Phoenix Fan Fusion Event Kids. Super Nerds Unite! This past month, in June, the Phoenix Convention Center hosted Phoenix Fan Fusion, the annual gathering of nerds, geeks, and fans from all walks of fandom across the comicverse.
This event is a celebration of a mutual love for all things fantasy, action, adventure, and fiction. From comic books to movies, anime to sci-fi, almost every genre of fantastical fiction is represented here!
This event is mostly geared towards adults, however there were a lot of kids there, and our three kids had a lot of fun.
Some of the main features of Fan Fusion include panel discussions by celebrities, the opportunity to get a photo or autograph from a famous actor, writer, artist, or cartoon vocal artist, rooms filled with hundreds of vendors selling interesting and rare merch, and the opportunity to show off your own personal costuming skills.
Not everyone dresses up for the event, but guests with creative costumes add a huge element of fun and interest to the weekend. We saw Disney princesses, Marvel and DC superheroes, video game characters, anime characters, witches and wizards of the Harry Potter world, Star Trek crew, and most prevalently, Star Wars. People work hard to make their costumes amazing.
My family’s main mission for the day was to meet James and Oliver Phelps, the actors who played Fred and George Weasley in all of the Harry Potter movies. We had pre-purchased tickets for a “selfie” photo with them at the table where they were also signing autographs. I highly recommend purchasing these passes online ahead of time as they can sell out, and are also more expensive on the day of. You also have to stand in a long line just to get your passes, then get in line to meet the person you choose.
Since we arrived early, we thought it wouldn’t take long at all to get through the line and get on with the conference. We were wrong! We stood in line for two and a half hours. But it was so worth it! We had known the line would be long, so we prepared ahead of time by filling our kid’s backpacks with crossword puzzles, coloring books, figit toys and an elicit smuggled-in snack. We also played many games of rock paper scissors, I spy, and thumb wars. All in all, the kids were really well behaved. Our time with James and Oliver was so short! But they were very kind and enthusiastic to meet us. It was so fun to shake their hands, and really nice to get a photo with them.
After that very long wait, we were hungry, so we got in line for the nearest food booth. The food in the Phoenix Convention Center is really overpriced, and not that good. When you enter the convention center you have to go through a check similar to airport security, although less aggressive and you can keep your shoes on.
But they are very strict on the no food policy. You are allowed to bring an empty, refillable water bottle which you can fill inside the building at various water fountains. I’m not sure if everyone in security is so strict, but I had a fruit roll up in each of my kid’s backpacks, and they didn’t make them throw them away. The better food is outside in the food trucks just past security.
Inside at a food kiosk, we had hot dogs, chicken tenders, and fries. The chicken and fries were fine, the hot dogs were like giant summer sausages. They were chewy and tough and gross. But the pretzels with hot cheese were really good.
When we were in line for food, a man in front of us was dressed like Moon Night, a dark hero from a recently released Disney+ series of the same name. He was asked repeatedly for photos with other guests, and was surprised how many people wanted his picture. Someone finally told him there was a scavenger hunt, and Moon Night was one of the characters they had to find. He was so excited to find out his costume was on the scavenger hunt!
There are more events and opportunities here than can be done in the three day weekend of the convention. I want to highlight some of the more kid-centered activities.
In one of the main exhibit halls, an entire corner was devoted to Star Wars. It was amazing. You are greeted by a big sign that says, “Welcome to Mos Eisley, a Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy,” which is of course a quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi in “A New Hope” describing the city. You can interact with BB-8, meet storm troopers, see Han Solo frozen in carbonite, get trapped in a spaceship garbage disposal, and sit down in the cantina.
You’ll see many members of the 501 Legion, a group that does appearances for charity in their impressive Star Wars attire. We saw lots of Mandalorians, Queen Amadala, Han Solo, Ahsoka Tano, Bo-Katan Kryze, Princess Leia, Rebel starfighter pilots, and Tusken Raiders. Everyone is more than happy to stop and take their picture with you.
There is a kids craft room where kids can color pictures and create their own art to hang on the gallery wall. Next to that was a Lego room where you could sit and make your own creations, or participate in a timed Lego building competition. My kids (and husband) really enjoyed that experience. The top 6 winners received a Lego set. Those competitions happen at specific times, so make sure you grab an event guide on your way in to check the locations and times of all the things you want to experience.
Some of the merchandise booths were very impressive. There were several booths selling 3D printed toys. My kids each got a small 3D printed axolotl. There were children’s book booths with authors and artists signing their works. We had fun sorting through piles of stuffed animals to find our favorite Pokemon. The posters and stickers showcasing incredible artwork really engaged the kids. They got excited whenever they spotted a favorite character.
One fun thing to do is just sit and watch all the attendees walk by in their costumes. It felt like a big Halloween party. Something to keep in mind is that there is really no dress code. Some of the costumes were definitely not kid-friendly (or even adult friendly really). We just had to tell the kids that some people dress in ways we don’t, and to look away when they caught a glimpse of something uncomfortable. We tried to keep their attention on the fun, and away from the way too adult themes. Just be prepared if some of those costuming scenarios may be uncomfortable for your family.
There were hundreds of kids and families dressed in fantastic outfits that we loved. Some of my kid’s favorites we saw were a little Princess Peach and her entire Mario themed family, Mirabel from Disney’s “Encanto,” and lots of Pokemon. We all wore Harry Potter themed outfits since we were meeting the Phelps twins.
This annual convergence of fans and celebrities has become a yearly tradition for hundreds of people. If you consider yourself a super nerd, or just a casual observer, this is a great place to spend a weekend… and several hundred dollars. One day tickets purchased online prior to June 1st were $60 for an adult, and $20 for your little sidekick. The cost went up by $5 after the start of the event. Passes to meet the celebrities can range from $15 to $120, and more if you want the professional photo experience. Parking in the nearby garages was $30. So plan ahead and be prepared for the cost.
Despite the hit on your wallet, you really can’t beat a fun weekend of playing dress-up with hundreds of other people, playing with Legos, coloring, seeing famous people, meeting local artists, and just enjoying your favorite fantasy genre with other guests who appreciate the same things.
For more information, you can visit their website. Thank you for reading everyone, and from my family to yours, Live Long, and Prosper.