Wizard World Columbus – The 100 Immersion
By: Allison Schonter
When I first saw previews for The 100 I thought that it was just going to be another angsty show about a group of teenagers who had to somehow manage to survive on Earth. I didn’t give it much thought and I honestly forgot all about it until friends began begging me to watch it. Stuck at home during winter break with nothing else to do (because lets be honest, shoveling snow isn’t any fun), I decided to hunker down in front of my TV and give the show a chance with what was supposed to be a one or two episode a day viewing party. Well, it quickly turned into a mass binge-watch of seasons 1 and 2 in the span of five days. To say I was hooked would be an understatement.
My love for the show (and writing) was soon channeled into writing recaps and reviews of the episodes, but I had never paid much attention to conventions and had never even considered going to one until I began seeing pictures popping up on my social media feeds. But when I saw that Eliza Taylor, Lindsey Morgan and Bob Morley (who later cancelled, but Zach McGowan swooped in to save the day) were announced for Wizard World Columbus, I knew that I had to go. This is Ohio for goodness sakes! Nobody ever comes to Ohio, and this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, so I crossed my fingers and applied for a press pass.
Day 1: Getting the Gist of Things
I arrived in Columbus Friday afternoon and after checking in at my hotel, I promptly made my way to The Greater Columbus Convention Center. I had nothing planned for the day and most of the guests weren’t expected to arrive until Saturday so Friday was a day for me to just get to know the show floor and figure out where things were in preparation for the following days. With a press pass in hand and VIP pass around my neck (the little orange and white bracelets on my wrist became my best friends), I was ready to take on Wizard World Columbus. It was one girl against an entire convention.
The show floor was empty, something that would change by Saturday morning, which made it very easy to walk around and see where things were located. I spent a little time at the different vendors admiring their work and even watched a few people playing video games that I’ve never heard of.
As I made my way to the very back of the show floor, I found the autograph booths. Eliza, Lindsey and Zach’s booths were located right next to each other. Zach, who was recently promoted to a series regular, was already there. Since there was nobody else in his line, I was able to spend a good five minutes talking to him (If anyone knows how to fluently speak Trigedasleng, please meet Zach! He really wants to meet someone who speaks the Grounder’s language fluently!).
Having found where the main stage was, where the photo ops were located and where the autographs booths were, I felt confident that I had everything that I needed. I left the convention center to get some much needed rest to energize me for Saturday.
Day 2: The 100 Overload
If I had to describe Saturday in one word it would have to be “surreal.” Even that doesn’t do it justice. Saturday was The 100 overload, but in the best way possible.
I arrived to the convention center early and managed to be first in line, which meant that I’d be the first person to step foot onto the show floor. The wait to get in was long; arriving at 8am when the convention doesn’t start until 9:30am gives you plenty of time to sit and relax, mess around on your phone and daydream. As I was finally led onto the show floor, I decided to continue my exploration of the various vendors.
As 10 o’clock rolled around, I made my way to Eliza Taylor’s booth and once again managed to be first in line. She wasn’t set to start signing until 11:30am, but the early bird gets the worm so to speak. Normally, I hate long waits, but the people who were in line behind me made the wait seem like nothing and I quickly made friends. Talking about The 100, the various characters and our thoughts on the different seasons made the two hours of waiting seem like minutes and as Eliza pushed her way through the curtains and the crowd erupted in cheers, the nerves began to set in.
Coming face-to-face with the actor that portrays one of your favorite characters is nerve-wracking to say the least and me being me, I was shaking like a leaf. But Eliza Taylor is one of the nicest and sweetest people that I have ever met and her constant reassurances that she’d be nervous too if she were in my position put my nerves at ease. Her line was long and I even heard that some people were turned away, but she took as much time as she possibly could with each fan. It turns out that my 5’ stature isn’t tall enough to lean over the convention booths and so when it was time for our selfie, Eliza invited me behind the table with her, plucked my phone from my hand and snapped a few pictures.
Next on my list was the panel “Back to Earth: The 100 with Eliza Taylor, Lindsey Morgan and Zach McGowan.” It turns out that me being first in line was a trend that would carryout throughout the entirety of the convention and I managed to get second row, seated behind a Clarke cosplayer. Fans were in charge of coming up with questions and one fan was even cosplaying as Lexa. The questions ranged from their favorite behind the scenes moment to the character that they would bring back if they could, what fast-food restaurant their character would eat at to how they would want their character to die (Eliza: an epic fight, Lindsey: burned alive and Zach: drowning because his hair would look nice). Hearing the cast talk about the show and seeing them interact with one another was amazing.
After the panel was over, I made my way over to photo ops for my trio photo with Eliza, Lindsey and Zach. The line went fast and the photo was over almost as soon as it had started. Standing next to two women wearing heels and a man who is tall makes you look very short, but the picture is hilarious and definitely one that I’ll hang on to.
Lindsey’s autograph signing was up next and once again I managed to score that coveted #1 spot in line (an exception was made for Lindsey’s cousins who spent the remainder of their time behind the table with Lindsey). Waiting wasn’t an issue, as my newfound con-buddies and I spent the time talking. Lindsey’s grand entrance was humorous and a bit overdramatic (dramatically throwing the curtains open and holding a goofy pose for several seconds),and it made everyone laugh. I was able to spend a few minutes talking with her and she even recognized my name from some of the articles that she’s read. after a few selfies were snapped, it was time to call it a day.
Day 3: Wrapping Things Up
As Sunday rolled around so did my exhaustion, but there were still a few things left to do and I wasn’t ready for the con to be over. So, I once again got up bright and early and managed to be the first in line to get onto the show floor. I met up with a few of the girls that I had met on Saturday and all of us being so tired, we plopped down next to the photo op area and waited for the duo photo op with Lindsey and Eliza to begin.
The photo ops were once again quick and as I made my way into the curtained room. Lindsey recognized me from Saturday and rushed over to me to envelope me in a huge hug. Let me tell you, coming up with poses for photo ops is more difficult then you would think so I decided to stick with the generic arms around each other pose. I picked up my picture and got right back in line for my photo op with Eliza. For this one, Eliza and I came to the mutual decision that a hug was in due-order, and the photographer snapped the picture.
I still had one thing left to do: one more autograph from Eliza. Thankfully, the runners of the convention realized that they had underestimated the popularity of The 100 and extended the booths for the cast – meaning that lines weren’t as cramped. After getting the fanart book signed, it was time to say goodbye to Wizard World Columbus.
Post-Convention Thoughts: Otherwise Known As: Can I Please Go Back?!
Prior to Wizard World Columbus, I had only ever been to one other convention, but my experience over the weekend exceeded all of my expectations. By the time Sunday came to an end, I found myself desperately wishing that I could reverse time and do it all over again.
I was nervous about how crowded the show floor would be with the sheer number of attendees, but the center was very spacious and the only time that things ever became too crowded was when we were waiting in line. This was a problem that was solved by Sunday when booths were extended. The positioning of the main show stage was a little strange and I heard a few complaints that those seated at the back weren’t able to hear the panelists due to the noise of the surrounding convention (according to others, in previous years the main show stage was in an actual room and not out in the open).
The volunteers were amazing. They were all so nice, willing to help and eager to talk to you while you waited in line. (I have them to blame for the copious amount of the shows that were added to my “Must Watch” list). Meeting the actors was amazing and hearing them speak of The 100 and the rest of the cast is something that I’ll never forget. One of the best parts of the weekend; however, was all of the other fans that I met and became friends with.
I am sad that it is over and I want to do it all over again. Wizard World Columbus 2016, you left me exhausted and my ankles aching, but you definitely can count me in for 2017.