As winter draws to a close and the con season is starting to approach the end, we once again find ourselves attending the largest and most anticipated con of the year, MCM London October 2022. With 100,000 expected attendees, stars from all corners of pop culture making guest appearances, new stalls, artists, attractions and of course cosplayers! With the first 2023 MCM show approaching we reflect on October 2022. Did the show live up to the ever rising ticket prices? We’re gonna discuss some of our experiences from the weekend to help to answer this question. My thoughts are below along with input from Rebel in the Chaos who is our Editor and Letsgetreadytorinba who is our writer Erin.
Organisation and Security
Upon arrival at the ExCel centre you are directed towards the sidewalk entrance leading up to the main entrance hall where the different queues are located to pick up passes. Interestingly, unlike previous years, the inclusion of separate queues for disabled attendees and families with small children were available, a feature we thought was a really positive change! We also noticed that these accessibility entrances also extended to the front entrance where normally attendees are funnelled through the chokepoint that are those front doors. A separate entrance was provided for those with disabilities as well as creator and press pass holders, just to the left of the main doors.
The Wong Cosplay: In my experience I found the layout this time around to be much better. Some of the more major vendors and stalls were located in easy to find locations towards the front of the main halls and were clearly labelled on the map. When a disaster occurred with one of my props, I was able to find the cosplay central area, which was this time actually central to the North hall, and make a fix to my prop. The show floor this time also felt more full compared to previous cons post pandemic, which has its obvious ups and downs, but for me added to the experience as it feels that more vendors and artists were present.
Rebel in the Chaos: I personally found the layout easy to navigate. The show floor was easy to follow and find what I was looking for.
Security at the event this time around had seen an overhaul in terms of their organisation and level of service they provided compared to previous events. Here are some of our personal experiences with the security there:
The Wong Cosplay: My experience with staff and security was largely positive throughout the weekend. Many of the guards I interacted with on the doors to the main building and at the gate leading to the Sunborn were pleasant, respectful and helpful. When a friend realised they’d lost their weekend pass, the guard on the door was sympathetic and directed us to the customer service desk in order to obtain a new pass. When we later came out of the main door, he came over to check that we were able to get a new pass re-issued. This level of service was not something I experienced back in May when my pass went missing. Guards operating the bag/weapon checks in my experience were also respectful. Even when one accidentally dropped one of my spell rings (yes my heart did stop), he immediately apologised and made sure it was all ok before proceeding. I only faced a couple of issues with security that weekend; one of which only minor involving bad directions and abruptness from a member of staff in the car park. The other however, were guards operating the gates outside near the ramps and by the field prevented me from gaining access back into the con despite having a booked photoshoot 1 hour before the closing time for that day thus causing me to miss my shoot.
Rebel in the Chaos: My experience with the staff and security was good. It was smooth and easy to access the building. I didn't come across any issues personally. I was only in attendance for two days but my personal experience is that I had no issues.
Letsgetreadytorinba: My experience with security at this event was quite mixed. For the most part, my interactions were good. One person in particular was exceptionally friendly and helpful. He was stood by the disabled entrance next to the Aloft hotel and helped me when I had some issues with other security guards with the accessibility of the event.
Due to the ongoing expansion to the Excel centre, the east side entrance / exit was closed to the general public, only available to those with accessibility needs. As a registered disabled person staying in a hotel on that side of the centre, this worked out quite well for the most part. Unfortunately I encountered an issue on the Friday, along with multiple others, where the security guards had ‘closed’ the gate and were redirecting everyone to the other end of the centre. What would have been a 15 minute walk back to my hotel ended up being around an hour and a half. The security guard we spoke to refused to listen to me, or the many others who were seeking to use the accessibility entrance / exit, and told us there was nothing they could do as it was closed.
Fortunately this issue only happened on the one day, I am guessing due to the many complaints they received, and the rest of the weekend I was able to use the entrance / exit with no further complications.
As a collective, we all agree that the security has seen some definite improvements since May. Our experiences were largely positive, and any mistakes that were made were quickly rectified and apologised for. We encountered no reports of any inappropriate interactions during searches this time compared to May which is a massive improvement. Accessibility, although mostly acceptable, could do with a review as there were a few instances that should be addressed. The most notable instance was the closure of the gate with no forewarning and no thought to the impact it would have on guests with accessibility needs. It would seem some staff and security were possibly unaware of the different needs or requirements of some attendees, and were sometimes unable to provide assistance when needed. This issue, alongside some others we experienced, we feel could be ironed out in a team briefing before the event. We understand that organisation of a large scale event can never be perfect, but were glad to see that feedback was taken on board from previous events and massive improvements had been made.
Events and Attractions
Once inside, this is where most of the entertainment lies. Some of the notable attractions included Universal Studios, EBay.co.uk, Konami Yu-Gi-Oh!, the main stage, cosplay central (which this time was located at the centre of the one of the halls, making it so much easier to find if you had a cosplay disaster that needed fixing), artist alley, the creators corner (where you could meet some of the biggest names in cosplay).
One attraction that really stood out to Letsgetreadytorinba and DollyMatrix was the stand advertising the new Netflix show “The B*stard Son and the Devil Himself”. A unique vending machine stood at the end of the queue system, containing Human Hearts*. Once you reached the front of the queue you were called forward to complete a quiz on the vending machine’s touch screen, the results of which decided whether you were a fair born or a blood witch. Both writers were determined to be blood witches and were given a heart to initiate their blood witch powers! After receiving your heart, the staff kindly offered to take photos for you and you were given a selection of additional goodies to take home. The whole setup was really well executed and the staff were very into their characters, exceptionally friendly and took the whole experience to a whole new level. If you haven’t seen the Netflix show, we fully recommend watching it! Letsgetreadytorinba binged it in a weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it!
*Please note, these were not actual human hearts. They were confectionery made to look the part.
This con brought us guests from all kinds of different fandoms. Some of this cons notable guests included Michael Sheen (Aziraphale - Good Omens), Anthony Daniels (C3PO - Star Wars), Christina Vee (Xingqui / Bennet - Genshin Impact), Smallville actors: Tom Welling, Erica Durance and Laura Vandervoort as well as many other reappearances. When we say many reappearances, there really was a lot. Some of the faces of classic Doctor Who, VA’s from Overwatch, John Rhys-Davies (Gimli - LOTR) to mention just a few. More than what we usually see from MCM guest lineups….
The Wong Cosplay: I gotta say, this time around apart from the Overwatch VA’s who were absolutely brilliant to chat with, there were not many other guests that I was looking to meet other than Michael Sheen and Christina Vee who I unfortunately missed. I did appreciate this year however, we were able to once again have a conversation without necessarily having to purchase an autograph or photo, providing they weren't too busy. Unfortunately this was what put me off of seeing Michael Sheen due to the steep price for his autograph.
Rebel in the Chaos: I didn't have any guests from my personal fandoms there to catch my attention. I always enjoy walking around and people watching to see how people interact with the guests which is always good to see.
Letsgetreadytorinba: I found the guests this year to be quite lacking, there weren’t many that I wanted to meet, especially when the costs were so high.
Fan Meets and Cosplay Gatherings
The_Wong_Cosplay: The meets of the fandoms I get involved with all unfortunately seemed to clash with each other this time around, but I did my best to swap between the ones hosted outside and bring you the following collage. (There may be some gaps too with regards to some photos, these were because I was a part of those group shots like the missing Liyue characters shot in the Genshin Meet.) Pages for meets are as follows:
Rebel in the Chaos: I didn't attend any gatherings. I always take time to wander around the typical cosplay photo areas including the trees, the grey walls, the green outside the Novatel.
Letsgetreadytorinba: I didn’t attend many gatherings this time around, with the exception of The Creative Geek CommUnity (https://www.facebook.com/groups/tjccomiccon) which is always great fun. I instead spent my time walking round and finding people to take photos with instead.
(The Creative Geek CommUnity group meet)
(The Creative Geek CommUnity group meet)
(League of Legends / Arcane meet)
(Genshin Meet UK - All Fatui Harbingers)
(The Creative Geek CommUnity group meet)
(Cobra Kai Meet Up (ft. from top left to right) - @thegentleman_geek, @cobrakainationyt, @milkart_official, @maxreconcorp20, @jayc_cos, @alexbrabrooke)
So to give you the quick rundown, our collective thought on MCM London Oct 2022 was that it was a major improvement on what we had all experienced back in May. There are still things that can be changed and ironed out, particularly regarding staffing and security which we feel could be better briefed on accessibility needs and the layout of the convention, and the number of attendees. We also felt that the guest line-up could be a bit fresher, bringing some guests we haven’t seen before as well as moderating the prices of autographs etc so they are not astronomically high. Apart from that we were happy to see the addition of more accessibility entrances and services, a more filled show floor with an improved layout; changes we hope will continue to be included going forward.
What we think you’re all here for though is our opinion on whether the ticket price is worth it. The answer to that is yes, just about. Of course this will vary depending on personal needs and experiences, but there are plenty of things to do with stalls, activities and panels that you can indulge in. The services provided have improved massively and overall the general atmosphere is like none other. The cosplayers and the attendees we find really make the con experience what it is, and so long as this is well facilitated by keeping attendees happy with good levels of service and facilities then overall the con experiences greatly increases making the price of your ticket more worth it.
Our hope for the 2023 season is that ticket prices don't get raised any further and that the continuation of improvements to the services provided can be seen. We would also love to see some new faces we’ve not seen before for celebrity guests should this happen, the ticket will be definitely worth the asking price.
What do you guys think? Did you enjoy MCM October 2022? And was it worth the price for you?
MCM London May 2023 is coming soon! We can wait for the next instalment and to see what the 2023 show has to offer!
The Wong Cosplay