Article provided by Messy Bun Mamatron
As a mom of three, I am no stranger to the difficulty of finding fun activities that the whole family can enjoy. Can everyone ride this ride, will everyone enjoy this music, are kids allowed, can we squeeze in nap time? Not to mention the immense amount of bags that seem to accompany us every time we leave the house.
So where does the Denver Comic Convention fall on the ‘mom scale of feasible outings’? Well, let’s break it down and find out!
There are four main components that I consider when planning an outing for my family:
- Overall cost (gas, parking, food, entrance, etc.)
- Overall time (time in the car, time at the event, etc.)
- Preparation (how much planning, how much stuff, etc.)
- Entertainment (how much will everyone enjoy the outing)
So let’s go through these and see how Denver Comic Con (DCC) pans out!
Prices for DCC were as follows for 2018:
Adult 3 day: $82.50
Adult Friday: $38.50
Adult Saturday: $49.50
Adult Sunday: $44.00
Child 3 day: $8.25
As you can see it is very inexpensive for kids to attend! That of course is because kids need an adult with them. Adult tickets are rather pricey I think- especially because we have always brought all of our kids and I would not want to brave this event on my own with three or even two kids- one kid or two older kids would be fine though. I would recommend going on Friday if you don’t work. The tickets are cheapest and there is usually less of a crowd. Sunday is the second cheapest and Saturday is the most expensive and most crowded.
Other costs to consider- getting to the event. You can take the lightrail to the front door, drive and find parking (this can vary in price), or stay at a hotel. We usually drive. We used to park close to Metro State University as parking used to be free, and now I think it is only about $6 for the day- just be prepared to walk about 10 minutes to the event and then back 10 minutes at the end of the day.
This year we decided to park close as we are all pretty tired by the end of the day! However the cost to do so was $20-$25 each day- so we ended up spending about $75 just on parking. For the two of us with three kids this was still a cheaper option than the light rail which runs about $9/person round trip. And we were able to park right across the street from the convention center where the event is held- so for us it made the most sense.
We also brought our own food for the day to avoid the pricey cost of food at the event. A hotdog was about $9… for one hotdog. So for a small meal of four hotdogs it would be $36! NOPE! We did buy a few sodas and a couple of their specialty beers that they have each year, but for the most part we drank water and snacked whenever someone needed to. You can bring in a soft sided cooler, but they don’t usually allow hard ones. We totally took advantage of this, and it saved us a lot in the long run and we didn’t have to wait in long lines to eat either.
The last two costs to consider are costumes and spending. Costumes are in my opinion the best part about this event. Everyone gets a chance to dress up as whoever they want to be. The kids can reuse their Halloween costumes and you can dress up and not feel a bit out of place. I would say about 60% of the people who attend comic con do so in costume. They are not required by any means and there have been times we have gone and not dressed up in costume. But if you do plan on wearing a costume, consider if you will be buying/making a new one or using what you have.
As for spending- the most popular (and most crowded) area of Comic Con is the Exhibitor Floor. This is a very large room with several aisles of nerdy vendors! We really enjoy wandering around, checking out all the fun items that appeal to our geeky side. You can find anything from Pokemon, to Disney, video games, T.V shows, anime, and popular movies. We usually give our kids a budget and let them each pick out a special item or two while we are there. Prices here vary on what kind of item you are trying to buy and from where, but in general I think that the costs are fair. We usually give each of the kids about $15 (sometimes more or less depending on how they behaved).
The biggest spending cost can be paying to for photo ops/autographs from celebrities! This can be a lot of fun; we met the Weasley twins from Harry Potter last year and paid for an autograph and a photo which ended up costing about $200. YIKES! This year we found out that depending on the celebrity, you can meet them for free, and only have to pay if you want a photo or autograph. So we met Kirk from Gilmore girls (he also appears in Guardians of the Galaxy) and saw David Tennant (Dr. Who)! Very cool, and very free.
So overall- between admission, transportation, food, spending, and costumes you can plan on spending about $60 if you are doing one adult with one child for one day, you find cheap parking and walk, pack your own food, wear costumes you have, just do free meet and greets and don’t buy anything. You could also end up spending upwards of $1000 if you have a bigger family and go the whole weekend, stay at a hotel, buy/make new costumes, buy food, buy stuff, and do a meet and greet with autograph/photo op.
There is quite a variation, but no matter your budget, there is still a lot you can do to enjoy the event.
Let’s talk about what Comic Con has to offer! We already touched on the Exhibitor Floor, and the Celebrity meet and greets. There are also a wide array of panels you can sit in on. There were a few we tried to catch this year- one on making videos (but we ended up in the wrong room), and one on Walt Disney (which was canceled). In the past we have also gone to My Little Pony, and we went to one that discussed kids and comics.
In my opinion, these are not very family friendly for us- only because the kids get bored and rowdy just sitting and listening to people talk. If my husband and I were there on our own we would probably go to many more panels, but with the kids, it just doesn’t work out very well.
What does work really well with the kids, and I think this is their favorite part, is getting autographs from all the people in costumes! This year we got autographs from Baymax, Captain America, Groot and many more. The kids LOVE running up and asking for autographs and the people in costume absolutely love giving autographs and taking pictures with us and the kids. This is probably what we spend the most time doing. Really our kids would be happy with going down to the convention center and just standing out front seeing all the costumes!
The only thing our family likes better than seeing other costumes is dressing up in our own. We usually have a different costume for each day we are there. This year we were the characters from Inside Out on Saturday, and then my husband was Thor, my daughter was Groot, and our son was Rocket Raccoon on Sunday, while I went as Lilo and our baby girl was Stitch (she is nursing and Lilos outfit is easy to nurse in… plus how cute is a baby Stitch!!!!). We used a lot of what we had, and picked up a few new things from Goodwill, and found the Stitch Jammies on Amazon (this was $25 and the most expensive of all our costumes). If you do wear a costume there is a good chance someone will ask to take a picture, which you can obviously say no to…but we never mind!
Another area we really enjoy going to is the Pop Culture Classroom, Kids Lab. This is an entire section dedicated specifically to kids! They have face painting, balloon animals, crafts, activities, drawing instruction, etc. We spend a lot of time here. I admit though that this year I didn’t want to spend as much time in this area just due to the sheer amount of people- it was packed! Not only that, but it was so loud being right next to all the vendors and meet and greets. I feel that it would be a much more enjoyable experience for families if the kids lab were in a space of its own, and a bit larger. Regardless there is plenty in this area to keep the kiddos occupied and engaged.
As far as entertainment goes, there is plenty to keep the whole family happy and enjoying themselves!
PREPARATION AND TIME
I am going to combine these two as they tend to go hand in hand. There are several parts to planning for Comic Con, depending on how much you plan on doing and how many days you want to be there. So a one day with no costumes requires less prep than an entire weekend in costume staying at a hotel. For us, we live close enough to drive, and we usually go all three days. Friday night, we made a date night this year, and went just my husband and myself with some friends. We were only able to go in the evening so there was not much going on, but it was nice to get a lay of the land before trying to work things out with the kids in tow. So really I was mostly preparing for Saturday and Sunday.
I knew we planned to do a different costume both days so that was the first thing I planned out. We were going as the characters from Inside Out on Saturday, so these were the first outfits needing to be put together. We used a lot of what we had, we borrowed some things and picked up a few things at goodwill and some hairspray at party city. Overall the family costume cost was maybe $30.
Sunday took a little more planning and work to put together, as my daughter wanted to be Groot and my son wanted to be Rocket Raccoon. We had a Rocket mask and tail I had made for my daughter the year before, so I used a pair of overalls my son refused to wear normally and glued some scrap fabric pieces to it and the tail and voila- Rocket Raccoon. This costume was literally put together Sunday morning before we left. Groot took a bit more time as it was a lot of gluing scraps to a mask we already had, and cutting foam and painting and such for the mask and shirt. It needed to dry as well, so I started this one a few days ahead of time.
The Thor costume my husband already had, my Lilo costume only needed the leis and a shirt, and our baby girl’s Stitch costume we bought online the week before. So total costume cost for Sunday was about $40 ($25 of that was for the Stitch costume). A little more money and prep work for Sundays costumes.
In years past we have simply let the kids pick out a costume they already had to wear- very simple and they enjoy it just as much, and it requires no money and no prep time.
Costumes – check. Next thing I needed to plan was what all I wanted to have with us for the day. We had our family bag packed of course. This is a bag we take everywhere with us that is packed with all our basic essentials that we normally need anytime we go out.
We packed a large snack bag for each day that consisted mostly of trail mix, dried fruit, beef jerky, granola bars, and fruit snacks. We also brought water bottles to fill as needed. This worked great and got us through the whole weekend!
With kids getting tired feet, snacks to carry, a backpack to carry, and the baby to carry- we definitely needed something to carry the stuff and kids. For comic con specifically we opt to bring our fold up wagon. It was rather full this year, but we had enough space for our baby and three year old to switch off who got to ride…it ended up mostly being our 3 year old.
What to bring – check.
The last thing to plan was what time to head out and when to come home. When we are doing a three day weekend at comic con we are much more leisurely about what time we get there and when we leave. We tend to get there around 10am. This way the kids have had plenty of rest and we aren’t rushing…sleepy kids and rushing parents is the worst way to start the day. We don’t take nap breaks per say, but the baby would sleep in the wagon, and occasionally the three year old would too. We are sure however to take breaks as needed. When the kids are getting tired we will find a spot to plop and eat some snacks and watch all the people in costumes, or go to the Kids lab to sit and do a craft. It has worked out well for us. We usually leave around 5pm when everyone is getting close to being tuckered out. The kids (and myself) usually fall asleep in the car on the way home… poor dad usually drives.
When we do want to try to catch a panel or a specific celebrity we do have to do a little extra time planning to be sure to get to those without feeling too rushed. Also if we are doing just one day we tend to plan out what to do when a bit more. But in general we tend to go with the flow and do what people feel like doing.
Planning out the day – check.
So overall there can be a lot of planning that goes into a day at comic con- but it is fun planning or planning you do for a day out anywhere else.
Alright, so where does Denver Comic Con fall on the Mom Scale? If 1 means I have no interest in going and 10 means I plan to do it every year… I would give it an 8. Here is why. For my family it does end up costing more than I would like to spend for the whole weekend. However, it is an event that the whole family enjoys. It gets everyone involved, and even though it’s a bit of prep work- it’s fun prep work.
I think ideally in the future I would rather stay at a hotel so we are not spending money on parking and we are right there for naps or a relaxing evening at the pool, and I would maybe just do one day rather than two. But I do plan on our family going every other year if not every year! Overall Comic Con is a great family activity. It inspires creativity, imagination, and the courage to be who you want to be!