conSCIENCE Review: ConCarolinas 2012
June 1-3, 2012
1484 attended, 80 of which were 12 or younger!
There were two gaming rooms, one for organized play (Pathfinder Society, RPGA, and Shadowrun Missions), and another for open gaming, board/card/miniatures games, and really everything else gaming-related. Another smaller room hosted the gaming panels, which were well attended and seemed helpful, covering diverse topics like Gaming Versus Roleplaying—Where to Draw the Line? and RPG/Fiction Crossovers. But, for no one reason we can put a finger on, everything felt a bit overcrowded and chaotic this year.
The hotel housing the convention is centrally located at I-85 and only 10 minutes from I-77, and in a very nice section of the city. Parking is free, but fills up quickly starting Friday. Traffic flow in the hallways can be an issue, especially since this is a multi-fandom convention with lots of fan groups, events, film festival, performers, and authors. If you’re planning to bring your non-fandom family along, there is a lot nearby for them to do: mostly shopping, but also UNC-Charlotte events, botanical gardens, the Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and Verizon Amphitheater.
The hotel room was top notch, but you’re paying for what you get. The hotel rate was $99/night, which is a little higher than most same-size conventions we see. On the other hand, the service at the front desk was not up to Hilton expectations this year. Also, expect to pay premium prices if you eat at the hotel restaurant; it was $20 including tip for the breakfast buffet for one person. Most of the surrounding restaurants are very nice with a great variety.
This is not the best “value” convention we attend, but it is in an upscale location compared to so many other conventions. To help keep costs down, you can eat for free in the con suite, or walk to the nearby fast food offerings: McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Taco Bell. But keep in mind there are lots of really nice restaurants nearby you’ll be tempted by!
They go out of their way to keep the con family-friendly until 10pm, enforcing rules on cosplay and hosting “loose cannon” events later in the evening. There was also a great Kids’ Track including everything from photo ops with the Ghostbusters station wagon to a scavenger hunt for Cee Cee (the mascot) and her precious kittens, as well as the costume contest (complete with a kazoo chorus!) and kid-friendly games. Oh, and kids 12 and under get in free! There are room parties, but they keep them to two floors so you can put your kids to bed at a reasonable hour.
Family-Friendly. This is the most family-friendly multi-fandom convention we attend and we wholeheartedly recommend it as such, especially if you’re bringing the non-gaming family members. Kid’s Track. I know this is similar to Family-Friendly, but really, the Kids’ Track was varied, fun, had lots of prizes, and best of all, FREE. Conveniently Located. If you’re inside a circle made by Atlanta, GA–Kingsport, TN–Charleston, SC–Beckley, WV–Roanoke, VA–Wilmington, NC, it was an easy Interstate drive under 4 hours.