Bay Area residents looking to experience a big national comic-con will be left out again in 2014, as WonderCon, the 30-year-old event long located in the Bay Area, will once again be held in Anaheim in 2014.
The show, now officially called WonderCon Anaheim, was held in Anaheim for the first time in 2012, and recently announced it would return there again in 2014, for the weekend of April 18-20th. The event is run by Comic-Con International, a non-profit organization that also runs the San Diego Comic-Con and the Alternative Press Expo, which is still located in San Francisco.
It’s a move that has left the Bay Area without its signature show, but one CCI reluctantly made, according to director of marketing and public relations David Glanzer. “We still want to get back to the Bay Area,” he told PW. “The problem is finding dates that are available with the time we need for move in and move out. But we haven’t given up on SF.”
Although Anaheim was a new location for the show, thus far it’s been successful—attendance has grown both years, and in 2013 it drew more than 56,000 attendees.
WonderCon was originally forced to move when its venue, San Francisco’s Moscone Center underwent extensive renovations and couldn’t commit to a date for WonderCon far enough in advance for the show to be comfortably planned.
While the construction is over, the Moscone is one of the country's busiest convention centers and still couldn’t commit to dates that offered enough time to move in and out and didn’t conflict with another comics show. “We are in touch with [the Moscone organizaers] fairly regularly and we have an open dialogue,” said Glanzer. “They haven’t given up on us, either.”
Although WonderCon is open to the public for only three days, it requires more time to set-up and break down. “It’s takes us a few days to move in and at least one to move out,” said Glanzer. By comparison, San Diego takes over the San Diego Convention Center for over a week, with at least two days after the show to completely move out the large exhibits.
An even bigger problem is competing dates, or “con wars.” While there are hundreds of comic cons held every year in the US alone, major organizers try not to plan a big show the same week as another major event; majors in the Spring when WonderCon is traditionally held, include C2E2 in Chicago and Seattle’s’ Emerald City Comic Con, both typically held in March and April, respectively. Glanzer indicated that up to now CCI has been very careful about not planning a show on another show’s dates but in order to move back to the Bay Area they might have to rethink that.
“Speaking personally there may come a time when, because there are so many shows, maybe that isn’t the deciding factor any more,” he told PW. While WonderCon has no desire to go up against another show, the increasingly busy schedule is making that impossible—this year’s WonderCon is up against a growing Salt Lake City con for instance.
Glanzer also addressed rumors that WonderCon will stay in Anaheim and a new show will launch in the Bay Area by pointing out that the organization has never truly launched a new show. (Both WonderCon and APE were acquisitions.) However, the hope is to get back to Moscone in 2015, perhaps taking a more flexible approach. “If Moscone comes to us with dates later in the year maybe we could consider those. We just don’t want to close any doors.”