This year my two boys ages 3 and 5 experienced Awesome Con for the first time ever and it was a huge success! All week-long our family was getting hyped up about going as we planned our costumes and mapped out a schedule. Even though I already wrote an article with tips and tricks for attending Awesome Con, I wanted to add a few more details for this years Con and share a little about our awesome adventure.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that Awesome Con makes attending this event affordable for families. All kids ages 10 and under can use the code ACJRPR to get into the convention for FREE!!! I have also heard from other fans that you can save a great deal of money by purchasing family tickets on Certifikid.
TRAVELING INTO DC
There are two good options when it comes to visiting the Washington Convention Center. You can drive and park within a block from the convention center or take the metro into town. We parked in the garage under the Renaissance Hotel on 9th Street. You will spend about $15-20 to park near the convention center. If you take the metro you will want to ride it to the Mt. Vernon Station on 7th street.
PICKING UP YOUR PASSES
Once you walk through security to have your bags checked you will make your way upstairs to Registration in Hall E. When we first arrived to pick up our pre-purchased tickets, I got a little nervous when I saw the check in line. However, it went super fast! We were in and out with badges in hand with-in ten minutes. If you are worried about attention spans you can bring a small toy or snack to keep them entertained with. Bring a permanent marker with you or ask for a market at registration. Once you get your pass write your name and phone number on their badge just in case you should get separated. This is unlikely to happen; however, it’s always good to be prepared.
THE EXHIBIT HALL
Much of the entertaining for the kids is in the exhibit hall in the block of aisles designated for Awesome Con Jr between 100-500 block. Check your schedule for special guests, characters and events so that you don’t miss out on the fun things happening in this area. There are some great booths in this section you wont want to miss including:
- Behind Booth 121- Is a fun section is set up for younger kids to color at small tables and build with giant blocks.
- Booth 121- Art Alliance is hosting a lot of great programs including; drawing lessons, contests and more.
- Booth 221- Where you can get your photo with some of your favorite characters! Take a photo with Buddy from the Dinosaur Train, Paddington Bear, Ranger Rick, characters from Dragon Ball Z, and even the Easter Bunny! There are photo opportunities throughout the exhibit hall, this booth is just where the main characters are scheduled for meet and greets.
- Booth 315- WHUT, the local PBS Kids affiliate station will be playing PBS Kid’s programming all weekend and running fun kid’s games with prizes and giveaways!
- Booth 414- Don’t miss stopping by the DreamWorks animation booth to celebrate all new seasons of DREAMWORKS TROLLS: THE BEAT GOES ON! and SPIRITRIDINGFREE on Netflix! You can make friendship bracelets, get temporary tattoos, and win awesome prizes from the shows!
- Check out a show on the Backlot Stage.
- Be prepared to find toys to take home.
If you couldn’t tell by our costumes, we are huge Star Wars fans! It seemed like the booths were sectioned off by genre. The Star Wars section is looked towards the back wall next to the Back Lot Stage.
- Here you will find the Star Wars museum with costume and props from Star Wars Last Jedi.
- Be on the lookout for 501st Legion booth (645) where you can blast a Rebel.
- Don’t miss visiting the R2D2 builders club (641), where you will get to see a working R2D2. My son got a kick out of watching the robot move around and make noises, his reaction was priceless.
The other section you won’t want to miss in the exhibit hall is the science section aka Future Con.
- Visit the NASA table (1301) and play with hands on experiments and virtual reality.
- The National Science Center (1307) is where my youngest son loved making a pulsar.
- If you are excited about the show Lost In Space (1215) coming soon on Netflix than stop by there booth to see props and costumes from the show. You might even get a free t-shirt!
- National Geographic (1300) has a great table with education books for kids of all ages and are giving away free children’s magazines while supplies last.
Whether your little one loves board games or video games the option to do both are there. The Awesome Con Arcade and Table Top Game rooms are located on level 1. In the arcade you will have the chance to play classic games from Ski-ball to Smash Brother and test out games still in development. You also have the chance to meet the developers themselves! In the Table Top Game room is a library of board games that you can check out and play.
SECRET QUIET PLACES
Like I said before Awesome Con is finding ways to put families first and making sure we have everything we need to feel comfortable. There are so many great accommodations for families including a quiet room (Level 1: Room 157) which is great place to take children who might be on a sensory overload. There is also a Mother’s Room (Level 1: Salon E) designed for moms who would like to nurse or nap babies in a quiet place. If you are in the exhibit hall and need a place to rest for a second, check out Yogibo booth 1337. You will find a bunch of bean bag chairs to sit back and relax in.
- Have a goal: This is my biggest tip! When taking your kids you should consider what you want the experience to be about. Check out the map and schedule of events to pick a few things you hope to do. It’s impossible to do everything, especially with little ones in tow. Having a plan before going will make your trip less stressful and more enjoyable.
- Go in Costume- Let your kids pick what they would like to go as. Cosplay is a huge part of the experience, going in costume really makes the trip special and more fun. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money on them, simple homemade or store-bought costumes are fine.
- Bring a camera and take advantage of photo opportunities: Taking photos is one of the best parts. I love watching everyone in costume and I’ve noticed kids and even adults too get very excited about having their picture taken with favorite characters. You will find that there is a huge sense of community and many fans dressed in costume are happy to pose for a shot.
- Pack Snacks & Drinks: The food at the convention hall is insanely expensive and lines for food can be very long. I suggest throwing some water bottles or juice boxes and some easy snacks like granola bars, string cheese and fruit for snacks. Be sure to eat a good meal before going; while there eat what you’ve packed than head out to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
- Lost Plan: Before entering the hall, have a pre-designated meeting space in case you get separated.
- Set a Spending Limit: Conventions are like a glorified shopping excursion. Remember to set a budget and limit to spending.
- Avoid becoming overwhelmed: conventions are huge. It is very crowded so be sure to pay attention to your little ones needs. If you notice they are becoming overwhelmed take a break in the quiet room or call it a day.
- Purchase tickets ahead of time: Be on the look out for coupon codes that make it free for kids ages 10 and under to attend the convention with an accompanying adult.
- Be open to meeting new friends. My little’s were so excited to find new friends with similar interests.
AWESOME CON INFORMATION
March 30- April 1, 2018
Friday: 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am to 7:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am to 5:00pm
Walter E. Washington Convention Center- 801 Mt Vernon Pl NW
Washington, DC 20001
Cost: Adult Admission $35-50 day pass & $75 3-Day Pass/ Kids FREE with code
Kids Discount Code: ACJRPR
Thank you Awesome Con for inviting The Playful Parent to Awesome Con to write an article on attending the convention with kids. The Playful Parent is not paid to write articles or given money for affiliate links. All pictures belong to The Playful Parent and information presented are my own unbiased opinion. ***