Here at The Game of Nerds, we’ve covered plenty of Fan Expos in Canada and throughout the US. But never has it ever had a convention in our own backyard. 2022 was our lucky year. Here in the Bay Area, we usually get SiliCon and are lucky to get a few more minor cons or events throughout the year. In a previous article, we talked about how Fan Expo is now the largest convention circuit out there catering to nerds and geeks. They recently made a five-year deal with the Moscone Center to host this convention. Let’s say this deal was totally worth it!

Fan Expo San Francisco con Exclusives Table Source: Shannon Parola from The Game of Nerds

Fan Expo has always struck me as a well-organized and fun convention. This was my first time attending as a press member with my husband and daughter in tow. Fan Expo had the most responsive and helpful press team we’ve ever encountered as press members. They had all the information sent to us a week before, including information on interviews and other press-related events. It was nice to be at any event where everyone wasn’t scrambling or didn’t have any information. Once we got our tickets, we could walk right into the convention on Friday and start walking around. I will say it was surprising to see security so lax. While they were tagging all props and weapons, there was no security checkpoint or bag check. Fans just walked in, scanned their badges, and were on their way. While it made things quicker, as soon as my husband said something, I got paranoid mom vibes over safety. One thing that helped me stay calm was watching my daughter experience her first convention cosplaying as Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. She was absolutely loving it and enjoyed hanging out with the robot builders who happened to be friends with R2D2. All around us, we saw lots of families in cosplay, as well as tiny babies experiencing their first conventions. It was clear that Fan Expo was trying to cater to all age levels in San Francisco.

I will have to say that the convention floor layout was generally well organized. Clearly, with it being the first convention, there were a few kinks, but like all good conventions, they learn from their mistakes and prep again for the next year. If you aren’t familiar with The Moscone Center in San Francisco, it’s actually three different buildings. The convention was held in Moscone Center West, which is three expansive levels. Trust me, and they used it all to their advantage. The main floor had an area where you could buy con exclusives and a VIP Lounge, a roped-off area with tables. The first floor also housed all the artists and vendors. There was a wide variety of vendors, from clothing, art, and some interesting adult-themed items. We often saw art where post-it notes were placed over chests and private areas or tables selling custom-made glass pipes. With famous artists creating lines of fans along the wall, it was hard to walk through some of the rows, especially with a stroller in tow. Next year they could have easily switched the artists to a more open area so that lines could form more easily and the vendor tables had more space. My husband commented multiple times how stupid it was that there were huge Fan Expo signs in the middle of the walking rows, essentially narrowing the row to one person on each side of the side to squeeze past.

Cosplayers @WhoisJillea and @LeeLeeTheBunny at Fan Expo San Francisco 2022 Photo Source: Shannon Parola of The Game of Nerds

The second level was set up for cosplayers, panels, and refreshments. When you walked off the elevator, they had set up a red carpet with music and the FanExpo backdrop for pictures. This was my daughter’s favorite place to hang out. Next to the red carpet, they had a small cosplay row. Jillea and LeeLeeTheBunny as Mike and Sulley for Monsters Inc knocked it out of the park. My daughter stood talking to them for a solid 5 minutes, just amazed by their costumes and discussing her cosplay. They are truly talented and lovely women. They had multiple halls running various panels through the day and signs in front of each room stating the day’s schedule. It was nice to look at the sign instead of pulling up an app or asking a Convention Volunteer what was happening in the room. Each panel made the room their own with signs and set-ups. It was fantastic to see even how excited the panel guests and speakers were to be at Fan Expo San Francisco.

The third and final floor was for celebrities. This room was perfect and open, so it didn’t feel like you were crammed. It was clear that some celebrities were more popular than others. Ming Na Wen and multiple anime voice actors had long lines for most of the convention. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like I was back at a regular convention. This was the most talent I’ve seen in a convention in YEARS. We can all agree the last few years have been painful with half conventions and low attendance. Fan Expo truly knocked it out of the park! Our only criticism of the entire convention was the date they chose which was Thanksgiving weekend. We would hope that next year the convention will move to the weekend before Thanksgiving or even the weekend after! This could allow for bigger celebrities and more fans to attend!

Fan Expo’s next stop is New Orleans in January and Portland in February. You can learn more about FanExpo here.