Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning and logged onto Facebook, only to find the Salt Lake Comic Con page engulfed in what seemed to be a conflagration of epic proportions.
The topic? VIP passes and photo ops versus autographs.
Wow. Lot’s of “this and that,” “yes and no,” and even some fairly harsh language for both the organizers and other fans.
Having taken the morning to try to digest the different fan opinions, as well as Bryan Brandenburg’s response, I’m now ready to give my two cents.
Early on in Salt Lake Comic Con’s life, I bought everyone in my house VIP passes, specifically for the early entry and the designated lines for photos and autographs, understanding that if 500 other VIPs wanted a photo/autograph, any of us could very well be #500.
In short, it was a gamble. Granted, a gamble with better odds than NOT having a VIP pass, but a gamble nonetheless.
I have also, in the past, done what many people have done: bought one VIP pass, then either a Gold or Multipass for the other members of the household. Photo op time rolled around, and we all got in the VIP line. If someone without the VIP pass wanted a photo, they waited in the GA line, or if we knew it was going to be a HUGE line for that particular celebrity, the VIP person would wait in line with them in hopes of shaving an hour off the wait time.
But always–always–I was grateful for the opportunity to meet and interact with the celebrity of my choice, however briefly.
Now, we find out that the policy for FanX 17 is that VIP lines for photos is going to be 100% VIP only, and the feces, as should have been expected, has hit the fan.
From my experience, this has been a long-simmering bit of discord for some VIP pass holders, who think the VIP means “whatever I want,” which we all know it isn’t. It is exactly what is offered at the time of sale (as I have said time and again), and nothing else, unless the organizers want to ADD something.
This time around, this is what the VIP ticket offers:
Take note of what it says: “Express Autograph and Photo Op Lines.”
That’s it. It says that if you have a VIP pass, this is what YOU get for having a VIP pass.
It doesn’t matter what has been done before. It doesn’t matter what we are “used to” or “prefer.” It just doesn’t. At all the other Cons I’ve attended and covered, few actually offer a VIP or speedier line for photo ops, and yes, as Bryan has pointed out, photos are often limited to 2 people, not 4.
This time around, I specifically chose to buy VIPs for both my wife and myself, so that neither of us would be put out waiting in line for a photo or autograph we didn’t necessarily want, thus allowing us to spend our time doing the things that we, individually, want to do, be it panels, shopping, or seeing other celebrities.
I understand that not everyone has the finances to afford VIP passes for everyone. I get it. I do. I’ve been there. Most years, I should still be there, but I make the decision and then live with it.
We can discuss finance and business practices any time, but the reality of the situation is that Dan and Bryan, and the folks over at Salt Lake Comic Con are providing a service. Whether we, as consumers, choice to partake of that service, is completely us to us. Nobody is making us go to Con, or spend our money on any particular ticket level if we do choose to attend.
Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out the allure of the Gold pass.
Yes, I can see how some people might consider this change in policy to be a solution in search of a problem, as the “normal” issue people have is with the crowds in the photo staging area, but, again, this isn’t our call to make: it’s Dan and Bryan’s. I would point out that they are offering people the chance to downgrade their passes for a partial refund, which is basically unheard of in the Con world.
Personally, I plan to show up to the Salt Palace on March 17 and 18 and have a great time. Whether that involves standing in a bunch of lines remains to be seen, but if it does, it will be because I have chosen to wait in that line for the opportunity to see/meet/interact with a celebrity of my choice.
And I’m okay with that.