Fan Expo – A Beginner’s Guide To Survive


In a few short days, Fan Expo will be upon us.  It is the premiere event in Canada for all things Comics, Sci-Fi, Horror, Gaming and newly added this year… Sports.

Fan Expo takes place over 4 days (Aug 22-25th) at the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto.

Fan Expo Comics

If this is your first time attending Fan Expo, the gang here at Comic Book Daily are glad to help, with some tips and tricks on how to survive this massive and amazing convention.

Instead of rehashing tips that my fellow writers have written, here are some links to their previous columns.

Anthony Falcone wrote about eating healthy and exercise at a comic convention.  This is important for Fan Expo, especially if you are planning on attending all four days.  You don’t want to get burned out too quick.  You’ll need your energy.

Leigh Hart made a video on how to survive Fan Expo last year.  She has a lot of great tips too.

Now that you’ve seen some of the gang’s tips.  Now it’s my turn.

  • Make an Itinerary – “Hannibal” Smith said it perfectly… “I love it when a plan comes together!”.  And I echo his sentiments.  You need a plan.  Fan Expo is a huge event.  Without a proper plan you’ll end up wasting your time.  First off, check the Fan Expo website.  You can grab a copy of the schedule of events.  Once you have it, you can plan on the panels you’d like to attend (if you are so inclined), or find out what’s happening where and when.  Many events are duplicated during the weekend, so if you miss something, you can catch it later.  Your itinerary should also have marked on it, what is on your shopping list, or who’s autograph you’d like to grab.  Once you have a shopping/to do list.  It will make your weekend go by much more smoothly.
  • Pack Your Gear – You’ll need snacks.  You’ll need beverages.  You’ll need your memorabilia (comics, souvenirs of the sort to get signed).  And yes… you’ll need a change of clothes.  I’ll get to that one.  Fan Expo is a huge event and you are going to be doing a lot of walking.  Pack some snacks with you.  Granola bars are a great choice (and I like bringing beef jerky too).  They are compact.  They don’t need refrigeration.  And they give you good food energy.  Bringing water with you is a good idea too.  Sure there is food at Fan Expo.  But standing in line for an expensive slice of pizza takes time away from all the other great events.  If you are bringing comics with you, they will need to be packed properly so they don’t get damaged either (I know from experience).  Now about the change of clothes… it is never a bad idea to toss an extra T shirt into your pack either.  I don’t know about you, but I always feel refreshed when I throw on a new T.  A refreshed “me” is a happy “me”.
  • Know Your Route – There are lots of ways to get into downtown Toronto, and not everybody attending Fan Expo live in the downtown core.  There are lots of people coming from all over.  So whether you are driving into the city, taking the GO, the TTC or walking from your hotel hit up Google Streetview to see what the streets look like down at the MTCC.  And since summer time is construction time, that may affect your routes too.  I usually drive to the MTCC.  I find it more relaxing than taking the bus or subway.  There are many parking lots around the MTCC.  The easiest one to get to is in the bottom of the MTCC.  But it is always a good idea to have a back-up lot in case your favourite lot is full.  I have a back up one, but I’m going to keep that little secret to myself 😉
  • Have a Budget & Bring Cash – If you have unlimited disposable cash then this section doesn’t apply to you.  Move on money bags… just kidding.  For the majority of us, we watch our expenses.  When I go to Fan Expo I have money set away for spending at the show.  I also have money set aside for food and other various sundry expenses.  Cash is always the best method of payment.  I haven’t seen too many vendors who won’t accept cash… actually… everybody accepts cash.  There are some who will accept Credit or Debit, but don’t plan on it.  Plus if you need cash, you don’t want to have to stand in line at an ATM and pay through the nose for the service fees.  A budget is a great idea too.  Just because you find “the thing I’ve been looking for years for and I just gotta have it”, it doesn’t mean you have to pay too much for it.  Have a reasonable price tag attached in your head for the stuff you want.  And try not to pay over that amount.  Many vendors are willing to make deals, as long as you are reasonable.  Low-balling them is just an insult and you’ll look silly.
  • What to Wear – This will all depend on your individual fashion sense.  But what you wear also depends on the weather outside too.  Remember there could be thousands of people around, and it can get quite “muggy” inside the convention centre.  You will want to wear something comfortable.  You’ll want shoes that you can walk or stand for hours.  Ladies… high heels are sexy but unless you are prepared to walk in them for 12 hours, they may not be the best plan.  For me, I usually wear my Chuck Taylor Converse High Tops (the fashion staple in the nerd wardrobe) or a pair of John FlueVog shoes.  I’ve had my FlueVog’s for 12 years now.  They are tough and durable and I can walk in them for days… literally.  I’ll be at this convention for 4 days.  I need something I can stand, and move in.

Star Sapphire Fan Expo

Last but not least… Have Fun!  I look forward to Fan Expo every year.  It is the biggest and best comic convention we will get in Canada.  There are some people who don’t like it, but for all the negative things you hear about it, there are so many great things about Fan Expo.  Hey… where else could I see Larry Hagman getting into a limousine outside the MTCC before Dallas came back to TV (Grandma would have been stoked!!!).

It is an amazing convention and I hope to see you there.

(side note… I didn’t have any tips about Cosplay.  Since I don’t have any experience with Cosplay yet… I don’t have any suggestions for you.  But I have hinted over the last couple of weeks that I was planning on being at Fan Expo in costume.  Well… the latest update is my costume that was commissioned for me is all done and ready to rock.  I will be there in full costume on Friday and Sunday at Fan Expo.  If you follow me on Twitter you already know who I will be.  If you don’t follow me on Twitter… shame on you.  But here is a hint for you.  Full details will follow in a future column).

Fan Expo Cosplay

Ed Campbell
Ed Campbell

Ed Campbell is a collector of comics and action figures, primarily G.I. Joe. He is also a Cosplayer with Thor and Captain America as just a few of the characters in his arsenal. When not fulfilling his Comic Book Daily duties, he's "working for a living", volunteering his time for his local Fall Fair, and spending as much time with his family as possible. Use the links below to get in contact with him.

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10 years ago

Don’t know if you guys are aware of this but there is an app called ‘Guidebook’ ( that in the past allowed you to download the entire Fan Expo schedule. It was fantastic for planning seminars and seeing retailers and such.

Now unfortunately I noticed that there’s no schedule yet for this year’s Fan Expo on the Guidebook app so it’s possible it may not be available this year, but it may still be uploaded late considering Fan Expo didn’t have an actual schedule unil just a few weeks ago.

To give you a sense of what it offered, you can download last year’s Fan Expo schedule and take a look at it. It’s a great app.

If it does become available, I highly recommend getting it. It’s free and so useful!

Ed Campbell
10 years ago
Reply to  Nelson

Is it available on most platforms?

10 years ago

According to their website it’s available for iOS and Android as well as a mobile web app.

I’ve contacted Fan Expo and asked them if the schedule will be available this year. I’ll update when I get an answer.

10 years ago
Reply to  Nelson

As per Hobby Star there will not be a schedule available via the Guide book app. Too bad, it was really usefull last year.