DATES: November 22-24, 2013
CELEBRITY GUESTS: David Anders, Tony Amendola, Raphael Sbarge, Keegan Connor Tracy, Ethan Embry, Gil McKinney
the first "Once upon a time" convention
As fate would have it, I chanced upon a website advertising an event being hailed as "EnchantaCon." When I discovered that the theme of the convention was focused on the successful, television series, "Once Upon A Time," I was immediately overjoyed. One of the few television shows that I actually keep up with is Once Upon A Time. For the sake of brevity, I will shorten Once Upon A Time to "OUAT."
If you have missed the revolution that is OUAT, then I highly-recommend that you get started on this magical television series right away. It is a relatively new show that has captivated Sunday audiences since 2011 on ABC. OUAT is a television series about some of the most well-known, fairytale characters who are trapped in a cursed town where nobody remembers their fairytale origins. The show bounces back and forth between flashbacks and present day where you can see how these characters live and interact with another (both in their fairytale past and in their present-day time in Storybrooke, Maine). It is a fantastic series full of twists and magical moments with something special to offer any television enthusiast. For a convention to tackle a show of this scope, it truly needed to have whimsical moments and a magical atmosphere.
Once upon a time...
The location of EnchantaCon was sited quite well at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld. Orlando is a very convenient city to visit because of its close proximity to themeparks, beaches and other wondrous things. The location was extremely adequate.
The media guestlist was also quite attractive. Despite a number of cancellations, the final roster of celebrities still boasted an impressive array of big names from show: David Anders (Dr. Whale), Tony Amendola (Gepetto), Raphael Sbarge (Jiminy Cricket), Keegan Connor Tracy (the Blue Fairy), Ethan Embry (Greg Mendell), and Gil McKinney (Prince Eric). Gil McKinney was actually added at the last moment much to the approval of his adoring fanbase.
Due to the filming obligations in Vancouver, however, the following actors could not attend: Chad Michael Collins (Gerhardt Frankenstein), Michael Coleman (Happy), Faustino Di Bauda (Sleepy), David-Paul Grove (Doc), Beverley Elliot (Granny) and Lee Arenberg (Grumpy).
With all things considered, I was quite happy to travel to Orlando to meet some of my favorite OUAT stars. So I packed my car with a few essentials, and made my journey to Central Florida.
Enchantacon: day 1
I found the panel room at around 3pm just in time to hear an introductory speech by Scott Distasio (EnchantaCon president), Laurie Mahoney (vice-president), and JustJosh (master of ceremonies).
COSPLAY PICTURES FROM DAY 1:
If the Bamboo Grille fails to excite your tastebuds, then you could easily walk across the street (off hotel property), and choose from even more restaurants. For some attendees (such as myself), the food options made this convention experience even better.
The location of the Bamboo Grille was a terrific spot for people-watching as well as celebrity-watching since everyone had to walk by this restaurant to get around the hotel.
During the cocktail party, we moved outside to the balcony to watch a live, mermaid performance by Eden Siréne as she swam gracefully through the pool just below us. She truly was a wonder to behold!
I luckily had the opportunity to talk to each of the celebrities extensively with the exception of Keegan Connor Tracy who I kept missing throughout the evening. I was, however, able to shake Keegan's hand as she was leaving the Cocktail Party.
1. David Anders is an Oregon football fan. He has a gaming console which he uses to play sports games. He also loves golf in real life. David also had the pleasure of playing tennis against tennis star, Fernando Verdasco.
2. Raphael Sbarge is from New York. He is just as friendly in person as he is on television.
3. Gil McKinney did not know which prince he was auditioning for originally. He had no idea until his friends congratulated him on getting the part of "Prince Eric."
4. Ethan Embry has never eaten at a White Castle in his life (even though his character does in "Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle").
5. Keegan Connor Tracy has really cold hands!
enchantacon: day 2
1) Keegan Connor Tracy did not have a favorite, fairytale story growing up because she chose to read adult-style books as soon as she could read. If she had to choose a favorite fairytale character, then it would definitely be Belle because she is bilingual, and she loves to read.
2) Raphael Sbarge's favorite, fairytale character was Little Red Riding Hood.
3) Tony Amendola was interested in epic poems growing up (such as the story of Jason & the Argonauts).
I really enjoyed the panels on Friday and Saturday. I am typically not a huge fan of panel discussions, but I made the exception for this convention since the OUAT topics were easy to follow. It was truly delightful to hear what others had to say about the show.
I learned a very unique fact about her during my brief encounter: she speaks more Tagalog than myself! (Tagalog is one of the official languages of the Philippines)
At 4pm, there was a surprise panel with a surprise twist. A few minutes after all of the attendees had found their seats, the lights turned off in the auditorium, and we were all greeted with a Skype chatbox which was projected on the giant overhead screen. This chatbox turned out to be the surprise! Greeting us over the videochat were the familiar faces of Lee Arenberg, David-Paul Grove, Faustino DiBauda, Michael Coleman and Beverley Elliott.
It was a terrific night where I got to know my new-found friends better, and yes, I occasionally ran into some of the celebrities who were mingling with the attendees. Gil McKinney (Prince Eric) actually approached several times to greet me. I truly cannot wait to see more of Gil's character in the upcoming episodes of "Once Upon A Time" He truly is a humble and fantastic individual.
By the end of the night, I was starting to feel like I would never see my new friends again. After attending a convention for two days with the same people, you really start to feel a connection with everyone. Even if you do not have the opportunity to talk to everyone, you will still recognize their familiar faces (which makes you feel right at ease). There was still another day of convention activities, but I already had to bid farewell to a new friend of mine, Haylee, who would not be coming back for Sunday's events.
enchantacon: day 3
The Breakfast function was quite amazing, and definitely worth the upgrade. My table had the honor of Tony Amendola's presence. We talked about all sorts of topics ranging from regional dialects to places where we would like to visit. Tony would love to visit Greece someday! He would also like to take a cruise in the near future. I also learned that he has never been to Disney World (only Disney Land). I honestly steered clear of any Stargate topics since I had never seen that show.
After a memorable breakfast with Tony, one of my new friends had to catch a taxi to the airport. Although I only knew her for two days, I still felt like she was a part of my inner circle.
I attended one last panel while I waited for my Raphael photo to develop. Fittingly, it was a David Anders Q & A session. It was fitting since he was the first celebrity I talked to at the event.
1) David can sing exceedingly well! His favorite musicals are "Into the Woods" and "Les Miserables."
2) David loves to read about History. I found this quite fascinating as I consider myself a History buff as well.
3) David has some really slick, dance moves (I learned that when I saw him bust into a dance at the Fairy Tale Ball on the previous night).
4) In a movie about himself, he would cast Neil Patrick Harris to play him.
Afterwards, I took a few more pictures (including one with my liason to the event, Laurie). I had some errands to run (which could no longer wait) so I finally had to bid my final farewell to three, magical days at EnchantaCon. As I trudged towards my car, I walked much more slowly than usual so that I could hopefully run into some more attendees. I finally saw one familiar face. And the last face I saw at the convention was none other than Ethan Embry.
PICTURES FROM DAY 3:
after the con: happily ever after?
This was my first time spending three days at a convention, and I was pretty certain that no other convention would ever match the whimsical feel of EnchantaCon. Everything about this convention worked. The celebrity encounters, the autograph sessions, and the Q & A's were all topnotch. The extra events (Cocktail Party, Fairy Tale Ball, and Breakfast) were definitely worth every penny. It was so refreshing and unique to meet celebrities at these extra events where attendees could mingle with their favorite stars in a social setting. The whole convention was well-organized from the top to the bottom. Even the cancellations were dealt with in the sincerest of ways. The addition of Gil McKinney at the last minute was also a very nice touch.
Finally, the attendees were absolutely fantastic. The fan cosplays were breathtaking. And the friendships we created at the convention were as magical as the show itself.
The future for EnchantaCon seems very positive. The convention organizers are very optimistic about bringing EnchantaCon back next year to the OUAT fans. The biggest problem to solve is deciding its location.