Heya! Khainsaw here reporting back from my first ever Colossal-Con! I had been wanting to attend this convention ever since I first heard about it, and finally committed to it for 2018, and I’m sure glad I did. As a person who loves swimming, hot tubs, swimsuit cosplays, and drinking, it seemed right up my alley.
Firstly, I want to address getting to and from the convention. If you are fortunate enough to stay at the hotel (we were not), then you are in luck! You are right there, in the middle of all the action. We didn’t have such luck, and stayed at a lovely little AirBnB. It was a great experience, however, getting to and from the con was a little slow as there are not as many Uber/Lyft drivers in the Midwest, even when big events are happening. We had difficulty getting an Uber driver at all on Wednesday night, and would have to wait anywhere from 10-20 minutes for one during the convention days. This is a lot of time if you come from the west coast like I do, where Ubers run aplenty.
The venue was AWESOME. Inside and outside of the convention, there were plenty of scenic places to shoot for a variety of different cosplays. Everything of interest is also within close walking distance, which is something I wish I had known prior to this convention. Some of the more notable places to shoot are the infamous arcade, the scenic field behind the party villas, and within the water park. The arcade was like a mini Dave and Busters and even had a mini bowling alley. It also produced beautiful cosplay shots, although it gets a bit crowded in the evening or when it rains outside. The water park was one of the biggest I’ve personally seen and had two parts. The inside part was open all day, and reopened at night for the night swim, and the outside part was open only until 7PM. During the day, a lot of cosplayers hung out in the outside part to take pictures, drink, and generally relax, this is where I spent most of my time. Despite this being a popular hang out place, the outside part of the water park was never crowded.
On Thursday and Friday, the cosplayers essentially had the water park to themselves. During the weekend, there were more children with their parents, which is fine, but garners some side-eyed glances and sometimes snide comments from prude parents offended by revealing swimsuits. The inside part of the water park was not as popular with cosplayers during the day, as the lighting is not as good for pictures and it is extremely humid. The lazy river, wave pool, and water basketball were in the indoor portion.
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There were 3 hot tubs total and they were all half indoor/outdoor. Near the outdoor portion of the water park was the petting zoo. Honestly, I thought it was going to be kind of lame, but it was actually pretty impressive! They had a wide selection of animals to feed. I was particularly impressed with how clean the zoo was compared to other petting zoos I’ve been to, it hardly smelled like one. Definitely something worth checking out if you like animals. It was only $8 to go in and for extra money you could feed the adorable animals. My favorites were the kangaroos, as it was the first time I had gotten to see one up close.
If you wanted a drink, there was a bar available everywhere you turned. There was even a swim up bar which we got crunk at almost every night! The massive 24 oz drinks are $30 to start and $20 to refill, which may seem expensive, but were well worth the price because every drink I tried was delicious! They even renamed part of their drink menu to have anime themed names like the “Sailor Mars”, and the “Hyrule Breeze.”
There were many cute shops, including a candy store, that I frequented, right in the main lobby. Food was also available at all hours throughout the resort, even inside the water parks, and it did not disappoint. Everything I ate was delicious and in my opinion, affordable compared to west coast convention/hotel prices. Some friendly employees at the food hut in the indoor water park offered me a free slice of pizza, which looked like cardboard pizza but was actually surprisingly delicious. It was delicious enough that I went back at 2AM the next night to buy a slice!
Colossal-Con itself was well organized, and the con staff were very friendly even if some members weren’t the most knowledgeable. As a side note, my experience with the Kalahari staff was also very pleasant, except for the janitor who yelled at me for eating pizza in the cafeteria, where people were clearly allowed to be eating. The vendor hall was petite compared to Cali cons, as was the artist alley, but seemed to have a variety of product. The convention itself was surprisingly crowded. For some reason I had it in my mind that most people hung out in the water park, but I quickly learned that people who are local mostly frequent the convention itself, and people who travel mostly frequent the water park.
The convention had 2 game rooms, a pretty generic one with console games in it like you see at most conventions, and a second one that had awesome (mostly) Japanese arcade games in it, most of which had no English in the game play. This is something I had never seen, or noticed, at a convention before. Many of these games were completely new to me, but there were some classics like Street Fighter, Dance Dance Revolution, and Mortal Kombat. Most of the games in this room were rhythm games. The dynamic of cosplay was strange having come from my latest con, Katsucon. Swimsuit cosplays were definitely a focus of this convention. There were plenty of people in normal cosplay as well, but I saw a distinct lack of big armor builds compared to west coast conventions. It seems like people take Colossal-Con pretty casually, which was a very nice and chill experience overall. The attendees were very friendly and welcoming, which I chalk up to Midwest hospitality!
An important part of the Colossal-Con experience was the night swim! They opened the indoor waterpark back up for attendees from 11PM-3AM, if you had bought the night swim badge. I had one major gripe about the night swim. The cost was $70 for all 3 nights or $30 a night. I thought this was a bit steep and felt it should be discounted for con attendees. Despite this, the night swim was the highlight of my day everyday. One of the nights they had a rave in the wave pool which was nothing short of amazing. A wave pool with lasers and EDM music is everything I apparently ever wanted. The following nights, there were no raves in the wave pool, so we decided to hot tub and drunkenly raid the lazy river.
The cost for this convention was a bit of a downer. It was worth it, but it did seem like the Kalahari was money grubbing with the insane park costs. To utilize the park was pretty expensive if you were not staying at the Kalahari. It was 50 dollars a day to utilize the park or 20 dollars a day to buy a spectator pass to “spectate” or to use the park to shoot cosplay and hang out in, but you technically are not allowed in the water (although they admittedly did not really check to see if you had a spectator pass vs normal pass if you were already in the water.)
If you stayed at the venue, you received 4 park passes per room, which was a 200 dollar value per wristband. I do think it’s pretty strange that con-goers don’t get SOME sort of discount or wristband bundle deal.The $70 badge price, plus the $70 night swim pass, plus the $80-$200 you’ll spend on passes if you want to use the water park every day, makes the price of getting the full Colossal-Con experience costly. This doesn’t even include lodging, drinks, or our flights. Is it worth it? It’s only worth it if you are using Colossal more like a vacation and less like a convention. Either way, I had a blast and will definitely be returning next year! This is a great convention to go to if you aren’t on a tight budget, and want a more vacation-like experience, while still getting great photo ops as a cosplayer.