The Con with Kids: Our Family Trip to Emerald City Comic Con 2018

Seattle has a well-earned reputation as a “Geektown,” but during Emerald City Comic-Con (ECCC) each year we get to see this dialed up to 11.  A mix of over 90,000 locals and travelers descend on the Washington State Convention Center to share their passion for comics, genre television and movies, comics, anime, comics, original art, comics, celebrity guests and writers, and comics.  Going to comic-con has become an annual tradition in our family, there’s plenty to enjoy for a range of ages, and this year was no exception.  If you’re new to the scene, thinking of going next year, and plan on going with children, here’s how we do it…

Start early.  No I don’t mean we get there right when it opens (though we do), rather start planning weeks or months earlier for costumes.  Tickets for ECCC go on sale in October, with Halloween following shortly after, it’s a great time to start working on both or better yet, fashion a great costume that can pull double duty.  Our kids in particular love to play dress up, take pictures with other cosplayers, and feel like part of the story.

Additionally, tickets sell fast, especially the four-day passes.  If you can’t secure a full event ticket or you’re looking to save some money, you can buy individual day passes.  It’s worth keeping in mind that many of the marquee events only occur on certain days, with Friday and Saturday usually being the most jam packed, but there’s plenty to do every day. As a family we often prefer to bookend Comic-con, going on Thursday and Sunday.  The first day the show floor isn’t as congested, a plus when you’re trying to navigate the great labyrinth with children, moreover the artists and vendors are brimming with full inventories.  Sunday, on the other hand, is still fairly packed, but a great day to take in some panels or autograph sessions, and while inventories begin to dwindle this is the day for deal making.

Pack Smart.  ECCC made great strides in making sure food options abounded this year, with the introduction of Uber Eats to augment the few on-site eateries, but we prefer to bring our own.  Kudos to ReedPOP (ECCC organizers) for allowing outside food and drink.  When you’re a family zig-zagging between all the things to see and do, it’s convenient to be able to snack and rehydrate on the go, or step away from the main floor to one of the small designated quiet areas to sit down and enjoy your home-made lunch.  This also carries the added benefit of avoiding the long food lines and saving a bit of cash that’s better spent with the exhibitors.

Enjoy.  The celebrity guests, panel topics, visiting artists and writers change year to year, but you’re always guaranteed to get a few fan favorites.  For 2018 there was a packed list of celebrities including Geek Queen Felicia Day and Duke of Nerdom Wil Wheaton.  Moreover there were other genre favorites like Mark Sheppard (Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, etc.) and Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, etc.) to name just a few.  Our kids especially enjoyed asking questions of some of their favorite voice actors like Zach Callison (Steven Universe) and even found themselves on YouTube afterwards.  Outside the main stage an avid reader like our eldest could enjoy strolling through this year’s writer’s block with the likes of Jim Butcher (Dresden Files), while our younger children could run wild looking at toy and collectibles dealers including Washington’s own Funko POP.  Consequently, look for a future review of our family’s upcoming trip to Funko’s Corporate HQ, they have our kids hooked.

We’re also hosting an exchange student from China who joined us in this year’s escapade, and she loved all the anime and hero statutes on display from the likes of Iron Studios, Weta Workshop, Sideshow, and others.  While there was a few things that aligned to our particular interests, we all agree that the artists are our favorite.  Whether you’re standing in line to meet a comic legend like Neal Adams on the main floor (Dad did), picking up another piece from a well-known illustrator like Jason Palmer (Dad again), or looking at new pieces from a Comic-Con staples like Nigel Sade and Alex Ross, there’s something for every taste.  Better yet, venture off the main floor to Artist Ally you’re in for a real treat.  By a vote of hands (very scientific) our family thought this was the best collection of artists yet.  Artists Ally is littered with many well known creators to the lesser so.  We spent the majority of our time here and walked away with new favorites (and art) from Mauricio Abril, Josh Adams, Christina Barton, Randy Emberlin, Greg Horn, and so many more this would just turn into a list of names. And let’s not forget the droids. Those who love Star Wars will feel very nostalgic walking into an atrium filled with R2-D2’s and other droids. We met with one of the builders, Mike Martin, who talked to us about how R2-D2 was built using files from Astromech.net, a world wide forum for droid builders.  R2 also gives Mike and his wife Debbie the chance to raise money for charity, working with Seattle Children’s Hospital and other organizations to help make kids smile.

Rest and Repeat.  Take the kids home, put your feet up, and get ready to head back, whether it’s for another day or next year, we’re betting you’ll want to.

P.S:  Just for the parents, if you decide to bookend the event like we do consider heading off to enjoy a day (Sat/Sun) on your own.  There’s a ton of content geared towards adults, and this year Christopher Lloyd was there taking pictures with fans in front of a DeLorean….you know you want that.

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