Ohayocon 2012 Review by Ross

Ohayocon 2012, year 12 for this convention, took place again at the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC). It has been at this convention hall for the last 8 years. This convention is attached to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, however there are numerous other hotels connected via convenient walkways (although some of those are nearly as cold as outdoors) at the very least they protected you from wind and precipitation. The Crown Plaza, which was located across the street and attached to the second floor's near main entrance...suffered numerous failures of the escalator system which created a potentially difficult and dangerous situation for cosplayers whom did not have the ability to see well beneath them. Luckily there was a public elevator that remained in service to which we admittedly used quite a bit.

On the first floor the Drury entrance went to the food court. This hotel offered a few convenient snack/drink amenities to its clients as well as a warm environment that offered a terrific background for people looking for personal photo shoots. To this end, the hotel was more than happy to oblige requests made from strangers that weren't even paying for their service, showing that they are willing to go above and beyond for convention people.

Inside of the convention center on the first floor, there is a large food court that had a little something for everyone. The food was found to be consistently tasty with very reasonable prices, leaving us with extremely long lines during popular eating hours. However, the pros far outweighed the cons on this one, especially if you planned eating around the normally busy meal hours. In addition, some of these vendors stayed open deep into the night, particularly great for the night scene that conventions normally have (rave/late night panels) and for staying safe by remaining on the grounds.

The second floor of the convention hall contained panels, and was one of the highest traffic areas. The Hyatt bar could be found here as well, with a clear view to the first floor Hotel check-in. I must mention that the people that worked for the Hyatt were in spirit with the convention by wearing wigs. Anime conventions tend to bring an abundance of attendance and tourist money to an area, and with multiple hotels looking after their clients this leads to much higher returns the next year. There is nothing like poor service at a hotel to ruin an otherwise memorable experience. The good spirit of the Hyatt staff can instead motivate convention members to book with them again.

Moving on to other second floor areas, the entrance from the Hyatt’s bar and the Crown Plaza bridge were attached to both first and third floors via a large atrium with staircase. On Friday, this was a common gathering area to rest weary legs, but the high amount of attendees on Saturday drew regular security patrols to keep the crowds on the stairs light, causing people to find resting places elsewhere.

On the other side of the convention area there was a larger open area which attached the second floor to the third and fourth floors via escalators or elevators. These upper spaces contained the entrances to dealers room only and artist alley. This area was used for a few photo shoots due to the large amount of natural light during the day and it being relatively well lit at night. There were also DJs, people dancing, playing hacky-sack, and other miscellaneous convention games that normally find there ways around that were done in this area. Although the Ohayocon convention area stopped at the glass doors at the end of this hallway, there was a huge area beyond that could house many more people. If Ohayocon were to go grow in attendance they would have other areas to expand into.

I personally found the layout to be well thought out. Dealers room used approximately half the the third floor space, which had beautiful ceiling lighting and multiple entrances. However a few people, including myself noticed that there was something in the air there that didn't quite work well with contacts, leaving us with irritated eyes and a quick desire to flee the area. The other half of the third floor was used for main events and the masquerade. Unfortunately, due to our late decision to attend, we are unable to provide the usual in depth photographical record of these events. However, our web-mistress Christine Hickey (AKA Vicious Cosplay) was part of the walk-on of the Masquerade and will provide a deeper insight into the event in her own Cosplayer’s Review.

On the fourth floor was the artist alley, and this area was extremely open and generally free of the traffic that normally encompasses dealers room and artist ally combinations. There was also a view to all the vendors on the third floor behind the Artists Ally tables. Questionably, security didn't allow you near the railing in this room, which mirrored what you would find on other floors...why this was deemed a risk here alone versus all other parts of the convention is a mystery.

General consensus I’ve found from convention goers is that Ohayocon is a hang out con. What does that mean? Well, Ohayocon fills a niche in the convention market... you’ll normally find that the majority of the conventions fall in the Spring to Autumn seasons. Once winter hits in the North and North-East, everything slows down. But not for Ohayocon. They have their convention in January, which allows for people to get together that may not have seen each other since other events. If you’re looking at Mid-Western, North-East attendees, then Youmacon was their last convention, which regularly happens in late October, early November.

As a first time Ohayocon-goer, I looked at the schedule exactly zero times. The entire point of going here was to meet up with friends and people I haven’t seen in a while, take in the environment...take it easy. It was these friends that made this convention to me. That’s not to say there isn’t anything for anyone else. As stated earlier there is always something for each type of con-goer, including the convention night life that attracts those few, as well as people looking to keep up on industry.

For more information on convention programming, you can check out http://www.ohayocon.org/programming.html. Ohayocon’s home page is http://www.ohayocon.org/. We enjoyed our time here and hope to be back next year to attend their 13th year.