Pensacon is a multi-genre convention based in Pensacola, Florida. In 2022, it will run over the weekend of February 18-20, and will be mostly based (in terms of autographs, panels and the vendor floor are concerned) at the Pensacola Bay Center.
There are additional venues for different elements of the con, including the Rex Theatre, the Pensacola Little Theatre, Voices of Pensacola, and the UWF Historic Trust Bowden Building.
Keep an eye on the Pensacon website to check if extra venues for particular elements of the con are added nearer to the date.
Be aware that at the time of writing, face masks will be required at all times inside the Pensacola Bay Center. This may change as government advice on Coronavirus changes.
So – how do you join the fun at Pensacon?
Buying your ticket/badge
The badge and wristband policy at Pensacon is simpler than at some larger cons.
You can get standard single day passes, at the following prices:
Friday – $35
Saturday – $45
Sunday – $40
A standard 3-Day pass is available for the bargain price of $65.
And a VIP pass will cost you $165. That gives you 3-day access to all the events at Pensacon, PLUS:
- 30 minutes early entry to the vendor floor each day – get your me
- Front of Line access for Panels
- Ability to remain seated between panels if you wish (no need to re-queue)
- Front of Line access for Photo Ops
- Exclusive VIP Swag
- Exclusive VIP T-shirt
- Free Parking (available on a first-come, first-served basis each day)
Make sure you choose correctly – there are no refunds for tickets or passes to Pensacon for any reason. Also, be aware you have to show your badge or wristband at all times while in, or when trying to get back in, to Pensacon.
What to bring to Pensacon
Above all, make sure you bring your wristbands or badges if you get them sent out ahead of time. If you don’t, and you’re picking up your pass at the event, do not forget your Showclix confirmation or your ID.
Without them, you won’t be able to pick up your badge or wristband, and in that case, even though you booked your tickets, you won’t be getting into the event.
Pensacon is also a convention where you can’t be guaranteed that vendors and celebrity guests accept card payments, so it’s advisable to bring a fair chunk of actual folding money with you – you wouldn’t want to miss out on a golden celebrity encounter or the perfect piece of merch because of a cash-only policy, right?
Be careful of course not to bring all your cash to the con each day, and be sure to keep the cash you bring safe from opportunists.
And before you ask, yes there are ATMs inside the venue.
But with the number of people relying on them to make the Pensacon dreams come true, they have a tendency to run dry early on each day, which might involve you having to leave the venue and hunt around an unfamiliar city looking for ATMS, all the while knowing that the celebrity you want to get time with is talking to other people, or the piece of merch that lit up your heart like a pinball machine is being pawed by other, lesser fans who brought their money with them.
You’re welcome for the nightmare. Bring your cash, save yourself the unnecessary sweating terror.
On the other hand, you can leave the usual convention snacks and drinks at home. You won’t be allowed to bring them into the venue, and there are vendors inside that will be happy to sell you whatever you need to sustain you.
Obviously, if you’re looking to get items signed, you’re going to need to bring those items with you. Likewise, bring your phone, your camera, your video camera, and enough chargers to drain the local power grid, so you’re not disappointed.
Oh, and bring comfortable shoes. That’s a simple fact of experienced con-law – whatever your cosplay, bring some comfortable shoes. Three days of walking round a con site with only occasional sitting?
You’re going to need some comfortable shoes. That’s even more the case at Pensacon than most, given that there are a handful of associated venues.
If you have room in your bag, soothing foot and leg massage oil or cream – also a con winner for the end of each day.
What to wear to Pensacon
For the most part, you can wear whatever you like to Pensacon – by all means, break out your cosplay if you want to, as many people feel they weren’t really at a con if they were there in their everyday gear as Accounts Payable Clerk Brian.
You want to break out your Inner Dirk the Daring or Princess Daphne, you should feel free to go right ahead (especially as in 2022, Dan Molina and Vera Pacheco, who voice those characters in Dragon’s Lair will be attending the con!).
There’s never any rule that says you have to cosplay, though. If you’re down and comfortable being Accounts Payable Clerk Brian, you’re more than welcome to Pensacon, and you won’t be hassled, only welcomed.
We who like to get our accounts paid on time thank you for your service.
One thing to note is that Pensacon has a strict policy on weaponry. No metal weaponry of any kind, from hammers to firearms, nothing with an actual blade, only bows that are so weakly strung they cannot fire a projectile.
Essentially, imagine that if a science-fiction apocalypse occurred in the vendor’s hall at Pensacon, you would be functionally useless to stop it. For precise details on weapons policy, check out the Pensacon website.
Easy Pensacon Costume Ideas
The range of easy Pensacon costume ideas will grow as the guest list expands and more on topic options are revealed.
Already booked for 2022, there’s Dan Molina and Vera Pacheco, the voices of Dirk the Daring and Princess Daphne from Dragon’s Lair, and Bin Fuyura and Eiichi Kikuchi, both of whom are famous as the iconic Japanese hero, Ultraman.
Those are on the more committed, hardcore end of the cosplay spectrum though.
Pensacon is listing Lou Ferigno – most famous as the green-skinned Incredible Hulk on TV – as attending, which is arguably one of the easier cosplays to achieve.
A little green body-paint, an angry-hair wig, some jeans that look as though you’ve burst out of them and a discreetly (modesty-permitting) ripped shirt, and you have yourself an Incredible Hulk.
Weirdly enough, this probably works better the less you look like a world-famous bodybuilder. It may not be easy being green, but it’s probably easier than going full Ultraman.
There are some options for low-energy but show-willing cosplays at Pensacon 2022 too. Donnie Dunagan and Peter Behn, the voices of Bambi and Thumper in one of Disney’s all-time animated classics, “Bambi,” are coming to Pensacon.
Can we say “Any excuse for a face-painting party!”?
Funnily enough, there are actually fancy dress costumes for both Bambi and Thumper available on Amazon, if you feel like going the easy route with a head start. If nothing else, they’ll give you the ears and the tail to start with.
A little face paint to get thumper’s wide-eyed sense of fun or Bambi’s nose for new things, and you’re more than giving the right idea (whether or not you go for the commercial costume).
Can you go to Pensacon without a costume?
Absolutely, you can go to Pensacon without a costume. You can go to most cons without a costume.
As mentioned, there’s neither harm nor foul if you want to go to Pensacon in your civilian clothes, because cons are inclusive of everyone in the many fandoms they represent – costumes or not.
If you have a costume, and you want to strut your Inner Klingon, by all means bring them out (but beware of the policy on weapons and maybe leave the bat’leth at home).
In fact, if you already have an Inner Cardassian, that might be even more fun, as Andrew Robinson (Garak from Deep Space 9) is on the list of guests for 2020.
Remember if you go full make-up though, a con can be a long, hot experience, so be sure to stay hydrated.
But if you’re happy enough to hang out in your favorite geek shirt and jeans, or hey, you do you, if you want to wear a three-piece suit and a fetching fedora, Pensacon will be happy to welcome you too.
What to do when nobody gets your cosplay
First of all, the idea that in a whole con, nobody will get your cosplay is pretty unlikely. You just need to find your geeks. In the event that nobody gets it though, what you have there is a lesson in resisting peer pressure.
If you thought it was cool when you put it on this morning, then guess what? It’s still cool now, whether anyone gets it or not. Cosplay is ultimately for you.
Sure, it’s fun if there are a bunch of people who dig it, but if they don’t – you be you, Thumper. It’s awesome that you did it, whether anyone gets it or not.
Guide to Pensacon Lines and Crowds
Lines and crowds are a feature of most cons, and Pensacon is no different in that regard.
But there is always an attempt to make the event professional, to move people along during signings and photo ops as much as possible while still giving each visitor the experience they dreamed of.
Unless otherwise noted, celebrity guests will all be located on the second floor of the Pensacola Bay Center, accessible by both interior and exterior stairways to alleviate clumping and crowding.
The panel schedule and the photo op schedule will be available on both the app and on the website nearer the time – as the con is still being put together at the time of writing, the schedules don’t exist yet.
Keep an eye on the Pensacon website for updates on the schedule as the con gets nearer.
Getting your comics signed
As with crowd and line management, the precise details of signings and prices have yet to be ironed out for Pensacon 2022 as we write this, but the guests will all be on the second floor of the Pensacola Bay Center.
Photo ops will be bookable in advance, but as yet, no information on pre-payment for signings has been released.
How much money do you need?
That’s a good question at Pensacon.
As yet, the list of prices for photo ops and signings at Pensacon 2022 hasn’t been released, but check out the list of guests who are confirmed, and you should be able to draw up an initially notional budget for some signing time with those you want more than anyone else.
As prices are revealed, you can tailor your Pensacon signing and photo op budget accordingly.
There’s lots of Walking Dead action, some Supernatural stars, David Bradley of Harry Potter and Doctor Who fame, quite a few animated X-men voices, a handful of Power Rangers, and for the older geeks, some Land of the Lost stars and Marc Singer (of both original V and Beastmaster fame), alongside Bambi, Thumper and the Incredible Hulk, so you might need to choose wisely.
As we mentioned, if you’re going to Pensacon, it makes sense to take some cold hard cash with you, because there’s no guarantee that some signings and vendors will be able to process your plastic.
Don’t forget to bargain
While you likely won’t be able to haggle on the prices of photo ops or signings, some guests will be more amenable to, for instance, personalizing a signing than others.
Be aware of the vibe, check with others who’ve had their merch signed, and maybe see if you can get exactly what you want from a guest – without crossing the line into being pushy or disrespectful.
Likewise in the vendors’ hall. Unless you spot a once-in-a-lifetime piece, maybe don’t blow all your merch money on day 1.
By day 3, vendors may be more amenable to a little bargaining and negotiation, because every piece they sell is both one more chunk of cash they make and one less piece they have to pack up and take away with them unsold.
Other tips for Pensacon-goers
Pensacon has a mission to provide an inclusive, welcoming environment for members of all fandoms, of any age, to get to meet some of their icons and also to enjoy some time with fellow fans – a thing that feels particularly important in the (dare we say it yet?) post-Covid world.
As such, if you take a positive and patient attitude to Pensacon, the chances are high you’ll get more out of it, and everyone will have a better time. There will be lines. There will be crowds.
The organizers and volunteers will do their utmost to still deliver the experience you’re looking for.
Pensacon has done a deal with the Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport hotel (5.7 miles from the Pensacola Bay Center) at 161 Airport Lane, Pensacola, FL 32504.
The hotel has complimentary parking and a free breakfast buffet, along with free wi-fi so you can upload all your Pensacon pics to your socials.
The special Pensacon rate is $169 + 16% tax/night for a Double Queen or Single King room. Call 850-483-5599 or visit the Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport’s website. Use booking code G-PC22.
Alternatively, try the Hampton Inn & Suites at 61, Gulf Breeze Parkway, which is less than 4 miles from the Pensacola Bay Center, just across Pensacola Bay.
Car rental nearby
There are lots of places where you can rent a car during your stay in Pensacola – though remember the parking prices and factor them in.
Budget Car Rental at 2430 Airport Blvd, or
Enterprise Rent-A-Car on 9th Avenue.
Parking at Pensacon
Parking could be tricky at Pensacon. While it may look like there’s parking space available, the con goes out of its way to say that the parking lot out front of the Bay Center is reserved for VIP attendees, while the back parking lot is reserved for ventors, volunteers, and the media.
That means attendees at the con will likely be using public parking lots in the surrounding area – and, as they fill up, lots throughout the city. It’s likely that those lots will charge at least $10 per day – or per visit – to park.
That means if you park, then drive away somewhere, it will cost you another $10 to park when you come back.
This is worth factoring into your con budget if you’re going by car.
Public transport to Pensacon
Public transportation in Pensacola is mostly reliant on the efficient local bus network. Depending on where you’re coming from, check out the Escambia County Area Transit website to plan your most efficient route to the Pensacola Bay Center and surrounding Pensacon venues.
You can buy your bus passes for Pensacon in advance on the Escambia County Area Transit website, but be aware – at the time of writing, face masks are mandatory if you want to ride the bus.
There will be a free trolley service throughout the whole of downtown Pensacola, available to all badge holders. Naturally, this only kicks in once you’ve collected your badge at the Pensacola Bay Center.