Obviously having grown so large and taking up so much real estate of the convention center was nice in that you never really felt crowded. It was easy to get around, and most panels (including the "Main event" panels) always had room to spare. You did not feel like sardines and had breathing room. The issue with growing so large, was that panels were scattered throughout both buildings and at times was confusing to find where you needed to be or how to get there. To get into the exhibit hall and artist alley, you had to walk all the way to the back of the building and go down the escalators and then walk through the large hall they had setup for registration and badge pickups. This got tiring very quickly. To be fair, it never took long to get down and into the exhibit hall.
With such a diverse lineup and so many panels a person could be entertained the entire time they were at the convention. I personally was constantly on the move never having more than a few minutes to spare to talk and hang out with people before I was off to try to catch a bit of this or that panel/discussion. In fact, I was enjoying myself so much I didn't even realize that I had missed breakfast and lunch all three days.
The industry panels were really good, despite some logistic snafus at times (such as not having needed adapters ready to go at the beginning of panels or panelists obviously using gear they were not used to or at least not they way they were used to). I really hope they expand those and more people are willing to lead them. The actually information and discussions were really informative. The more "fun" panels were just that. They all had a good lineup of panelists. It was cool having 2 sessions of Super Art Fight. The State of the Galaxy panel had a lot of good discussion and possible insights.
It was a shame to hear that Shatner's sessions of interaction had been cut short. I do not know the reasons for it, but the fact remains that it was a big disappointment for many attendees. Takei's speaking engagement started more than 30 minutes late, and yet ended right on schedule thus depriving many con goers who had come just for him to feel shortchanged. Especially those in the lines to ask questions. Boy Howdy does that man talk! Even with the line to the microphones kept extremely short most didn't get a chance to ask anything.
On the flip side, the other guests were amazing with their fans (No, I am not saying Takei wasn't. He was good, just time contrained). The give and take and with those asking questions was open and gracious. Alex Kingston, Arthur Darvill and the cast of the Power Rangers were delightful. Heck, The guy who danced in the streets during the Baltimore riots asked if he could do dance session with Walter E Jones and it happened (Also in the gallery for panelists)! The "smaller" panelists were also fantastic. I didn't get to catch them all (they aren't pokemon), but when I did catch sessions I really did enjoy myself. Allison Mack and Judith Hoag are great role models and were very open with their audiences. Jason Mewes was straight up real. Kevin Eastman, Grant Imahara, Phil Lamarr and Ralph Macchio were all terrific in discussing their careers and their experiences. The cast of Starship Troopers had me laughing and smiling with their tales. Unfortunately I didn't manage to catch all the guest speakers. i know Macathu managed to catch some others and even managed to do direct interviews with Ben Templesmth, Ming Chen, and steve Anderson.
And that was the thing. Everyone was so free and open. I have noticed that each year at Awesome Con I felt that the artists and guests were just so willing to engage people. At other conventions You don't get that sense. Maybe it was because there was so much space and the organizers had a good layout. Maybe it was cause the guests and artists felt more comfortable thinking of this as a smaller convention. I am not sure. It just felt more inviting than other conventions I attend.
I wish i had another body, just so I could have run around and taken all the cosplay photos I wanted to catch. I was constantly looking around and seeing some great work and creativity. I just didn't have the time to grab a moment with everyone I wanted to as I was always on the move. You could often hear me saying "damn... okay, gotta make sure to track that person down" as I ran down a hall or through the exhibitors/artist alley spaces. Unfortunately most often I didn't get the chance to track those said people down. I also didn't have time to really do any proper shots with the few people I did grab. Sorry for that. I wish i could have done a better job of capturing all the glory of each of your works!