Con IntelFrom the ConRecaps, Reports & Reviews

FAN EXPO Denver Scores a Win in 2023

By Miclpea

Fan Expo Denver returned to Denver with a stellar lineup of celebrities, cosplayers, and a variety of vendors on the exhibit floor. The festive atmosphere was everywhere as fans of all ages shared this Rocky Mountain geekdom high. The cosplay was outstanding, and the large number of guests from television, movies, and comics was extensive.

The crowds were more significant than in 2022. However, Fan Expo Denver has learned from crowd control issues in prior years and made changes in 2023 that more efficiently moved the fans to where they wanted to be. Once the lines opened to the venue, fans passed quickly through security and into the convention center. The most extended wait for any panel was less than three hours, compared with much longer waiting times for the larger conventions on both coasts. 

The Good

I attended a fantastic panel featuring Giancarlo Esposito, hosted by Victor Dandridge Jr. To sum up the experience, Esposito was amazing! He was an exciting, engaging, and powerful speaker. People in the audience were so moved by his enthusiasm that they started yelling “Preach” as he fired up the fans with inspirational and captivating stories from his life. After his panel, the audience gave him a much-deserved standing ovation. 

Fan Expo Denver gave me the honor of hosting an Expanse panel, The Expanse: The Greatest Science Fiction Television Series of the 21st Century! It was a standing-room-only crowd of Expanse fans. The discussion was lively, with very active participation by the audience. As a very special treat, Alcon Entertainment provided special prizes to give to fans who correctly answered trivia questions about The Expanse

The panel with Charlie Cox (Daredevil) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Kingpin) contrasted with Esposito’s panel. Both of these actors had measured responses posed by the moderator and fans. The moderator told fans at the beginning of the panel that they would not answer any questions about the new Daredevil series. They did, however, discussed their choices as actors, the actors with whom they had worked, and their characters on Daredevil. 

Fan Expo Denver continued its collaboration with Pop Culture Classroom with special panels for artists, children, and educators. Pop Culture Classroom set up a special area on the exhibit floor for children to engage in artistic activities.

The number of top-tier celebrities expanded this year to include some of the biggest stars in the genre. 

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Brent Spiner (Data), Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher), Michael Dorn (Worf), and Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker).
  • Daredevil: Charlie Cox (Daredevil) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Kingpin
  • The Punisher: Jon Bernthal (The Punisher). 
  • Scream: Rose McGowan (Tatum), Neve Campbell (Sydney), Jamie Kennedy (Randy), Skeet Ulrich (Billy), and Matthew Lillard (Stuart).
  • The Mandalorian: Katee Sackhoff (Bo-Katan Kryze), Emily Swallow (The Armorer), and Giancarlo Esposito (Moff Gideon). 
  • The Arrowverse: Stephen Amell (The Arrow), Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow, Killer Frost, Frost, Khione, Caitlin Frost, Snow, Hellfrost), and Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon, Vibe, Mecha-Vibe, Reverb, Echo, Pablo).

In addition, there were other noteworthy stars from National Lampoon, The Office, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. And if the crowds were any indication, the fans were excited to see them.

The Not-So-Good 

Fan Expo Denver decided to cut back on the number of rooms used for panels. Additionally, they used less space for the exhibit floor. This caused numerous problems. Many of the panels had standing room only, and some fans could not attend their panels due to limited space. When the fans queried the staff about the smaller footprint, Fan Expo Denver did not provide a satisfactory answer.

The major celebrity panels were also problematic, as Fan Expo decided not to use Bellco Theater. Bellco has stadium seating, which makes seeing what is happening on the stage much easier. It also has a greater seating capacity than the room used for the biggest panels.

The exhibit floor space was smaller in 2023, yet with bigger crowds than last year. This made it much more difficult to navigate the floor. Also, it was extremely difficult to find exit signs and exit doors from the exhibit floor. 

Like other conventions, Fan Expo Denver had a Talk Back session on Sunday where the attendees raised these and other concerns. Members of the Fan Expo Denver executive team took extensive notes about the issues raised at the panel. They promised they would explore options to alleviate the problems raised.

 While Fan Expo Denver is still suffering growing pains as it recovers from COVID, as well as other issues, the positives outweigh the negatives by a large margin. The increased attendance indicates that this event is doing many things correctly. I look forward to attending next year. 

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I love going to conventions around the US and Canada. I'm an ardent fan of all things science fiction and especially The Expanse. I'm a senior writer for Friends of CC and I have co-written a science-fiction script called Punctuated Equilibrium.