About The Event
For its 2019 event, AnimeNEXT continued its fourth year in its (somewhat new) Atlantic City, New Jersey location! It moved from its humble location in Somerset, New Jersey once attendees outgrew the con center. This was my ninth consecutive year attending this event. According to Animecons.com, there were about 11,000 attendees during last year’s event and this number seemed to increase this year, especially on Saturday. However, I heard from some folks that attendance may have taken a slight dip this year.
Safety and Atlantic City
I stayed at a hotel which was a bit far from the convention center in terms of walking distance–maybe about a mile or so–but I typically stay in the Sheraton across the street from the con center. I learned that a convention experience can change somewhat based on hotel accommodations. I also did not really see Atlantic City as a necessarily ‘unsafe’ area, until I stayed just a mile away, passing rough areas on the shuttle. Atlantic City is an area where the environment can drastically change at the turn of a corner. There is the Tanger outlets in proximity to the convention center which is mainly catered to locals and tourists, but once you’re outside that bubble, I’d recommend being careful and going in a group.
I took the jitney when going to and from the hotel and saw more unsavory areas out from my window. I wouldn’t recommend walking outside of the convention area alone. The shuttle did not run on Thursday, so I I took a Lyft then walked back in a group as a precaution. I strongly recommend booking your hotel early and as close as possible to the con center. I may make a post in the future on the topic of safety and conventions.
Interactions with Staff and Cosplay Hurdles:
Thursday was a little bit rough for me. I did not do much in terms of trying on my cosplays and two out of three of my outfits didn’t work out. I purchased the cosplays through Aliexpress, as usual. But the straps of my apron for my Ichigo Momomiya cosplay kept on falling down. As for my my Sailor Saturn cosplay, the boots for them were spray painted purple and I ran into a last minute issue: I did not use shoe paint and they quickly had pretty bad cracks and paint chips.
Although Thursday was a tad stressful and my usual con friends were not attending this year, I thought of their past advice and general outlook of conventions, which helped me get past this hurdle.
Staff members on pre-reg Thursday night had a great sense of humor and made the wait for our badges worth it. I did not have too many interactions with staff overall, though mostly had a positive experience. Cosplay repair staff were really sweet and I felt so relieved that the repair room existed. Almost right away, someone stepped up and asked me what I needed help with. My prop did get some wear and tear and a safety pin was a great temporary fix. But I did have a little bit of an unpleasant experience with one staff member at prop check, and I wanted to share…
Te staff member in question mocked me when I asked her a question. She was a bit nasty when she said she didn’t have the schedule, proceeded to laugh and give me an attitude, refused to give me help and information, and then proceeded to forced her face into a double chin to mirror my appearance. I had the impression she was making fun of me in regards to my weight. This of course, made me a bit uneasy and I think any form of commentary on attendee’s body types should be kept to one’s self–this includes gestures. Although this was a minor incident, I do want to note that I have seen this staff member at other events and try to keep my distance due to their personality and demeanor. I was forced to interact with them at prop check and it didn’t go too well. Other staff were able to handle this situation professionally and with sensitivity. Aside from the incident with the one staff member, I really thought that the staff was friendly and helpful. I was glad that the issue was taken seriously.
Video Game Room:
As the weekend progressed, I found that it flew by. I spent a bit of time in the gaming room, playing rhythm games. I really wanted to play Groove Master, which is one of my favorite arcade games, though did see a few other great selections. Project Diva usually had a long line and an additional machine may have alleviated this. The selection of the gaming room was pretty good, though I felt that the room felt a bit smaller than previous years. Staff members did monitor people using the machines at some points, to make sure everyone had equal time on the games. The selection of games were pretty good and Tokyo Attack almost always has a great availability. Though Project Diva did have a long line sometimes and a second machine may have allowed this to cut down a bit.
I did find it a little odd that the gaming room also had trading card games in the same location. I know that many card games do require some form of conversation and the noise from the consoles and arcade games may have had it difficult for people to hear one another.
The jitney is a popular subject when it comes to feedback, so I’m dedicating a section to it here. During the first year or so, attendees did not have a positive experience. But staff members have listened to attendees vocal feedback during previous years. The jitney service has improved, with friendlier drivers, speedier service, and signs for different hotel routes. Although I do want to note that the signs did not always correspond to the areas the jitneys were in, and we did have to double check with drivers to see if we were going on the correct route. The signs were a good idea, though they were not executed in a clear way at first, as I found out jitney drivers were initially unaware of the signs or did not control their placement. The jitney schedule was also only really available on the Guidebook app, to my knowledge and was also posted during the event on the convention page, which made planning a little bit challenging. However, the Jitney was pretty convenient and did make me feel a lot safer. Some Jitneys also were decorated for the occasion!
The convention weekend did go by very quickly and I mainly went solo. I find that conventions are often a lot more fun when you have friends to tag along. Although there were some bumps along the way, I’m looking forward to attending AnimeNEXT 2020!