As Wizard World CEO John Macaluso put it just before Stan Lee appeared on the final day, “To see all you guys walking down the street, it was almost like walking down a little San Diego.”
Because of the growing popularity of San Diego Comic-Con and its sister event Wondercon, and the growing costs to attend them, Wizard World is in an ideal spot to compete with them by giving fans more opportunities to see their favorite stars. Sacramento got its chance thanks to small local comic book shows that happen every few months, and bigger events like Sac-Anime and Sac-Con. Sometimes these events attract some familiar faces. Before he was part of the Wizard World event, Billy Dee Williams appeared in a Sac-Con event. So did Nicholas Brendon from Buffy, Jewel Staite from Firefly and Billy West and John Kricfalusi from Ren and Stimpy. Now, Wizard World could become the major pop culture convention for Sacramento in the near future.
The main selling floor was packed all three days, as people bought thousands of dollars in souvenirs, comic books, plush toys, DVDs and all things geeky. It wasn’t unusual to see people dressed as Jack Sparrow, Dr. Who, Stormtroopers, several versions of Thor, Spider-Man or Captain America, a Power Ranger or two and even characters from Game of Thrones.
Like Comic-Con, there were special events. There was a costume contest and masquerade ball, several off-site events, a special screening of 300: Rise of an Empire in Imax, and a preview of a new CW show called The 100, about teens trying to rebuild Earth nearly a hundred years after a nuclear apocalypse.
Since Wizard World will be back next year, what will organizers do to accommodate an expected increase of fans? The Sacramento Bee said the event only used half of the Convention Center, but will use the entire facility when in returns in June 2015. It could also rely on two nearby buildings, like the Crest Theater and the Memorial Auditorium, plus additional space at the Sheraton and Hyatt Hotels. Before that, Sacramento will host another convention, the Twisted Terror Convention, later this month at the Doubletree Hotel near Cal Expo. Some of the guests will include Nick Brendon and Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead.
Meanwhile, Wizard World is planning 16 conventions this year, and most likely more in 2015. The panels are pretty impressive including Matt Smith and Karen Gillan from Doctor Who in Louisville, Summer Glau, Eliza Dushku, Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion in St. Louis, and William Shatner in St. Louis and Minneapolis.
Whedonopolis has videos from the Wizard World convention in Sacramento. We’ll have special reports coming soon. For now, here’s some pictures of Julie Benz, promoting season two of Defiance later this summer, James Marsters (who also performed with his band Ghost of the Robot), comic book legend Stan Lee, and Chris Hemsworth, best known as Thor but also familiar to those who saw Rush and The Cabin in the Woods.