Well what a weekend!
First off, I want to say that there were both good and bad points over the 3 days.
- Queues! I think we all expected to be queuing a fair bit, but it was dire at times. Registration especially was awful. It didn't help that they opened it late, didn't keep us informed of what was going on for ages, and it was like a million degrees hot. It was a beautiful sunny day, and being packed into a hotel for hours was just bad. Once you got past registration, a lot of people then had to go and get in another queue to try and sort out the things they were missing in their registration packs. Mine was ok, but I know someone who had everything but 2 photo ops missing from her pack.
- Staff. It has to be said that there just wasn't enough of them. They were expected to work as super humans, doing the impossible and trying to herd 1500 people around. It was never going to work, especially because a couple of them just weren't up to the job to start with. Surely there should be a attendee/staff ratio to work to.
- Schedulling. While it was great that we had so many guests to watch and meet, the truth of the matter was, there were too many to appreciate. I personally only saw 1 complete panel the entire weekend, and that was the Jared/Jensen one to start with. I never saw either boys' solo panels, especially because Jensen's final one was cancelled. I was forever in a queue elsewhere. The only way you're ever going to be able to see panels was if you didn't want an autograph or a picture. If they didn't have so many guests, the schedule would be less packed, and IMO, it would be a more enjoyable weeked.
- Photo printing. I know there was a huge amount of photos to be printed out, but I have no idea what on earth happened on the Sunday. Saturday seemed to work perfectly ok, but when they started printing out the Sunday ops, the Jensen ones just never showed up. There were about a 1000 people all waiting around for their photos after the convention finished, wanting to pick up their pictures. I had to leave to get a train, but my brother waited around til 9pm before admitting defeat. I have doubts if they will ever match up the missing photos to all us guests who paid for them. I'm missing 3 photos, which came in at a cost of £70!
- Autographs. My ticket number was in the early 500's, so by rights I should have got all my autos done and dusted on Saturday, leaving Sunday free for me to watch more panels. Unfortunately, I had to wait until Sunday morning before I could get Jared's autoograph, thereby missing Jensen's only (as it turned out) panel of the day. Also, the lack or persaonlisation got to me too. I already knew it might be hit and miss to get the boy's to personalise, but to not get anyone else to when I know they were Friday night, was a bit shitty.
- Talking during the Saturday concerts. This one I can't blame on the staff or organisation. This I blame on the idiots sitting all around me who thought it was perfectly ok to chatter loudly while someone is performing. It's just bloody rude.
- Coffee Lounge. It was advertised beforehand that the Jared, Jensen and Misha lounges would be selected by raffle tickets, of which you could buy as many as you want. Errrrr, no you couldn't. When I had finally finished queuing all day, and had the chance to go buy a ticket, I was informed that all raffle tickets for Saturday were sold out. Um, couldn't someone had brought some extra raffle ticket books? It surely wasn't that difficult.
- Jared and Jensen photo ops. I don't know who wanted the boys to be sat on the stools, but it made me pretty uncomfortable. The singles weren't so bad because I had that in Chicago, but walking into the 'squeeze' photo to see them sitting down, miles apart, made my heart fall. I felt completely crappy, and couldn't bring myself to say anything to them cos I was a bit shocked. I seriously hope this trend doesn't continue in America, because if I have another J2 picture turn out like the Asylum one, I wouldn't bother wasting the money on it. It all just looked so odd. Also, some of the cropping in the finished photos was a little bit below standard I felt. I know they had a lot to print out, but I saw a couple where Jensen was barely in the photo, and I had a couple where there is lots of big empty space on one side of me and the guest.
- The guests. All had interesting panels (well what I saw of them), and they were all friendly and pleasant to the mad fans who went there to see them. It must be pretty daunting to be sat on stage answering questions, or having to face a thousand people wanting all wanting a piece of you, but they were just lovely to everyone. The guests cannot be faulted at all.
- Coffee Lounge. I know this is also in the bad point section, but the coffee lounges you can buy worked a lot better I felt. I bought one for Gabe, and it was actually my highlight of the entire weekend. I love him anyway, and probably loved him even more by the end of the lounge. Being able to have that little bit extra face time with one of the stars was brilliant, and he was utterly charming, friendly and funny. If the rest of the weekend was as relaxed, laid back and fun as that short time, it would be a complete winner.
- Staff. I know this was also a bad point, but there were a few staff members who were amazing. I would like to single out one person in particular who was working up in the autograph queue. I'm afraid I never got her name, but she was extremely helpful to everyone, she never raised her voice and she was pretty much the star of the staffing show over the weekend. Janine who was in the photo studio was pretty fab too!
- Jared and Jensen. Obviously it goes without saying that they boys were brilliant. Even though the face to face time with them was limited, they both gave you eye contact in the autograph line, and always had a 'thankyou' or 'you're welcome' ready.
- Guest stars. Because there is so much pressure put on the main stars, it's often the guest stars who are the stars of the weekend because they're the ones who are physically able to give the fans that extra bit of time and attention.
- Photos. I know that Jared and Jensen had a 'no real touching' rule, but that didn't go for anyone else, and it was really rather nice to get some nice big hugs from some of the guys, especially Gabe and Misha. It helped that the photographer had to change the memory cards with those 2, and I ended up standing there hugging them for ages!
- Hotel. The hotel was pretty nice, and the staff were pleasant. There was an issue when my brother checked in at night that the room hadn't actually been cleaned and I had to go complain, but it was sorted out quite quickly. Apart from the crappy fruit salad pudding the first night, the dinner option wasn't bad, and the breakfast was yummy. I do wish there was more air con though, because if felt like a sauna with that many people all crammed in together.
- Believe it or not, once registration got started, the line actually moved pretty fast. Because the desks were split into numbers, as you got to the front, you moved along quickly. Obviously if I was missing tickets like some people, I wouldn't put registration as a good point at al, but there was nothing missing from my packs at all, and my personal experience wasn't so bad.
- Sound system/video screens. The sound in the main hall for the talks was brilliant. Nice and clear, and loud enough that everyone could hear the guests talking. The video screens were great too. When I was in Chicago, it was nearly impossible to see over people's heads, and because there were no screens, if you were sat any further than 20 rows back, you couldn't see a damn thing. At least at Asylum, that even if you were at the back, you could still watch the talks pretty well on the video screens.
I'm sure there are a lot of other points to talk about, but I'm not sure I can be bothered to think of anything else right now! These are just some initial ramblings.