I’m home! What a whirlwind of a trip that was. I’m going to do my best to hit the high points in this recap but I have a tendency to be verbose so… It’ll probably run long. Consider this fair warning!
Voss and I had decided to roll into Anaheim a day early (Wednesday) just to give us time to get settled and ready before the lines, crowds and social whirlwind commenced on Thursday. We were also staying a day after, not leaving until early Monday morning. This was in large part so that I could go to Disney(!) with friends. Big caveat: I am going to really, really try to remember who I met and when but if I happen to overlook you it’s not because I wasn’t happy to meet you! I loved meeting everybody. But I also tried to make a list on the plane and at last count I had met 56 people, and that’s just the ones whose names I knew or learned. I also talked to some people and I have no idea who they are.
Day 1 (Wednesday, Travel Day)
Our trip from home to San Francisco and then finally Anaheim seemed disproportionately long. If we go again I am going to really try to find a direct flight. But we flew into John Wayne (SNA) which was nice because it’s pretty close to Anaheim and the convention center. We flew United and I found them really disorganized from the very beginning. So that’s good to know. I’m hearing good things about Delta so I may seek them out for next time. We made it from the airport to the Hilton pretty easily. The only downside of this was that it was 12:00 PM PST and we couldn’t check in yet.
So instead we had them keep our bags for us and caught a cab over to the outdoor outlet mall, “The Outlets at Orange.” This was really surreal for me. Coming from Canada, where obviously an outdoor mall isn’t feasible, it was really weird to be walking through the “mall” in the sunshine. Also, to add to that feeling, the speakers were piping Christmas music throughout. I accomplished my goal of finding a pair of jeans (and an extra pair for 50% off!) so the trip was deemed a success! I wish I hadn’t been so tired from traveling as plenty of other stores looked interesting but I just didn’t have the energy to drag myself through them. We said maybe we’d come back but clearly we were dreaming there.
By the time we got back to the hotel, though, some of our people had begun to arrive. We met up with the pally group in the food court – Rhidach, Antigen, Theck and Mel, and also Anafielle for a little bit. It was the first time we were meeting our guildie and Voss’ co-tank, Rhidach, as well as Antigen (former and honorary BT member) so that was great. I think we got over any awkwardness pretty quickly. We spent quite a bit of time with these folks over the course of the week, forming an unofficial posse. (Voss surrounded himself with paladins. I’m not really sure why since he’s such a vocal opponent of them).
Anyway, we all retired to our rooms to freshen up and wash off the travel grime. Afterwards we went down to the lobby and had a few drinks while waiting for our dinner reservation at 8:00 p.m, which turned out to be at 8:50. The steak and everything else at Morton’s was really, really good and the conversation was great too. Most of our party was fairly drunk-ish by this point, excluding Theck, Voss and myself. Theck because he doesn’t drink very much, me because I couldn’t drink at all during this time, and Voss because of solidarity. I think we were in our rooms and sleeping by 11:00 PM.
Day 2 (Thursday, Pre-Con Day!)
I woke up bright and early on Thursday morning at 6:08 AM and was completely wide-awake and felt well-rested. But hungry. So I took to Twitter, assuming nobody else could possibly be awake that early. But fortunately (for me, not sure how they felt about it) due to time differences, Theck, Perculia and Hamlet were all awake and willing to meet up to have breakfast. It was really great to meet Hamlet and Perc; we’ve interacted some on Twitter but I don’t know them really well. We got to thank Hamlet in person for his challenge mode videos that helped us while we were working on our CMs. Later, Rhidach and Antigen joined us at breakfast as did Ilaniel who it was also great to meet! I had a brief “duh” moment after forgetting my Metformin and having to run upstairs for it after I drank a glass of orange juice. Whoa, blood sugar. I tried to be more careful about it after that and keep in mind that even though I was on vacation I couldn’t really just eat or drink whatever, especially things like juice. But it gave me a chance to grab the cookies from our room that I’d brought for the WoW Insider team’s headquarters, which I passed off to Ilaniel who kindly delivered them for me. We sat and talked for several hours before we started moving in separate directions to prepare for the day.
Around lunchtime we were getting hungry and my guildie Elfindale had just landed along with her work friend so we met up with them at their hotel and walked until we found some lunch. The lunch wasn’t outstanding but the company was great, I love meeting my guildies and Twitter friends in person!
Actually, I want to take a moment to talk about that because it’s one of my favourite things: Having known someone online and then meeting them in the “real” world for the first time and just observing how they are. The way they smile or laugh, their mannerisms, even just their way of moving. I hope this doesn’t sound creepy because it’s not like that, it’s just really so nice and enjoyable to put faces to names and really get to KNOW a person. Hear their voice without a microphone and hug them! I love it, and it was really the highlight of my trip for me, every single person that I met. I learned that Aerix88 gives great burly hugs and looks a bit like his Pandaren avatar, that Matty is just as exuberant in real life as she is in her writing, and that my own friend Rhidach isn’t even exactly how I’d expected him to be. He’s usually a pretty calm guy (online) and he’s calm in person too but he’s also more expressive than I’d expected, dramatically gesturing to accompany his outbursts, it was fantastic. Now when I talk to these people online I’m going to have a much better sense of who they really are, and that’s amazing to me.
So, we had lunch with Elfindale and then went back to the lobby at the Hilton where people had started to arrive en masse. I got to hug the Sha of Happiness (as happy as advertised), Angry Orc (actually happier than advertised, declaring “C’MERE AND GIMME A GOOD HUG,” he sort of does talk all in caps though). I also met Alinea, Jezi_Belle and StarmHW and Ailinea from Twitter which was cool. Ailinea would later rock her fantastic Ashes of A’lar costume for the costume contest!
This was the day a few of the people I had done badges for found me, too. For various reasons: Timbersham had forgotten his badge and I offered him one of my business cards with his picture on it as a substitute. Marconin needed his painting signed (/sigh at myself). Arielle found us and hung out a bit too. It was great to see my badge paintings in action and know that people were really enjoying them. I think they were a good mix of visible and useful souvenir for afterwards. We also ran into Jasyla and Serrath in the lobby after they had arrived, we didn’t get much chance to talk but it was nice to catch up a little!
That evening was the WoW Insider/Wowhead party and we planned to get there really early so that we could get in. It turned out that 5 pm wasn’t quite early enough as people were already starting to line up for the party. Though we probably could’ve skipped the line due to working at WoW Insider, we waited anyhow and it didn’t take very long. This day began my day of Regrets About Shoes, as my cute dress flats are…well, cute, but not very cushioned and not great for standing around on hard pavement/tiles for hours at a time.
The party itself was really enjoyable. We met Matticus soon after coming in, and, definitely a man of priorities, he showed us over to the bar immediately. We also went to meet Alex Ziebart. Ilaniel (Sarah Pine) and Lisa Poisso were taking tickets at the entrance but I didn’t get a chance to really “meet” Lisa until Saturday. After we got drinks and as we were standing there, a lady nearby me kept kind of turning her head to look at me, then looking away, with a big grin. I thought she looked a bit familiar and then I saw her tattoos – it was definitely Hestiah! I went over, “Hestiah…?” “VID!” and she gave me a big hug. Nearby was also Apple Cider Mage, and we also met and hugged! Soon we were joined by Tikari and Kristin, and I also got to meet Orkchop, Mrs. Orkchop, and Tree Buddy. I can’t remember if I met Corv at this party or if that wasn’t until later. I know I definitely saw Ophelie again which was great! We see her at least once a year usually since we live in the same province, but still it’s always nice to catch up!
We left the WI party at around 8:00 p.m. to go and line up and get our badges for the next day. It was funny, as we came out of the party there was a huuuge line of people waiting and hoping to get in. We walked by and I heard some guy mutter to his friends, “Must be VIPS,” haha. We also found our guildie Tassager waiting in the line and got to meet him for the first time. He left and came along with us to pick up badges.We’d surmised that if we waited until later there’d be no line – we were WRONGO. But the line wasn’t too terribly bad, it moved very efficiently, and I limped through it, a martyr to Poor Shoe Choices. Apple Cider Mage and I got a chance to hang out and talk during this time which was great. HayFayFay from Twitter also went out of her way to find out who I was through Hestiah and we had a brief moment to chat.
The line itself was pretty much cattle herding. Long, narrow single-file rows that we had to briskly walk through, up and down, up and down. By the time we hit the end they printed our badge, handed us the swag bag, and sent us on our merry way. When we got back to the Hilton the lobby party was in full swing and it was way too much for me so we took some folks up to our room. I did get to see Sara very briefly though, as she practically knocked me across the lobby with a hug! We’d taken advantage of an offer the hotel sent us to upgrade to a suite, so we were able to fit fourteen of us in there actually reasonably comfortably. We had to sit on the bed and some on the floor but we made it work. We ordered a couple of pizzas from room service, which they sent up along with some glasses of ice cold water. I realized I’d have to get up onto my battered feet and play hostess and so I started bringing people water and someone shouted, “VID HAS CONJURED US WATER!” and everyone laughed while I swore at them that they had me CONJURING WATER ALREADY. Ah, the life of a mage.
This was the evening we got to meet Beru and Brade as well! Beru was already lined up to be my Disney guide on Sunday but it was super to talk a bit in person. We didn’t stay too late in the suite, everyone cleared out to go and get some rest because the next day was officially Blizzcon!
Day 3 (Friday, Opening Ceremonies)
We woke up pretty early to start getting into line but not before getting breakfast at the buffet. To our dismay, the line wasn’t a line so much as it was a mass of people crowded in front of the convention centre. It seemed unruly and like it would be a huge mess. They weren’t supposed to let us into the con until 11:00 AM (I believe) but somewhere around 10 AM the line had reached the street and organizers made the call to start letting people in to get settled. I am so glad that they did. Everyone streamed to either the right or left and we started going in the doors. Once inside, we waited a bit longer before they started checking bags/purses and then letting us into the hall. We wanted to be in the main hall for the opening ceremonies, and so we scrambled to get seats. It was just Mel, Tass, Voss and I because Rhidach and Antigen had been way ahead of us in the crowd/line but we got some decent seats at the front of a section with a good view of a screen.
We killed time for awhile until the opening ceremony. Once it started we were completely sucked in. I, of course, was over the moon at the announcements. Rhidach remarked that I began “barfing rainbows” when they showed the cinematic but I’m here to tell you it was actually more like cheering myself hoarse. Going back to Draenor! Draenei! KARABOR. Oh man. After the ceremonies Voss got up to go and find where Rhidach and Antigen were (they’d procured some more seats closer to them) and I got to chatting with the guys sitting next to us during the ceremony.They were also excited about the expansion and we had a great chat. So when Voss came back and said, “Okay, let’s go,” to meet up with Rhi, I worked up my courage to give the one guy a card and said “I do the art for the comic From Draenor With Love…” and he shouted, “I READ THAT ALL THE TIME! I just went on an archive binge!” So that was pretty awesome. Then his friend further down the row was kind of like, “What? Who?” and Voss said, “She’s Vidyala” and he was there going, “No way! My guildie is a huge fan, can I take your picture?” …yes seriously, so that happened.
I gave them some cards and stickers and went off to our new seats with a big grin and a really surreal feeling. I told Rades about it and I surmise that if we just happened to be sitting next to some folks who read FDWL there must have been many more than I think. So, I didn’t get your name but whoever you are, that was one of the best experiences of my Blizzcon. Just to chat with someone who reads the comic and get feedback about the new format in person was great.
We stayed in place for the WoW: What’s Next panel to get some more details about what the expansion entailed. My excitement level reached new heights as they announced things. Garrisons! A mage tower! KARABOR.
By the time the panel wrapped up we were pretty hungry and so we opted to go and find some lunch. We hadn’t counted on the hordes of people swarming every available restaurant, though, and so we kept walking right past Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. and ended up at P.F. Chang’s. They don’t have that in Canada so I’d never been there, it was really good though! Now I wish we did have it. By the time we finished lunch we would’ve had to sprint back in time to make the art panel, so I opted not to go and to just watch it on the Livestream when I got home. My time inside the actual convention is a blur – I completely forgot to go to the Apotheosis meetup, because we ended up hauling ourselves off to the hotel room around 4 pm. I was pooped.
We relaxed and killed some time until the Twisted Nether party was to start at 8:00 p.m. We skipped on supper and went to the party where I got to meet Fimlys and then Hydra, some other folks who were new to me. Rilandune arrived and I met him. I chatted with a few other people from Twitter including Lorekeeper Glaci and then Chronis and Kaleri showed up! It was great to have the time to sit down and chat with them and reconnect since we’d met in Toronto back in April. Later on in the evening I was found by Jed from Jed’s Blog as well as Navimie! We stayed pretty late, leaving the party (completed) at midnight. TNB had some bags there you could buy that had loot in them and a chance to win special loot that they had on the table! I won a signed copy of this Samwise print:
Day 4 (Saturday, last day of the Con)
The next morning was the second day of the con, Saturday, and it was much more relaxed than the frantic lining up of the day before. We slept in until about 9:00 AM and had a leisurely breakfast at the Hilton buffet. I’m sure we ate breakfast with someone, but I can’t currently remember who. Saturday was the day to see anything else we wanted to see at the convention and buy some swag. We went to the J!nx store as well as the official Blizzard store. I got the Art of Blizzard book, some WoW cookie cutters(!) and a Hearthstone tee. Voss and I also picked up new mousepads at the Steelseries booth. On either Friday or Saturday we noticed that the line to try out WoD was short/non-existent and so we went there and were immediately ushered to a bank of computers. I spent the next twenty minutes frantically absorbed in trying to be a mage without any keybinds and not knowing where on the bars my abilities were. Somehow we still managed to defend Karabor in the time that we had, and I struck out into Shadowmoon to do some more quests. Shadowmoon is lovely. I think I know where my Garrison is going to be! I tried to get some screenshots with my phone but they came out blurry. It also turns out you’re not supposed to take photos, oops.
At 4 p.m. at the Meeting Stone was a meet-up I couldn’t miss, the WoW Insider/Wowhead meetup. The way the stone area was set up was maybe not 100% ideal – everyone kind of ended up crammed into this roped off area and it was an impenetrable sea of people I didn’t want to plunge into. I still met some folks including Anne Stickney, Noxychu, and some of the WI people I had seen on Thursday in any case! Perculia and Hamlet were here as well but we didn’t get to talk very much. Earlier I had run into Cadistra and I’m glad we happened upon each other
This was when I got to meet Aerix88 and Logtar along with Matty. Technophobia and his wife Frito_Kal brought us cupcakes! They were deliiiicious. I saw Apple Cider Mage again and talked a little bit! Mostly I chatted with Matty and then her husband for awhile, both super nice people. I want to say at this point I met Nyxy and ProbablyAero. Voss practically had to drag me away from the Meeting Stone because we kept getting involved in another conversation and he wanted to go back to the hotel before supper. We still had to figure out what we were doing for supper specifically, we had the day earmarked for a guild supper.
We ended up making (unnecessary) reservations at a sushi place that was as fair cab ride away. As the surroundings grew more desolate and we pulled into the dark and empty parking lot I started to wonder if we’d made a mistake. The feeling didn’t leave as we went inside the restaurant where there was no one else at 7 p.m. My fears turned out to be unfounded though, the sushi was good and fresh and no one got sick to the best of my knowledge. It was really a blast to sit down with all our guildies at the same time and place and just talk about stuff, mostly not guild related at all. But again this was a highlight for me because we’d been so scattered at other times. We talked about politics (Canadian & US) and a million other things. I got Rhidach to try beef tataki (not a hard sell) because I’d been telling him about it just a few days earlier when he was talking about how much he liked filet mignon.
The empty restaurant turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we enjoyed having the place to ourselves and not worrying about other people listening in on our video game talk and wondering, “WTF?” After we finished eating we got the restaurant owner to take a picture of us. I can’t believe it’s the only picture we got of all of us. It’s not a very good picture, but I guess it’s better than nothing. That night, we couldn’t really handle the bustle of the Hilton lobby (again) and so we went up to our room with some more folks. I knew I was going to Disneyland the next day very early but I also knew it might be my last chance to see some of these people so I’m glad we had them up. Even though Jed brought his warlock guildie with him.
Day 5 (Sunday, Disneyland!)
This was the day I met up with a friend of mine (not a WoW-friend) for breakfast and then we headed to Disneyland to meet up with Beru, Brade, Tikari, Kristin, Elfi and her friend Kim. I had wanted to go to Disneyland just because it seemed silly not to go when it’s right there, but I surprised myself by having a really good time all day and on all the rides. I didn’t personally do anything too daring, but I loved the Haunted Mansion (Nightmare Before Christmas) ride and had fun on the Buzz Lightyear ride too. One day is not really much time to see all that you might want to see at Disney, and I know this now for the future! We had a blast watching the Jedi Training Academy where they take kids from the audience and teach them how to be Jedi, it was great. I was glad to have more experienced park-goers (Beru and Brade) because they always knew the right way to go to get to something.
Still, by the end of the day my poor battered feet and ankle were displeased with me. I limped home tired and said goodnight to my last batch of Blizzcon friends. Our time together had been so short! The next day we were flying back home which was a whole other adventure but it’s boring. Tl;dr – we made it home. The best part of traveling is always coming home.
Honestly, I’m still mad at myself for failing to get enough pictures. I could’ve had tons of pictures with our guildies, with other friends, and I barely took any. I wish I had, now.
Crowds continued to be a theme as I just couldn’t handle the Hilton lobby afterparties. I know I missed out on meeting some great people because I wasn’t there, but the cacophony and mass of people just sent me scrambling for the relative peace of our hotel room. It probably didn’t help that I wasn’t able to drink during the time of Blizzcon – there were a few occasions when some liquid courage would not have gone awry, and I might’ve been able to stay in the lobby for longer.
My shoes/feet/ankle. It took me a few days to recover fully once I got home.
Meeting all of the people! I’ve really tried to include them all here so that I don’t forget meeting them but it’s tough because I met so many. My guildies and close friends especially, but everyone I met was really nice and I was thrilled to have the chance to talk with folks in real life who had formerly only been an avatar to me.
Meeting people wearing my badges! It’s just a neat feeling, and knowing that they are enjoying the art and will be happy and maybe frame it later. A tiny keepsake from Blizzcon.
Going to the panels was pretty fun, it’s really neat to feel the energy in the room. I’m also reasonably confident that I started the cheer that went out when they announced Karabor would be the Alliance capital. It was silent for a few seconds before I shouted “WOOOO” haha.
Really, the best part of the entire trip was just the people. The con felt almost secondary to me, though parts of it were fun, it was the social events and people that were unbeatable. I’m glad we went. I’m not sure whether next Blizzcon is in our future or not – as always, it depends on circumstances, and it is also a very expensive trip – but I’m tempted. I’d like to do it again if it means seeing all the great people I got to meet this time.
If you actually read this far, thanks for sticking with me. I know, I’m longwinded.