Friday, January 19, 2018

Attention Whovians, Bronies and Potterheads: A guide to Central Florida's 2016 cons

This might be the easiest year to be a fan in human history.

Just about every off-kilter thing you can love unconditionally has its own fan convention in 2016, which is good for your obsession but probably less so for your pockets.

Convention season started last weekend in Orlando with the Omni Expo and CONjure events drawing hundreds to see former Dino Thunder Power Rangers Jeff Parazzo and Kevin Duhaney and The 100's Dichen Lachman. Stalwarts of the Central Florida con scene have rolled out heavy hitting lineups featuring everyone from comic creator and legend Stan Lee to The Vampire Diaries' super hunk Ian Somerhalder.

Location shake-ups are also hot this year with this weekend's Fanboy Expo opening doors in Lakeland after years in Tampa, and November's ShadoCon leaving Palm Harbor for downtown St. Petersburg.

Lineups haven't been finalized for all conventions, but most have an idea of what they'll offer hordes of geeks descending on cities across the state this year.

Here's a list of the awesome yet to come:

Movie Stills Databse

Catherine Bach, Tom Wopat and John Schneider of The Dukes of Hazzard will be at Fanboy Expo.

Fanboy Expo

Saturday and Sunday

Lakeland Center, 701 Lime St., Lakeland

$50-$99 passes, $25-$30 daily, kids under 12 are free

What to expect: The Fanboy Expo is a collectible and memorabilia convention with featured guests from classic TV, pro-wrestling, animation and movies. This year's lineup includes Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie); Chyna (WWE superstar); Dawn Wells (Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island); Irene Bedard (voice of Disney's Pocahontas); Bill Farmer (voice of Disney's Goofy); Ed Asner (Lou Grant of The Mary Tyler Moore Show); Tony Anselmo (Disney's Donald Duck); John Schneider, Tom Wopat and Catherine Bach (Bo, Luke and Daisy Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard); Verne Troyer (Mini-Me of Austin Powers); Ric Flair (WWE Superstar); Ricky Steamboat (pro wrestler); Lori Petty (Orange is the New Black); and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite).

International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts

March 16-20

Orlando Airport Marriott, 7499 Augusta National Drive, Orlando

$85 IAFA North America membership, $165 regular members, $110 student members

What to expect: Authors and scholars in the fantasy genre gather in Orlando. Featured guests include authors Terri Windling (The Wood Wife) and Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles).

Getty Images

Alice Cooper will be at Spooky Empire.

Spooky Empire

April 1-3

Wyndham Orlando Resort, 8001 International Drive, Orlando

$60 three-day pass, $30-$35 single day, $199 VIP

What to expect: A celebration all things horror from music to movies. Featured guests include Alice Cooper; Drea de Matteo; Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell Smith of Weird Science; A Nightmare on Elm Street's Heather Langenkamp; Paul Sorvino and Frank Sivero of The Godfather; Terry Alexander, Lori Cardille, Barry Anderson, Michael J. Tomaso and Gary Klar of Day of the Dead; and Alex Vincent of Child's Play.

Associated Press

Fifth Doctor Peter Davison will be at the Bon Voyage Paradox.

Bon Voyage Paradox

April 1-2

Florida Hotel & Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Road, Orlando


What to expect: The party by Hurricane Who before people board the Sci-Fi Sea Cruise will feature appearances from fifth Doctor Who Peter Davison and a handful of other actors from the new and old series; sadly sixth Doctor Colin Baker and eighth doctor Paul McGann are now out.

Florida Anime Experience

April 22-24

Park Inn by Radisson Resort & Conference Center, 3011 Maingate Lane, Kissimmee

$45 three-day pass, $20-$25 daily

What to expect: This anime convention has brought whole voice actor casts to the area in the past. Currently confirmed for 2016: Kate Oxley (Psycho Pass) and origami artist Al Aki.

Oasis 28

April 22-24

DoubleTree Orlando East - UCF Area, 12125 High Tech Ave., Orlando

$35 for a three-day until April 17; daily admission at the door

What to expect: Science Fiction writers will convene to talk about their works and trends. Creators set to appear include Brad Aiken, Ben Bova, Richard Lee Byers, Craig Caldwell, Jeff Carroll, Derek Demeter, Nick DiChario, Shaun Duke, Owl Goingback, William Hatfield, Elle E. Ire, José Iriarte, Aria Kane, Jamie Marchant, Sandra McDonald, Jeff Mitchell, Ann Morris, Kendall F. Morris, Stanley Morrison, Mari Ness, Gary Roen, Elenora Sabin, Elizabeth Schechter, Rubey Shea, Benjamin Sperduto, Rick Wilber and Ed Wysocki.

Getty Images

George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek at MegaCon in Orlando.


May 26-29

Orange County Convention Center, 9800 International Drive, Orlando

$95 weekend pass, $20-$45 daily

What to expect: If you're a fan on anything MegaCon probably has you covered. This year's blockbuster lineup includes Stan Lee; Star Trek's William Shatner, George Takei and Nichelle Nichols; Star Wars' Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett); Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future); The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus, Lennie James and Tom Payne; Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter); writer/director/actor Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob); actor John Cusack; Doctor Who's Michelle Gomez, Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman; Batman's Adam West and Burt Ward; Vivica A. Fox (Independence Day, Kill Bill); and Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds).

Southern Media Con

July 15-17

SpringHill Suites Tampa Westshore Airport, 4835 W Cypress St., Tampa

$15-$25 daily

What to expect: No big name guests have been announced for the con formerly known as VidCon. The newly branded event describes itself as "a group of fans who gather each year in the Tampa Bay area to spend a couple days discussing all aspects of TV shows and movies."


July 21-24

Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa

$73.33-$150 weekend Pass, $30-$35 daily

What to expect: Florida's largest anime convention is still locking down guests, but among them are voice actor Cristina Vee (Sailor Mars) as well as the return of convention faves Robbie Daymond (Tuxedo Mask), Scott McNeil (Piccolo) and author Amelie Belcher (Loud Snow, Bounty Haunters).

Anime Festival Orlando

July 29-31

Wyndham Orlando Resort, 8001 International Drive, Orlando

$40 early bird three-day pass; later $45-$60 weekend pass, $20-$45 daily

What to expect: In the past, this event has brought huge voice actors including Veronica Taylor, voice of Pokemon's Ash Ketchum. This year has Vic Mignogna (voice of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamaki Suoh in Ouran High School Host Club, Zero in Vampire Knight, and Death Scythe in Soul Eater) and John Swasey (Gendo in Evangelion, the Captain in Halo, Lord Death in Soul Eater.)

Geeky Con

Curt Mega, Dominic Barnes and Titus Makin Jr. of Glee.

Geeky Con

July 29-31

Orange County Convention Center

$99-$229 passes, $49 daily

What to expect: The fan meet formerly known as LeakyCon still has Harry Potter in its bones. 2016 guests include Curt Mega, Dominic Barnes and Titus Makin Jr. of Glee; Kim Rhodes of Supernatural; James Moran, screenwriter for Doctor Who; Ashley Clements and Mary Kate Wiles of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; Joanna Sotomura, Dayeanne Hutton and Brent Bailey of Emma Approved; and music from Harry and the Potters, the Whomping Willows and more.


July 30-31

Land O'Lakes Library, 2818 Collier Parkway in Land O'Lakes


What to expect: Pasco County's celebration of all things anime is still kicking with costume contests and this year's featured guest, Robert Axelrod, Lord Zedd of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.


Krysten Ritter of Marvel's Jessica Jones on Netflix will be at Tampa Bay Comic Con.

Tampa Bay Comic Con

Aug. 5-7

Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa

$60 three-day pass, $30-$40 daily

What to expect: There are still months until doors open at Tampa's premier fan event and the guest list is already legendary. Krysten Ritter, star of Marvel's Jessica Jones, will appear alongside Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars' Emperor Palpatine), Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon of The Walking Dead), Jack Gleeson (King Joffrey of Game of Thrones), Ray Park (Star Wars' Darth Maul), and Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton of Game of Thrones).

Megaplex XV

Aug. 5-7

Embassy Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista South, 4955 Kyngs Heath Road, Kissimmee

$50-$150 weekend pass, $30 daily

What to expect: So, there's a furry in convention in August in Florida. Don't forget your cooling packs and smelling salts. The British Invasion themed event will feature Vine star and wolf suit wearer Cosmic Wuffy and furry artist Tess Garman, also known as Kenket to the Sunshine State.

Times files

The Grand Brony Gala in 2013.

Grand Brony Gala

Aug. 12-14

Sheraton Tampa East, 10221 Princess Palm Ave., Tampa

$50-$158 weekend passes, $25-$48 daily

What to expect: This festival for the adult fans of the children's show My Little Pony are getting together again to celebrate their Bronymance. This year's guests include Peter New (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Kelly Sheridan (My Little Pony Tales), Jayson Thiessen (supervising director, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Ken Spivey Band (Time Lord rock group), Calpain of Equestria Daily, the S.S. HANAMI band and Joey Oropesa (Pony Meets World).


Oct. 28-30

Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa

$35 three-day pass

What to expect: Every year, Stone Hill brings writer of fantasy and horror to mingle with fans. Featured 2016 guests are husband and wife team Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due of the Tennyson Hardwick series. Due also famously penned The Between and the African immortals series.

RangerStop 4

Nov. 4-6

Holiday Inn Suites across from Universal Studios, 5905 South Kirkman Road , Orlando

$80-$100 three-day pass, $25-$30 daily

What to expect: Go, go Power Rangers fans to the Internet to buy tickets to the con of your dreams. Ranger Stop is famous for assembling series casts; so far they've booked Kevin Kleinberg and Deborah Estelle Philips of Power Rangers: Time Force.r>

Hurricane Who

Nov. 4-6

Location and prices TBA

What to expect: So far, guests are Gareth David-Lloyd and Kai Owen of Torchwood.


Nov. 18-20

Hilton Bayfront St. Petersburg, 333 First St. S, St. Petersburg

$55-$75 weekend pass, $25-$30 daily

What to expect: ShadoCon has changed locations and hasn't yet announced any guests. The annual anime, video game and comics convention usually lands solid voice acting talent including Jason Marsden (Max Goof of A Goofy Movie) in 2015.

Getty Images

Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley are among the Vampire Diaries guests.

The Vampire Diaries

Dec. 9-11

Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, 1751 Hotel Plaza Blvd., Lake Buena Vista

$499-$659 gold weekend package, all other prices TBA

What to expect: All the hot guys from the CW's hit series will be meeting fans this December — practically a Christmas miracle. Save up your coins to take a $229 picture with Ian Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore). Also appearing Paul Wesley (Stefan Salvatore), Charles Michael Davis (Marcel Gerard of The Originals), Matthew Davis (Alaric Saltzman), Chris Wood (Kai Parker), Zach Roerig (Matt Donovan), Micah Parker (Adrian), Chase Coleman (Oliver on The Originals) and Oliver Ackland (Tristan de Martel of The Originals).

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