As the horror convention junkie of our rag tag operation, I’ve partaken of pretty much every type of horror experience designed for fans of the macabre. And without a doubt, one of my very favorite yearly events is the epic Walker Stalker gathering that takes place in Atlanta in October. Offering the ultimate experience for Walking Dead fans, the event includes celebrity photo ops and autographs, tattooing, bar crawls, Q&A panels, an array of talented artists and vendors, and so much more. It is a massive production whose spectacle consistently draws fans from across the world.
It is also utterly overwhelming for a convention newbie.
Luckily, there are a number of smaller, Walker Stalker events held throughout the year at which horror and television fans can get a taste of what the big event has to offer. This weekend, Walker Stalker slides into Philly and brings with it some of the TWD’s biggest stars, including fan favorites Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, and Khary Payton. Considering its size, the guest list is considerable and varied and serves as the perfect first experience for curious fans.
Intrigued but still not sure what to expect? We got you!
At this point, Horror Homeroom has been to nearly a dozen Walker Stalker events and so we feel pretty qualified to dole out some tips to the uninitiated. Here are the top five things you need to do to make sure you have a kickass time at Walker Stalker Philadelphia:
For the love of God, PLAN!
Listen, we horror fans tend to be a surprisingly chill lot. But this is no time to wing it, especially if you have your heart set on getting autographs from all the big names. Trust us, download the app.
The first thing you need to know is that there are ticket levels. The most expensive tickets are the Platinum and Gold VIP. These both come with considerable perks but are currently sold out. So your choices as of this writing are VIP or General Admission (GA). If you’re looking to get as many autographs as possible, VIP is a no brainer. But if you’re more interested in just checking out the scene and maybe snagging a photo op or two, a GA ticket can meet your needs.
The exception to this rule is if you are attending just to meet Norman Reedus. His autographs are presold and there are still some available. Buying a pre-sold autograph is the only way to ensure that you leave the con with his signature in your hot little hands.
All other autographs you get by queuing up for that celebrity. There are separate lines delineated by ticket level so you’ll want to make sure you head on over to your favorite immediately upon entering, especially if you have a GA ticket.
With apologies to Ezekiel, cash is King!
While a GA or VIP ticket will give you access to all the vendors and panels, it does not give you photo ops or autographs. Those you’ll pay for separately and prices vary according to celebrity. Unless you purchase prior to the show, you will have to pay cash. Autographs and selfies (if offered by the celebrity) are available for purchase at their table.
Some artists and vendors will have credit card machines, but some will not. And there will be a wide array of collectibles and fan art that WILL make you want to become a living, breathing embodiment of every ‘Take My Money Now’ GIF in existence so make life easy for yourself and come with a stuffed wallet.
Yes, there will be cash machines on site but lines can get long and, really, wouldn’t you rather be swooning over Tom Payne or Laurie Holden instead of waiting to enter in your pin number?
Channel your inner survivor
Let me tell you a story. I once attended a con with a woman we’ll call Heidi, mainly because that’s her name. Heidi was a con newbie and despite my warnings that she would need someplace safe to store her loot, Heidi flat out refused arguing that something as tacky as a con bag or book bag would mar her considerably rad outfit of the day. Flash forward to the end of day one at the con and not only was Heidi thirsty and in desperate need of a band aid for a blister, but her beyond killer photo op taken in the morning was a crumpled mess by the end of the day.
Okay, that didn’t exactly happen but it would have had she not been with me, someone who did bring along all the supplies that Heidi needed. Don’t be a cautionary tale. Here are the essentials:
- Water (It’s a long day. Stay hydrated!)
- Snacks (The venue has food but it’s pricey and involves more lines)
- Lip balm (it’s dry in these places)
- Hairbrush (especially if you are planning photo ops)
- Tylenol/Advil/Band-Aids (Think like a Girl Scout and be prepared!)
- Autograph/Photo Protector (You can buy these at the show but they only fit one or two items comfortably. Instead, bring along something like this book. You won’t be sorry.)
Help is available but you have to be proactive
Real talk? Attending a convention is bound to be an overwhelming experience no matter how much you prepare. Walker Stalker is a primarily volunteer based operation which means that you could deal with people with varying levels of knowledge about operations and procedures. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you are very quickly turned over to someone in authority and we’ve yet to meet anyone in those positions who isn’t kind and helpful.
Side note: Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Walker Stalker is the best convention we’ve ever attended when it comes to providing disability support. If you think you will need assistance at the con, reach out. We’ve attended with people who have used their services and the whole team is aces.
So be considerate of the staff and volunteers. They take a lot of guff.
Have fun. No, really.
At the end of the day, cons are supposed to be about getting together with other like-minded people and basking in the ridiculousness that is ultimately fandom. Sure, you may not be able to accomplish everything on your list but remember to take a minute and just enjoy the experience. From people donning some seriously excellent cosplay to impromptu conversations about your favorite character (Carol is the best, obviously), there’s a lot that will make the entire experience one to remember.
DISCLAIMER: Horror Homeroom received passes to attend WSC Philadelphia. But we enjoy it so much, we purchased additional tickets with our own money.