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NDK 2015 Overview

Nan Desu Kan, one of the premier Anime Conventions in Colorado went through some pretty major changes this year. For the first time it what feels like forever they changed locations from the DTC Marriott to the Sheraton Hotel located right off the 16th Street mall. Those of you who have attended over the last few years, or who have spent any time in the NDK Forums, know how much people have been asking for NDK to more to a bigger venue. This change was long overdue since the convention had outgrown the Marriott in terms of Convention Space as well as Number of Attendees. The Marriott location had seen Attendance Caps reached by early Saturday Morning for the last several years, and this often led to crowded hallways, minimal traffic movement, and ever people scalping passes outside the Con because the passes had sold out. As a long-time attendee i have seen the convention grow steadily and I for one was ready to see how this new Venue would change NDK, for the better or make it worse?  

The new location had its own set of Pros and Cons, and I personally spoke with many of this years attendees to get their perspective on what they felt was great, and what they felt could use improvement.

PROS

New Location

  • The new Hotel provided easy access to nearby food and other supplies. Did you forget Bobby Pins for your wig? Maybe you need Makeup remover to get your face paint off? Did you leave your pants at home? That last one isn’t even a joke, my friend actually forgot the pants for his costume at home.The close proximity to the 16th street mall also meant that you were within walking distance of almost anything you could need. Several cheap places to get food, a Walgreens, a Ross for clothes, and tons of other places. It really was quite convenient to be able to walk to these places without issue.

Bigger hotel

  • With an extensive increase in space compared to last year, it was noticeably less crowded throughout the hotel. moving through the hallways was quick and the elevator lines were a fraction of the length they had been in the past. The two sections of the hotel had 3 times as many elevators on each side than the Marriott had, and this seemed to alleviate much of the traffic jams that used to build up from people trying to get other floors or even to their rooms. I also noticed that a significant change in the number of broken elevators this year as well. I’m not saying the elevators didn’t have ANY issues, but i felt like they were running more often than in previous years.The increased space also helped many of the cosplayers with large costumes and props, I didn’t one get smacked with a large sword or bump into someone who had on a bulky costume that was hard to move in, and that was a first for me in several years.|The new hotel space also allowed the Staff to implement a more manageable line system with signs and plastic on the floor, so people knew where to stand and what they were waiting in line for. There were a few minor mishaps with some “overflow” lines and miscommunication as to where the end of the lines were, but hopefully we can just call this a Growing Pain and use it as a learning experience.

More Staff and Volunteers

  • It was easy to see that there was a big difference in the number of Staff and Volunteers this year as well. With then increase in space and number of attendees the increased Staff presence was undoubtedly needed, and it was easy to locate someone in any instance where a Staff member was needed to resolve something.

Dealers Room and Artist Alley

  • I can’t say enough how much I loved the Artist Alley and Dealers room setups this year. Artist Alley was in a great location with high foot traffic, which meant all of the amazing stuff people brought was right where everyone could see it, and I think that’s exactly how it should be. People put a lot of work into their art and crafts, and this made it easy for everyone to easily see everything they had to offer.The Dealers room being on the Second Floor away from the high traffic areas was also a great choice. The line for the Dealers Room can often get pretty extensive, and this location allowed for excellent line management without causing the line to block any areas where people were trying to move through, or as in previous years, wrap around the outside of the building. Both of these areas also greatly benefited from the increase in space as this allowed more tables in both locations, which in my opinion means everyone wins. More people able to get Artists Tables and more Dealers selling wallscrolls, figures, plushes, snacks, and everything else you could think of.
    I’ll be posting up a breakdown of the Dealers Room later on for those of you like me that might have missed out on something during the Con that you could still possibly pick up from the Dealers Website. Keep an eye out for that.

CONS

New location 

  • With the new location this meant that no one knew where anything was, and the division of the hotel meant that you often had to figure out if you were even in the right building for whatever you were looking for. This meant a little confusion and disorganization for the first day or so as everyone oriented themselves to the new layout. Now this isn’t much of a Con per say, seeing as this issue is a short-lived one. Next year attendees will have a much better idea of where to go since many of them will have already done it once before.

More Staff and Volunteers

  • The increase in Staff and Volunteers also highlighted that some of the newer people seemed to not be prepared fully for what their responsibilities entailed. There were a few times I myself asked a Staff person for directions only to be sent in the complete opposite direction, as if they had not been familiarized with the location. Some people I spoke with reported staff or volunteers being short with attendees when it was not necessary, including some remarks better left unsaid, but this would be something for the Staff to address.

Parking

  • The main issue many people had would be Parking. Downtown has plenty of parking options if you know where to look and don’t mind making a few laps around your destination, and there are alternatives available, such as RTD, Light Rail, and the Free Mallride to get around, but for many attendees this was not always an option. People carpooling, large props, artists, and many others had no way to transport their supplies via public transportation. There were many reasonable parking options around the hotel, but the issue of the attached garage for the hotel charging over $30 per day meant a bit of a walk for many. I understand this Parking Garage was not owned by the hotel, but it might have been nice if the Con could have worked out some parking deal with them as well. Now parking probably wouldn’t have been as much of an issue at all if it hadn’t been for the fact that NDK happened to take place the same weekend, and the same location, as the Taste Of Colorado festival. So in addition to the thousands of people who poured downtown for NDK, they were thousands more showing up for the Taste Of Colorado, which was only a few blocks away, and ran the full weekend of NDK. For those of you hoping that next year would be different, I’ve been told it will be at the same hotel and over Labor Day weekend as well, which means the Con will be sharing downtown with the Taste Of Colorado once more.

Overall Opinion

I spoke with as many attendees as I could after NDK was over and the overall opinion I got from the attendees i spoke to was extremely positive. I had people who had expressed opinions previously about never attending again, due to overcrowding or other issue, tell me they were glad they came this year and looked forward to next year. The increase in space and new location seems to have breathed new life into a Con which was beginning to feel stale and stagnant to many.I personally look forward to next year with renewed enthusiasm. It seems that NDK can only get bigger and better from here.

If you have any stories, experiences, or opinions of this years Nan Desu Kan I’d love to hear them!

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