By Michael Axe
With the rise of popularity in comic books, video games and everything once thought to be nerdy, comic book conventions have become an event that many people like to attend. More commonly referred to as Comic Con, Comicon or just Con, these fan based conventions are held around the world. Don’t let the name fool you, though. These shows are for more than just comics: they include all things pop culture. We have several cons hosted around the Valley. The largest, Phoenix Comicon, is usually held the last weekend in May (Thursday – Sunday) downtown at the Phoenix Convention Center.
If you’re thinking of attending, keep in mind a lot of money can be spent at conventions. Planning ahead will help you avoid spending more than you want. Here is a good budget guide for spending all four days at Phoenix Comicon.
Tickets ($55 to $85 for a four-day pass)
Ticket prices (or ‘membership’ as Comicon calls it) depend on when you make your purchase. When the tickets first go on sale, you can buy the full four-day pass for $55. The price gradually increases as the date of Comicon comes closer until the day of the convention, when the four-day pass is the most expensive ($85). That $20 may not seem like a lot, but it could pay for a day’s worth of food at Comicon (or a full tank of gas at today’s prices).
The four-day Fast Pass Membership helps maximize your time getting autographs and photos of your favorite celebrities for $299. Or, if you’re not able to attend the full convention, single day tickets are available $20 to $45. Taking your kids? BONUS! Children ages three to 12 can attend, with a paid adult, all four days for only $10.
Food and Water ($20 to $25 each day)
By the end of May, Phoenix temperatures average 98 degrees. This means it’s hot and heat exhaustion can be a real problem. While there are plenty of vendors that will sell bottles of water, you are able to bring your own water into the convention. For $2 to $3 dollars, you can buy yourself a large bottle of water at the grocery store to last you the entire day. Most of these bottles are good enough to reuse, and you can refill them at home or one of the drinking fountains around the Convention Center.
At Comicon, there are a lot of food options to choose from, including concession stands and a food court inside the Convention Center. If you’re looking for more variety, numerous restaurants and food trucks are located just outside for a quick bite. Most meals will cost around $10. If you plan on spending the full day at convention, you’ll want to plan on paying for at least two meals a day. MONEY SAVING TIP: Just like with water, bringing food into the convention is allowed. Bring an easy lunch or snack with you to save on the cost of food.
Events ($8 to $100+)
Comicon can be broken down into three categories: panels and workshops, autographs and photos and merchandise. Listening to celebrities and fans speak about the pop culture industry is one of the most cost effective events. While most panels are free, there are a few exclusive workshops and events that charge an entrance fee ranging from $8 to $20 each.
Want to meet your favorite celebrity? Be prepared to spend anywhere from $30 to $100 for an autograph and $40 to $100 to take your photo with them after standing in line waiting.
The most expensive activity at comicon is shopping. There’s usually something for everyone: book lovers, movie buffs, video game fanatics, etc. While prices on merchandise can range from a few to a few thousand dollars, most event-goers will spend between $50 to $300.
Parking ($20 each day)
Parking prices can very, with most parking lots charging around $20. Keep in mind, demand can cause the prices to go up. In 2015, one garage charging $50 on Saturday, the busiest day of the convention. Or, you can save a few bucks by having someone drop you off at the curb or parking at a park’n’ride lot to take the Light Rail in to downtown Phoenix. All-day passes on the Light Rail are only $4 per day per person.
Total Budget $200 – $750
Yes, the total budget is quite a range because Phoenix Comicon is what you make of it. You don’t need to live off of ramen for three months to be able to have a good time with all of the free workshops available. And, if you find yourself with a few hours between workshops and nothing to do, spend the time taking in the different renditions of your favorite characters. Most of them are regular Comicon attendees like you with Cosplay costumes ranging from relatively simple to intricate, several-month projects. Looking to cosplay yourself? Well, there’s a lot to cover when it comes to the costs of making and purchasing your costumes. So, we’ll try to tackle that in another blog posts soon.
You can have a lot of fun at Comicon without breaking the bank. Decide which events and activities are most important to you, set your budget and don’t allow yourself to go over it. And in the words of Mr. Stan Lee, “Excelsior!”
Headline photo courtesy of Ayleen Gaspar, Flickr.