What a great con this was. Nearly everyone we met was very friendly and approachable. The Huntington Convention Center was very spacious and the panel rooms were all in the same area. But before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’ll start at the beginning.
The Drive and Parking
“Oh, sweet Lord Cthulhu take me now.” This was my thinking as soon as we entered Cleveland. While the drive from the Pittsburgh area to Ohio was fairly uneventful, it all took a turn for the craptacular once we neared Cleveland.
For one, there was a single main bridge that we had to cross to get into Cleveland; it was closed (we’ve never been to Cleveland before and our GPS is out of date). Not much of a problem, but we did have to detour through the woods of Ohio in the snow. Not so fun, but these things happen. What we really kind of expected, though, but didn’t fully anticipate was this…
The con started at five PM on St. Patrick’s Day, and we knew Cleveland would be busy. We are used to seeing drunken hooligans running amok through the streets of Pittsburgh (whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day or not). But what really screwed us was that they had a lot of the streets closed down.
Worse, the streets that were closed down were right in front of our hotel. So, we had to navigate the unfamiliar streets of downtown Cleveland while weaving through fist fighting drunken pedestrians and insanely mad bus drivers. Surprisingly, we made it to the hotel unscathed.
Another awful aspect of Downtown Cleveland, (and honestly, our only real complaint) is that the parking sucks here. Most major cities have issues with parking (Pittsburgh has pretty horrible parking). But what separates Cleveland, is that there literally is NO PARKING.
Our hotel, as well as all in the surrounding area, don’t have parking lots. Some, like ours, have parking garages—which they charge you an arm and a leg for. And the same seems to go for the Huntington Convention Center itself. You have to find a parking garage that isn’t full and pay whatever they charge. Very Unfortunate. But this isn’t the fault of Wizard World; they accommodate as best as they can.
We stayed at the Drury Plaza Hotel right across the street from the convention center. And I must say, other than the expensive valet parking, this place has it going on. It’s an old educational center of sorts remade into a hotel—and it shows.
Whether it be the Teachers Lounge onsite bar, giant murals painted in the lobby, marble floors on each floor, or the old style lecture rooms, this hotel really feels like a place a writer should stay if visiting downtown Cleveland. The free booze is an added bonus.
Click images to enlarge
Downtown Cleveland is a pretty cool looking place. You have a lot of tall buildings, the convention center, Lebron James mural, Browns football stadium, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the lake. Not to mention the countless bars, restaurants, and pizza shops.
And other than running into the crazy drunks on St. Patrick’s Day, (especially when we went walking through downtown around midnight) it’s not too crazy. Also, our only real bizarre moment came when we had a drunk man following us through the streets because he lost his leprechaun (actually wanted four dollars). But the sights are pretty cool in Cleveland.
Huntington Convention Center
Being right across the street, we had a very easy time getting to the con before they opened. But on Friday, our first trip to the center, we walked up an incline which was was covered on the side by grass. It turned out this was the roof of the convention center; very cool.
The set-up was was awesome for the most part. They had all press registration, ticket, and other booths off to the side of the main floor. The panel rooms were on the second floor and all lined up next to each other for easy navigation. And they had numerous food spots along either side of the main floor which prevents crowding of the main floor and the many booths throughout.
While we can go on about Cleveland and the convention center, you guys came here to read about the con. So, let’s jump to it. We’ll provide the page links below in which you can navigate however you like.
We would just like to add, we were treated very well by the people at Wizard World Cleveland. If we lived in the area, this would definitely be an event we’d attend every year: it had great booths, awesome panels, and fun events. This con had something everyone could enjoy.