Convention Impossible: Holiday Matsuri 2018!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe! It’s time for our Convention Impossible post on Holiday Matsuri. It’s going to be a hard one this time around which I know there will be some Needs for Improvement.

Disclaimer: This review is based on thoughts and observations from the lead writer of this blog. Please respect her thoughts on the convention and its rating because not everyone has the same experience especially with this convention.

Oh man! Where to start! This year we had a different experience from past years since it felt like the convention gone and went without even knowing. We did stay at the World Center like last year and I felt like we spent more time in the room than the con itself. Let me talk about the hotel.

Hotel: Like I said above, we stayed at the World Center and we spent some time before heading there by getting some shopping done for the weekend as in getting food to eat in the room and getting checks cashed because apparently there was a security breach that took place and best to use cash at the hotel areas itself rather than your card. Trust me, being hacked is not fun. So, we got to the hotel and the parking was packed! Apparently, besides Matsuri, there were two other events taking place and it was a military ball type event and a business convention in one of the wings. This does happen at some venues where some events take place at the same time, especially with conventions. Good examples, the cheerleading competitions during MegaCon when they were held in March, Omni Fandom Expo taking place at the same time as Florida Anime Experience when they first started, even a beauty pageant took place at the World Center as Omni Fandom Expo taking place, these are a few but these three going on at the same time caused parking to be full and Gondras was told to park at the outlets and take the shuttle but he did find a parking spot. We were glad we had East Tower this year with our room and it was a one bed and one couch situation. I did remember that leading up to the convention that they talked about rooms being sold out and the Queen Bed rooms were taken by then and I have a feeling people from the other two events were also staying in those. So glad they extended stay slots at other hotels in the area to cater to everyone. We were afraid that Hol Mat would be moved next year but heard that it won’t so who knows where we will be next December. I did point out Gaylord Palms but realized that they have their Ice exhibit and that would be an issue to hold Hol Mat there unless they give discount tickets to attendees, just saying. We did have a great stay this year and man that King Size Bed was comfy. Also our roomie was great too! At first we asked on the Hol Mat Housing Group to find new roomies and the first cancelled due to financial reasons which does happen, second one what friends coming, and third person was a major charm! She was awesome and she is a big Tales fan and she did host a trivia panel which I will get to later!

Game Room: I have to point this out because this year’s Game Room was very impressive this year and better than years before. Not only it featured your classic cabinets that you tend to see at this convention but we also had Japanese games including the famous Gundam pods! If you haven’t been to Japan in the Otaku areas, it’s basically a Gundam cockpit simulator game where it’s in an arcade that you have people dressed as the attendants in the Gundam anime series and you get to be in the pods where you get to pilot Gundams ranging across the vast series. Gondras wanted to play this thing so bad if we ever got to go to the arcade with it and they brought it here except he didn’t fit in it due to how tall he is. That did make him happy that they brought it to a convention of all places where a lot of fans would roam around. Also, there was the Rock Band set up which not only had the classic songs but there were a few more added in. Besides this room having games inside there were games spread out in the convention itself like Music Tag near the vendor’s room which I will get to now…

Vendor’s Room: I liked it better this year than the last. How so? Not only it felt bigger but the vendors were better this year! As in there were more variety in merch than it has been before as in plushies, apparel, even artists for instance which I felt like I bought more items from as usual since I do love handmade items since they are more unique. Some of these items include a seatbelt type belt for your pants featuring Happy. You know I love the kitties from Fairy Tail and haven’t gotten much of Happy lately and glad to get this because this is a comfy belt! As in, you just have a cloth strap versus leather which to me leather belts do become uncomfortable even while being Lucy thank you very much! I should have taken a card from this vendor because I would want to see if they can make a plain black one. I also did find my favorite seller who had the cat ears and tails. She did give me a discount again which made me happy and did pick up two of her newer furs which one pair of ears and tail had pastel spots all over and pink bows with the bells and I didn’t mind having that on my ears because they matched better with the pastel spots. As you know, calico kitties are one of my favorite types of kitties. While the other pair is more interesting which is a very fluffy fur that is in red with silver striping. I didn’t get the bows and bells, which I should have asked, maybe I should message her about that but it was so soft that I did hand her the money for them too. I love her ears and tales and I suggest buying from her. I did run into Japanese Snacks Guy at the front of the room which he had a really good spot. He had new items which are these long gummy things. They remind me of those jolly Rancher bars I remembered as a kid which I wished I could find them again but as a gummy. I haven’t opened them yet since I have been munching on candy canes all thanks to my L cosplay! I am not kidding, after Hol Mat, I have not only my remnants of the Hershey’s candy canes but two boxes of Sour Patch Kids canes, a box of soda flavored which features Crush, Dr. Pepper, and A&W Root Beer canes which the A&W got my interest since that is my fave root beer ever! And now waiting on a shipment of Trolli Brite Crawler ones which I did order a box through Shipt and they taste good! They aren’t overbearing sour since the sour powder is inside. Anyways, I did get another pack of Hi-Chew which is green apple, I did like this flavor from long ago when I first got into them and got a bag with multiple flavors. I still have my stock just in case I need something to chew on even at work and that is not gum. Also, I did get something chocolate but only one item since I still have a big container of mint bark and a chocolate bar thing from Gondras’ job and my chocolate container filled to the brim. They are these chocolates I did love but this time different types of strawberries which is going to be interesting. Other items I did get were for holiday parties, I did get a Charmander for a toy drive party but didn’t go due to really bad weather rolling through Daytona Thursday, even a tornado warning happened and had to stay in the building, and got a Groot keychain for a White Elephant gift thing for the staff party and was entertaining seeing that get passed on for a gift steal. I also got a new Jolteon plush which you guys know I cosplay as my own Thunder Gym Leader and I had a plush from Disney of Jolteon but it was a chibi form one. This one is him on all four legs like my little figure on my desk. Trust me I couldn’t resist since the only Evees I have left to get are Umbreon, which I have a Dark Trainer in mind, and Espeon, which I haven’t done a Psychic trainer yet. I will have to wait for Omni to see if anyone sells an Umbreon in the same style as my Jolteon which the interesting thing there was one but in a prize machine. I did almost have Gondras get me Umbreon as a belated birthday present but I wanted the Pikachu with the Rawst Berry instead because I didn’t know when I could see that one ever again. And Gondras did get something and that was Keith Silverstein’s autograph on his Persona games. When we heard Mr. Silverstein being at the con, Gondras wanted to bring him something that was rare and it was these games he got from Cyber Tron Gaming here in town, which is a game shop that sells vintage games and some anime too. Which by the way…

Guests: Oh man the guests! Did we interview? Yes! The only one we didn’t interview was Zach Callison because by the end of the weekend according to his Liaison that he was done for the weekend. Hoping we can get a Skype interview since we have a line to get to for that with some people from Ranger Stop, I did Tweet Zach to see if he can do it with us and haven’t heard back. We did get to have a video interview with Brittney Karbowski which was great, I know we did interview her years ago at MetroCon but had to transcribe it and now that we do video ones it worked out. And we did interview Jennifer Hale finally! As you guys know we wanted to do it at MegaCon 2017 but since everything going down we didn’t get it and since this was another chance for us we did get to sit down with her for one and it was great! We will get the videos up as soon as possible if we can since I am really busy with work and Gondar’s is to, we will try to get them up as soon as we can so stay tuned on Twitter!

Panels: We didn’t go to many this year. I did say we spent most of our time in the room and I felt bored. I know it’s sad since panels are the greatest part of the convention experience. Not only that this year we didn’t have a real coverage schedule which I will get to that later due to press not being as organized as it has been. I admit I was on Colour Pop and Ulta’s websites shopping since Ulta was doing a gift to spend $35 to get a free gift from their brand. I did make it and it’s at my parents’ place, I am thinking of doing a collective haul of beauty stuff since I did buy clothes for work and fleece jackets too since it was freezing here for a bit. And Colour Pop did a 40% off pallets and picked up two I was eyeing on and a $30 off their Lux Lipsticks which I got one I wanted. So, yeah I was a bit bored. We did go to two yaoi ones, well me with Vivi and Tobi. We went to Yaoi after Dark and Yaoi on Ice, the Voice Actors panel on Saturday which Nerdy Shirts did record from the start which we were late due to something that took place. And the Funimation Peep Show. I told you guys not that many and wishing we did go to more or at least had a set schedule this year. I did try submitting Blind Perspective but didn’t hear anything about it, I think it was not approved being it a writing panel. Oh well, I don’t think it will be a panel I will submit again, I do want to bring Blind Experience though since that was a success even though some people did tell us it wasn’t that great. I think it is a success in my eyes and people did enjoy it during Hol Mat 2013. Let’s see what 2019 brings. I did forget to mention the Tales Of Trivia Panel, that was also a fun one since all thanks to playing Xilia 2 for the most part with Gondras, I did get to answer the questions on that game. I did win the Mila and Jude keychain or shall I say phone charm.

Verdict: Convention…abor…Complete! I am saying why! I felt like this convention was almost an Aborted this year due to some things going on but I give it a Complete because I have noticed some staff were working harder than others and I will explain in Needs for Improvement!

Needs for Improvement:
Hotel NFI: Don’t Plan SO Many Things At Once! I know this is something that does happen but I feel like the hotel was overbooked for events this year and as said above that included a business convention in the western part of the hotel, the Military Ball, and Hol Mat. This caused a major parking problem and I felt like due to the overbooking not everyone could park at the hotel even when you were a person with a room. I did see that on the group were there was supposed to be more parking areas but it wasn’t noticed. Even motorcycles took up an entire space! There should have been parking slots for motorcycles instead of having the riders do that. With the Outlets parking, I don’t think anyone of us who owns a car would have enjoyed it. ZI did see one of our friends did have to park there but being towed is not great either. SO, my message to World Center, don’t overbook when you know hol Mat is there for you guys. Not only that for anyone who wants to hold an event in Orlando at the same time as a convention, there are other places in town that you can hold events and some of them are pretty big like the Caribe Royale where Hol Mat was at, Rosen Shingle Creek, Rosen Center, Holiday Inn Across from Universal has a decent size ballroom, I can go on, even the Florida Mall Hotel is pretty big with how Omni holds their events. I would say do research in holding events at other places please, there were so many people coming to this thing, plus some people did say they had complaints about some of the Military Ball attendants, which I haven’t heard much of.
Attend Your Meet Ups! I have been hearing about how meet ups are being held and others just had people bail on them, this is according to Vivi. I understand the convention is filled with shiny things that you can be distracted by but having a meet up with people that you schedule on a group is something important from what I have seen. I remembered people posting meet ups for Naruto, My Hero Academia, even a Lolita one and these are planned ahead in time and scheduled with the convention and it not happening is something that says it was not cared about. I know Vivi was excited for the Yuri On Ice meet ups and the Lolita Meet Up because she ordered an actual cord for her first time and it’s sad to hear that it didn’t go well, it was just crafting and some people almost came in but didn’t go in since it wasn’t really a meet up. I guess I am glad that I didn’t go through a meet up, I bet if I were to cosplay as Sue or one of the Wild Pussy Cats from My Hero Academia and find out the meet up wasn’t happening at last minute where people just left I would be mad! I am not sure if that still happened since that would have been fun to witness.
Press.pardon my French…WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOU GUYS!? Sorry guys, I had to ask because the past few years Press was really organized ever since we have started getting the press pass with them and thought they were a good con to go to since we have seen great and unique events, meet up with awesome guests and hoping to interview them. I was glad we got the interviews this year and I noticed that the Guest Relations people were working harder since they had to take care a lot of people and working with press for possible interviews like us. Press this year….I know they had higher demand…I know they probably have been swamped…but I was lucky to meet someone who helped in getting us in. I haven’t seen bad organization since JACON 2009 actually. To tell you the truth, I preferred Press at Hol Mat to be more organized as in first of all having a set schedule to cover events which was great, it helped get more coverage out there even on our channel where we had so many videos, like our coverage from last year and the year before, not only that it kept us going to more events too that we never got to see. I also enjoyed that! We also got great pics from the Cosplay Runway over the years and now this year we didn’t go due to our interviews which was fine in my book. This year without that set schedule, yes we got to be a bit more slack but I missed it especially doing the Google Hangouts which the past two years we got to sit down with the Press Staff, even last year was the best Hangouts because I got to talk to the other teams that were covering Hol Mat but now this year I am wondering who else got approved besides us or shall I say who else got handed Press Passes? We didn’t get to meet anyone from Press unlike last year where we got to meet some of the other Press teams in person. See where I’m going? I know Press can have high Demand and I can see why with this year but not being able to see who else is doing it with you makes it like you’re the only ones doing it. I am glad that whoever has known what we do remembers us, even the staff member who has responded to my post about my giving away some of my manga due to the move knows about us all thanks to her daughter. That is why for 2019 starting with Omni Fandom Expo we will have better promo materials since we have worked hard especially this year with Omni, interviewing APl DeAp at the NFB Convention, Ranger Stop, and now with this one I felt not so much work. I am sorry guys but with my rating with what I was about to say was almost an Aborted because I felt this convention felt disorganized and Vivi pointed out that attendees weren’t as friendly in person as I have seen more people talking on the group and once the con does happen not a lot of people talk in person, it just becomes a huge standoff mess. I did have fun with our roomie though during her panel since it was a trivia thing and hoping to get to stay with her again maybe for Metro and we are looking into a room for Omni next year since working now we can do hotel stays a little more often. Also was supposed to meet another person I have met on the board but she was in line for something. I know big tangent…next point…
Watch Out for Disabled People! What do I mean by this, I had my cane cracked by someone during the con? I know, gasp! Okay, the story is that Gondras and I were heading over to the voice actors panel on Saturday and on the way there someone walked up and walked and in front of my cane but in the worst way, it was halfway up the cane and tripped over it and caused it to crack. I wasn’t hurt nor the person and it caused the cane to twist and cracked one of the joints where it collapses. We did get it duct taped Sunday because using an umbrella was not easy for me, I even ran into a wall since I missed my cane so much and almost cried Sunday because of it helping Gondras carry stuff to his car. This was something that still made me mad and bid felt like I lost a best friend when my cane cracked. Even the mobility instructor was annoyed when I told him about what had happened when I went to get a new cane, I didn’t show up with my taped one because I felt awkward so I show up with my short cane I had since my college days. I know the con was crowded but when I am at cons using my mobility skills people step aside! Even people with guide dogs, wheelchairs, and even crutches get that treatment too but what I went through was even worse. The person who tripped even said, “I didn’t know!” I was appalled when I heard that because here is the thing, all thanks to the comic Homestuck, people have cosplayed the blind character in that even back in 2012 when the comic had a major spike in popularity and people thought my cane was a prop and I was cosplaying the character when I now the comic with the troll side having candy corn horns. I even remembered seeing someone with huge horns from that comic, I think they did a better horn design for their character they were doing. Anyway, I cosplay as characters like Lucy, my many Pokémon characters even my variation of Link, and so on and my cane is always with me. Plus, it is my symbol of being someone in the bind community getting to enjoy a convention like a sighted person and doing press for it. So please guys, watch out for people in wheelchairs, guide dogs since there was a story that Vivid Barnacle read that someone had their service dog get hurt really badly at a con to use as an example, and watch out for blind canes because they’re not props and blind people are real! Yes Homestuck did have one in comic form but we are real!
Please Wait to Celebrate After the Con! What I mean by this is that I did notice that there was a meet up at Volcano Bay three weeks before the con or was it four weeks, can’t keep count but still it was planned during my moving weekend. It is great to have meet ups outside of the convention and good to party but best to save it during a time after the convention or during like how AFO does it with any volunteers. During the last three weeks before the convention it should be taken as a way to plan and make sure things are finished as and secured for the con, plus I think that would’ve been a better Saturday to do the Google Hangouts for Press too since I did get my internet in and would have spent the time before my dad shown up to take me for my grocery trip talking to the Hol Mat Press Crew and when the con is over then you can go to Volcano Bay or have dinner somewhere. I did notice that not every convention goer could go to this thing, like I said I was moving that weekend, so best to just save any big party things for after or at least during the convention to do a pat on the back thing for a job well done. The convention weekend is the real test of how the event goes rather than thinking it will be great in advance. That’s my opinion on that.
Need Better Security! Even With the Rooms! Apparently this year there was a lot of stuff being stolen, even a projector was stolen from someone’s room. I am glad no one went to our room or Vivi’s and Tobi’s room. I would be pissed if someone stolen my Braille Sense Polaris because that thing isn’t cheap! There should be better security at this thing since we have seen so many things happen at cons and now this taking place I feel a little unsafe with Hol Mat knowing that people broke into hotel rooms to take things. It’s sad that people are willing to hurt others to get their stuff, one thing is it’s not right, just save up for that product you want and then buy it. Someone else’s stuff is not yours people and plus you are risking your freedom for jail and being banned from the con itself. So, please better security.

Well guys that is it for this year’s review. I know a lot of people had fun during this weekend but I felt like even though we were Press doing what we do but I felt like this year was not the year that we had more work as Press. I did mention above on asking what had happened. I know conventions are supposed to be fun but I did say in my Ranger Stop review that I enjoy doing press and looking at this one I felt like my experience at Hol Mat was not as great as it had been last year and with 2016. I understand there being a higher demand in one department but Press could have been better handled. We did try to salvage what we could, we did enjoy our roommate which she was fun and she did have to volunteer during the weekend. Are we coming back? It looks like not so much at this point. I did answer someone asking who is going to what in 2019 and we just got word about our Press Passes for Omni Fandom Expo which is a great Christmas gift and hoping to get a room next year for that since I do live here in Daytona now. And of course Ranger Stop since that was a major blast this past year even getting to interview some of the guests this year. Vivi did mention MetroCon which I want to go back to due to how that one was our first Press job of all time and it’s been years since we’ve gone back to them. AFO…it will take us forever to meet their press requirements of how many followers which I wish we could have a bypass on that when we have done a lot of work already and do have still have a small following and Reuben Langdon is on our list for interviews we want to do. Let’s see what 2019 brings with our Press work!

Note: I know it seemed biased with this review but people experience different things and this is how I felt about this year’s event. I want to thank Jerad from Guest Relations who worked hard in getting us the interviews that we were able to do and Trina Wilson for helping us get our press passes when we didn’t get much of a response when it comes to how many applications they have received this year. If anyone from Hol Mat’s staff reads this, sorry for being harsh but I was pretty honest and observed what I have been even before the convention itself, it is a big “IF” in coming back. Thank you for understanding.

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