This weekend is Ohayocon, the annual winter anime convention held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center (but mostly the Hyatt Regency) in Columbus, Ohio. Having gone there a couple time, and having gone to the GCCC over 20 times (due to the Origins Game Fair and various Magic: the Gathering PTQs), I’ve made a list of things to know before you go and while you are there.
#1 You can participate in Ohayocon for free, to a limited degree.
If you just want to see people’s cosplays, you can just go to the hotel and watch everybody go by. If you need to shop, there is a place called Heroes & Games, which does have some anime items and, because it is a permanent store at the GCCC, it is the only place at the con you can buy Pocky. You won’t be able to participate in events or go to the vendor’s area or artist alley, but if you just want to cosplay or get Pocky, you can do this for free.
#2 Don’t forget this takes place in winter
The only time I have ever experienced white-out conditions while driving was on my way home from Ohayocon 2014. You will likely have to deal with snow coming and/or going. Also, while the parking garage under the Hyatt is warm enough that you can comfortably leave your coat in your car, the skywalks are not heated and you will get cold if you use them to get anywhere outside of the Hyatt/GCCC.
#3 Ohayocon has its issues
Every year I hear complaints about security volunteers overstepping their bounds. Rules for getting in and out of panels that are necessary for Hall H at the San Diego Comic Con may be needed there, but rarely is it needed at Ohayocon, but some volunteers go gaga over having authority for the first time in their life and they definitely don’t wear it like comfortable old clothes. In 2015, a 15-year-old transexual was lost and it took 24 hours after the convention for him to be found. Also, Ohayocon is often tardy in giving out the schedule of events (althro they were better this year than they have been in the past, so kudos). Volunteers are necessary, but there is a strong sense of amateurishness at Ohayocon. Quite frankly, the con is bigger than what the staff can handle.
#4 Know the best way to go.
It took me over a decade, maybe 15 years, before I found the best way to get to the GCCC. To find the best way to the site, the GCCC, I recommend using this link: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=550+N+High+St,+Columbus,+OH&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t as it will get you right to the GCCC with minimal hassle, barring any unseen construction. This takes you to the north side of the GCCC. Just take High Street south towards downtown until you get to the light by the Hyatt, and turn left. The parking garage is to your left, go under the overpass and to your left is the best parking lot. Go across 3rd street and you’ll find the cheapest parking lots, althro they are not 24 hour lots. Note that if you enter and leave the second parking lot I jjust mentioned between midnight and 5-6am, there is a good chance you will not have to pay to park at all.
#5 Where should I eat?
I love the gyros at Mykono’s at the food court. Honestly there is no bad place at the food court. If you want table service, there is a Max & Erma’s across Nationwide Blvd…think a higher priced Applebee’s or O’Charley’s. If you like ethnic foods, the North Market, located two blocks away, is awesome.
#6 Anyplace of interest in Columbus outside of Ohayocon?
Want to get away from Ohayocon for a while? Well, for the hip scene (or at least as hip as the Midwest can get) just north of the GCCC is the Short North district, with many trendy shops, restaurants, and bars. I usually go to the German Village two miles south of the GCCC for the Book Loft (many great discount books) and Schmidt’s, which has awesome cream puffs of many flavours and a good but small buffet (which is cheaper during lunch hours), and was seen on national TV on Man vs. Food. (A nearby store has good fudge.) If you REALLY want to travel afar, go to Ichiban Bakery north of town which has an AWESOME and I mean AWESOME Blueberry cake, click HERE for directions there.
#7 Any other pieces of advice
The vast majority of attendees to Ohayocon are bigger otaku than me, so I tried to give non-otaku advice in this article. My main advice is simply: enjoy yourself. There is plenty to see and do. After all, over 10,000 fellow otaku will be there; just follow someone else’s lead if you have to. Enjoy the seminars (which are a mixed bad between good and bad, so luck be with you), the vendors hall, and the artist alley. You are there to have fun; have fun.
Quoth the penguin…evermore.