Being the con-goer that I am mixed with the huge Black Panther fan that I am, there was no way I was going to miss Wakandacon this year. Now with a second-year under its belt, Wakandacon is a convention based on the fictional land of Wakanda in Black Panther. Located in Chicago, IL it’s one heck of a good time. Wakandacon took place this year on July 26th and ended July 28th.
Their website describes best what they’re all about:
Wakandacon is a 3-day Afro-Futuristic celebration for comic nerds, pop culture buffs, big thinkers, techies, creatives, storytellers, gamers, science geeks, dreamers, makers, movers, shakers and anyone contributing to the culture!
And it really is! I’ve attended many comic conventions, but Wakandacon has such a unique energy to it that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. Let’s explore the ways in which Wakandacon sets itself apart from every other con.
Location, Location, Location
I really enjoyed being in Chicago. It was an amazing city to be in and a really nice summertime spot. Plus, their deep-dish pizza is pretty dope (shout out to Lou Malnati’s for making that delicious late-night delivery). But above all, I have to say that having Wakandacon at the Hyatt Regency Mccormick in Chicago was an amazing part of my experience. The hotel and convention center are connected, which makes it very easy for out of towners to navigate. There are LOTS of places to get food there, so if you’re busy with Wakandacon festivities, you won’t have to miss a meal.
One thing to mention is that the Hyatt Regency Mccormick is absolutely gorgeous. Walking to the convention is one of the most relaxing experience as you take in their decor, paintings, and water fountains.
If you stay in the hotel for Wakandacon, you will LOVE it. The rooms are big, there’s a really cool desk area, and I had ZERO problems with the room or the hotel staff. Nothing about my stay was stressful. Wakandacon really picked an amazing place to host a con.
Kid and Family Friendly
I come across a lot of conventions that say that they are family-friendly. Most even have a children’s play area and even nursing rooms. Wakandacon had all of these, of course. What really impressed me and how I felt that they went above and beyond with having several panels and activities for kids which is something I haven’t ever noticed before.
Kids could participate in STEM activities such as making their own planet out of styrofoam balls. Panels for kids included the Jabari Warrior Stunt Workshop for kids under the age of 16. At this panel, they could learn stunts and fight choreography from Black Panther. Even more amazing, Mark Willis, who was in Black Panther, teaches this workshop.
Another panel was “Tiny Time-Improv for Small Children and Their Parents” which was just as adorable as it sounds.
The cosplay contest also featured a kids division, in which the “aww”s never stopped
One thing I can say is that the volunteer staff was amazing! Always friendly and always knowledgable. And if they didn’t know the answer, they would go out of their way to research it for you.
I had one volunteer where neither of us was sure where the Networking For Creatives Hour room was. But she happily checked a few rooms and was able to find it for me.
The volunteer staff sat in a long table as you entered the con. It was such a welcoming moment to see all of their smiling faces as you walked in.
Kudos to you Wakandacon staff and volunteers! You guys rocked the entire weekend.
Beginner Cosplayer Friendly
Aside from seeing all of the amazing seasoned cosplayers, it was also refreshing to see new cosplayers too. Even some debuting their first cosplay ever.
My favorite new cosplayer that I ran into was a total delight. In the video, you can see that she’s dressed as Miss Frizzle from The Magic Schoolbus. What’s even more amazing was that I learned she was an astrophysicist in real life. What a perfect cosplay for her! She’s even on Twitter making science ever so cool again!
Overall, everyone who was either cosplaying or observing the cosplay was very encouraging and uplifting to each other, regardless of whether they were a seasoned cosplayer or just starting out. It was very heartwarming to watch.
Relaxed Atmosphere For POC
For the most part, I have fun at other conventions. However, as a person of color, I have run into some things ranging from mildly inconvenient to downright harassment. Unfortunately, this can be a very common experience for most people of color attending conventions.
One thing about Wakandacon is that it is not only a welcoming atmosphere, but it’s a place where you can really relax and have fun without worrying about someone coming in to ruin it for you. I did genuinely feel that everyone I interacted was friendly, encouraging, and just as ready to gush about Black Panther as I was.
From the staff to the attendees, everyone was out to have a good time.
Coding and Stem Galore!
On Saturday and Sunday, Wakandacon hosted “Shuri’s Room: The Official Wakandacon Code-A-Thon”. This was an amazing event that I haven’t seen at a con before. The cool thing is that this wasn’t just for seasoned coders. They even were teaching people to code at the beginner level.
There were so many STEM-related panels such as “Black Women in Astrochemistry and Planetary Science”, “Modern Day Wakandians: Vibranium Wielders @ Fermilab”, and “Microsoft Philanthropies Presents: Realizing the Promise of AI”
I absolutely loved the emphasis on STEM and meeting so many other scientists at this con. This alone set it apart from the many cons I’ve attended, as well as being open for beginners to learn what they can.
What do you think of Wakandacon? Think you will try to attend next year? Give us a shout in the comments section below and let us know what you think.