I'd like to thank everyone who put in so much work at AN this year. As I've said, this year went really well overall. Our paid attendance is tentatively at 14,800 (!), which is over a thousand more than last year. I wasn't really expecting any real increase, so I'm not sure where all these extra people came from.
Al our major events (and most of the minor ones) went off with hardly a hitch. There were fewer security and medical incidents than last year, and we once again had three days of perfect weather (which really matters for us, as we often have several hundred people just hanging around outside the TCC. At one point I counted FIVE ice cream trucks parked around the con, along with a cotton candy guy and a hot dog guy. I bet they cleaned up.
We start on Wednesday morning now assembling the con office at the Doubletree, and taking shipments of the Program Books and Pocket Programs (which is now 12 pages double sided). It was a lot easier when Irwin could just toss these in the trunk of his car, now we have to have pallet loads shipped. Incidentally, I'm again really pleased with how they turned out this year, Noreen did a fabulous job with the layout of each.
And thanks too to Eileen, Head of Programming, who had to supervise laying out I don't know how many tracks of programming (you can see the whole schedule here.
Thursday evening is our pre-reg check-in at the Doubletree, where anyone who's pre-registered can come in early and pick up their badges so not to stand in line Friday. We processed just about 2500 people that evening. In the past we've tried doing some programming that night, but people aren't really interested in doing anything then but hanging out with their friends, which is strange considering how busy the rest of the con is.
And I'd like here to thank my brother, who runs registration, and USS Hudson's Bay, an SF club who form the backbone the reg staff at the con. They processed in more than a thousand more people than last year, and did it in a shorter period of time, which is just astonishing. Dave kept talking about how he had implemented a "flying wedge" at registration this year. I still have no idea what he's talking about.
On Friday and Saturday mornings I arrange for a pack of volunteers to stuff registration packets. To date, we've offered double volunteer hours for this in order to make sure we get enough, because it's so necessary and we need people early for it. This year I got nearly 35 people showing up Friday morning, and considering we had less stuff to stuff this year (the anime companies are cutting back on the free stuff) I had to end things earlier than usual Friday to make sure the Saturday people still had something to do. As problems go that's a good one to have.
There's so much pre-con set-up work now (making sure the dealers are getting in, that the set-up at the Toronto Congress Center is correct), that by the time 5 PM Friday (the official start) comes around, it's such a huge relief. Once things get rolling the con takes on a momentum, and if things go wrong then, you just have to make the best of it.
But very little did. Our Skit Contest Friday ended a few minutes early (it ran nearly an hour late last year, due to the unprecedented happening of all the acts that signed up for it actually showing up), Masquerade started on time, and even the Moonlight Ball started only 30 minutes late (a new record). Our Rave and J-Pop dances at the TCC went off well (having two paid-duty Toronto police officers on hand scared off the yahoos who made trouble last year). We had an official outdoor dance at the TCC this year (by the guys who did the unofficial one last year) that run all evening Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.
Dave Merril's Anime Hell and Totally Lame Anime were packed as always. The Maid Cafe (have tea and snacks with cute Japanese girls in maid outfits) and Butler Cafe ((have tea and snacks with cute Japanese girls in butler outfits) had full seatings. Gaming was a little chaotic at the start from what I hear but was busy all weekend, especially the video gaming. The Nomonichi (Flea Market) event was packed. Guest of Honor talks and Concert all went well, as did the Anime Music Video Awards, game show, the Wrestling events, etc, etc.
This year we had a Japanese Cultural Festival for the first time, with Douglas Tong, a Japanese Sword Master (who taught four workshops, all full up), some traditional Japanese Dancers, and Nagata Shachu, a totally kick ass taiko drumming troupe (who I see whenever they have an event in Toronto). There was really good attendance for this, which I'm very happy about. We also re-staged the Steampunk Fashion Show from this year's Ad Astra which got a good crowd.
I didn't get to see much of it, what free time I had I spent sitting down getting something to eat, but 99% of the feed back we've been getting back from this year has been excellent. The most common emails I've been getting are from people who wanted to know the dates for next year so they could book their rooms in advance.
And thanks to the Memorial Day weekend moving to the end of the month next year (May28-30), we have a whole extra week to prepare for the con!