AnimeNext was another con that was very close to where I lived, so I was lucky enough to be able to attend for a day. It’s located in Somerset, New Jersey, in a nice enclosed area. The con itself stretches between three hotels, two that interconnect and one that’s across the street.
The con takes place in the Garden State Exhibit Center center, but most of the people tend to congregate around the outside areas for nice pictures and just open meeting spaces for people and cosplayers. There’s just a lot of really great scenic sort of spots for cosplayers to meet and get pictures in. Right outside one of the hotels there’s a nice little red bridge a lot of gatherings take place at. One of the advantages to having such a nice open space outside is that it gives people the room to spread out. It’s a great place for people to meet up at and gather without crowding the convention hall or high traffic areas. The disadvantage is the weather. Last year it rained the whole weekend, so most of the people were forced to stay inside, and it was rather cramped with everyone there. This year there wasn’t any rain issues, but since we’re so close to summer it was pretty hot. I was wearing my Rise costume so I was pretty warm, I felt bad for anyone wearing something heavier or more intricate. You’re at the mercy of the weather for this con, this year was a bit hot, but I’ll take that over it raining.
The flow between the con space was a little difficult. There was a walkway you could use to get from one hotel to the other, the last hotel you had to cross the street to get to. The walkways were often crowded, making it slow and difficult to get from one area to the other. Crossing the street to the other hotel wasn’t difficult, but the street could get rather busy you would have to be careful.
The pool for one of the hotels was in an open area, so it was great for cosplayers who wanted to do beach/summer theme outfits. I saw a lot of people taking advantage of the pool that was there.
I liked the setup for the artist alley and dealers room. They separated the two, giving each their own area. I tend to prefer that kind of setup if a con is able to do that. Because it gives the artists more room to spread their work and look through, rather then having them crammed into an area right by the dealers room. The panel rooms were in the connecting hotel and the game room was in the hotel across the street. They needed to have it over there for space reasons, but it made me want to visit it a lot less, because I didn’t feel like leaving the main areas just to go to the gaming room. I liked how the main evens, dealers room and artist alley was all contained within one area, it was easy to flow from one to the other.
Overall it was a great con to check out. I had fun for the day that I spent there. My only real complaints were about the layout, which they really can’t do much about unless they decide to change venues. This con is slowly growing bigger and bigger, it might eventually outgrow the convention center in Jersey and maybe move into something closer together.
And of course I’ll end it with a few of my favorite cosplays I saw at the con.