Summary of Event
The breeze off the Potomac River this time of year is kind of brisk, but it doesn’t stop more than 20,000 anime fans from descending on the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center for Katsucon. The Gaylord is an amazing location for the convention and has more than 2,000 guest rooms, 95 event rooms, 537,430 square feet of meeting space, seven restaurants, and a 20,000-square-foot spa. The staff of more than 2,000 is also used to handling large conventions and were on hand to answer the big questions like “Where is the Potomac room?” It features a 19-story glass atrium with views of the Potomac River. If you are a cosplayer and want a photoshoot the various gardens, mirrored walls, brick walls, and fountains lend themselves to some great photos and that is just inside the convention center. The promenade along the harbor, the boats, the massive Ferris wheel are all perfect backdrops (as long as the weather cooperates). The convention also has a lot of programing but you can spend plenty of time at one of the indoor cafes and just watch the parade of cosplayers pass. The hotel is also officially closed for a private event during the convention. So, the only people staying there or on the grounds are your fellow conventioneers.
|Location|| Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center|
201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, Maryland (Suburb of Washington, DC)
|How much does it cost?|| The convention has several rates depending on when you sign up, and as with most conventions the earlier you sign up the better.|
Early Bird Rate:Feb. 2018 through Jun. 2018 Adult $50 Teen (13-17) $40
|Hotels & Transportation:||The Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center the host for the convention and you won’t need to leave until you check out since the hotel has everything you could need. The area of National Harbor has lots of hotels within walking distance. If you want a break on the premium rates and are willing to drive a few minutes and pay for parking (at a reduced rate offered by the con) you can stay across the river in Alexandria where the room rates will be cheaper.|
Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center
Negotiated Occupancy Rates for 2019:
- One/Two Guests per night: $210.00
- Three Guests per night: $230.00
- Four Guests per night: $250.00
- One/Two Guests per night: $215.00
- Three Guests per night: $235.00
- Four Guests per night: $255.00
- One/Two Guests per night: $245.00
- Three Guests per night: $265.00
- Four Guests per night: $285.00
AC Hotel by Marriott National Harbor Washington (Walking Distance) $289
Hampton Inn and Suites (Walking Distance) $264
Westin National Harbor (Walking Distance) $364
Wyndham Vacation Resorts at National Harbor (Walking Distance) $364
*this list is not exhaustive; there are hundreds of hotels within 10 miles of the location
To Enjoy Oneself
You first need comfortable shoes. We talked with one cosplayer in heels who was obviously struggling and her reasoning was “but they‘re accurate!” Don’t be her, save the heels for the photoshoot. The Gaylord is BIG; you will need time to get from place to place especially when the con is at its peak on Saturday. The place has plenty of restaurants and places to grab a snack but we always recommend bringing snacks or a bento if you don’t want to stand in line. If you don’t mind just drinking water it’s freely available at water fountains and water stations. If the weather is nice you can take a walk off the convention center grounds and hit up one of the many restaurants in the harbor area. You don’t even have to change out of your cosplay for many of them.
What to do Day by Day
Friday, February 15th
You can get a grasp on cosplay first thing Friday with the Cosplay for Anyone panel that explains some of the ins and outs associated with cosplay and dispels some of the myths about the hobby’s costs. You could also get some of your misconceptions straightened out by attending the For Boys by Girls: Women Who Make Shonen Manga panel that focuses on highlighting the women who make great action stories for boys. You could also learn a new skill, like gaining the ability to play Mahjong in a Learn to Play Mahjong workshop. You also got the chance to sit in on a talk with Voice Actor Michael Sinterniklass from films like Mirai, A Silent Voice, and Your Name.
Saturday, February 16th
The masquerade craftsmanship judging began at 10am and went on until 1:30pm given the large number of cosplayers in attendance. If you aren’t into cosplay you could’ve learned a new tabletop game in one of three sessions in the tabletop gaming venue. If you like steampunk and Japan then you had to look no further than Victorian Japan. The panel discussed the history and politics of Japan in the Victorian era. You could easily have spent the afternoon at the Katsucon Cosplay Masquerade and capped the evening by attending of the Katsucon Ball.
Sunday, February 17th
The last day of the convention could’ve been spent by either watching some anime in the video rooms or sitting in on the AMV award show. The AMV award show highlighted the best and most creative anime music videos entered in the convention. The end of the con is near and if you’re interested in how the world of anime looks at end times you could take in a lecture from an anime anthropologist on how apocalypses are depicted in anime and the cultural roots of the end of the world scenarios. You will have had the chance throughout the weekend multiple scheduled fandom meet-ups and photoshoots filled with fun and comradery of a shared love of anime and pop culture.
Katsucon has exploded in recent years going from 7,000 people in the early and mid 90s to 20,000+ today. We also looked at the programing schedule and it has some great panels with panelists ranging from first timers to experienced convention circuit speakers. The collection of voice actors such as Chloe Hollings, Courtenay Taylor, Max Mittelman and Ray Chase gave the attendees the chance to hear from their favorite talent. A generously sized dealers and artist alley hall is also there ready to take your money. We mentioned in the opening paragraph that this is an amazing convention for cosplay. We’ve gone to a lot of conventions big and small and this may have the largest percentage of cosplay we’ve seen in recent years. You could spend the entire convention in the atrium just watching some of the most elaborate and well-designed costumes you’ve ever seen. The winter in DC may be pretty cool but Katsucon is definitely one of the warmest and welcoming conventions we’ve been to.