In just one week, Emerald City Comicon is kicking off at the Washington State Convention Center. If you managed to snag some passes before they sold out, you’ll be pleased to hear that ECCC is an incredibly family-friendly event. Here are some of the cool things you can do with your kids at the con.
ECCC Kids Area
Emerald City Comicon’s Kids Area is bigger than ever this year, and it’s packed with cool things for families. Brick Nation will feature over 700 square feet of professional Lego sculptures, which are always super fun to check out. The Clay Animation Network will have staff helping kids to make their very own animated videos. The 501st Legion of professional Star Wars cosplayers will be on hand for photo ops (all donations go straight to charity). The Pacific Science Center will have several physics and math stations for kids to experiment with. Plus, there will be several kid-friendly shows on the Kids Area Stage and a Kids Costume Parade every day at 2 p.m.
Tip: One floor above the Kids Area in room 102, you’ll find the Family Break Room. This is the perfect spot for a little quiet time.
Cosplay, AKA costume play, is a staple at nerdy conventions. Comicon is the perfect excuse for you or your kid to dress up as a favorite character. Whether it’s a delicately hand-crafted spacesuit or a plain sheet with holes in it, costumes are always welcome at ECCC, especially for children.
It can sometimes be a little nerve-wracking to put on a costume at home and walk out the front door, but rest assured, as soon as you reach the convention center, you’ll feel like part of the crowd.
Even if you and your kids don’t choose to dress up, there will be lots of amazing costumes to look at or take photos with. Just make sure you ask permission first.
Tip: Costumes are fun, but make sure your shoes are comfortable and that you don’t have too many heavy layers. It may be chilly outside, but the convention hall can get quite warm.
The Show Floor is where you’ll find vendors, artists, publishers, authors, and all kinds of geeks enthusiastically flogging their wares. At booth #407, you’ll also find the Pixelkin staff! Stop by for some free stickers.
Depending on the age of your kid, you may not want to hang out in the Exhibition Hall for long. It’s always packed with people, and there are no strollers allowed. However, if you think you can handle it, the expo hall is always fun to browse for a few minutes (or hours). Check out the list of exhibitors here.
Tip: As soon as you arrive at the convention, pick a meeting spot for your family in case you get separated in the crowd. ECCC staff will be wearing bright green shirts; make sure kids know to go find one if they get lost. Kid leashes may seem funny, but in a crowded room they can be a lifesaver.
Panels are where you get to sit and listen to industry professionals talk about all kinds of cool stuff! There are artists talking about art, writers talking about writing, costumers talking about costume design, and way more. Plus, all of Emerald City Comicon’s celebrity guests will have their own panels, in which they answer fan questions and talk about what their lives are like. See a list of ECCC’s celebrity guests here.
Panels are my favorite part of con, but they aren’t always perfect for kids. Many panels are targeted at adults, and panelists might swear or talk about inappropriate stuff. Plus, sitting around for an hour while grownups are talking is a recipe for restlessness. Read panel descriptions carefully before you choose to attend one with a youngster.
Pixelkin will be hosting two panels for families, “So Your Kids Want to Make Video Games?” and “Geeky Parents Unite: Defending Your Kids’ Love of Games and to Parents Who Just Don’t Get It.” They are both on Sunday (starting at 11 a.m.), and you should definitely stop by!
Tip: Panels can be a great place to take a breather or eat a quick snack after wandering around the crowded show floor. Make sure to pack your own snacks and water before you leave the house—convention food is pricey and always comes with long lines.
Celebrity Photos & Autographs
If a celebrity you love is going to be at the convention, consider buying a photo op or getting an autograph. Photos are cool, but you don’t get to talk to the celebrity at all. The photographer rushes you in and rushes you out in about five seconds flat. The autographs are where you get to chitchat, and this can be a ton of fun.
Photos and autographs can be expensive, so make sure you check out the prices beforehand. My photo with Alan cost me $40, but since I could bring a friend along, it was only $20 per person.
Tip: Make a schedule before the convention, but be flexible. Hunger, bathroom breaks, long lines, and exhaustion can throw your best-laid plans out the window.
Whether this is your first con or your fifteenth, make sure to embrace the moment. It’s easy to get tired and stressed out when you’re surrounded by thousands of people, but if you take breaks when you need them, stay hydrated, and pay attention to the needs of your kids, you are going to have a great time.