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AkaiCon held on July 27-29, 2018 in Lebanon, Tennessee, has reached its fifth year as one of Tennessee's best anime conventions. Last year, the up and coming con was held at the Sheraton Music City Hotel and faced issues with not having enough parking and venue space. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for a con—needing more space than anticipated is better than not being able to fill a space. This year AkaiCon moved to the Wilson County Expo Center, a much larger venue with loads of parking and venue space.
Wilson County Expo Center
The venue was AMAZING! Lots of space both inside and out and no issues with parking but this doesn't mean AkaiCon was perfect. There were some hiccups and things that could be done better. The fire alarm was pulled during their Risque Cosplay Contest. Everyone had to leave the building and wait outside. Fortunately, no fire was reported and the show was able to pick up where it left off.
Read below the top five pros and cons of AkaiCon 2018:
- Venue: Bigger and better venue space. AkaiCon can easily stay and grow into the Wilson County center for another 3 years
- Programming: AkaiCon does the best when it comes to balancing family friendly activities during the day and adult themed panels at night. Two of their best late night panels are their Risque Cosplay Contest and Hentai Olympics.
- Cosplayers: There's a great mix of both enthusiastic kids and adults running around in cosplay all weekend. There's not a huge child (13yrs and younger) presence at AkaiCon, but there were more kids excitedly taking photos with their adult cos-family over the weekend.
- Guests: AkaiCon has a steady return of cosplay and voice actor guests and I can't wait to see who they'll bring for next year.
- Staff: AkaiCon's staff members are some of the nicest and helpful people I've been around and they do a really good job at trying to make sure everyone has what they need.
- Hotels: There were no immediate hotels within walking distance of the venue. This made partying/drinking late at night less fun because you couldn't stumble into an elevator and ride it up to your hotel room at 4am. Given, there were more than enough hotels nearby to book and they weren't expensive like the Marriott or Omni hotels we're used to for Momocon and DragonCon, but it would still be nice to be within walking distance of a hotel.
- Late Night Events: Most late night panels ended around 2am and personally, I enjoy a con that has programming late into the night. This isn't necessarily a fault on AkaiCon's end - venues dictate how late they can run - but it would be nice to have a rave start at 2am and end at 4am.
- Signage: There could have been more signs directing where panels were and bigger signs for registration. Also an outdoor banner with "AKAICON" outside the venue itself would be great. I drove past the venue the first time then doubled back when I saw the sign on the building.
- Programming: I would love to see AkaiCon have an app for their schedule. It would be easier to manage and easier to update info if a panel is moved or cancelled.
- Wifi/Cell Reception: Personally, I didn't have any issues with cell reception but their wifi was spotty. I ended up using my phone data over their wifi because I couldn't stay connected.
Overall, AkaiCon had a much better year and I'm excited to see the con grow into the years to come. AkaiCon 2019 will be held at the Wilson County Expo again and you can pre-order tickets here.
Did you attended AkaiCon this year? Share your experience in the comments below.