Donald Guillory writes,
A year has passed since an armed gunman planned on bringing terror to what was then called Phoenix Comic Con. The Con was riddled with problems and issues as promoter tried to adjust to new security measures in order to prevent a similar incident from taking place. Promoters, police, and security did not want to revisit the chaos that took place in 2017.
As I prepared to get my badge for the convention, I was worried about all of the things that I faced in May of 2017. How long would the lines be? How much security would be on hand? What about the prop ban? I was completely prepared to stand in the heat for 20-30 minutes which would be nothing compared to some of the lines that attendees experienced in 2017 (some reported standing in line for over an hour on Saturday in order to get through security).
With it being a Thursday, the streets leading up to the convention hall were sparsely packed with outdoor vendors, attendees, media, and onlookers. As I looked past the people who had assembled, I saw the methods of Comic Fest had completely improved from ComiCon. With a new name came a new approach. In coordination with local law enforcement, security, and advisors, the promoters had created a perimeter outside of the convention halls with multiple entrances and more security measures. At first, it seemed like an inconvenience to proceed through a TSA-like check in order to get into the convention. By increasing the security perimeter having focused entry and exit points, there was a greater flow to the way that Phoenix Comic Fest operated. In fact, it made the event bigger by having more space for the outdoor events that took place which included a beer garden and numerous food trucks. The convention became a self-contained environment.
The only major problem that took place occurred when the alarm system was triggered on Saturday evening. It led to thousands of fans exiting the buildings in order for first responders to determine the emergency. Unlike in previous years where this would have summarily ended the convention for many because leaving the building would require attendees to reenter and be reprocessed through security, there was no need for many as they decided to wait out the evacuation order outside playing games, taking pictures with friends, admiring costumes, riding a mechanical shark, playing music, or enjoying a beer. Despite all of the anxiety that led up to the convention for 2018, promoters and organizers did not disappoint with their planning, preparation, and professionalism.
I look forward to what Phoenix has in store as they transition from being Comic Fest to Fan Fusion in 2019.