Pensacon is a medium-sized con with big dreams, that delivers. While it may be experiencing growing pains with its increased popularity and lack of large venue space, it does an admirable job of working with what it has, especially in terms of bringing in celebrity fandom favorites. They featured 14 guests associated with Doctor Who alone, in celebration of the 60th anniversary.
We began our journey in the vendor room, with a wide selection of toys, clothing, tiki mugs, posters and more. The place was electric, with a crowd of happy shoppers poring over so many treasures.
Soon after that, we headed for the trolley. Pensacon is spread out around the whole of downtown Pensacola but free transportation is provided. The ride was an experience in itself, as we were blasted with hits from the eighties while enjoying the stunning cosplay sharing the space with us.
Panels were varied and well attended, with a mix of celebrity Q&A’s and fan run discussions. ESO director Mike Faber and I experienced our favorite Doctor Who panel ever, with a standing room only, enthusiastic audience who shared our love for this absurd show and wanted to talk about it as much as we did. We had a blast.
We enjoyed our Sandman panel just as much, as it turned into a fascinating conversation on why the story meant so much to so many. We chatted about our favorite comics and why we thought the TV show did such a good job in bringing Neil Gaiman’s characters to life.
We wrapped up our fan-run panel schedule with an introduction to starting a podcast. Director Faber, Tyra Burton and myself shared our expertise with a wonderful group of people excited about dipping their toes into the podcasting waters. The wonderful thing about these instructional panels is that we always learn something new ourselves, by listening to the experience of others.
In between running our panels and exploring downtown Pensacola, our group was delighted to attend two celebrity panels. Paul McGann, Daphne Ashbrook and Eric Roberts entertained the audience with stories from the set of the Doctor Who movie. It was obvious how much they enjoyed working with each other, and that they treasured their part in the canon of the show.
Next we were lucky to find a seat on John Barrowman’s wild ride as he caromed between his time on Doctor Who and his many other projects. He emerged onto the stage in a spectacular, sparkly TARDIS cape ensemble, only to reveal a glittering TARDIS hockey jersey underneath and impressive white, platform boots. His energy and love for his fans shone brightly, as he bounced around, leaving the audience roaring with delight.
Each night we retired to our rented condo on the Gulf of Mexico, exhausted but gleeful as we reminisced about our day and relaxed in front of the waves. There are many accommodations available right on the water and I highly recommend staying in one to recover from the crowds. Pensacon is a con well worth checking out, and we are already talking about returning next year. There’s nothing like being given the opportunity to spend time among the people who share the things you love, and Pensacon was a fantastic way to spend a weekend with friends and fans.