Expo Survival Guide

So the London MCM Expo weekend is finally in our sights. Sellers are preparing stock, cosplayers are rushing to finish their costumes and attendees are counting down the final days with excitement at what is set to be the biggest Expo ever. But as the event grows then so too does the number of new people attending, and for many it is their first convention. With this in mind we here at the MCM Buzz have put together our own Expo Survival Guide to help guide you through everything, from travelling to the ExCel Centre, buying food, and perhaps most importantly, queuing up.

To start the guide we will be looking at the one thing all attendees will be doing, and many who attend Expo do twice a year, and that is travel to the event.

 

Travel: Travelling by the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is by far the quickest way to reach the ExCel Centre. Located in Zone 3 at the Custom House for ExCel Station, the Jubilee Line is recommended as the quickest route to ExCel (stopping at Canning Town to change to the DLR). Depending on where you’re coming from, it would be wise to use the Journey Planner on the Transport for London site. Not only does it tell you the quickest route, but you’ll also be told of any planned maintenance work or closures on your chosen route, and if so, what arrangements are being made to accommodate travellers (normally done in the form of buses). A return or Day Travelcard will get you there, though you may also wish to consider purchasing an Oyster card, especially if you’ll be attending for more than one day, (or just visit London frequently), as it could save you a bit of cash in the long run. Any credit you top up on an Oyster card never expires, so you could even save it for the next Expo! It would also be wise to bring a map, just in case you do lose your way.

Hotels: Before planning any trip to the Expo, you will first need to decide whether you’re coming for the weekend or for a single day. If you’re coming for the weekend it would be wise to book your hotel as early as you can, for rooms can sell out, particularly from the wide variety of hotels available around the ExCel campus. There are also an abundance of good hotels just a few stops down the DLR. So there is plenty of room and a plethora of websites for you to use to help you shop around and get a good deal. London Discount Hotel and Otel.com are just a few of many. One tip for everyone to remember when checking out is that most hotels have a luggage room to store your possessions in for the day, allowing you to enjoy your day suitcase free. These are generally free to use and all you have to do is remember to ask when you check out. For more information on hotels around the ExCel Centre, visit London Expo: Hotels.

Once you are all checked in and ready to get your experience underway the next thing to know is the event times. The London MCM Expo is now a three-day event, which opens at the following times:

Friday (for weekend pass holders only)2pm – 7pm

Entry times for Early Ticket holders:

Saturday: 9am – 6pm

Sunday: 10am – 5pm.

General entry times:

Saturday: 11am – 6pm

Sunday: 11am – 5pm

The Queue: As the event has grown in popularity over the years, the queues are notorious for starting early, with some attendees even taking part in a Sunrise Meet. If you want to be the first in line, or plan to see a panel that starts at a specific time, then it is best to start queuing as early as possible. When you arrive at the ExCel Centre you will be greeted with two lines; one for General Entry and another for Early Entry. Depending on your ticket, the stewards will guide you to the appropriate line once you enter the ticketing hall. The Early Entry line moves fairly briskly once the doors open at 9am. The General Entry line is a different matter, as during peak waiting times you could be there for quite a while, so be prepared. It is worth remembering to take food and drink supplies with you into the line because once you’re in the queue you won’t be able to leave without losing your place. Take something to keep you busy as well, be it a Nintendo DS, 3DS, a book, comics, anything that will help keep you occupied, and the time will fly by.

Food and Drink: Now onto a major one. So where can you get a hold of food and drink in the ExCel Centre? As soon as you walk in you will see an army of vending machines lining the walls. There are also cafés, restaurants and small convenience shops in the centre too, such as Costa Coffee, Chozen Noodles and Subway. If you’re after a quick snack, then this should serve you fine, though there are plenty of restaurants around the ExCel site if you’re after a main meal. Also remember to keep yourself hydrated, as it can get warm inside the Expo hall.

Cosplay: Cosplayers, cosplayers and more cosplayers! There will be a lot of people at the event in costume. Many will have put a lot of money and effort into their cosplay, so bumping into them, or glomping them is not always recommended. If you’re cosplaying for the first time, then be sure to read our Top Tips for Rookie Cosplayers. Always ask to take a picture if you see a cosplay you like (read our Photo Etiquette at Expo for a few helpful hints). Cosplayers always have a plethora of fabulous poses under their belt. Oh and you will always see the odd Stormtrooper (or 20) loitering around, so be sure to tell them how much the Empire sucks!

Safety: At its height, the Expo hall can be absolutely jam packed, so make sure you keep bags and backpacks with you at all times, as well as all your valuables. You will be walking quite close to others, so just remember to be careful!

Footwear: You will be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes, even if in cosplay. You wont regret it. I myself wore some straw sandals for a cosplay and after one day they practically wore my feet down into stubs.

Money: There are ATM’s dotted around the ExCel Centre, but I would recommend taking your spending money in cash, because these ATM’s will also have queues and see plenty of use, meaning that they could end up empty very quickly. I’ve seen people spend £1,000 on Gundam figurines at a stall before now. The ATM’s are always there if you need them, but to avoid possible disappointment, take your money with you to the event. Especially if there is something that you particularly want to buy from the Expo, like a certain keyring or some K-On! merchandise, then track it down as soon as you can. There’s nothing worse than walking past a stall with something that you want, only to return after visiting the ATM and finding that it’s gone.

Cloakroom Facility: The ExCel Centre does offer a cloakroom service. In short, it’s an area that holds your bag/suitcase for £1. Located on the downstairs foyer going towards the car park, they give you a ticket, which you hold onto till you return for your items. They will also let you put things in and take things out of your bag throughout the day. This service is incredibly handy and should definitely be remembered.

Wristbands: MCM Expo now has a wristband policy when you’re on site. If you are hanging around the outside you may be challenged by someone from Expo staff or ExCel security for your wristband. If you have one, then there will be no problem. If not, and you are seen participating in MCM Fringe activities, you may be escorted from the premises.

Most Importantly: Have fun. The atmosphere is great and you are guaranteed to have a good time, though be respectful of your fellow Expo-goers! Other people have the right to be at the Expo just as much as you do! Pretty much everyone you meet will be friendly and have a similar interest to you, so just be nice in return and enjoy yourself.

Hey and if you are lucky (Editor: Or unlucky :p ) I may just see you there!

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