Castle Point Anime Convention, or CPAC, has grown rapidly throughout the years. For the first time, CPAC was held at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey, instead of Stevens Institute in Hoboken, New Jersey. Did this new location benefit CPAC in any way? Or did it cause problems for the attendees and staff? We at Honey’s Anime attended CPAC to see if this location still brings the heart of the original.
|When it Established|| May 2008|
Official Website: https://www.castlepointanime.com
Castle Point Anime Convention started out as a small one-day convention on the campus of Stevens Institute. Founded by the Stevens Anime Club in 2008, the members of said club run the convention like any other officially sponsored con. It’s impressive that an entirely student-run convention continues to grow each year.
|Length of Event|| 2 days. |
As mentioned earlier, CPAC used to be a one-day con, usually held on the last Sunday of April. By popular demand, the attendees wanted Castle Point to be longer, so in 2016, it became a two-day con. 2018 is the third year of CPAC being a two-day convention, and you can tell that the attendees are loving it. Even though the people demanded for the con to start on Saturday, the CPAC staff still wanted Sunday to be considered as the main day. So the first year they became a two-day con, the festivities didn’t start until 1pm on Saturday. In 2017, both days started at the same time, however most of the panels and fun events were moved to Sunday. For 2018, CPAC was held from May 19th to the 20th with an even balance of panels and events on both days.
|Place/Location||Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey|
As the warm bodies rise, so do the prices. CPAC was originally $15, and over the years, the price went up from $15 to $20 to $25 and counting. The average price for a weekend badge with any convention is $45-$60, with single-day badges for Friday and Sunday being $25-$45 and Saturday being $50. For Castle Point, if you registered at the early bird price, your ticket was $25 for the weekend. If you missed the deadline, the Saturday price was $30 while the Sunday badge was $50. And if you missed online registration, then you’d have to pay those same prices at the door.
|Hotels|| The Meadowlands Expo Center is smack in the middle of the Plaza at Harmon Meadows. This is a tourist rest-stop hub with loads of restaurants and hotels. Secaucus is near the Lincoln Tunnel, which takes you to New York City. For people wanting a cheaper hotel than the ones in NYC, then you go to the Meadows.|
With the expo center being surrounded by hotels, you can stay at a bunch of affiliated and non-affiliated convention hotels. The Holiday Inn is where most of the attendees stayed at, because a majority of the panels were held on the first two floors of the hotel. The Holiday Inn is only half a block away from the expo center. But if you wanted to be even closer to the expo center, you probably stayed at Embassy Suites, which is right next to the expo center. There’s also the Marriott’s Residence Inn, Hyatt Place, Meadowlands River Inn, and the Marriott’s Courtyard hotel.
What to Expect
Although CPAC is a far smaller con than Anime NYC or Liberty City, it still functions like a regular convention. There are concerts, a masquerade, rave, game show panels, informational panels, special guest voice actors, Japanese arcade, and an exhibitors’ alley. Unlike most conventions, the dealer’s room and artist alley were in the same room... or should we say, section. When you walk into the expo center, you’ll notice that multiple events are going on at once. In two corners of the room, you’ll see two stages, one for concerts and one for fan performances. On the far back end of the room, you’ll see two sections blocked off by a black curtain. One of those sections is the dealer’s room and the artist alley combined, while the other section is an arcade. You’ll also notice a few hidden doors across the stages. Those doors lead to panels and autograph signings.
Sunday was certainly the life of the party with tons of cosplayers, concerts, and beautiful weather. Saturday was rainy and chilly at 52 degrees. Sunday was sunny with clear blue skies at 82 degrees. Everyone’s moods were up and the warm bodies were packing, making the panel rooms a the expo center extremely hot. The staff was friendly and got to each attendees needs as fast as they could. They never yelled, and would give a detailed response to anyone who was lost.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event
If you’re planning on using your cell phone to take pictures, video, text your parents, or check your social media, you’ll notice that your cell phone battery won’t last long. There aren’t many outlets at the con, and there’s no charging station, so it’s best to bring a portable charger. And of course, if you’re bringing a portable charger, make sure to bring a USB cord to plug your phone into the charger. If you’re not cosplaying, make sure to wear sneakers. Time flies when you’re at a con, and you don’t notice the physical pain your body is in until you get back home or the hotel. Ease the pain of standing and walking for 12 hours straight by wearing some comfy sneakers.
Planning on buying figures and posters in the exhibitor’s hall? Bring your own bag so you can carry your merch. It’s best to bring a drawstring bag instead of a regular backpack or messenger bag. Backpacks are clunky, and messenger bags will dig into your shoulder. A drawstring bag is light and can carry a lot of things, including your personal belongings. A bonus tip is to bring a binder or folder to keep the beautiful purchases from the artist alley safe. You don’t want those posters to get scratched up and bent at the con.
What to Do While There/What is Available
On the first floor of the Holiday Inn, there was a maid cafe. Each maid gave you an Akihabara maid cafe experience with every maid having a distinct characteristic. Whether it be the yandere, the idol, the imouto, or chuunibyou, each maid stuck with their persona.
On the second floor, you had the majority of the panels, plus anime screening rooms. CPAC usually has a bunch of panels going on, but this year, it was organized differently. Just about every panel started and ended at the same time. So for 30 minutes, you wouldn’t know what to do until the next panel started. You may think to walk back to the expo center, but why walk back, when you could be first in line at the panel? You could go to the screening rooms, but what if they were screening an anime you don’t like, or it’s a random episode in the middle of a series you don’t know? This was a very odd way to schedule panels, and we hope this will be fixed next year.
Arcade: The arcade had a variety of Japanese arcade games. From the classic Dance Dance Revolution, to the addicting Taiko Drums, you’ll be spending more time in the arcade than you originally planned. Though lines for some of the more popular games were long, you didn’t have to wait for an eternity to play a game. Everyone respected the rules, and played a round of a game once then let the next person go.
From 8pm to 10pm, the rave was held in the expo center at the north stage. Lots of dancers brought their own glow sticks, glow in the dark beach balls, and fiber optic whips to give more hype to the rave. If you got tired from dancing, there was a food stand right outside the rave. Not only were they selling water, but also carnival foods like funnel cake and hot dogs.
Castle Point had a wide mix of fan performance concerts and official concerts from bands. Both days started off with a performance by the maids from the Maid 4 U Cafe. And in the afternoon, both days had a fan gathering for KPOP AND JPOP dancing. There was also a vocaloid concert from Vocamerica, Love Live!! fan performances, and a concert from anisong cover band Moshi Moshi.
Although there were a lot of cosplayers on Saturday, it was nothing compared to Sunday. Not only did Sunday have more cosplays, but they also had the most exciting ones. The most shocking costume was a giant Slender Man. This cosplayer made extra long arms and was walking on stilts.
What do you do if you have a con to go to, but you also have to walk your dog? Would you walk your dog around the con? How about in cosplay? That’s exactly what this man did when he took his dog out for a walk at the con. He suited the puppy up in a captain america cosplay that came with a shield.
There were a lot of cosplays from currently airing anime and anime that finished last season. Of course, you have the popular Boku no Hero Academia cosplays, but there was also some stand-out cosplays from Darling in the FranXX, Aggretsuko, and Violet Evergarden. If you saw a cosplay group, chances are they were cosplaying from Houseki no Kuni, Danganronpa, or Boku no Hero Academia.
Some of these cosplayers even had their own panel. And some of the cosplay panels were on how to make props with EVA foam, or styling a wig.
We understand that CPAC is growing fast, and is trying their best to accommodate everyone’s needs. Although this was a rough start into a new location for CPAC, we know that they’ll pull through with their hard working staff. Have you ever been to CPAC? Are you interested in going? Let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as we can. Till next time!