Connecticut’s largest, most popular fan convention, ConnectiCon, took over the city of Hartford the weekend of July 20 – 23. Both the Connecticut Convention Center and the Marriott Hotel on Columbus Boulevard served as its home. With over 12,000 attendees this year, it seems that the Con has finally returned to its pre-pandemic state—though not without a few difficulties.

The Lows

1. An unexpectedly long wait-time to get into the Convention. I arrived in Hartford at 10 AM on Saturday, but I did not make it to the check-in station until a little after noon. Thankfully, the line was set up on the ground floor of the convention center’s parking garage, keeping attendees out of the sun. An industrial fan positioned next to the line tried to keep cosplayers cool as we waited to get inside.

2. An overcrowded panel schedule. As excited as I was to see so many panels listed on the Saturday schedule this year, there were almost too many to pick from! I found myself having to choose between finishing one panel or seeing the beginning of another, which seemed unnecessary for a Con this size. Less panel overlap would have made for a smoother, more relaxed day.

3. Last minute changes to the celebrity guest line-up. Susan Egan, voice of Megara in Disney’s Hercules and the original Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, did not attend ConnectiCon as scheduled. Though no reason was given for Egan’s absence, the actors’ strike could be to blame, as was the case with so many other conventions this summer. Still, it would have been helpful if Convention staff broke this news on social media before the Con opened. I know I wasn’t the only disappointed fan. Several Megara, Hercules, and other princess cosplayers left the celebrity signing area visibly disheartened.

The Highs

1. Mookie! Anyone who has attended ConnectiCon on a Saturday knows just how popular the Cosplay Death Match is. Even more popular is Michael Terracciano, a.k.a. Mookie, the host of the show. I was thrilled to see Mookie in the Dealer’s Room this year, at a booth to promote his comic book series Star Power. Mookie is just as approachable and fun one-on-one as he is onstage at the Death Match. When I dropped by his booth, he was more than happy to tell me the story of how Odin the Teddy Bear became ConnectiCon’s mascot. (If you visit him at next year’s Con, he just might give you the inside scoop, too.)

2. The return of the free-play arcade! After two years of empty space in Exhibit Hall B, the likes of Twilight Zone Pinball, Dance Dance Revolution, and Mortal Kombat found their way back to Hartford.

3. The cosplayers! This year was all about family and couples’ costumes. I loved getting to see my “one true pair” (or “OTP,” as we say in fandom)—Rey and Kylo Ren—with their son dressed as Grogu. So cute! I also crossed paths with Starlord and Gamora, several Spider-Verse groups, and Miguel and Tulio from The Road to El Dorado. (Miguel and Tulio very generously shared their gold with anyone who asked them for a picture.)

4. Plenty of cosplay photoshoots! Every fandom imaginable was represented this year, from Star Wars to Disney cartoons, and from Black Butler to Barbie. Be sure to check out ConnectiCon’s website in a few days to view the official photo gallery for 2023.

ConnectiCon has already begun selling tickets for its July weekend in 2024! Despite this year’s hiccups, I know I’ll be purchasing my Saturday badge as soon as I can.