Going to Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo at the end of the week. Another big year with taking the whole family. Second time we’ve done this and to be completely honest, I have one goal for this year.
To have fun.
I’ve got to be honest, last year was pretty stressful. It was the first time I ever brought children to Calgary Expo, it was my first time hosting a panel and I was also trying to cover off all of my GameOnGNT commitments (interviews, features, etc.). Add to that the bullcrap we ran into with our hotel that year and its safe to say it was one of the toughest years I’ve ever had going to the event.
And a lot of that could be attributed to the age of my kids, who were four, one and five months old at the 2017 Expo. In hindsight, it might have been better to put off a full family trip to an event like this.
Now that being said, I wouldn’t say I had a bad experience. Stressful, YES, but bad? No.
Seeing my children’s reactions to everyone in costume, along with seeing my daughter meet one of her favorite Disney Princesses (Jasmine from Aladdin) were highlights of my trip. We also made some pretty great videos as well, with my daughter doing Cosplay Bingo and my wife and regular contributor Shayla experiencing her first Expo.
So this year, we are returning with the whole family, all a little older. What I’m doing today is giving you all some advice if you plan to bring kids to Expo for the first time.
1. Prepare to not see everything on your wish list.
You need to be ready for things to go wrong. More importantly, be prepared to miss out on some of the events or panels you want to check out. Basically, no kid wants to spend the entire day sitting in panels listening to celebrities talk about their shows.
Luckily, Calgary Expo has some fantastic areas for kids to play. Last year, the Agrium was Kid Zone and had kids play areas, organized activities and even story time. It was wonderful for them.
In reality, plan for the panels you want to see, but expect to nix those plans if one of your kids has a temper tantrum or needs some downtime.
2. Have food at the ready.
Food vendors may be all over the place at Calgary Expo, but there is no guarantee they are going to have food to cater to your little ones. Its always good to come with food you know your kids are going to enjoy. Last year, we packed some sandwiches, apples, bananas, squeeze packs, fruit cups, good foods that the kids know and have regularly.
The other benefit this has is saving you some money. The food vendors are great, but they can be expensive, especially when you have four or five mouths to feed in your family.
3. Be prepared to leave early.
Your kids may be having a blast at the event, but they are also way smaller than you and likely haven’t experienced an Expo before. Trying to get in a full day at Expo may be impossible for the younger ones.
So if you got to see that Back to the Future panel at the end of the Friday schedule, maybe start your day at Expo later on. If you have to see The 100 panel at the start of Saturday, expect to leave closer to dinner time.
4. Call in some support.
If you got some friends who are coming to Calgary Expo too and your kids are comfortable around them, travelling as a group might save you a lot of headaches if you have more than one kid.
We luckily had my brother and niece along with us for last year’s Expo, who spent time with the kids while my wife and I checked out a panel. It was a great break for my wife and I while my kids enjoyed some fun in the Kid Zone. A win-win for everybody.
5. Don’t force cosplay.
Its great seeing your kids in costumes, but you also want them to be comfortable.
I didn’t even humor the idea of costumes with my youngest two. As cute as it was to see the baby BB-8 in the Calgary Expo promo videos, I felt getting my one year old and five month old decked out in costume throughout the weekend would be a little too much.
My oldest daughter Paige decided to wear costumes every day of Expo. On the third day, she decided to ditch the costume halfway through. It happens. Kids get tired… be prepared with a change of clothes.
All in all, be ready for some stress, but also get ready to enjoy a great family moment!
As for my Calgary Expo hit list with the kids…
– Meeting Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Ariel from the Little Mermaid.
– KID ZONE (Always a must for them. Here’s hoping no rain this year.)
– Parade of Wonders. My kids loved this event last year. It really starts the day right!
– Pot Smash (BMO 300). What better way to feel like Link from Legend of Zelda than smashing a pot and getting a rupee. Another thing my daughter loved last time around.
– Quidditch (2 PM Sunday) My wife had a lot of fun trying this out and my kids had a lot of fun cheering her on. Maybe this time around we’ll get my daughter on the Quidditch field to play!