Review of FanX 2016

FanX 2016, what a crazy, wonderful, exhausting three days. Over 50,000 people in SLC came out to meet celebrities, participate in cosplay, listen to panel discussions, buy art, and share their love of all things geeky. FanX uses less of the Salt Palace Convention Hall than SL Comic Con, and it was nice to be able to walk from one end of the convention floor without having to shuffle my feet like a walker from The Walking Dead.

My first panel was how to get the most out of your Disneyland vacation, and I was lucky enough to be the moderator. One of the panelists was the great Matt Martin, who actually works for LucasFilm/Disney, and is currently working on the new Star Wars land that is being built in Anaheim. He couldn’t share any information that hasn’t already been released to the public, but he promised that the imagineers are putting their best work forward, and fans will not be disappointed. The panels talked about how you should take 3+ days to explore both parks, to slow down and not rush from ride to ride. We suggested to take the time to notice the theming, the smells, the small details in each land and attraction. We suggested that you explore some of the varied foods available in the park – gumbo, beignets, pasta, and more. Disneyland offers much more than just the typical burger and hot dogs found in other amusement parks, but they do make a killer corndog at the Little Red Wagon on Main Street.
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Between panels, I got to meet Curtis Armstrong from Revenge of the Nerds, Better off Dead, and Supernatural. He is one of the nicest celebrities I have ever met, and when I told him that Better Off Dead is one of my top 5 favorite comedies, his grin grew even bigger. He not only signed the photo for me, but personalized it with a quote from the film and then came around and did a photo with me. I also got a photo with Alex Kingston from Doctor Who and she was just as sweet and adorable as I had hoped. I also got to meet and get photos with Bill Farmer, who is the voice of Goofy, and Tony Anslemo, a Disney animator that also creates the voice of Donald Duck.

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My other panel on Friday was about the morality and ethics of The Walking Dead. The panel started off with a bang when Carter Reid declared that 5 minutes into the apocalypse, cannibalism is completely acceptable. The panel covered the nature of God, when violence is acceptable, how communities would re-form, and was also one of the funniest panels I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone on the panel had great chemistry, and my sides hurt from laughing by the time we were done.

Saturday morning, I got a photo with the great Jeremy Renner, and had my final panel of FanX. The topic was The Doctor and River Song, and it was the perfect way to end the convention. We discussed the many times The Doctor and River Song interacted, their love, their complicated relationship, and if we thought she could or should show up in future episodes. Great questions from the audience, fun chemistry with the other panelists, and another panel that my sides hurt from laughing.

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Before I wrap up, I wanted to share a little story about how awesome Jeremy Renner is. He is currently filming a new movie in Park City, Utah and was only at the con on Saturday and of course the demand to meet him was huge. He spent 30 minutes of his time, visiting with a young girl dying of cancer and her family in a private room. There was no press, no photographers, just him and the family. After that emotional meeting, he visited with a room full of sick and disabled children and their families. He took photos, signed autographs, talked to each child individually, and then took a few minutes to meet the members of Kids Heroes, a Salt Lake City based cosplay group that does events for children’s charities. He took several group photos, signed autographs, and thanked members for the good they do in the community. He spent almost an hour of his day visiting sick kids and their families, and then went out and met with the adoring crowds of FanX.

Major props go out to Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg for creating a world class con here in SLC. Special thanks to Blake Cassleman, and Ryan Call for allowing me to take part on panels and share my love of all things Geek. Plus, the convention wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of volunteers that staff booths, organize lines, answer questions, and monitor panel rooms. We are so lucky to have such a great event here in Salt Lake City. I had a blast and I can’t wait to do it all again come September.
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