It was very fun though some things could be even better next year. [tl;dr]
As most of are aware, I was able to go to Anthrocon 2016. I arrived in Pittsburgh on Thursday Mid-morning, after attempting to catch a red-eye on United, but was switched to Delta after the flight to Chicago was delayed long enough to miss my connecting flight due to mechanical problems. Despite this I ended up getting there 15 minutes after my original flight. This also allowed me to use Uber for the first time to get to my hotel, The Wyndham Grand. Which I will say was quite enjoyable and was able to get there no fuss.
The Wyndham Grand, has a wonderful lobby, friendly staff and definitely did feel welcome anytime I entered. There are two major issues though I have with this hotel, for the convention. The first is the standard double room was cramped. Which if I needed to get to the other side of the room, I had to ask anyone at the desk to move so I could get by. Also due to the size of the room, we could not get a roll-in bed, which resulted with me on the floor most nights.
The second issue was the distance from the hotel to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the Westin (0.7 miles [1.1 km]). Which Anthrocon did address with a shuttle bus that ran about every 30 minutes from the opening ceremonies to closing ceremonies. However, I always seemed to be a couple minutes late, which definitely cut down on my fursuiting for the convention. Also the shuttle buses ended right after closing ceremonies so anyone staying at the Wyndham had to walk from that point back.
In total I was able to be in fursuit twice. The major factor is how my suit deals with the heat... It doesn't, and the distance to the con from the hotel. This automatically puts at least a 30 minutes of being in the suit, which then the reason I wanted to be in suit had passed. That said each time I was in suit was fun and amazing. the first was almost immediately after I was at the hotel and just walked around the lobby for a bit, the second time was immediately after the fursuit parade. And was amazing by the people stopping for pictures. I unfortunately did not participate in the parade itself due to missing the line up after a long lunch, and the distance to the hotel to pick it up. Again, this was my poor planning that is to blame.
Ever since I missed pre-reg for Midwest Fur Fest, I have always have pre-registered for the con. This was no exception. This is definitely not the exception. I picked up my membership for the con on Mid-Afternoon on Thursday. Upon getting into the main con-space where the registration tables where set up, and was immediately confused on where to go for pre-reg. When I made it up there, there was a enormous line for registration. Looking around I did not see anything to denote the line was for non-pre-registered attendees. I was able though to see the special line for sponsors and super-sponsors. this being the case, I got into the line and proceded to wait to get in. Though about 15 minutes in I learned I needed to go to Pillar C since I pre-reg. Which I think I had to wait a total of a minute to get my membership and attendee stuff. This lack of signage also I believe contributed to the under-utilization of the zoo. Talking with some staff off site, I understand why they lacked signage (the convention center forbits attaching things to the walls or pillars). This is not uncommon, and also suggested they use art grates triangles to create way points and stable sign posts.
Anthrocon though is a weird beast. With the convention being in a convention center and not stuck to one hotel, it is very spread out and sprawls to the streets and the two major hotels. This makes the feel of the con something I am not completely use to. For conventions I'm use to a hive of furriness enveloping the hotel and being forced to be social and outgoing. Because I was not forced to do this, I found myself slinking into the corners of the con-space and only really being social in the zoo, lobby and bars where I couldn't shy away without leaving.
The spot where I spent a good chunk of time as the dealers den. I have been wanting to read more, but have a hard time shopping for books online. The main issue I have is finding books I will enjoy and needed a guiding paw which I was able to get from all three of the major publishers, despite me being super awkward and un-eloquent in my speech.
Also on Friday, in heading to the main space, I was perplexed by the line of fursuiters. Apparently this was where the staff inspected the fursuits to make sure they matched the definition that is used by Guinness of what makes a fursuit a fursuit. [needs citation] I did not know this was needed for the fursuit picture before the parade until later that day. It was at this time I began to think about skipping the parade, which I ultimately did after a long lunch after my art panels.
Later Friday, being a huge TF fan myself when to the Transformation Meet and Great. The idea although it was good, it was more of a panel of two or so people talking why they like tf and was mostly awkward for the first 40 minutes until they opened it up to going and talking to people. The better time was when I made it to Licos' TF Art Jam in the zoo. There I was able to meet more transformation artists and have a nice kangaroo-girl sketch thanks to DingoRoo's suggestion.
Saturday was more filled with mostly the art panels I was looking forward to. Both the creature creation panel and the Art One-Oh-Something I found to be quite interesting. Both allowed me to see how other artists create and apply their crafts. I ended up learning new methods I have been itching to use in future drawings. My only lament is how they where scheduled. with the creature creation panel ending a half hour after the art One-Oh-Something started. In doing this, I missed the start of the second panel, and skipped Q & A on the first.
Sunday, was mostly uneventful. I spent the morning looking for some last minute stuff around the Dealers Den and finally made it to Artist's Alley. I feel ashamed it took me to get into the alley, but I found myself looking at the line to get art wrapping around the room on Friday and Saturday caused me and several other furs to come back later on Sunday to get some things in the alley.
I do feel bad not getting more things from all of the artists, this was the thing that kept entering my mind of 'optimizing the time of the con'. This lead me to make a few things I wish I didn't do. Like skipping the character voices panel and some of the entertainment events like Kage's Story Hour and such. Although the latter will be on YouTube and probably could watch it tonight.
Sunday ended with the dead dog parties. I will say, this was my favorite part of the convention. This had the vibe of furry cons I am accustom to. fursuiters every where and no room to be shy and reserved. Fun things happening around. Though I stuck my head into the dance and the zoo. I ended up spending all night at the piano on the second floor signing random songs until midnight. The next morning my voice was course but I have amazing time, and didn't realize until an hour before that I was chilling with Pepper Coyote, Ruffis and Fox Amore.
Monday was weird to see the city revert. I also switched hotels from the Wyndham to the DoubleTree. Which took a good chunk of the day away. But the DoubleTree was definaly the better hotel for me. The rooms where large and the 4 block distance would have allowed me to be in fursuit within time for crazy stuff and not be halfway done by the time I got to the convention center. Also had enormous fun meeting other furs for dinner then going to fireworks with them afterwards. Along with helping them finish off their booze.
Tuesday was my flight out in the afternoon. After checking out, Krystal and I made our way to Station Square and had a bit more fun before being dropped off at the airport. Their I was able to take in the incline railway along with the food and shops along the Monongahela River and the coffee and ice cream above on Mount Washington. On the flight home I was able to meet up with another fur for an hour in Chicago O'Hare. This is where again my flying was cursed. My flight ended up getting pushed out until midnight and landed Wednesday at 2:30 am. The hotel where I left my car refused to send there shuttle and so had to take a cab there and sleep off the exhaustion at the Holiday Inn 10 minutes down the road.
Overall, I was a fun experience although I will say I have some things I would have done different. The first was wear the "1st Convention" ribbon they gave me. I learned all too late, this helps others know you don't know what's going on. I didn't where mine since this is my 4th convention myself and felt too prideful not to. Don't. this ribbon will get people to talk and help you around. Another thing is better planning. While there was nothing wrong with the Wyndham, it was the wrong hotel for me. Same with the Westin would have been the wrong hotel as well. But next time. I will be shooting for the Courtyard, William Penn or the DoubleTree. This would have allowed me to meet more furs and fursuit a lot more I think.
That said I am happy this all happened, and said to see it pass. I loved how the downtown become enveloped with furries, and how the Pittsburgh public comes out to see us and get pictures. This also makes me look forward to Furry Migration come September. That said I hope that everyone else had at least as much fun as I did at Anthrocon and hope things align for me to do this again next year.