When you’ve spent several weeks carefully crafting the ultimate Fumikage Tokoyami costume, you want to be sure that it’s reaching the right audience.
That way, all those hours of research (watching anime counts as research, right?) won’t be for nothing. You need to find people who’ll appreciate the finest details.
If that’s the case, you might want to head to Metrocon. Metrocon is Florida’s premier anime and manga convention, and it’s kind of a big deal. Every year, the Tampa Convention Center is packed full of anime enthusiasts, looking to share the love.
Whether you’ve bought your ticket already, or you’re trying to decide if it’s worth the cost, this guide is for you.
We’ve covered everything you need to know for before and during the con, so you can have the anime experience of your dreams.
Buying Your Ticket/Badge
The best way to buy your ticket is online, before the start of the con. Tickets might be available on the door, but pre-paying saves a whole lot of hassle.
Make sure to bring your confirmation email, and some photo ID when you go to pick your badge up.
There are 2 types of pass available if you want to attend Metrocon: the weekend pass, and the single day pass. Both options are really well priced.
You can also pay for the VIP upgrade, which gets you bonuses like early access, front row seats, and some merchandise.
Anyone attending as a group can benefit from the multipack deals that Metrocon offers. They have options for groups of 4, and groups of 2. Children under 6 get in free with a ticketed adult, and children 6 – 12 get a discount.
Metrocon is a popular convention, but it doesn’t sell out massively in advance (unless you’re after a VIP pass). That said, it saves time and effort to pre-register.
Also, the earlier you book, the better the price you get. Weekend passes go up in price the closer to the event it gets.
Be aware that some events do cost extra. The Kaiju Big Battel, the Fire Show, and the Anime Human Chess Match are all must-sees, and for most passes they require a separate ticket.
Book in advance to secure a cheaper price and to guarantee your spot.
The Masquerade Ball is also a separate ticket for those without a VIP upgrade. This is like a party/story/performance, and it’s a real highlight of the con. We recommend buying your ticket beforehand.
What to bring to Metrocon
If this is your first time attending a con, prepare yourself for a long day – and we mean that in the best way possible. There’s so much to do at Metrocon, that you’ll be kept busy from morning to evening.
It goes without saying that you need to bring your phone and some money. It’s also worth bringing a charger, or you risk a dead battery. Cosplay is big at Metrocon, so you may want to pack a camera as well.
If you plan on getting some autographs, then make sure you have something for them to sign. Autograph books are good, but have a look to see who’s attending. That way, you can bring something a little more personal.
Outside food isn’t allowed into the convention center, but there are multiple food vendors.
If you’re wearing a heavy costume, you might want to pack wipes, deodorant etc. Hand sanitizer is always a good idea as well.
Metrocon will (politely) remove anyone who smells like they’ve gone too long without a shower. Make sure you can stay fresh throughout the day.
Another thing to bring that will make you a hero in many people’s eyes: a sewing kit. Plus safety pins, hair pins, tape etc. Basically, anything that could be used to very quickly fix a costume back together.
No one wants their costume to fall apart on hour one, day one of the con, but it happens. That cosplay that seemed so secure in your hotel room can’t quite stand the pressure of thousands of people walking past.
Anything you might need for a quick fix is worth bringing.
What to wear to Metrocon
The obvious thing to wear to Metrocon is a cosplay inspired by your favorite anime or manga! Cosplay is huge at Metrocon, and a significant number of the guests will be dressed up to attend.
Some of these costumes will have obviously taken hours of intricate design, but others will be more relaxed. If you want to wear a costume, then just have fun with it.
If you don’t fancy going all out, the best thing to wear is something that feels comfortable. Comfortable shoes are an absolute must. Nothing ruins a con like bad footwear, so make sure that you can stand for long periods.
Tampa is warm during the summer, but the convention center should have good air con. However, if you overdo it on the layers, you might find yourself getting sticky pretty quickly. Especially if you want to go outside at all.
Easy Metrocon Costume Ideas
Lots of us want to make the effort to dress up, but don’t really have the time to do it. Luckily, there are some pretty recognizable anime that you can draw simple costume ideas from.
A popular choice is always Sailor Moon. The outfits are cute, comfortable, and don’t require much hard work.
Sailor Moon is so well known that you can pick up a costume for cheap online, and still look like you made an effort.
To make it really super simple, a stylized school girl outfit and a brightly colored wig makes an anime-style costume for those who don’t have a favorite character.
For a simple male character, there’s literally nothing easier than L from Death Note. A white t-shirt, some heavy-handed eyeliner, ruffled bed head, and your costume is complete.
And for those who might be shy about dressing up: No Face, from Spirited Away. Cover yourself with a blanket and a paper face if you want, or simply stick the hood up on a black sweatshirt and play around with face paint.
If you’re really stuck, Metrocon always has a theme. The themes are pretty simple, and they’re always in the “versus” style. “Ninjas vs Pirates”, “Monsters vs Hunters” and “Mortals vs Machines”, are all themes from cons past.
If you’re attending as a pair, pick a side and get designing! It’s normally fairly easy to throw together a costume that nods to the theme, without needing hours of sewing.
Can you go to Metrocon without a costume?
Yes, you definitely can. Costumes aren’t required, they’re just a fun addition. If you want to wear your regular clothing, that’s perfectly fine. If you want to get involved but don’t fancy a full costume, then look for a shirt with your favorite character on.
If you plan on attending the full weekend, you may want to factor in a day without costumes anyway – particularly if you’re wearing an elaborate cosplay.
Then that day you can buy all the things that catch your eye, and don’t have to worry about how Totoro carries a bag.
Although costumes aren’t necessary to attend Metrocon, they are mandatory at the Masquerade Ball. To attend, you have to be dressed in any cosplay (literally, any) or to match the theme of the event.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just enough to show you’re a part of the game. The point of the Masquerade is an interactive experience, and it’s hard to immerse yourself when Joe Normal is hanging around.
In some years, masks are mandatory, so be sure to check the rules when you buy your ticket.
What to do when nobody gets your cosplay
First, Metrocon has over 10,000 attendees, so someone there is likely to get your costume. There are a lot of very dedicated fans in the crowd, who at times seem to know every manga or anime around.
And if absolutely no one gets who (or what) you are, then this is the perfect opportunity to educate someone about your favorite series.
Don’t feel disheartened if no one gets your costume. There’s likely to be more than a few you don’t get as well. Also, some attendees choose to go as their own original character (or OC).
Guide to Metrocon Lines and Crowds
Metrocon is Florida’s largest anime convention, so the lines can get long. But, it’s absolutely nowhere near as bad as some other popular conventions.
Metrocon does have panels and events, but as an anime con there’s less of a focus on meeting big name performers (even if the special guests are cool).
Instead, you have the opportunity to look around, find new artists, and appreciate all the costumes. Photo ops aren’t really a big thing at Metrocon.
That means the time you’d normally spend standing in a queue can be put to use attending events and panels.
A good idea is to download the Metrocon app. This shows you everything that’s happening at the con, and updates regularly if there are changes.
You can use the app to set a schedule for yourself, which helps when navigating such a big convention.
Getting your comics signed
Metrocon always has a couple of special guests. If you’re interested in getting a comic signed, you may have to purchase a ticket in advance. However, for many of the guests you’ll simply need to get in a queue, and autographs might be free.
Metrocon guests tend to be voice actors – after all, it is an anime con. Rather than comics, fans might get DVDs signed, or other types of merchandise.
Most of the guests will be happy to give a personalized signature on something appropriate.
Be aware, Metrocon does not tolerate people getting multiple things signed with the hopes of selling them on. This has actually caused issues in the past, so they’ve clamped down on the rules.
If you’ve come with several DVDs to be made out to your beloved friend eBay, expect to be firmly rejected.
If you’re heading to Metrocon to try and add a load of signatures to your autograph book, you’re at the wrong event. The voice actor and artist guests are always interesting, and some of them are pretty fan worthy, but they’re never huge names.
How much money do you need?
It’s hard to put an exact number on how much money you need to bring to Metrocon, but our recommendation is: more than you think you need. Otherwise, you risk getting to the end of day one and having nothing left.
Having said that, Metrocon is less about the shopping that other big name cons. Instead, you’ll spend a lot of your time attending panels, and marvelling at the more elaborate cosplayers.
One of the many good things about Metrocon is the location. Tampa is home to a lot of restaurants and grocery stores. If you’re interested in saving money, then it’s worth heading out of the con to eat at times, and stocking up on food at the hotel.
Don’t forget to bargain
There are quite a few artists at Metrocon, and some of them will be happy to discuss pricing with you. However, don’t push it. Always offer a fair price.
Also, try and pace your purchases. We know it’s hard to hold back. Especially when you first enter and everything seems new, shiny, and exciting.
Metrocon has some really fantastic artists every single year, so there’s going to be a lot that catches your eye.
That said, things do sell out. If you do fall in love, then you may need to snatch it up before it’s gone.
Other tips for Metrocon-goers
Metrocon has an app available, which is definitely worth downloading. It gives you details about all the events, when they’re happening, and when they’re happening. It also updates regularly, to track the news.
The app also has the advantage of letting you schedule your entire day in advance. Any con goer has had the experience of coming home, only to realize the events they forgot in the moment. Scheduling lets you keep track of your valuable time.
Metrocon is well known for its shows and events, so be sure to attend at least one. The Anime Human Chess is always the highlight of the con.
It might not seem interesting – human chess sounds like an equal mix of creepy and boring – but it’s actually a carefully scripted performance that you’ll find impossible to look away from.
Another advantage of the events is that they give you an opportunity to sit down – something we can all forget to do at cons. Make time for the costume contest, or for Anime Idol.
They’re so fun to watch, and give your feet a well needed break.
Metrocon does attract a pretty young audience. It’s child-friendly, and a lot of the attendees are teenagers. Every con-goer is expected to be courteous and appropriate, at all times.
There are multiple hotels in nearby Tampa with easy access to the convention center.
The top choice is the Embassy Suites, Downtown Tampa. This is the official hotel for the convention center, with spacious rooms, and breakfast included. It connects directly to the convention center via a sky bridge.
Other hotels can be booked via the convention website. These will often provide discounted deals for those attending the convention.
The Tampa Marriott is a walk away from the center, and other good options are the Westin Tampa Waterside, Hyatt Place, and the JW Marriott. There’s no lack of rooms in downtown Tampa.
Car rental nearby
Avis Car Rental and Budget Car Rental are the best options if you want to rent a car for the con. If you’re flying into Tampa International Airport to attend the con, there is plenty of car rental available at the airport.
Driving around downtown Tampa can be difficult, but the traffic isn’t as bad as conventions in some major cities.
Parking at the event
Parking at Metrocon isn’t perfect, but it is much better than some cons. The Convention Center Garage has room for 450 cars, but there are other options nearby.
The South Regional Garage has 1000 lots, and the Crosstown Meter Lot has 160 spaces. Slight further away is the Fort Brooke Parking Garage, with a sizable 2600 lots.
There’s also the Whiting Street Garage with 450 lots, and the Hart Lot, which holds 140. These are all within easy walking distance of the center.
Public transport to the event
Tampa Union Station is close to the center, and there are bus lines in operation as well. The best way to get transport to the convention is with a ride-share app or a taxi, which can drop you off right outside.
For those staying in a hotel, most options are within walking distance of the convention.
If you’re flying in, the nearest airport is Tampa International. They offer a shuttle service, and plenty of taxis.