WonderCon Opens This Weekend in Anaheim; Auditioning to Host ComicCon?

This weekend, one of the largest pop culture conventions on the West Coast comes to the Anaheim Convention Center in the form of WonderCon 2017.  The show temporarily went to Los Angeles in 2016 due to the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center, and LA was determined to keep it.  But at that show, organizers announced WonderCon was coming back to Anaheim.

Why is this important?

Because there is a possibility that the giant San Diego Comic-Con might be leaving San Diego when the lease it up.

Why?

A proposal to expand the convention center and build a downtown stadium for the Chargers went down to defeat in the November election.  There is a new end-around for just an expansion of the Convention Center described here but it’s a bit of a longshot.

And Anaheim would be an ideal location for a few reasons:

  1. Size of the convention center.
  2. Availability of parking and hotels nearby.
  3. After show destinations of Downtown Disney and the GardenWalk for the many parties that go on when the show doors close.
  4. Comic-Con’s economic benefit to the city of San Diego is actually greater than what’s derived by having the Chargers in town (and their playing in Carson next year).
  5. Anaheim’s a lot closer to Hollywood than San Diego, and the people who spend tons of marketing dollars might enjoy a short drive instead of a short flight.

While the LA Convention Center has the size and nearby hotels and restaurants, Anaheim offers a better environment for a show like WonderCon (and ComicCon).  Both shows are operated by ComicCon International, so the city and its convention center management already have a working relationship.

The difference between WonderCon and ComicCon?  About 70,000 people a day,  About 60,000 are expected each day of WonderCon which opens Friday while ComicCon draws 130,000 daily through Wednesday through Sunday.  Tickets must be purchased online for both venues and the ComicCon ducats are hard to get –attendees need an online lottery to get tickets.

According to CNBC, the average ComicCon visitor spends $600 at the event.  That’s about $78 million in revenue for a 5 day event.  Imagine the sales tax that would generate in Anaheim?

The San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), otherwise known as Comic-Con, is widely considered to be the premier event of its kind, where tickets often sell out in minutes. According to Miro Copic, a marketing professor at San Diego State University who recently crunched the numbers, this year’s SDCC is expected to have a whopping $150 million in economic impact on the region, representing an injection of at least $80 million in direct spending.

“Comic Con is very important to San Diego,” Copic told CNBC in an email, adding that it was also the largest convention of the year for the city. On average, its 130,000 attendees will spend over $600 per person, Copic’s data shows.

San Diego plays host to 34 million visitors annually, according figures from to the city’s tourism bureau, pulling in more than $700 million in state and local tax revenue. Last year, San Diego’s Convention Center saw about 553,000 individuals total—meaning that SDCC makes up more than a quarter of the year’s traffic by itself.
One thing is clear; without the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim would not have a shot at this convention and the economic benefit it provides.  There’s work to be done, but it is more than a possibility.

  2 comments for “WonderCon Opens This Weekend in Anaheim; Auditioning to Host ComicCon?

  1. Pbrstreetgang
    March 29, 2017 at 7:39 am

    No way I don’t know much about the expanson but when I went to Star Wars celebration Anaheim with about the same as Comic-Con International it was was over packed and poorly gorgonized I don’t think so Anaheim is big enough

    • March 29, 2017 at 8:13 am

      The Star Wars event was two years ago, before the expansion of the Convention Center. The D23 show there about six years ago was awful…it took forever to get inside to get your badge. The show organizers have made considerable improved progress since then. A packed show is a good show. And its actually very well organized if you review daily scheduled in advance and make a plan for what you want to do. If you just walk in and turn right, yeah, it’s going to seem disorganized. Use the resources in advance to make a plan — you’ll get more out of the shows that way.

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