10 September 2012

On WorldCon bids

I mentioned in my WorldCon wrap-up that I am supporting the bid for Spokane in 2015 over Orlando, despite one of these places being really close and the other on the opposite side of the country. Helsinki just announced their bid during WorldCon, and all they have right now is a twitter page and maybe facebook, so I can't really comment on their bid at this time.

Spokane's materials really impressed me. The people running the bid have a lot of experience running conventions, and it shows. The convention will (probably) be well run should they win.

I like their location, in the Spokane convention center, with four hotels close by. (Though I wonder if they have any way to give people with disabilities preferential booking for the closest hotel. Interesting question. Fandom isn't getting any younger...more on that later.)

Spokane has a ton of restaurants in close walking distance from the convention center, apparently, which can't really be said about Disney's Coronado Springs resort, where Orlando is proposing theirs.

A factor that weighs, well, not MOST heavily, but it's up there is that CJ Cherryh is supporting the Spokane bid. She'll be at the convention. (She lives out there.) She doesn't fly, so she doesn't do east-coast cons, or much she can't drive to readily. If they win, I'm going. The hard part will be deciding which of my 60 Cherryh novels to take with me to get signed. Without checked bags.

The Orlando bid appeals to my revolutionary Marxist nature. But I can't tell if anyone on the committee has any experience running a con. This comment says they do. Not knowing Florida fandom, I can't say I recognized any of the names on their list, and unlike Spokane, there aren't brief bios anywhere.

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort has a lot of restrictions, like not being able to bring your own food in, and rather limited vegetarian food options (at least when my fellow-vegetarian friend went to a work-related conference there a few years ago). Also, it's kind of in the middle of nowhere, with no way to get off the property without a car. Which, well, is kind of bad.

One person who approached the Spokane table while I was there said she didn't think the Orlando group "knows what a WorldCon is about." I can't say I agree. I think they do, but their idea is different than traditional fandom. See Thursday's post on the Hugos, where I talk about that some. Cheryl Morgan has an interesting post on the historical natures of fandom and those who want to keep it the Old Way.

Where I definitely agree with the Orlando group, and Chris Galvin Nguyen in this Mind Meld, is that WorldCon is too expensive for many, if not most, fans to attend.

Between airfare, a $200+ membership, and hotel, plus restaurant food for 5 days, young fans and international fans are being priced out of attending WorldCon. Even a non-attending supporting membership, which entitles you to vote on the Hugos and in site selection, is $60+. If you wonder why WorldCon-attending fandom is a mostly older and US-based crowd, well, there's one answer.

Though, of course, we can't forget that there are fans who are retired and living on a fixed income, so they're being priced out, too. (And the Hyatt Regency had some very interesting interpretations of the ADA as far as bathroom accessibility was concerned. Power chairs couldn't fit into the stalls, and the panel rooms were often tight.)

I think the World Science Fiction Convention should be out in the rest of the world more often than it is, and Nguyen's got data in the Mind Meld I linked above. Kind of depressing, really. So in theory I support Helsinki's bid, because, hey, a non-US bid. I'm skeptical they'll win, because 2014's going to be in London, and, let's be honest, US-based fandom's not going to want to go abroad two years in a row. Helsinki's a nice city, I hear, and I've never been to Finland. I'm still unemployed, though, so I can't really afford the airfare.


Anonymous said...

There is something really appealing about the low-cost approach to the Orlando bid *and* their desire to do a bit to break out of Old School Fandom habits. I just read their manifesto and I think there's a lot of good stuff in there.

But I've stayed at that hotel and wouldn't want to be stuck with $13 weird margaritas and gross cheese pizza all weekend. =/ Disney resorts have a lot of free transportation perks, but Coronado Springs isn't particularly close to anything; it's in the weird dead zone of Resort-Only area that's not super convenient to much else. I think it would be hard to, say, go off-site for lunch and only miss one panel, which was pretty easy in Chicago.
I realize that I am not a person who's at all excited about Orlando/Disney so I may just be bringing my surly bias into play here, but I think the downsides wouldn't be worth it for me personally. But I appreciate the work behind the bid all the same.

CD Covington said...

Yeah, I agree with a lot of Orlando's ideas and goals, which is why it pains me a bit to support Spokane (but CJ CHERRYH!).

Some of the comments on Cheryl Morgan's post say there's a city bus service that locals use to get to work, but yeah--not much you can get to in little enough time to miss one panel. And the on-site restaurants are EXPENSIVE! There are a lot of Disney fan sites with menus and stuff, and the vegetarian options aren't terribly inspiring.

Yes, it's true Disney can accommodate special dietary needs, but you have to give them advance notice for your reservation, etc. And ... meh.

I'm not anti-Disney; I like Disney World. It's fun. I'm not a huge fan like my friend R, but I don't hate it, either.

For me also, the inconvenience factor of the location and its limited eating options that don't involve extensive travel outweigh the "YES LET'S REVOLUTIONIZE WORLDCON!" factor.

Adam Beaton said...

Real quick - you *can* bring your own food and drink into Coronado Springs. I'm not sure where that rumor got started. You can bring outside food and drink to any hotel and any theme park even if you want.

CD Covington said...

Thanks, Adam! I'm not sure where it got started, either.

Though it would be a largely moot point for me, because I'd be flying and wouldn't have a car, so I'd bring along what I took to ChiCon: protein bars and pop tarts. Which are fine for breakfast and "oh god I'm hungry but there's this panel and maybe I can go eat after that..." but not all that great for sustenance.

We stayed in the Treehouses at Christmas a couple years ago, and my in-laws opted to have breakfast food delivered. Cereal and stuff, using Disney's service. The markup was kind of high. But we didn't have a car, so we couldn't find our way off the resort and into town where there's grocery stores, so we paid 50% more for a box of Raisin Bran.

The Orlando Convention Center isn't a better space, either. I went to a pharmacy conference there a while back, and it isn't the sort of place you'd want to host a WorldCon. ASHP Midyear Meeting? Sure. Not a WorldCon, though.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

The last Orlando Worldcon was nothing to write home about.

Not only should Worldcon be overseas more often, it should be in more variety of US cities--Spokane is a good choice. "It's time for another Chicago worldcon" should NEVER be uttered. Likewise, Boston has had enough exposure.