Momocon 2015: Impressions

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So it’s been quite a bit of time since Momocon, but now that the storm and PCD (post-con depression) has blown over, I thought I would write down my impressions of this year’s convention. For the first time, I’ll be having one of my friends/coworker, Rufus, participate in writing for this article. We were both accepted as Press for Momocon this year and were very grateful for the experience.

Sas’ Impressions:

Momocon was the first convention I ever went to. I was there back in 2009 when it was still at Georgia Tech, and even there when it moved over to the Marriott and Hyatt hotels. This year, Momocon had once again moved its venue due to its rising popularity and intent to find a location better suited to handling a large population of geeks. Am I happy with these changes compared to its early years? Yes and no.

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The new venue that Momocon chose to move to was the Georgia World Congress Center. Compared to the Marriott and the Hyatt, I see this as a huge improvement. Since the con was essentially located in one building, it made it easier for attendees to travel across the con. The GWCC has wide corridors giving more space for people to make their way throughout the con, and they give off less of a crowded feeling. Since the venue was mainly in one part of the building, it made easier to go from one event to another. What I really liked about the venue was that they were able to upgrade the Dealers Room and Entertainment Hall. Both halls grew in size, and it may not be a stretch to say that they’d be the biggest compared to any other conventions in Georgia. What was also convenient was that they connected both halls, so one could go from buying their goods to relaxing/playing at the gaming sections.

Momocon used to be an anime convention back in its early years, but they’ve changed the way they address themselves. They refer to themselves as “Atlanta’s response to Comic-Con” or more essentially as a geek convention. While the con grew, the focus on anime diminished. Over time, the guests would be less about anime and more about gaming, and the same could be said for its panels. While I understand that there’s an immense crowd of people that enjoys gaming a lot more than anime, the recent changes makes it harder for people, like myself, that are the exact opposite. Guests like the Super Best Friends, Mega64, and LilyPichu made their appearances as Guests of Honor at the con, but to a guy who’s not too into the gaming community, their presences had me uninterested. The schedule was filled with lots of panels, but they were just like the guest announcements, not so much catered for people with heavy interests in Japanese entertainment. If anime is more your thing, you’re better off looking forward to Anime Weekend Atlanta.

Now, do I consider Momocon’s lack of focus on Japanese culture to be distasteful? Yes, because it IS called Momocon after all, but is the con itself bad? No. I saw many people enjoying their times together with family and friends. There were people that enjoyed cosplaying, going to panels, playing video games, and buying stuff they really wanted to own at the dealers hall. I was one of those people. Sure, Momocon didn’t have all the anime and weeb stuff that I wanted, but it’s not like I had nothing to do. I cosplayed, played Dance Dance Revolution all day, bought figures, and met friends old and new. That’s not something I can just do everyday. Although I no longer see Momocon as an anime convention, I still see it as a place to enjoy myself, and I know this holds true for a lot of other people that attended the convention. Will I go to Momocon again next year? Hell yeah.

Rufus’ Impressions:

This past weekend I attended all four days of Momocon 2015 & had a blast! Despite being an active viewer of anime since Gundam 00, this was my first time at an anime convention so I didn’t really know what to expect other than a lot of cosplayers. Up until now my only con-like experience had been MAGFest 2014 and though I really enjoyed that, I regretted not having a camera to record it with. Thankfully, this issue has since been resolved and I have plenty of pictures to share with you, but we’ll get back to those later. First let’s discuss the actual experience I had at the con.

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This year Momocon took place at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC). This was also my first time visiting the GWCC, and I found it to be a very nice location. The GWCC area itself is easy on the eyes and within walking distance of CNN and MARTA. The inside is spacious, allowing plenty of elbowroom even on the busiest day. The only complaint I can make is that you may come across a handful of panhandlers outside of CNN or MARTA but they’re harmless & were kept away from the convention grounds. There were a few food services inside the GWCC but I avoided those as the prices were high and reasonable prices, as well as a much more diverse selection, were available at CNN. Unfortunately, my friend was not as knowledgeable and ended up paying $7 for a hotdog. Seriously, anytime you want food here just go to CNN.

Van BowI had 2 concerns going into this convention. My first was how easy it’d be to photograph the cosplayers. I can confidently say that these are some of the nicest people I’ve ever come across. During all 4 days I didn’t come across a single person who I’d describe as mean-spirited in any way. Everyone seemed to have just come to have fun and did just that. Obviously there will be exceptions given the size of the convention and the diversity of the attendees, but I didn’t anything negative.

My second concern was that I’d go broke in the dealers room since they’d sell a few things that I’ve been meaning to buy but aren’t available in the average store: Art and Gunpla. I walked in with the intention of just looking around but by Friday I had two model kits, a wall scroll, and a plushie. I also ended up skipping dinner Saturday so I could get a 3rd kit on Sunday. The dealers’ room had a wide selection of items & all the dealers I spoke to were very kind (same for the artist alley). Connected to the dealers’ room is the game room, but I can’t say too much here because I didn’t spend that much time there nor did I play any games. Most of the time I was just meandering & taking photos.

Speaking of photos, I’ve got plenty of them! Below is just a sample of what I got. You can find my whole album on Facebook and Flickr (Flickr colors are accurate; FB crushed the colors & make it all mucky). If you recognize any of the cosplayers feel free to tag them or notify me so that I can.

Like I stated in the beginning, I had a great time at Momocon & look forward to going again next year. If you enjoyed my photos, check out my personal flickr account & my photography page. My next con is AWA in September, and I’ll be back here to share my thoughts about that.

Credits:

Photos taken by Bulgogi Chan, Rufus Photography, and Alex V.
Credits are also given to the cosplayers and attendees that made this con a reality.
Thank you to Momocon for giving us the opportunity to attend as press. We hope to return next year for another great con!

Follow the Bulgogi Chan Facebook page to find more photos of the con and to keep up with future articles!

https://www.facebook.com/bulgogichan

Additional photos:

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Pre-Momocon Survival Guide Part 2: Food and Conveniences

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So there you are, at the convention walking for hours on an empty stomach. That just won’t do, but where can you find food that’s close and at an affordable price? Don’t worry, Bulgogi-오빠 will aid you on your quest for food. Click here for Part 1 of the survival guide: Transportation.

Now, for this article I will be giving you recommendations and tips for nearby and affordable eateries. I won’t cover too many fancy (expensive) restaurants, but I’ll name a couple later on in the article.

CNN Center

This is our first location on our food quest. The CNN Center is the location of one of the world’s most prominent news networks, and the only reason for that is because of it’s great food court. Okay so I lied, it’s not because of the food court, but it’s still a really great place to eat because of all the different restaurants it has. You’ll find familiar fast food restaurants like Arby’s, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, Subway, and Moes. I’m also aware that many of you need your fix of coffee throughout the day, so you may be happy to know that they also have a Starbucks. Click here for a full list of restaurants.

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It’s against my policy to eat anything expensive during conventions, but I do make exceptions for delicious restaurants, such as Burger-Fi. It’s a bit on the costly side, with burgers priced from $7-$10 and meals even adding up to $15-18. This fast food restaurant boasts delicious burgers with their “all natural” angus beef. The burgers are a little small, but the thickness of the meat is more than enough to fill you up. The onion rings are pretty big and freshly fried to a crisp, making a great side item. However, one of the things I like most about this restaurant are the different seasonings they can put on your french fries, like Cajun, Salt and Vinegar, and Parmesan and Herb. As I said before, this place is somewhat expensive, but I would highly recommend it if you want good quality fast food. Click here for the full menu.

Centennial Olympic Park (nearby locations)

Centennial Olympic Park is a 4 minute walk down the road from the Georgia World Congress Center. You can find a few fast food restaurants, bars, cafes, and high end restaurants, but as I said before, I’ll be going over the more affordable locations.

wafflehouseAcross the street from the park, near the Ferris wheel, you can find a Waffle House. Waffle House is open 24/7, and they serve delicious meals at fair prices. Just getting a Triple Hashbrown can fill you up and cost around $3.

 

If you go across the street from the Omni and take a left down the road with the Metro Atlanta Chamber on you’re right, take the first right and you’ll find the Embassy Suites on your left. Follow the road where it turns left, and you’ll find restaurants such as Kwan’s Deli, Subway, Great American Cookies, and Baja Fresh.

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Kwan’s Deli is a restaurant that specializes in Korean food, but also serves American dishes. One thing I MUST point out is that they serve bulgogi (marinated Korean beef)! Yeah, that’s all I have to say.
Baja Fresh is a Tex-Mex restaurant with a focus on burritos and tacos. Each meal comes with chips and they have their own self serve salsa stand. Both restaurants will have meals up to $8-$10.

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Peachtree Center

This location may be familiar for people who have attended Momocon in the past. The Peachtree Center is a shopping mall located underground. I can’t say much for the shops, but if it’s food you’re looking for, this place has a lot to offer. The best way to get there is to go out of Centennial Olympic Park and head straight down Andrew Young Blvd NE. You’ll be walking past the Waffle House. Keep heading down that road, and eventually you’ll see the Peachtree Center on your left. You won’t miss it.

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At the center you’ll find fast food restaurants like Checkers, Dairy Queen, Chick-Fil-A, Subway, and Moes. Outside the center, you’ll find restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe and Hooters. If you go out the entrance near the Checkers, you’ll see a Starbucks across the street.

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If you’re looking for affordable meals with lots of food, I recommend Bistro7, Malibu Wings, and Yami Yami. Both are priced at about $6 and offer a 1 entree, 2 sides meal. One place you may be interested in is Cafe Momo, which is pretty much a buffet that charges you by the weight of the food you purchase. If you ever hunger for sushi, I would give Yami Yami and Cafe Momo a look-see.

If you’re not looking for a meal and just need a snack or drink, you’ll be happy to know that there is a CVS in the shopping center. Very convenient for light meals and other con necessities. It’s located right across the Subway, and there’s also an entrance above ground.

Conclusion of the journey and etc.

That concludes our food quest of downtown Atlanta, but there are still a few more places I want to give a quick mention. If you go around Midtown (which you can easily get to with MARTA), you’ll find a nearby bakery called Sweet Hut. Sweet Hut is a bakery with a wide variety of Asian pastries and sweets. They have sausage bread, black squid ink bread with bacon inside, red bean buns, strawberry cream puffs, caramel-custard pudding, mousse cakes, and many more Asian oriented dishes. The bakery also serves boba (bubble tea) and smoothies, both of which are very delicious. In my opinion, this is one of the best bakeries in Georgia and is very worth the short trip. They’re open from 8AM and close from 12AM-1AM. I recommend coming here at least once during the entire con.

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If you don’t mind the extra drive (30 minutes-1 hour down I-85N), I also recommend the Pleasant Hill area in Duluth. You’ll find many Asian restaurants such as Iron Age (all you can eat Korean BBQ), Cafe Top Cloud (Asian cafe with ice cream waffles), and Raku Ramen. Drive an extra 20 minutes to Suwanee and you’ll find Umaidos, which is the best ramen restaurant you’ll ever find in Georgia. If you go to Raku or Umaidos, I’d recommend the Takoyaki (battered squid balls).

The next portion of the guide will be the final addition, and I’ll be informing you on safety around the downtown area/con and Dos and Don’ts at a con. Momocon is soon approaching, and always keep in mind to have fun!

 

Pre-Momocon Survival Guide Part 1: Transportation

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Momocon is just in a couple of days, and I already know most of you guys are in shambles about the whole thing. My cosplays aren’t finished! I need to finish watching/reading/playing this series before I leave! Who framed Roger Rabbit?! Well, I can assist you with 1 out of those 3 statements, but instead I’ll be giving you a rundown on things that may assist you during the con. Some of you may especially need it if you’re coming from out of state. People that live in Georgia may need assistance too since Momocon has moved their venue from the Hilton and Marriott Marquis to the Georgia World Congress Center.

How Do I Get To the Con?

Now this is especially important, for how can we attend the con if we’re not at the con itself? If you’re getting there by car, I won’t be able to be of much assistance since you’re probably smart enough to use a GPS, but if it helps I usually take I-85 South and get off the interstate at Exit 249C. Once you make it through the exit, you’ll make a right at the first light and head down the road and see the Coca-Cola Museum, Georgia Aquarium, and CNN Center on your left. Go towards that direction. If you’re coming from I-85 North, take Exit 295D and go up the curved road and take a right at the fork. Drive down Spring Street NW, and keep going straight where it will then become Spring Techwood RD.  At the end of the road you’ll find yourself in front of Centennial Olympic Park. If you find yourself lost in that general area, use the giant Ferris wheel as your guidepost, because that’s mainly the area you’re supposed to be around.

Another form of transportation that is very essential around the downtown Atlanta area is MARTA, Georgia’s very own metro train service. This transportation can be very essential to those that are coming from long distances and people staying in lodgings outside the convention area. Each trip costs $2.50. If you make a round trip, the total cost will be $5. If you’re going to be using MARTA all 4 days, you can get a $19 4-day pass that will allow you as many rides as you want in those 4 days. You can look at MARTA’s fares here. (Thanks for the tip Gwen!)

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If you’re going along the Blue or Green line, you’ll easily be able to get to the convention center. Along those 2 lines, there is a stop specifically for the Georgia World Congress Center. It’s one stop West of Five Points station. If you’re going by the Red or Gold line, that’s fine too. If you reach Peachtree Center, the train intercoms will mention to get off for The World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, and Georgia World Congress Center, but it would be better transfer at Five Points station so it’ll save you the long walk and the possibility of getting lost while walking. It’s literally up the stairs, and a right at the corner.

If you’re lost while walking in the downtown area and see a blue cable car running through the streets, TAKE IT. If you find one of those cable cars, it means that you’ve found the Atlanta Streetcar. The Atlanta Streetcar is a free rail service that takes you through the streets of downtown Atlanta to nearby locations. If you take it, go until you reach Centennial Olympic Park. It’s free, takes you directly to the general area you’re supposed to be, and it saves lots of walking.

Parking

Now this is one subject that’s always going to rustle someone’s jimmies. Since Momocon has always been around the downtown area, parking has always been a hassle. It’s hard to navigate to a parking area, most areas are already full, and the biggest pain is that parking costs money and most of the time it’s not cheap. Even though the venue has changed, these 3 facts haven’t, but I can help alleviate some of your worries by pointing out some parking areas that are cheap and not too far from the con. However, these are parking spots that I found 3 days before the con, so the prices may be subject to change during the days of the con.

The best spots you’ll probably find near the convention are the ones near Centennial Olympic Park. The most notable ones are the parking garages for the park and the CNN center. The parking garage for the CNN center will cost $10 daily. The price is pretty fair and will stay consistent throughout the con. The Centennial Olympic Park garage also costs $10, BUT if you get in before 8:30AM, you only have to pay $5. Around the park area, mainly around the Ferris wheel, you’ll find other parking areas/garages that also cost $5. On weekdays, their Early Bird specials can even go as low as $3. Notable $5 areas would be the Tabernacle Parking lot, Keenan Law parking lot, and some of the Spring Street parking lots.
I’ll mark some of the locations below with stars. Red being $10 and blue being $3-$5. Black means $20+. Click on the image to go directly to the interactive map.

map of parking

One thing I do advise people to do is to never use valet parking at the hotels, especially near the Omni. Some hotels will charge you over $20 a day, and the Omni hotel will charge you $30. It’s not worth the money, so park around the areas outside the hotels. They’re in walking distance of the convention and they’re a lot cheaper. The only benefits of getting valet parking at a hotel is that you have security and peace of mind knowing that your car is safe, and the fact that you’re guaranteed a parking spot. Only do this if you don’t care about the cost at all. Also, be advised to not park too far from the general Centennial Olympic Park/convention area. One night during Momocon 2015, a friend of mine parked at a parking venue that was quite a distance away from the convention and had his car broken into. Just a reminder to show that the downtown area is safer when closer to the convention.

Uber and Lyft

These are transportation options that I forgot to include last year since I wasn’t very familiar with both services, but Uber and Lyft are both very viable forms of transportation in the downtown area. If you don’t know what they are, both are driving services that are very similar to taxis. A key feature that they both possess is that you’re able to request a driver in your vicinity to pick you up by using their respective apps. After you request a suitable driver, you wait at your appointed pick-up location to meet them. Most of the time they will call your phone to confirm that they have arrived or ask where you are. Their pricing is also similar to taxis, with base and additional charges from mileage/time, but the price is generally a lot cheaper. Forms of payment that they accept are credit/debit cards and Paypal.
I would really recommend Uber and Lyft if you’re 2+ miles away from the convention. Also, first time users are generally given free credit from both services when signing up. So you may have enough for a few free rides that weekend.
Links to both of their promos and websites: Uber/Lyft

That’s about all the advice I can give you so far when it comes to transportation, but if you think I might have missed some stuff or you have a question you want to ask, please leave a comment below.

Here’s a link to Part 2 of the Survival Guide for Food and Conveniences