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Jamie · Updated Sep 27, 2014 · Guides

Anime Central Primer

Whether you’re a seasoned con-goer or just a one-day attendee from last year, many of have already experienced the convention in some form and can offer a some tips for the uninitiated. Of course, there are quality convention survival guides out there, but here’s a few recommendations to get to know this convention specifically:

Hotel

The Hyatt may have already booked up, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t last-minute reservation options. It is possible to book a king room for three days in any of the four hotels, and with a little persistence, squeeze into a room with two double beds for four days thanks to cancellations. Obviously, there aren’t any guarantees to this method. The only way to ensure you’ll have the room you want is to book 5-6 months in advance. Remember to ask for the convention rate.

If you can’t obtain a room at all or are only attending for one day, consider taking the CTA Blue Line and walking from the Rosemont station as it will save on parking. This is approximately a 15-minute walk so wear comfortable shoes and be sure you can carry all of your baggage, especially if you have cosplay.

For those splitting a room, be considerate of your suite mates. You can request a cot if you have a king bed and an extra person, but the cots will probably run out some time on Thursday night. Also, the Hyatt is very accommodating for additional towels and sheets, in case someone is relegated to the floor.

Packing

We recommend carrying as little as possible, as there are long standing-only lines for panels and sometimes room can be a bit sparce. Remember your ID for badge pickup and cash for the dealer’s room, since some vendors don’t accept cards or charge extra for processing fees. For those staying in a room, basic packing is a no-brainer. The best four items you can bring for Anime Central beyond the necessities are:

  1. A reusable water bottle as bottled water is expensive and water fountains are sparse.
  2. A medical kit including aspirin, throat lozenges to soothe raw fangirls’ throats, vitamins to ward off con-plague, and band aids to cushion blisters from walking miles through the sky way.
  3. If you can swing it, a fully-prepared digital camera to document all the craziness.
  4. A stack of personal calling cards to keep in touch with all the neat people you meet while in line.

Cosplayers should always bring an emergency sewing kit containing fabric glue, scissors, Aqua Net, and plenty of safety pins to combat malfunctions. Be aware of the size restrictions of props (and all other convention policies) as all large objects require approval and the rules are more restrictive this year. Avoid bringing an unfinished cosplay at all costs. Nothing ruins a great weekend like staying in the room and slaving over half-finished work while everyone else is having a great time exploring.

Food

The biggest frustration most experience with ACen is it’s terrible location in relation to restaurants. It’s a food desert. There are couple of economical options in walking distance such as the McDonald’s, but expect it to take about an hour to get there and back. Otherwise, you’re spending way too much for convienence since the hotel has exclusive rights to sell food. And avoid the morning buffet. It’s nothing special.

Your second option is delivery. Obviously this can be costly, but at least it’s worth the expense as there are plenty of options. There’s a great map in the con booklet outlining other restaurants in the area. Giordano’s is delicious, but it can take up to two hours to deliver!

Due to the difficulties obtaining a meal, it’s very common for attendees to bring non-perishable food items, nutritious fruit, coolers, and even cooking appliances. This could be a rice cooker, microwave or electric kettle for ramen and other instant meals you can purchase at the nearby Aldi. Forget about foods that spoil easily as the minibars at the Hyatt are pressure sensitive and they will charge you if you remove any of the items. Also, don’t forget your can opener! There are more tips on how to cook food in a hotel room, though you should probably avoid the iron method. No one likes cheese on their clothing.

Finally, buy your own Pocky, Ramune and other Japanese snacks now! There may be one vendor selling snacks, but they have limited supply and sell out almost immediately. And don’t count on Mitsuwa that week, either. Yes, they will also be sold out.

Get Excited!

There are plenty of ways to entertain yourself at the convention. The bigger events worth checking out are Anime Hell, Midnight Madness, the Masquerade and Cosplay Ball, but it’s really a matter of preferrence. Some just spend their entire weekend watching cosplayers and exploring the Dealer’s Room.

So what kind of tips or questions do you have regarding Anime Central?

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