LFCC 2014 was the biggest it had ever been. The attending guests were huge, the biggest attraction ofc being Stan Lee.
The preview night was what gave us an idea of how busy it was going to be, the queue was snaking round the building which i’ve never seen before.
Honestly, Saturday was Hell. We already had pre-booked tickets so we queued up at 7am and were pretty near the front. The time went quick and the staff got everyone through fast and simple as always. Inside the hall it was already incredibly busy.
2/3rds of my photoshoots had moved, many had only been added the night before the con started (absurd given the number of people who were going to attend). This meant that there was a queue ridiculously long at the sales desk with people trying to change tickets, buy new ones and get refunds, which created a mass of people where there would usually be space to stand or look around. The organisation was flat out terrible, it was impossible to get around and I spent all day running madly from photoshoot to photoshoot as they were changing the times, days and places of many of them.
We hit capacity at around midday iirc, and imo that was far, far too many people. For a start there are always families, meaning small children and pushchairs, then there were the people with wheelchairs and crutches who had to try and navigate the hoards rumbling up and down.
It was impossible to even get close to the stalls to see comics and merchandise, particularly on the end rows because it was just filled with streams of people rushing up and down.
There weren’t nearly enough staff on site to manage the people who attending, and all around there were people who were stressed and anxious, bumped and bruised, people who couldn’t help but miss photoshoots and talks. My friends and I simply left the building at every opportunity to eat and rest and get out of the intense heat. We simply couldn’t get any autographs or look around the hall due to the volume of people.
Showmasters initial “solution” to the big guests and higher estimation of attendees had been to open up Brompton Hall in Earl’s Court one. Inside were comic artists, the gaming zone, the super stage (where the comic awards and Stan Lee talks were held) and Stan Lee’s signing area. HOWEVER they decided to keep the artists alley level comic creators in Earls Court 2 as normal, and (this is most ridiculous part) have Stan Lee do photo shoots in a main area in Earls Court 2. This meant that every time Stan had a shoot, the poor guy had to walk between the two halls with security. This in turn made all the Stan Lee shoots around twenty minutes late (we can forgive him for this of course, the man is 91 years old) and the obviously huge hoard of people waiting for his shoot were clogging up the main hall, right in the Young Adult Literature Con section. Brompton Hall was incredibly empty of people because the space was not utilised at all well. Having half the comic artists still in the main hall is about the stupidest decision organisers made over the weekend and probably caused a lot of the problems.
Saturday was simply not enjoyable, we were extremely stressed, exhausted and boiling hot and it was impossible to enjoy the general attractions around. What I will say is that the crew were absolutely fantastic in how they handled events. Queuing for shoots and so on were meticulously managed and went very quickly, especially the Stan Lee shoots.
Sunday was massively better, there were far fewer people, probably in part because a lot of people gave up after hearing about Saturday, and there are always fewer people on the Sunday. All the guests were lovely, the talks and the Game Of Thrones commentary were fantastic and the crew were amazing. It was simply an idiotic lack of foresight and ridiculously last minute plan changing that caused all the chaos of Saturday. I’ll still be going in the future (possibly with a gold pass next time if it continues being busy) but there is no denying that organisers were wildly unprepared for what should have been obvious problems