Fan Expo 2011 kicked off this Thursday April 25 and fan boys and girls lined up at the girls dressed up in their favorite superhero garb. The rain started around 1:30 p.m. causing event organizers to let fans in early to survey the goods, meet the celebrities and watch their favorite comic creators in action.

Fans line up at Fan Expo 2011, some of them on weary feet already. Photo By: Alexa Tomaszewski

Fans line up at Fan Expo 2011, some of them on weary feet already.

You could tell organizers were concerned about the masses. Fan Expo 2010, also held at the Toronto Convention Center, made headlines not because of comic related announcements, but because of swelling crowds resulting in unhappy Expo-goers.

This year event staff is making sure crowds are hurdled through mazes of ropes in a civilized fashion. But, there are still crowds.

Beyond that – comics, posters, manga, handmade wares and artist reproductions are all laid out for perusal. Some big names have also descended to Toronto to both greet fans and make announcements.

Check out my survival guide for how to survive Fan Expo 2011 this weekend.

1. Bring a backpack or wear a fannypack so your hands are free.

Keep hands free to go throgh piles like this. Photo By: Alexa Tomaszewski

Keep hands free to go through piles like this.

2. Bring a bottle of water so you don’t end up spending $3 or more on a bottle. If you do end up breaking a bill on water, save the bottle for refills.

3. Wear comfortable shoes: you’re going to be on your feet all day.

4. Prepare to stand in line. Mitigate this by planning who you want to see. Go to panels 30 minutes prior or earlier depending on who’s speaking. Check out the vendor list for some hot buys.

5. Don’t forget to check out artist alley – save a few bucks on original prints, handmade goodies and commissioned prints. Don’t forget your local artists!

Artist Alley is the perfect place to see young North American artists showcase their favorite superheroes. Photo By: Alexa Tomaszewski

Artist Alley is the perfect place to see young North American artists showcase their favorite superheroes.

6. We all know Fan Expo is about shopping. If you can bring small bills so vendors are not scrambling for change. It will also enable you to barter for items without showing how much dough you’re actually pocketing.

7. Pack a few high protein snacks like almonds to keep energy levels high. Stay away from sugary candies or cola to avoid a sugar crash. Drink water instead of coffee to avoid dehydration.

8.  Take the TTC so you don’t have to worry about parking or getting a ticket.

9. Wear comfortable and light clothing, keeping in mind the convention center is air-conditioned.

10. Bring your camera – there are lots of sights! (Don’t forget to charge the battery the night before).

Star Wars toys, Star wars costumes, droids - you name it - the Force is at Fan Expo. Photo By: Alexa Tomaszewski

Star Wars toys, Star wars cotumes, droids - you name it - the Force is at Fan Expo.

11. Feel free to dress up like your favorite superhero, video game character or manga character. Embrace your inner nerd and let your freak flag fly.

12. Embracing your inner nerd means busting out the spiral notebook with all the issues your missing.

All photos courtesy of Alexa Tomaszewski.