of cheese. Then a thin layer of crust…..then more cheese. Then a thin layer of crust then sauce, slight sprinkle of cheese and the bacon. WHOAH!!! Even with the tad bit burnt bacon….it was MMMMMMM!!!! Highly recommend this place. Just dont get it delivered.
Day 2 was planned to start early. VIP entrance opened at 9am. However, considering what I saw yesterday, I just couldnt see this con really being an all day affair. With the VIP pass and my photo ops not taking place to late in the afternoon, I think I could blow through the autograph lines fairly quickly. So instead of getting up….I slept in a tad bit and didnt head to the con till about noon.
Since my buddy Ray needed 2 Walking Dead figures signed, I figured I would hit those 2 people up first. I noticed that they had a coat check at this con on Friday, which is a big ups to Walker Stalker Con. I think EVERY con should have an affordable coat check. $2 to check a coat, hoodie, bag, etc. So I packed a small bag with Ray’s figures to keep them safe from being damaged. I walked into the con and headed for target #1 Steven Yeun from Walking Dead. Not a fan of the show, but I have seen him at other cons. He had a decent size line. But I blew right through it with the VIP pass. Bought the auto. He signed the figure exactly as Ray wanted and I was done. Ok…one down. One more to go for Ray.
Lauren Cohan is #2 on the list. The thing about Lauren is I need her on my Vampire Diaries poster as well. But since I have VIP, I’ll get Ray’s figure signed and then come back later for my poster, since that was being signed in paint. I walk over to her line and attempt to enter VIP, where I am stopped by the volunteer. He tells me I dont have the right VIP pass to enter her line and that my pass is ONLY good for Stephen Amell. I explain that isnt true, but he wont budge. I ask to see a manager and he said there was none around right now and I would have to go track one down, as he cant leave his station. The guy behind is explained the same thing, as he has the Stephen Amell VIP pass as well. I notice Lauren isnt even here at this point. Past 12pm and a major guest hasnt arrived?! So I go to the front of the con, where they had a table setup for questions about the con. I explain what happen and the woman is happy to go and correct this. We walk back over to Lauren’s table, where she explained to the volunteer just how the VIPs work. The volunteer explains that it is nearing 1pm and Lauren still isnt here and we have people that have been waiting since 9am. He explains that the line has been moved to the other side of the building because, they cant hold anymore people in her barricaded area. I am told I can wait here, but it is unlikely she will even get to me considering she has photo ops starting at 1:30pm. They ask if I can come back tomorrow and since I can, I figure that was the best plan. Not going perfectly as planned….but not the worst situation either. Later I would be told by multiple con goers and volunteers that she only did half of her VIP line and NO GA for autographs, as she spent the rest of the con at the photo op center.
With no Lauren, I didnt need the figures anymore so I checked them at coat check. This freed my hands up and I could go back in and tackle my stuff. My first stop is David Ramsey. He had the shortest line of the Arrow names. I walk over, taking notice that Emily Bett Rickards has a HUGE line…..but she is also not there. I would later discover that Walker Stalker didnt fly many of these celebs in till the morning of Saturday, causing many delays in arrival. I walk up to David and purchase my 3 autos. I wanted to get a photo with him at the table, but he was not taking photos there. Oh well. Guess I’ll bite the bullet and buy the professional. I hand over my 2 posters and my Arrow book that has already been signed by Stephen Amell and Ty Olsen. As soon as he opens this book, David asks me if Stephen has signed this already. I told him yes….in Toronto. He said he knows this book. He tells me that Stephen told the cast about a fan creating this book with everyone’s photos in it. He flips to the beginning and begins to look over each page. He even read the inscription by Ty in the back. And he said he loved it and really appreciated the support. He wrote a small message about the book near his photo and signed it. He said he thought it was just perfect. He thanked me for taking the time to put something like that together. He signed both my posters as well. David was VERY down to earth and seemed to be really enjoying himself and meeting Arrow fans. I gave him a Hood Up button and explained the origin of how I came about the idea for the shirt/button. He said it was very cool that something small he said could inspire this. He thanked me for the button.
With David done and Emily just arriving at her table, I made my way to Manu Bennett. Manu was a late add, but a VERY welcomed add. I love him as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke and cant wait for the epic battle between Oliver and Slade in real time. I walk up and hand him a Hood Up button. At this point, Manu kind of belittled me and my gift. He wanted to know what would possess me to give him a Green Arrow button when he is “the bad guy”. He tells me he would never wear this. Wow…..ok bro. I can take it back. Its possible he was joking around and that it was just his personality. But I certainly did not receive it in that fashion. I had heard nothing but awesome stories about Manu and how gracious he is. Even in his Q and A I attended later on, he seemed some personable. But on this day….this moment, he was anything but. I was DEFINITELY going to be purchasing a professional photo op for Manu….but because of this experience, my desire to spend $40 on him evaporated. I chose instead to put that money towards something else. I’m sure its no sweat off his back, but I felt shamed by him. He signed my book and both posters and did inscribe them Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. I did pay the $10 for the photo op at his table, which I was also shocked he was doing since he does do so many cons. I figured he would be a pro photo only. But he wasnt. The experience still…..soured me on him. I hope I either misread the situation or maybe he was having an off moment.
Had to move past this experience, as Emily Bett Rickards….aka Felicity Smoak was next. In case I havent made this clear….I LOVE Felicity. I mean….I LOVE Felicity. She is awesome as character and a part of Team Arrow. She is an essential piece that helps balance Oliver and the team. I head over to her table and once again, blow past the 50 or so people waiting. I get up there and get my 3 autos. The first thing I do is I present her with a Felicity tshirt and Hood Up button. She was so touched by the shirt. She loved it and promised she was going to instagram this later. She signed my 3 items and thanked me for coming. She was really awesome and we shared a laugh over her early morning tweet about stopping for a burger at 8am. She did NOT have the burger and wasnt even sure if it was acceptable to eat that at 8am. I said it depends on how tasty that burger looked and how hungry you might have been.
All the new Arrow names were done. All that was left for autographs for Arrow was the star, Stephen Amell. No….I didnt hit his table next. Instead, I had 1 more minor Walking Dead/Vampire Diaries name I needed. Daniel Thomas May aka Thomas Fell from the flashback sequences of the 1800s and a member of the original Founding Families, Founders Council. He had NO line. I went up and he was very pleasant to meet. He signed my poster and inscribed it Thomas Fell. He even gave me a free photo op, which was nice and my 2nd free photo of the entire weekend. I thanked him for coming and was on my way.
All things considering, you probably are guessing the timeline had taken us to mid day Saturday. Nope. It was a but a mere 1:30pm. I blasted through all those lines in about 35 minutes. That included packing up all my poster and unpacking each…table to table and waiting for the paint to dry on them too. With it being so early, I was tempted to grab some food, but figured I might as well finish my autographs with Stephen Amell, grab some food and go back to the hotel. I could rest up for an hour or so before my photo ops. I head back over to Stephen’s table, but I find a sign up that says he wont be back till 2:30 due to lunch. Well….guess, grabbing a bite now makes sense. I head over to the snack stand. I figured since I have no one to sit with to eat and I wanted to rest up anyway, I’ll grab a quick bite to go. I dont notice any tinfoil or bags that I can take my food back to the hotel with. I figured I would just ask the lunch lady. Now before, I am accused of racism, stereotyping or the sort……well…..all of the above applied to what was about to occur. Be warned now. If you are sensitive to such talk…..skip to the next paragraph. For my readers who can accept one’s anger…..here goes. There was a very large black lady wearing a doo rag or hair net…something like that. I walk up and ask if I may take my food to go. She says she doesnt understand. Not quite sure how I can elaborate upon this, but here goes. I explain that I would rather not eat here and would like to take my food with me back to the hotel and was wondering if she had a bag or foil or something. She says what do you mean? You aint gonna eat here on the counter. What else are you gonna do it? I explain that by here I mean in the dining area, pointing out the hundred or so people sitting at the tables and eating. That eating here and taking it to go is taking it away from here. She gets upset and says something about me calling her stupid. Look Aunt Jemima….all I wanted to know was if I could get something to wrap my food in so I could eat in my room. She asks me what do I want? I said a slice a pizza. She says….cant you see we aint got none?! I ask for a cheesburger. She said she aint got that either. I tell her I am guessing hot dogs are sold out too. She said I guessed right. So what exactly is available? A soft pretzel….well they called soft, but was as hard as a brick and a bag of chips. I tell her I can clearly see they are out of everything….including her own personality and manners. I walk off disgusted. One con artist cabbie and one rude bitch that needs to stick to flipping pancakes. I hope Uncle Jemima drunk beats her.
Now that I got that off my chest, I head back to the hotel. I stop into the bistro that is connected to the restaurant. The service was awful, but the food was very good. I had a standard cheeseburger, but it was good. Fairly priced. I went back to the room for a bit, unloading a few items I no longer needed, including my poster tube and Ray’s figures. I didnt spend too much time as it was already 2:30pm and I wanted to get Stephen’s autos done and then head to photo ops, as my first op was at 4:15pm.
I arrived back at the con and Stephen was still not back. The time to return was changed from 2:30pm to 3pm. Ok….20 minutes, no biggie. I walked around and came back to find the time changed again to 3:30pm. Hmmmm…..first photo op is 4:15pm and they say you need to be there a min. of 15mins in advance. With VIP, coming early isnt really gonna be necessary. So…I should be able to hold out till 4pm. Good thing too….cuz it was right before 4, when Stephen returned. I purchased one additional autograph to go along with my VIP pass. I elected to get my photo from Dallas Comic Con signed, along with the custom Green Arrow comic that was drawn by David Roman. It features myself and Stephen shooting bows at The League Of Assassins, people on the island or The Putty Patrol. You get the idea.
I cut the entire line off….a good 60 or so people that had been waiting for quite some time. Went up and gave Kelsey, a Hood Up button. Always great to see her. Then moved over to Stephen. I showed him my newest Arrow shirt…..Always Be Oliver Queen. Now available on ebay and my online store. BUY! BUY! BUY! Cheap plug. He thought the new design was funny. Simple design and really has been done a multitude of times for a multitude of people. I have seen a Barney Stinson, Batman, etc. Revamped to meet the needs for Arrow. I also gave him a onezie for his daughter featuring his favorite Lian Yu Island design. He was moved that I would bring him something for his daughter. And I was happy to do so. I got my photo from Dallas signed and then showed him my custom made comic cover. He was impressed by the art. I told him who did the drawing and where it was done. He happily signed the cover. A unique one of a kind piece to go on my wall.
With autographs complete, minus the Lauren Cohan needs saved for tomorrow, I headed over to the photo op area…..otherwise known as ground zero! When I arrived, the day after 911 it started to resemble. There was just people scattered all about. I couldnt tell if anyone was in line or what. Evidently, there was 1 photographer and 1 guy printing photos. But they seem to run out of ink numerous times and it caused more and more delays. AND this caused the photos to become backlogged from printing, which then caused a chain of horrible events. People are trying to leave the con and dont have their prints, people are not coming back Sunday or flying out Saturday night, etc. Compound THAT with Lauren Cohan being late, volunteers not having any clue how to direct people and becoming increasingly frustrated and the photos that had been printed had been placed at a table right by the entrance and exit of the curtained off section for the actual photo…..caused a complete and total clusterfuck! The con, the photographer, and the volunteers did the best they could. I think they should have moved that table with the printed photos in the back of that aisle, considering there was nothing back there. It would keep the crowd away from the entrance and exits. I think they should have had signs up for which line was for which celebrity, which they did do on Sunday. And I think the photographer needed to have planned a little better. All that being said, Walker Stalker Con stepped up to try and make it as right as they possibly could with everyone. It was 4:15pm and they still hadnt printed the photos that were taken at 1:15. Walker Stalker, like I said, stepped up and tried to smooth things over the best they could. They, along with the photographer, offered free downloads to every con attendee. Being that I bought the code the other day…….they refunded me the money for my purchase, no questions asked. They could have easily have screwed me over since they had their money, but did the ethical thing by giving me a refund. They deserved to be praised for this honest gesture. I know many con promoters who would have told me to pound sand.
Again, with the issues, the actual photos were delayed. So my 4:15pm photos with David Ramsey and Emily Bett Rickards were more like 4:45. At least I met a few people to chat with. First there was Hannah and her family. They were big Arrow fans, who had custom made Arrow shirts. I told them I made designs and handed out a business card. Very, very nice people….who would later on, help me big time. But more on that later. I also met Zack, who is from the Chicago area and I have conveniently been conversing on Facebook already on a group page about Arrow. I went in for Rickards with my ticket leap ticket on my smart phone. And I have to comment on this. Ticketleap is awesome! So you download this app to your phone and as you buy tickets for different cons, it will then organize them by cons for you with the bar codes or QR codes. This way, you no longer have to worry about printing tickets and then possibly losing them. You dont have to carry pieces of paper with you either. They are all stored and easily accessible by your smart phone. Awesome! Unfortunately, the guy handling the ticket scanning was not given an ipad or any device to actually scan the tickets, so he couldnt do it. Instead, after each photo, I had to go out to the table where you purchase photo ops and have my photo op scanned. Ugh! At least I was smart enough to wait till all my photos were done before I had them scanned.
Back to Rickards….she was super sweet. I went in and got my photo and was out. I know the routine and I knew they were behind. But the photographer never made me feel rushed, so that was cool.
Once I was out, I immediately jumped into the David Ramsey line. His line already started moving by the time I got there. So they ended up taking half in and holding my half out just to keep the photo area relatively clear. The volunteer said they would be back to get us in just a few minutes. Well….a few minutes turned into a half hour. When she finally reappeared, she called for Manu Bennett’s photo line. Whoah! Hold up. What happened to David Ramsey? She tells me David is done and has left. She takes us back and we join Manu’s line. Manu finished his line and they bring David back. Not sure why David would leave, considering the cast photos were next. But they get him back and he finishes out his line. He once again comments me on my Arrow back. He says its just awesome. Like I said….ultra cool guy. Very humble and appreciative. Very charismatic too, which I am not used to in his roles on Blue Bloods and on Arrow. You can definitely see some Diggle in Ramsey though.
With my singles done with Emily and David, I didnt have my next photo op till Stephen Amell, which was after the cast photo. Hindsight being 20/20, probably should have done my cast photo on Saturday. But wanted to space the photos out a bit since I was gonna be there all 3 days. Just would have been easier and more practical. It was a bit of a wait till the cast photos were done and Stephen’s singles began. I was starting to get worried that these photos would intrude with the meet n greet with Stephen Amell that came with my VIP. Here we are at 6pm….still running 45mins behind. Stephen starts his singles and I am back in action. I notice Stephen is wearing the Hood Up button and Kelsey makes sure to point out how much free publicity I am getting…LOL! Snap that photo and I am back out the curtain and into the Amell duo line. The last of my photo ops for the day. Stephen does finish his line up pretty quickly and the duos are on. And this is good, cuz its getting closer to 7pm. Once its my turn, Stephen introduces me to Robbie. He tells Robbie to read my shirt, which Robbie laughs at. Snap the pic and I am done. Stephen thanks me for coming out and I am done.
Before heading to the meet n greet, I get my tickets scanned and my refund for the downloads. None of my photo ops have been printed and I am told they will have them tomorrow morning for me. So I have to wait. No biggie. I walk over to the meet n greet ball room and stand in line. I see there are about 12 people in front of me. So, I must be one of the last few in line. Except…..I wasnt. A few minutes later Hannah and her family join me in line and we start talking about Arrow and the meet n greet. Hannah tells me that someone told her that Stephen wasnt going to be at the meet n greet and that this is a big event and not something private. In fact, there is no guarantee that any celebrity will be here. I am in complete denial. I mean….how could Walker Stalker advertise a $300 VIP ticket that includes a meet n greet in 3 different variations, if you arent even gonna meet that person?! About 70 more people later……now I am concerned. Once inside, my concern goes to full on worry, which then turn to full on anger followed by the proverbial……RAGE!!!! Once I got inside, we took a seat at a table and asked a volunteer. The volunteer reiterates what Hannah told me. We are all VERY ticked off. Hannah and her family bought 5 Amell VIPs for this meet n greet. I bought one….as this is where the value was for the extra money. We stayed 45 minutes of the hour, when it became painfully obvious that Stephen would not be here. Not 1 Arrow name was there. Instead we got Iron E. Singleton, Daniel Thomas May and 1 other person I wasnt sure who it was. And the no autograph/no photo op rule I guess wasnt being enforced, as I saw numerous people getting them.
So we left. We agreed to meet up tomorrow and find James or Eric, the 2 guys who Walker Stalker together and see how they could make this right. We genuinely felt taken advantage of and ripped off. Would JUSTICE be served……the answer is coming.
With the late return to the hotel and debacle of the meet n greet, I decided I was definitely just ordering some food. That deep dish from last night was so good, I ended up NOT taking my own advice and got it delivered. Once again, 1.5 hrs to deliver. Only thing was, I left the bacon off this time and went with plain extra cheese. I think I liked it better this way. LOL!
Sunday morning came quickly. The con opened at 9am, but I definitely did not need to get there too early. I was up at 10, packed my bags for the con and for going home. I checked out of the hotel, checked my bags with the bell man and headed over around 11:30am. I still needed Lauren Cohan and the Arrow Q and A at 1pm. I got there and immediately hit Lauren’s table. She was there. And the same volunteer was there. But this time, he let me in the VIP line. I did hear him tell people that were not taking anymore people in GA line though. Interesting. She had photo ops starting soon and would not be back at her table. So I blew right through the VIP line and got to her. She signed Ray’s figure and then signed my poster. She really loved the Vampire Diaries poster and inscribed her character Rose on there. She also loved the blue paint marker and commented it looked so pretty on the poster. I thanked her for coming and grabbed my stuff and exited.
My first stop was will call, which had SOME…not all of the photo ops from Saturday printed out. I located just one. I asked a volunteer and he looked for me as well and couldnt find any additional. So I went over to photo ops and they were out of ink. They said that ink was coming and they would start reprinting again. The guy asked me if I could wait till 4pm and come back. He could print my photos right then and send me on my way. I figured I might as well do that…..might be able to get him to print my cast photo that I was taking at that time as well.
ALL autographs were finished….sort of. Hannah texted me that she was finishing checking out and packing up her car and would be over in a bit. I went over to the Arrow Q and A and grabbed myself a front row seat. I plan was to video record the Q and A, as I did for Dallas. Sadly, the memory I card I used in Dallas wouldnt record this time. It kept giving me some error message and this was AFTER I had formatted the card. I used it to take photos no problem. But for some reason…..video would not work. Time for a new card. I took a few photos during the Q and A instead. These sessions are generally a skip for me. BUT….since Stephen generally has a habit of revealing spoilers…..I like to attend his. The miss portion usually comes with questions from the audience. I REALLY wish we could get these questions pre screened. They can be of utter annoyance. In Dallas, some dude asked Stephen to take his shirt off and in Chicago, some dude asked if anyone wanted to appear on Power Rangers? Really? Really?!We get some standard questions like favorite this or favorite that. Which while boring…..are better than the weirdo questions. Another one that really grinds my gear is boxer or briefs? I never hear a guy ask a woman guest if they are wearing granny panties or a thong? Why do women feel that is appropriate to ask a male guest this? And….there is the “whats on your ipod”? Who cares?!?!?! Seriously?! Stop already.
I digress. The Q and A was mostly good. Again, David Ramsey really showed off his humor. Extremely funny. He even stole my line when a fan asked him his worse injury on the show. I screamed out “Diggle dont get injured.” Which David acknowledged as the correct answer. Seeing David like this only has made more excited for the Suicide Squad episode. Conveniently, brings about a possible spoiler. A fan inquired to Stephen about the possibility of Harley Quinn being on Arrow. Stephen said this must be a direct reference to the teaser image of someone that looked VERY much like Harley. He said he could not confirm that Harley would be on. But that DC was loosening the reigns with some of the characters and that he also could NOT DENY that it was Harley either. He smiled slyly and has only increased my hopes.
When the Q and A finished, I met up with Hannah and her family. Our pleasantries were quickly interrupted by a phone call from her Grandmother who was also in attendance. We headed over to her Grandmother who had found someone in charge. Brad JUSTICE….see what I mean by Justice….acknowledge the mistake and wanted to make it right. He asked who we wanted to meet and we explained that we just wanted what we paid for. He took us to Stephen’s table and got us free autographs. Once again….Walker Stalker steps up to correct a wrong….making it right. And Brad Justice couldnt be more apologetic. These actions are rarity at cons. Refunding money, admitting wrong…..finding a way to make up for it. Hats off to Walker Stalker and specifically Brad Justice for his exceptional customer service.
While it wasnt exactly what we paid for, it was something to make up for it. I hope that Walker Stalker will in fact be more specific in what the meet n greet entails. Meeting and greeting fellow convention goers is . Some people said that Stephen was supposed to attend and did not, while the majority said he was never going to be there. It seemed a lot of misinformation was being leaked out there and thats not cool either. I cant imagine that all 3 VIPs were contractually obligated to be there and then all 3 didnt show. I have to believe that they were never going to be there in the first place. Anyway, got a few minutes with Stephen and I had my photo op from the day before signed. And since Stephen is an admitted WWE fan and WWE Network subscriber, I chit chatted with him about wrestling. He admitted his favorite to watch right now is Daniel Bryan and his favorite to rewatch over and over is Shawn Michaels. He is a big HBK fan. Will have to keep that in mind next time HBK is around.
Brad then escorted us over to photo ops, stopping first to introduce us to another Arrow name……can anyone guess? Oh yeah…..Manu Bennett. He was ultra friendly with all the ladies. He shook my hand, but barely said a word to me. Perhaps….I remind him of someone he dislikes or maybe he sat on my button? Its cool. Not everyone loves me. So we went to photo ops and I had a bit of a wait for my cast photo. But Hannah got her Emily Bett Rickards photo and then she had herself a big break. Since now our schedules were very much apart, we said our goodbyes. I waited for my cast photo. Without anyone to keep me company, time seem to tick by very slowly. At least today they were more organized. Each line had a sign, so you knew where to go. I used my VIP pass and was one of the first people through. Once it was my turn, I walked up and Stephen and David cleared a path for me. However, I was looking to stand next to Emily. No offense David. David said….”none taken….DICK!” Of course this response caused me to burst into laughter which is evident in the photo itself. David Ramsey…you sir are a funny man!
I was done. Photo ops. Autographs. Done and done. Just needed to grab my prints and I was gone. I went over to the guy and he explained to me that there were about 10 photos ahead of me and it was gonna be 45 minutes before he could have my Ramsey photo printed, which at this point was the only one missing…as throughout the day I found my other prints on the table. I asked if he could print my cast photo too, but he said he couldnt. Well…not gonna wait for just the 1. I doubt my cast photo was even gonna be printed by the time the con closed, let alone by the time I had to leave. So I figured I would get an early start on the road home.
Goodbye Walker Stalker….you had your highs and your lows. But your customer service was outstanding and you deserved to be commended for how you handled it. As a first time Walker Stalker attendee…..I was VERY pleased with my results.
Back to the hotel I went, repacked my bags with my con stuff and waited for the shuttle. Made it to the hotel in plenty of time. Checked my bag and hit security. And as always….something has to happen at the airport. This time though….not something bad. As I am standing in the security line, a TSA employee comes up to me and asks if I can step out of line. Not this again? I am escorted to this machine, where my hands are swabbed for explosives. Of course it turns up negative. I am then taken to a shorter line at security. I am told I do not have to take my shoes, belt or metal objects off. I do not have to take my lap top out of the bag either. I also did not go through the X ray machine, just the metal detector. I BREEZED through security. Maybe 5 minutes from the moment I hit the line, swabbed, metal detector and retrieved my bag! This was awesome!
I made my way to my concourse, grabbed a bite to eat, charged my phone and waited a good 2 hrs before my flight was boarding. I made it home safely, even though there was a moment that was a bit frightening. As they were serving drinks, the plane began to shake and we seem to be losing altitude. The pilot radioed to the stewardesses to put the cart away and that drinks were now over. All crew needed to take their seats and buckle in. I dont like the sound of this. The plane really started to shake and we didnt quite nose dive, but we were definitely moving quickly in a downward motion. No other information was given, but about 20 minutes later we landed safely. And just for kicks….there was one more slight scare. Bags came up at baggage claim and people grabbed them. Didnt seem like much. Then the conveyor stopped and a United employee came over and announced that was it and that some of the bags did not make it here. My bag is not here???!! I hear the belt start up back up and few more bags come out and THANK GOD….I see mine come out. I race over to it like it was a 2 for 1 coupon at the Bunny Ranch. I snag it and left.
Trips like these arent always gonna be perfect. The ups come with the downs. But to really know the overall consensus is to measure them. Did my positives, whether it be many or few outweigh my negatives, whether they be many or few. If you can answer yes…..then you are a success. You got value. I had fun. I got value. I met some cool people. My trip was a success. And I was so very blessed that it truly was.