The Dead Connection crew covered Walker Stalker Nashville 2017 and we had a ball!!
Each time we attend a Walker Stalker Convention we learn new things to share with you.
Here are 10 more tips for you to plan a successful convention experience!
1. Getting Inside the Convention
If you want to hit the floor as soon as the doors open, you will want to arrive early regardless of whether you purchased your tickets online or on site. There will be signage, Fan Fest staff and volunteers to direct you to where you need to go. There are people designated just to answer your questions, so don’t be afraid to ask.
We recommend purchasing your tickets online, in advance. This is a necessity if you want anything above a General Admission ticket. Once your online purchase is complete, you will receive an email confirmation with a QR code. You must present this code via printed email or scanning your smart phone in order to receive your “ticket” at the event.
Please note: Walker Stalker Con tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. As well, tickets cannot be applied towards future Walker Stalker Conventions.
You will need to exchange your ticket voucher for your pass/lanyard or wristband. We also recommend picking up your lanyard/wristband early if that is an option. Ticketing usually opens up the day prior to the start of the Con. This info will be posted in the Fan Fest app and on the Walker Stalker site.
Picking up your pass is a one time, per con process. Once you have your lanyard you will skip ticketing for the remainder of the con. Do not lose your lanyard or wristband, they can not be replaced. You will need to make sure your pass is visible at all times to the WSC Staff, Event staff and WSC Ambassadors. Once again, it is required for entry into the con as well as which lines you will be directed to for each celebrity.
The largest crowds in ticketing are early, before the con opens to the public. Once you arrive you will be put in one line and be taken in groups to the ticketing counter. The lines will seem overwhelming; however, this process goes fairly quickly.
If your arrival time is prior to your ticket’s entry time and you already have your lanyard, you will then proceed to another line depending on your ticket level. Once the doors open for your ticket level you will proceed to security. Security may involve metal detectors and bag checks. If you are a cos-player with a fake weapon or if you bring a fake weapon to have autographed (i.e. Lucille), then you will have to make sure a con ambassador inspects and zip ties your fake weapon before entry. Please refer to the Walker Stalker props & cosplay policy on what is/is not allowed inside the convention.
In Nashville, we were not allowed to bring any open beverages, like coffee, through the doors. There are usually separate doors for entry and exit. There is only one point to enter and you must through the security checkpoint each time you enter the con floor. The good folks at Walker Stalker Con take the safety of their attendees, guests and staff very seriously. In light of recent attacks in London security has been stepped up at all WSC going forward.
The con floor opens to VIP, Gold, Platinum and Media and hour an half earlier than it does for those holding GA tickets. (You can see our #2 below for details on the ticket levels.)
2. Ticket Levels
Walker Stalker Con has 4 different ticket levels- Platinum, Gold, VIP & General Admission. Each ticket comes with its own perks so think about which option is the best fit for you before you make your purchase. Platinum & Gold passes have the most perks but they are the most costly and sell out first. A General Admission ticket gets you in the door but there are no perks other than access the Vendor Alley and Panel Discussions.
Here are the descriptions of each ticket level:
WSC announces when they will offer tickets to an upcoming convention in advance, sometimes as much as a year prior to the date of the event, and prices are set at the time of sale. General Admission tickets are almost always available on site, so if you want to go take in the sights and sounds this option is great!
3. Lines, Wait Times and Meet & Greets
Waiting in line is something that you will have to do. There are thousands of people attending the con with you so waiting is just part of process. Wait times can vary from one minute to an hour or more depending on the celebrity. Sometimes you get lucky and there is a minimal wait time or no line at all! Lines are formed by ticket level; Platinum & Gold pass holders go in line together, then VIP followed by General Admission attendees. There is also a line for folks with Disability passes but that line location varies from table to table. If you have a extended wait time, get to know the people around you! We met so many great people in Nashville, and to us, forming friendships over a common bond is what the con is all about.
A meet and greet is simply your opportunity to wait in your designated line and meet the celebrity without purchasing something at the table like an autograph, or selfie or merch. Some celebrity guests offer meet & greets at any point during the con, while others do not do them at all (Norman Reedus & JDM do not). While others offer meet and greets at certain times during the day only. All meet & greets are at the discretion of the celebrity’s handler and you will still need to wait in your designated line no matter if you are purchasing something at the table or not.
Some celebrities hug and/or shake hands and some do not. Some will come out from behind the table while others do not. It is very important to respect each celebrity’s boundaries and follow the instructions given once you get up to the table. You will be asked to put your phone away at most tables and you will not be allowed to film your interaction with the celebrity guest. If you purchase a selfie (if available) you will be allowed to keep that phone out but you will be asked to hand it to the ambassador taking the photos.
It becomes quite costly to purchase something at every table; especially with the average price of a selfie or autograph being around $40. Meet & greets are a great option for those trying to stick to a budget. If the celebrity is not offering free meet and greets you can still budget by going in on a selfie with your friends. Other than the celebrity guests offering pre-sales, most are open to meeting a small group of 2-4 people at a time who are purchasing an auto or selfie. So if you and your three friends go in on a $40 selfie at the celebrity’s table, that is only $10 each! (Please note: You will only be able to use one person’s phone or camera). This is also great for couples and families 🙂
4. Autograph Pre-Sales
We all know how popular Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are with the The Walking Dead fanbase so standing in line for them can take up most of your day. We have waited anywhere from 2-6 hours for Norman Reedus at previous cons. We have close friends that stood in line 13 hours to meet him. When WSC said they were implementing the autograph pre-sales we rejoiced! Even though the pre-sale autographs had been publicized by Walker Stalker Con, there were still lots of attendees that had no idea they would not even be allowed to get in line to meet Norman or JDM without a voucher. Both Allie & Jessie purchased a pre-sale autograph vouchers for WSC Nashville and were very pleased with the end result. The vouchers are similar to photo ops; you pick your day and group and a schedule is emailed to you with your designated time. Read about the ins and outs of the pre-sale vouchers in this post.
Redeeming your voucher is simple! There are banners hanging at the entrance of the autograph lines with Group A, B, C, or D. When your group banner is posted, show your voucher to the Line Ambassador and they direct you to your designated line. If you are held up and cannot make it to your group, you may go to a later time. For example, Allie had a voucher for JDM for Saturday Group B but she was in line to meet Jon Bernthal at the time her group was called. By the time she went over to get her autograph, Group C was lining up so she was able to go with that group. The rule is you may go in with a later group, you cannot go in with earlier group. One thing we stress is that you please, please, please hang on to your vouchers! Your admission pass, autograph & photo op vouchers are like cash and are irreplaceable, if they get lost or stolen there is nothing Walker Stalker Con or Celeb Photo Ops can do for you. Trust us, we speak from experience on this one!
5. Selfies vs. Professional Photo Ops
Are you trying to decide if you want to spring for a professional photo op at the con or just try to get selfies with your favorite celeb? Here are the differences between the two options!
We prefer to do selfies: Not only is it less expensive, it is more personal and it is not rushed. Some of our favorite actors are selfie pros and your pics are fun and sometimes silly! Please pay attention to the line control person at the celeb booths, they will tell you if photos are permitted while you are standing in line. Some of the actors have a No Photography rule: They want you to take pics with them, not of them.
Some celebs like Norman and JDM do not offer selfies at the table so if you want your photo taken you will have to purchase a photo op. These go on sale the Tuesday after a guest is announced, and we highly recommend that you pre-purchase these in advance.
Popular celebs (like Norman & JDM) as well as multi-celeb photo ops (like Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan) will sell out super fast. All photo ops have set times- you purchase your op for a specific day and time and you will need to plan around it.
Okay….so…we are not a fan of the photo op experience. (Sorry- this is honest.) We still do one or two at every con, but every time the the process is super stressful and rushed. They try to work so many people into such a small time block you can not even get your face set. Though we appreciate the quicker line times and helpful staff at Celeb Photo Ops, the actual photography is always rushed. If you have a particular pose in mind for your photo be sure you are prepared to tell the photographer and the celeb what you want to do. Celeb Photo Ops has their own set of guidelines regarding photos, read about them here.
It goes like this: You get, maybe, five seconds to go stand next to the celeb, sometimes the angles are not flattering and the photo company does not take multiple shots. There has been many times we have had to have a re-do because one of us blinked and that creates it’s own challenges. There is a two person (or three children) per photo limit. If you would like more than two adults in the photo you must purchase an additional op. If there were one area we would say that has the most room for improvement, it is the photo op experience.
However…IT IS WHAT IT IS…so we highly recommend buying the digital copy of your photo! It will cost you an extra $1o per op and are available anytime on the Celeb Photo Ops site. Plus, it is worth having an extra copy if something happens to your original. Also, they will only print one photo per op at the con. If your photo features two or more people you will want to purchase the digital format so everyone can print a copy for their own keeping!
We are getting ready to share a secret with you. If you are a bit on the vain side (and we are, a little), you need to sign up for PicMonkey. We have never, ever ever had a photo op that we have not had to “beautify” in some way. PicMonkey will allow you to make some flattering adjustments to your photo. You can also add effects, create collages, add text and more. There is a free and a paid version: It is well worth it and we hope you check it out.
6. Meal Planning & Downtime
Meal planning and downtime are so important. First, if you are trying to stick to a budget you are going to want to plan your meals. Some hotels offer a free breakfast so you might keep that in mind when choosing your hotel. You can also pack a travel friendly breakfast options and snacks with you. There is usually a coffee vendor inside the con as well as beverage stands that offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. There are no breakfast options at the con, but lunch options do open fairly early. There has always been several types food options on the con floor and most of the food vendors are in one area along with condiment stands and dining tables. At the Nashville 2017 Con, we had the option of BBQ and hot dogs, Asian cuisine, sandwiches and salads.
The food court tables fill up quickly; not only because of those dining, but because it is the only non-designated sitting area inside the con. Some choose to sit on the floor or take their food to the lobby area (outside of the con floor) were there are more seating options.
You will pay event pricing for all food and beverages inside the con. If you plan on eating at the con, we recommend allowing a minimum budget of $15 per meal, per person.
You may also consider dining outside of the con at a local restaurant. We found that in Nashville and Atlanta there are both options inside the hotel/facility as well as several more within walking distance. Ask the hotel/facility staff for recommendations since they are locals. Dining outside the con is a great way to get a break from the crowds and the noise. You will be able to get off your feet as well as enjoy a nice meal. One caveat, you need to make sure that your scheduled events do not fall within your lunch window. While the panel schedule is pretty set in stone, photo ops and autograph times are fluid- meaning the times can move up or down depending on the schedule of the celeb. The Dead Connection Crew has a 15 minute/2 hour rule. We do not go anywhere that is more than a 15 minute walk back to the con floor and we do not leave the facility if we have a photo opp or autograph within 2 hours.
There is a lot of walking and standing at a con…on concrete, not to mention the excitement, the crowds and the general over-stimulation of the event itself. You have to consider you are out of your routine. Personally, we do not sleep well at hotels and we do not hydrate or eat as we would on a normal day while attending WSC. You can find yourself getting fatigued pretty quickly. There are designated sitting/resting areas but these areas are only for those folks with disabilities. There is also a quiet room available at every event. Walker Stalker Con has specific plans for special needs, you may email WSC Disability Services for more information- firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do not have a specific need, then the only sitting area inside the con will be the tables in the food area or the floor. There has always been additional seating and resting options in the event facility lobby outside the con floor. The Music City Center had rocking chairs in the lobby so that was our desired resting spot when we need a little down time.
We recommend booking your hotel as soon as possible. We have found the rates to be lower and availability better when you book way in advance. People have different wants and needs when it comes to hotels so it is important that you read reviews on reputable sites or get recommendations from your friends that have attended in years past. We enjoy staying in the same hotel as the con if possible. (The Nashville venue, Music City Center, does not have a hotel attached to the facility. The Omni in Atlanta is attached to the Georgia World Congress Center where WSC Atlanta is held.)
We recommend checking on both Hotels.com & Booking.com for the best rates.
We enjoy the Atlanta Omni because we can walk everywhere and do not need to Uber or shuttle to get to and from the con and events. This makes taking a break during the day easier. If we get a hotel outside the venue, then we try to get close. Check to see if your hotel offers a complimentary shuttle. Be sure to download the Lyft or Uber app before you go. You may want to also check Groupon and Living Social to see if there are any Uber/Lyft deals available.
8. Parking at the Convention
It is important that you allow time for parking. You also need to work this expense into your budget. Whether you stay at a hotel or you drive to the event you will be charged for parking. Most hotels have both a parking fee or a valet fee. This year WSC Nashville coincided with the Stanley Cup Finals and parking was pricey- $80 for the lot across the street but only $15 for the garage attached to the con (we were told the garage filled up quickly both days of the con). There are apps like Parking Panda you can use to find the best priced lots.
9. Are You a WSC Newbie?
If you are a WSC newbie we would suggest you start with a smaller convention like Nashville. Many people begin their WSC experience with Atlanta and it can be a little overwhelming. Think of it this way- WSC Atlanta is like the Super Bowl of all Walker Stalker Cons! There are so many guests, vendors, & panels that there is no way you can conquer it all in one day. A smaller con in another city may be a better way for you to dive in to this very addictive activity. We have planning tips for those of you that will attend Atlanta 2017, we have attended Atlanta 2014, 2015 & 2016.
10. Cold Hard Cash
Many people are taken aback by the fact you will need real paper money at a con. While Walker Stalker Con takes plastic for ticket sales and vendors may take your card, celebs do not. If you want a selfie or autograph you have to purchase that in line and it is cash only. There are ATMs at the con but we were told that each time you used the ATM at the Nashville con there was a $5 fee (with additional fees from your bank) and the maximum withdrawal per transaction was $120. With the average price of a selfie/autograph combo being $60, you will be standing in line at the ATM after just two celebs! So make sure to take some cash and save it for the celeb tables. We found that most of the tables in the Vendor Alley and Food Court accepted cards.
In the short video above, Jessie, Allie and Steven will show you around WSC Nashville 2017!
We also did a Q&A on Facebook Live where we talk in-depth about WSC Nashville. We are planning on doing more videos, we love helping fellow attendees with all their Walker Stalker Con questions!
We hope this post helps you plan for the next con! If you have a question about anything we did not cover leave a comment and we will get you an answer.
We hope to you at a Walker Stalker Con soon!