KumoriCon took place from November 11-November 13th, 2022, at the Portland Convention Center and Hyatt Regency. I arrived at the event space at 10:30 AM on Friday morning, a typical time to go pick up a badge, or so I thought.
As I walked towards the event space, I noticed a lot of people waiting in line outside in the dry cold—all to be confirmed as vaccinated or Covid-free. The states of Oregon and Washington have dropped mandatory vaccination and proof for events and entry into facilities, so KumoriCon developed this Covid-checking system.
I have nothing against this; as an immunocompromised individual, these safety precautions are important, but how it was organized showed a clear challenge for what was to come.
I walked up to a staff member, identified myself, and they said to head just to KumoriCon registration to have my own vaccination, ID, and registration (press verified) taken care of. After wandering through the convention space looking for the registration area, I finally found it! Located in the back hall on the bottom floor was registration, and the line, was long.
Luckily, the line for press and small businesses was short; there were six people in front of me, and yet it still took an hour of waiting to get my verification.
After waiting for an hour, I finally got to the front of the line. The registration staff was rude to me as I showed my Covid verification and explained that I was told I didn’t need to wait in a separate line to verify my vaccination status. This individual had to seek manager approval, find additional wristbands, and bring them back to the professional registration check-in. The pain in my body had started to kick in, and as a person with a disability, I could feel my patience waning. I could only imagine and sympathize with how regular attendees felt while waiting in line.
And then, they couldn’t even find my registration form. I had full service on my phone, so I pulled up the email confirmations verifying my press status. This required the staff member to then input all of my information into the system again, including asking for emergency contact. They then proceeded to print off my badge, a piece of cardstock, and place it in a rectangular card holder on a lanyard. This, in total, took 20 minutes.
It was now closer to 12:20 PM by the time I was completely through this registration. As a professional, I’m used to being in and out of registration in under 30 minutes. Most often, they have your badge pre-printed, organized, and set for pick up, even with Covid-19 verifications, but not at KumoriCon.
Registering for KumoriCon, as a general attendee costs $50 for Friday, while a weekend badge runs between $75-$100. All badges are required on-site or pre-registration online, and if you were only planning to attend Friday, you didn’t even get to fully experience the event because you had to wait 4 to 7 hours just to get a badge.
These badges weren’t mailed to individuals in advance.
Many other professionals and attendees I spoke to that weekend also stated they waited upwards of 4 to 7 hours that Friday.
Friends that were planning to show up in the evening that I spoke to decided to opt out entirely.
Printing off professional badges with names is archaic. Especially since staff badges had large, plastic badges. KumoriCon clearly knew this was an option but refused to extend it to the general attendees. Despite this option being extremely affordable and would free up the registration staff to other tasks that would allow for a better run of the show.
Plastic and flexible-water resistant badge materials have become commonplace at all major events; even small events like Climax of Night which had under 1,000 guests, had the money to invest in this. So the fact that KumoriCon registration is still using this outdated method boggles my mind, and it really impacts an attendee’s ability to enjoy the convention.
Due to the long stress of the badge delay, my next step was to explore the space. The dealers’ hall was easy to find and featured a variety of different vendors. They had multiple sections, “Small Press, Artist Alley, Exhibitors Hall,” not separated with clearly identifiable with banners for the people wandering the hall. The hall felt crowded, with booths jammed together under harsh fluorescent lighting.
You can tell that KumoriCon pulled the idea from larger pop-culture conventions to try to increase revenue.
Panels and events, and the convention layout
The Portland Convention Center has a very odd layout, and the whole space wasn’t even properly utilized. I learned from staff members late Friday night that the Portland Convention Center changed the agreement with KumoriCon about a month and a half before the convention, resulting in the use of the Hyatt Regency.
I did not reach out to the Portland Convention Center for comment.
The Portland Convention Center staff were highly accommodating to disabled guests and made sure that accessibility was a priority. Guests who needed accommodations did receive them, which was great to see.
Gaming was separated into two areas. One in the main show floor, separated by a barrier of drapes between the exhibition area and video gaming, and the other was over on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. No clear signage for entry was set outside the hotel, and the side entrance, clearly visible from the street, was locked unless you had a key card. You could only enter through the main entrance of the hotel.
They had a maid cafe, escape rooms, a DnD section, and larping, all on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The escape rooms and maid cafe were both booked out for the entire weekend.
The tabletop section was quite small and extremely busy at 1:00 PM on Saturday.
Back at the convention center, there were a lot of places to sit and rest. This is a great thing to have!
Finding panels to attend was difficult as the panel rooms were spread out and not well labeled. I did manage to attend a K-Pop dance battle and the Cosplay Wrestling Federation panel, but I missed some really great panels put on by community members otherwise.
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KumoriCon attracts a young audience, ranging from 8 years old to 22 years old. I didn’t feel comfortable taking many photos of guests or interacting with people under 18. Everyone I spoke to was incredibly nice! Post-Covid events have led to people being wary when associating with strangers. I didn’t go too far out of my way to engage with strangers as much as I have at other conventions.
If you’re over 27 years old and don’t have a solid friend group to go with, I wouldn’t recommend this convention. There are much better events to attend that cater to an older audience and that better serve gamers, anime fans, and cosplayers.
Leave a comment. Would you attend KumoriCon?