Awesome Con: Ultimate Guide On Prep And What To Expect

Awesome Con is Washington DC’s annual Comic Con at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. In 2021, it will be run over the weekend of 20-22 August (Covid permitting).

Awesome Con Ultimate Guide On Prep And What To Expect

If you’ve never been to Awesome Con before – or if you have, and want to do it better this time – we’ve got your covered. Know the shortcuts to an awesome con at… erm… Awesome Con, and have the time of your life.

First of all – how to get through the doors, and how to cut down your time waiting in line.

Buying your ticket/badge

There are four levels of ticket/membership available at Awesome Con.

Standard Pass

The standard pass is your literal entry-level pass to the con. You’re not guaranteed access to the good seats or any of the exclusive merch with a standard pass, but it’s the most budget-friendly option available.

Friday pass – $45

Saturday pass – $65

Sunday pass – $50

3-day adult pass – $90

3-day kids pass – $20

Premium pass – $165

The premium pass gives you 3-day admission, plus:

  • 2021 Awesome Con lanyard
  • 10% off merchandise at the Awesome Con on-site merchandise booth
  • 30 minute early access to the exhibit show floor
  • One (1) Jump the Line card to use at a celebrity autograph line
    • Valid for the same day(s) as your ticket.
    • Autograph must be purchased separately
  • One (1) Jump the Line card to use at a celebrity photo op line
    • Valid for the same day(s) as your ticket.
    • Photo Op must be purchased separately

Club Awesome Membership – $404

Gives you 3-day admission, plus:

  • Exclusive Club Awesome badge and lanyard
  • ​​​​​30 minute early access to the exhibit show floor all three days
  • Access to the private Club Awesome Lounge
  • Club exclusive merchandise including:
    • T-shirt
    • Pin
    • Cooler Bag
  • Four (4) Jump the Line cards to use at celebrity autograph
    • Autographs must be purchased separately
  • Four (4) Jump the Line cards to use at celebrity photo op
    • Photo ops must be purchased separately
  • 15% off merchandise at the on-site Awesome Con merchandise booth
  • 48-hour online pre-sale for select autographs and photo ops
  • Invitation to the private Club Awesome Facebook group
  • Invitation to three (3) year-round events hosted by Awesome Con and its local partners

Membership perks can be used by the member only and are not transferable to anyone, including children, spouses, etc.

Club Awesome Reserve Membership – $999 – SOLD OUT FOR 2021

Naturally, this highly limited membership (usually under 30 people) sells out quickly, despite its significantly higher price.

As such, it is no longer available for the 2021 Awesome Con – but in future years, it will probably be available again.

The Club Awesome Reserve Membership gets you 3-Day admission to the con, plus:

  • Reserved Main Stage seat in the front 3 rows with your name on it
  • Exclusive personalized Club Awesome Reserve badge and lanyard
  • 30 minute early access to the exhibit show floor all three days
  • Unlimited Jump-the-Line passes
  • Access to the private Club Awesome Lounge
  • Two (2) complimentary tickets to the Official After Party
  • Exclusive Awesome Con merchandise, including:
    • Pin
    • Bomber Jacket
    • Lunchbox
    • (10) 8×10 photo sleeves courtesy of Hot Flips
  • Unlimited Jump-the-Line access for celebrity autographs
    • Autographs must be purchased separately
  • Unlimited Jump-the-Line access for celebrity photo op
    • Photo ops must be purchased separately
  • Two (2) food vouchers for convention center eateries
  • 20% off merchandise at the on-site Awesome Con merchandise booth
  • 48-hour online pre-sale for select autographs and photo ops
  • Invitation to the private Club Awesome Facebook group
  • Invitation to three (3) year-round events hosted by Awesome Con and our local partners

It’s worth knowing that those who booked Club Awesome Reserve Membership in 2021 will have first access to the same membership in 2022, so watch the website significantly ahead of the 2022 event to be in with a chance of nabbing a Club Awesome Reserve spot for next year.

All badges, memberships and passes will be mailed out ahead of the event, meaning there will be no possibility of picking up your ticket on the day.

What to bring to Awesome Con

Bring whatever you think you’ll need for anything up to three days of awesome con experience.

Want to get your stuff signed? Better remember to bring the stuff.

Have an old-style autograph book? Bring it with.

Camera? Phone? Video camera if you’re going for higher quality footage than your phone can give you.

Handful of phone chargers, so you don’t waste all your battery in the lines only for the phone to die just as you pose with your favorite panelist or celebrity.

Bring outside-con clothes if you want to explore DC out of costume, including clothes for going out at night. Bring standard add-ons like a water bottle and a handy merch-sack, as well as any meds you need and any PPE that makes you comfortable.

You shouldn’t need to bring your own pens or Sharpies for autographing if you stick to standard signings and photo ops, but the joy about a really good con is that you never know who you might meet just walking about – so be safe, rather than sorry.

Beyond that, bring your enthusiasm and a good attitude towards other fans, and you’ll have a blast

What to wear to Awesome Con

Whatever you like. Within the guidelines that Awesome Con is a kid-friendly con, and that there are rules about functional weaponry (the short version being: don’t bring functional weaponry, including swords and whips, into Awesome Con), you’re free to cosplay, you’re free to go casual and chill out in your favorite geek shirt.

No harm, no foul either way. One thing for hardcore cosplayers to note – bring sensible shoes. Three days of walking around a con can play havoc with your feet and legs if you don’t have comfortable shoes to change into.

Easy Awesome Con costume ideas

In 2021, Awesome Con has Christopher Lloyd, Michael J Fox and the DeLorean from Back To The Future in attendance, so arguably one of the easier cosplay ideas would be Doc Brown, as the cosplay is mostly a collection of everyday clothes.

On the other hand, if you’re a weekend Klingon in any case, it’s an easy route to go for Commander Kruge as a Lloyd homage.

Christina Ricci is also in attendance, so a straightforward Wednesday Addams is an option too – look out your dark clothes, a simple pale make-up and get your pigtails on.

To switch it up a little, try Katrina Van Tassel from Sleepy Hollow as a different nod to a geeky Ricci role.

Can you go to Awesome Con without a costume?

You absolutely can. Cosplay is a vivid, vibrant, engaged community, and it adds a lot of fun to any con you go to, but it’s by no means obligatory.

Especially if you’re new to cons as a whole, it might be wise to try your first one without a costume, so see whether the vibe is for you. If, on the other hand, you have a cosplay and you’re itching to try it out, bring it, put it on, and get Awesome.

What to do when nobody gets your cosplay

Here’s the deal. If people get your cosplay – they’re awesome. We like them. They can stay.

When people don’t get your cosplay, one of a couple of things is happening.

Either they have yet to experience the same cool stuff as you – in which case, you can feel sorry for them for a minute, and then envy them, because they get to experience it as new, and you might have introduced them to their next great obsession.

How cool are you?

Or, if they know who you’re cosplaying, but just don’t recognize you – hey, not everybody recognizes genius when it’s right in front of their eyes. Don’t stress about it.

So long as you know who you’re cosplaying and you’re bringing the mood, that’s all that counts.

Guide to Awesome Con Lines and Crowds

What to wear to Awesome Con

There are going to be lines and crowds at any major con. Awesome Con, being the major con in Washington DC, will have some pretty long lines – that’s the value of one of the premium tickets or memberships, they include Jump-The-Line opportunities as part of the elevated admission price.

That said, Awesome Con is a highly professional event, and stewards and guides are trained in keeping lines moving as much as possible to ensure that guests have the experience they want and have paid for. 

Getting your comics signed

Getting your comics signed at Awesome Con 2021 is something you can arrange in advance via the Awesome Con website.

The price for photo ops and signings depends on who you want to sign them – the more premium the guest, the higher the price.

The procedure will also differ slightly from guest to guest. Some guests will sign with just their signature, some will allow additional personalization at the table if time allows.

Standard signings are on an 8×10 photo. To get comics, books, DVDs, or posters signed, you’ll need to select Premium signings.

You can also get bulkier items signed, like jackets and props, for a slightly higher fee.

Simply click the appropriate boxes on the website and pay electronically. The details of the signings you’ve paid for will be logged alongside your admission to the con, and you will get your access and signings on the appropriate day.

How much money do you need?

How much money you need at Awesome Con, as with every other con out there, depends on how much you want to do, and what you want to buy.

It also depends to some extent on how you want to structure your spending. If jumping some lines is important to you – and you want to be sure of getting time with your favorite stars – then paying extra for a Premium Pass or a Club Awesome Membership might deliver value for your money, despite being more hard-cash expensive than a Standard Pass.

If you want a photo with both Christopher Lloyd and Michael J Fox, you’d expect to pay top dollar, right? The combination of both Back To The Future leads, in the same venue as the DeLorean, plus you?

How often do all those stars align? So if you want to get that photo, it’s going to cost you significantly more than if you don’t.

Likewise with other stars – it’s probably wise to give yourself a budget for signings and photos, especially at an event where you have Doc and Marty, Wednesday Addams, Kirk and Sulu, two of the coolest hobbits and more Power Rangers than you can poke with a single stick.

And that’s before you even factor in the comic book writers and artists!

Making the absolute most of that line-up is going to cost you a pretty penny. For which, you should read significantly more than a thousand bucks. So, it’s worth picking your signings and photos carefully.

Likewise with the merch tables. Bear in mind that a con is a whirlpool of All The Coolest Stuff – which means, if you’re not careful, you can get broke in less time than it takes a Vegas rookie in Caesars Palace.

Unless you spot a once-in-a-lifetime unique must-have piece, never buy on your first circuit. Let the heady rush of geekmania calm down slightly before you commit your dollars on merch.

Then there are the practicalities of life. If you absolutely must think about them, remember to factor in your accommodation for the weekend, any travel or transport, food, drink, and those other irritating essentials.

Any con is likely to set you back a good chunk of change. But you can make the most of your cash by a handful of handy rules.

Don’t forget to bargain

Frequently at cons, patience can be a double-edged sword.

Wait too long in the merch stalls and the particular piece you want might go to someone with more disposable cash – or more impetuosity – than you have. On the other hand, wait towards the end of the con and you might pick up a bargain by a little friendly haggling with stallholders faced with packing up their unsold merch.

A sale is still a sale in many ways, even if the price is less on day 3 than they would have hoped to get on day 1.

Don’t be afraid to make friends with some merch-sellers (long lines permitting). Chat if you can, so they remember your face and your friendly manner. Perhaps offer to fetch them some water or a Coke – it can get long and dry and tedious on merch stalls during panels or events.

We’re not suggesting you cynically groom your favored merch-sellers, but a little human kindness and connection on day 1 might help you nab the item or items you most want on day 3.

Other tips for Awesome Con-goers

1.    We’ve mentioned this already, but have comfortable shoes with you. Cosplay is all part of the fun for lots of Awesome Con visitors, but the venue is large, and seeing it all will take a while. Do that in uncomfortable shoes on day 1, and by day 2, you’ll want to stay in your hotel, crying over your poor, misshapen toes.

2.    Make your signing and photo budget – and then, unless the opportunity looks like a once-in-a-lifetime shot, don’t go beyond it.

3.    Compare in-con food and drink prices and outside food and drink prices. See which best accords with your remaining budget, and choose wisely.

4.    Speaking of which, get your con passport to get discounts at local food, drink and comic-book outlets.

5.    Go to Awesome Con with your mind open to wonder, and leave the functioning weapons at home.

Hotels nearby

The con has done a deal with a handful of local hotels to provide discounts on accommodation for the event.

Naturally, this accommodation will be booked up ahead of the event, so check out the listings here for hotels including the Hampton Inn, the Grand Hyatt, and the Moxy, and book your place as fast as you can.

Car rental nearby

There are several leading car rental companies operating within a stone’s throw of the convention center.
These include: 

National Car Rental at L’Enfant Plaza

Enterprise Car Rental at Union Station (useful if you’re coming by Amtrak)

Avis Car Rental at Union Station

And Hertz Car Rental at Union Station

Parking at the event

There is no public parking inside the building. There are parking garages and lots available at the convention center and other downtown venues.

There are some spaces for con-goers with accessibility issues, available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Public transport to the event

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is located between 7th and 9th Streets and N Street and Mt. Vernon Place in downtown DC, right across from Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square.

There are several public transport options to get you to and from the Center.

By Metro, the nearest station to the convention center is the Mt Vernon Sq/7th St-Convention Center stop on the Yellow/Green Line.

If Amtrak is more your speed, that’s no problem either – the nearest Amtrak station to the convention center is Union Station (DC), which is served by Amtrak’s high speed Acela Express, Northeast Regional, and several other long distance lines.

It’s worth knowing that Union Station is about a mile away from the convention center, so depending on where you’re staying – and what cosplay you’re wearing – it might be a good plan to get a cab to your hotel first before going to the con.

For more information on Amtrak options, visit the Amtrak website.

By bus, you have a lot more options, but they’ll drop you a few blocks away from the convention center. On the other hand, who hasn’t dreamed of striding those last few blocks in some kickass cosplay?

Any of the 70, 79, 64, G8 and P6 bus lines will get you within a few blocks of the convention center. For fuller details of bus routes and how to plan your journey, check out the WMATA website.

You can also use the Georgetown-Union Station DC Circulator Bus to get you close to the convention center. Ask your driver for either 9th Street and New York Ave NW or Massachusetts Ave and 7th Street NW.