Midwestern con-goers know that summertime has truly begun when Colossalcon splashes onto the scene. This Ohio convention takes place at the Kalahari Resort, giving its attendees access to water parks, arcades, a spa, and frozen drinks overflowing from 45oz novelty cups. Cosplayers bring out their best swimsuits and sundresses to take full advantage of the tropical atmosphere, starting the season off right with an explosion of anime antics on the shores of Lake Erie.
Coming back for our second year, we at Honey’s Anime are here to give you the lowdown on everything that this unique convention has to offer. Let’s explore Colossalcon!
|When it Established||August 2002|
|Length of Event||4 days, May 30 – June 2, 2019|
|Location||Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio|
|Cost|| Early bird pre-registration discounts are available in advance of the con, but these are the rates at the door:|
4-day pass: $72
|HOTELS||Because of extremely high demand, Colossalcon runs a lottery to fill rooms at the Kalahari Resort itself. Overflow hotels include the Great Wolf Lodge, Sawmill Creek, Hotel Breakers, Castaway Bay, and Maui Sands.|
|Event Message for Attendees||“We strive to put on the best show we possibly can for you!”|
What to Expect
The Venue – The Kalahari is different from your average convention center. It’s a resort first and foremost, so the convention area is laid out like the rest of the building—frozen drink vendors and whimsical African decorations at every turn, but also narrow, twisting hallways that easily get congested. If you or your friends get anxious in crowds, try to avoid the major foot traffic areas on Friday and Saturday. Parking is free, although you’ll have to park a good distance away if you aren’t one of the first attendees there. Luckily, Colossalcon offers locker and bin storage so you don’t have to run out to your car multiple times a day.
Prices – Perhaps the most iconic image of Colossalcon is attendees sipping on tropical drinks through gigantic 45oz plastic cups, so it’s no surprise that they’re available for purchase just about everywhere. A large drink with the cup is $30, and a refill is $20. They also honor cups from previous years! A smaller 16oz drink is $11, or $24 if you want an adorable coconut-shaped cup (no refills on those, though). As for the water parks, day and after-hours passes cost around $30 and a “spectator pass” for chaperones or photographers costs $20.
What to Bring
Cash – Most dealers and the Kalahari vendors take cards, but it’s always a good idea to keep cash on hand. Because dealers come to the con from all over the US, your bank could put a hold on your card for suspicious activity. Be sure to inform them before the con to prevent this and/or carry emergency cash for when you desperately need a gorgeous limited edition WonFes JoJo figure and that Lisa Lisa cosplayer over by the Gundams is ready to snatch it out from under you the second you walk away.
Grenadine Event Guide App – Colossalcon’s entire schedule is kept constantly updated on the Event Guide app for smartphones. You can also find hours of operation for places like the video game room and artist’s alley, and you can make your own schedule by saving the events that you’re interested in. It’s much easier to use than a paper guide!
Appropriate Clothes/Gear for the Weather – This con takes place right at the start of summer, so it’s hard to predict the whims of lakeside weather. Stow away some sunscreen, an umbrella, and spare shoes for walking in the rain. Bring cosplays with breathable fabrics that don’t have too many delicate parts, both for the outside climate and the crowded convention center. It’s a bit of extra effort, but the payoff is well worth it.
What to Do
Kalahari Water Parks – It’s a watery wonderland here at Kalahari! The indoor and outdoor water parks feature twisting slides, hot tubs, a wave pool, a lazy river, and much more. The rave was even held here this year! Wigs are allowed, so feel free to take some pics in your favorite swimsuit cosplay and enjoy yourself. But if you put a lot of work into that wig, make sure it doesn’t get too wet... we may or may not know that from experience...
Oriana Péron’s Drag Race – The illustrious Midwestern drag goddess Oriana Péron puts on dazzling competitions at cons throughout the year to find the next great cosplay queen. Five contestants are plucked from the pre-show dance-off and thrust into challenges that include runway walks, skits, creating outfits out of drag scraps, and, of course, lipsyncing for their lives. Interspersed throughout are performances by experienced queens (and Oriana herself), during which dollar bills fly like confetti and the crowd goes absolutely wild. This year’s winner was Peaches Honeydew, a bio queen who proved herself with unrivaled confidence and superb commitment to her aesthetic. You go, girl!
Dealer’s Room and Artist’s Alley – We can never get enough merch, and Colossalcon certainly provides for our needs with two different dealer’s rooms and a generous artist’s alley. The “New Dealer’s Room” is in its second year and only operates Thursday and Friday—it’s a chance for newer vendors to ply their wares, so you’re sure to find some good deals and unique products there. We especially loved a booth in the artist’s alley called Cut/Sew, which sells custom sewing patterns for cosplay and J-fashion. Owner Madison May aims to “keep cosplay weird” and bring it back to the everyperson by offering clear instructions with no technical jargon, patterns printed on real paper instead of tissue, a wide range of sizes (standard dress size 2–20), and additional help available online. She says, “This collection started as a way to make space for those who felt like we got left behind somewhere along the way. While the cosplay community jettisoned itself towards counting followers and tailing trends, we were looking the other way and couldn’t find our way home again when we looked back.” She plans to release a new collection in August which will be available both at cons and online, so be sure to check her out!
Otaku Flea Market – On Sunday, two massive rooms are filled to bursting with attendees selling their gently used anime merchandise and cosplay. Anyone can set up shop at a table or a spot against the wall if they arrive early enough, so this flea market is a bit of a free-for-all. If you love bargain-hunting and don’t mind shuffling among the booths with hordes of sleepy congoers, this is an entertaining little experience that could land you some sweet merch if you have an eagle eye for what you want.
As we mentioned earlier, Colossalcon is famous for its swimsuit/summer-themed cosplays. We saw a positively adorable Isabelle from Animal Crossing wearing a gingham sundress and clutching a bouquet of sunflowers, and a swimsuit human Mipha from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took our breath away. More traditional cosplays included a spot-on Reigen and Mob duo from Mob Psycho 100 who were offering “spiritual advice” in the hallways, as well as an impressive fiberglass armor set for Silver Chariot from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders.
My Hero Academia was, of course, the most highly represented series in terms of cosplay this year, although we did see some fun new variations like a festival girl Todoroki. Plus, most of the characters have canon swimsuit outfits, so why not just embrace it? Also present in sizable numbers were staples like Disney and Love Live, as well as characters from newer shows like The Rising of the Shield Hero, The Promised Neverland, and Goblin Slayer. And for those few brave cosplayers who managed to make a full Honeydew Mei cosplay only a week after it debuted as a new Overwatch skin, we wholeheartedly salute you!
Overall, Colossalcon is a great time. You’ll get the most enjoyment out of it if you like to party with friends and don't mind crowds or noise so much, although anyone can have fun as long as they keep their needs in mind and take precautions to avoid what might agitate them. Both con and venue staff were friendly and helpful, there are plenty of activities to do at any hour of the day, and to top it all off, someone adopted a stray kitten from the parking lot and named it Kali in honor of the Kalahari. Check this con out next year for a smashing start to your summer season!