Which Mega-Convention Gives The Most Bang For Your Buck?

Convention season is just about over, but it's not too late to start planning your 2010 convention-going. (In fact, some stuff is already selling out.) So here's our guide to 2010's mega-conventions. Which offers the most zing for your money?


San Diego Comic Con:
where: San Diego, CA
next date: July 22-25, 2010.
how many attendees? 125,000, give or take — the event always sells out.
registration costs: $100, although the "preview night" on Wednesday is already sold out.
hotel costs: $300 and up per night... if you're lucky enough to get one. Plus food always seems to be ultra-pricey.
airport hub? Nope. Southwest Airlines flies there quite a bit.
celebrity stalking factor: Infinity. Peter Jackson and James Cameron geeked out about directing movies together this year. Sigourney Weaver mentored Zoe Saldana live on stage. You cannot touch the celebrities, but you will see the celebrities, off in the distance.
extracurricular activities: Costume ball. There was a Harry Potter dance thingy with The Remus Lupins this last year.


Which Mega-Convention Gives The Most Bang For Your Buck?


(Both Comic-Con pictures above, by ParkaBlogs.)

New York Comic Con:
where: New York, NY
next date: Oct. 8-10, 2010.
how many attendees? around 77,000.
registration costs: currently just $45.
hotel costs: $150-$200, according to this article. Plus of course NYC is the most expensive city in America.
airport hub? Yes
celebrity stalking factor: Medium high. A lot of TV stars and producers came to NYCC 2009, along with many comics pros. An October event will be early in the summer movie hype cycle, so it's unclear how many movie stars will show up.
extracurricular activities: Costumes, fan panels... can't find much else listed anywhere.

Fan Expo Canada
where: Toronto
next date: August 27-29, 2010.
how many attendees? 59,000
registration costs: CAN$49
hotel costs: CAN$135-CAN$189
airport hub? Yes.
celebrity stalking factor: Moderate. Leonard Nimoy, Linda Hamilton and Bruce Campbell were there this past time.
extracurricular activities: Since it includes Anime Expo and Gaming Expo along with Science Fiction Expo and Comic Book Expo, there's presumably a lot of gaming and anime acitvities. There are also "sketching duels" between artists, special effects workshops and, of course, masquerades.

Wondercon:
where: San Francisco, CA
next date: April 2-4, 2010.
how many attendees? around 34,000, up from 29,000 the year before.
registration costs: $30 in advance.
hotel costs: Orbitz says a hotel near Moscone Center will run you anywhere from $78 to $200 the weekend of Wondercon, although some of those hotels are in a sketchy neighborhood. And San Francisco is the fifth most expensive city in America, according to Forbes.
airport hub? Yes, for United Airlines.
celebrity stalking factor: Moderate to high. Moving to April should mean more summer movie promotion - and 2009 had way more movie stuff than 2008 did. The cast of Star Trek showed up en masse, with J.J. Abrams.
extracurricular activities: Pretty much just costumes and panels. I don't remember much else.

Which Mega-Convention Gives The Most Bang For Your Buck?

Wondercon photo by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid.

Dragon*Con:
where: Atlanta, GA
next date: Sept. 3-6, 2010.
how many attendees? around 35,000.
registration costs: currently just $60.
hotel costs: Bad news! Three of the four convention hotels are already sold out for 2010. The remaining one is $159 a night. Overflow hotels will run you $100 to $185.
airport hub? Yes, for Delta. And everyone flies there.
celebrity stalking factor: Medium high. Leonard Nimoy made the trek (sorry) in 2009. The good news is, a lot of your favorite writers and personalities are surprisingly accessible. A few years ago, I was in a tiny party with that guy from Farscape for like an hour.
extracurricular activities: This is where Dragon*Con shines. There's Dragon*Con TV in your hotel room, tons of costume stuff, BDSM demos, filking, writing workshops, charity auctions, autistic karaoke superhero performances, GWAR concerts (sometimes), a whole huge LARPing and RPG area, etc. Plus a humongous blood drive. You could have a great time at Dragon*Con and never even see a famous person.

Wizard World Chicago aka Chicago Comic-Con:
where: Chicago
next date: August 12-15, 2010.
how many attendees? 58,000 in 2006, although it's alllegedly declined since then.
registration costs: around $45.
hotel costs: Since the con takes place out by Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont, hotels are pretty easy. Orbitz says they'll run you $87 to $126 right now. Plus Chicago is the sixth most expensive city in America, according to Forbes.
airport hub? Yes. Everybody flies into Chicago non-stop.
celebrity stalking factor: Moderate. Some pretty well-known actors are showing up in 2010, including
Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols, Edward James Olmos, Michelle Rodriguez and Ray Park, plus some well-known comics pros. This con got the first look at The Dark Knight in 2007, and might get a sneak peek at the next Chicago-filmed Batman, if and when it happens.
extracurricular activities: Tons of gaming stuff.

Worldcon
where: Moves around
next date: Sept. 2-6, 2010.
how many attendees? 3,370 people in 2009, according to SFSite.
registration costs: $225.
hotel costs: According to this site, many nearby hotels are already sold out for those dates, and the remaining ones will cost between A$239 to A$275.
airport hub? Yes. Several airlines fly direct into Melbourne.
celebrity stalking factor: WorldCons 2008 and 2009 were jam-packed with some of your favorite authors, and tons of famous writers who were quite accessible. Fewer writers might make the voyage to Melbourne, but Reno in 2011 should be mobbed.
extracurricular activities: Filking, writing workshops, costume ball, artists exhibition.

Star Wars Celebration
where: Moves around
next date: Summer 2010.
how many attendees? 34,000 or so people showed up to the 2005 event.
registration costs: $110 for a four-day pass, in 2005.
hotel costs: Hard to say. A few cities are bidding to be the location for this event, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Empire Strikes Back — including Orlando, which has tons and tons of cheap hotels.
airport hub? Again, it depends which city gets the event.
celebrity stalking factor: A lot of Star Wars castmembers, including Carrie Fisher, tend to show up to these things.
extracurricular activities: Cool exhibits, tons of costumes, trivia contests, etc.

Fantastic Fest
where: Austin, TX
next date: Sept. 25- Sept. 30, 2010
how many attendees? N/A — I couldn't find this number anywhere.
registration costs: $285, or $170 for a "film pass" that doesn't guarantee you entrance to all events.
hotel costs: The official hotel of the con charges $135 per night.
airport hub? Nope.
celebrity stalking factor: Pretty high, especially if you love indy movies. Film-makers show up to promote their films, like Paranormal Activity and Zombieland this year around. Stars like Bill Murray also show up.
extracurricular activities: Boxing! Also, "Fantastic Feud" trivia contest pitting you against horror experts and "100 best kills," where you share your favorite gory moments.

Did we leave out a mega-con that deserves to be on this list? And what are your favorite cons you've gone to? Let us know!