If you are a hardcore fan of anime, manga and all things kawaii, then chances are you have probably attended a few anime conventions over the years.
Going to an anime convention can be a thrilling and jaw-dropping experience, and one you get to enjoy with a whole community of people who share the same passion for anime as you do. But what is the best anime convention in the United States?
Throughout the year, there are numerous comic and film conventions being held all across the United States, but one of the best conventions for anime has to be Yamacon.
First launched in 2012, Yamacon is a Tennessee based convention that celebrates all things anime.
Coming from humble beginnings, the convention has slowly become one of the most popular anime conventions in the world, and is currently held in the mountain resort city of Pigeon Forge.
When Yamacon was first established, the small convention was originally held in the Smoky Mountain Convention Center, located on the outskirts of the city.
However, due to the convention’s rise in popularity and the large number of guests who now attend, the event has been moved to the more spacious LeConte Center, which is both accessible and easy to find.
Although Yamacon can offer all the anime and manga your heart desires, we understand that going to an anime convention is not a simple task. And that is why we have decided to aid you in your Yamacon experience.
Down below we have compiled the ultimate guide to Yamacon, which covers everything from tickets, meet and greets and costumes.
So why not take a look and prepare yourself for the best anime experience of your entire life!
Buying Your Ticket/Badge For Yamacon
Before you can even think about packing your suitcase, you have to make sure that you have purchased the right tickets for the convention.
Luckily, Yamacon currently offers a selection of tickets and premium badges, which are usually made available to the public via the convention website. This online platform is the only place where you can purchase tickets for the event.
All Yamacon tickets and badgers are released several months in advance, with the ticket release dates currently being available on the convention website.
All Yamacon tickets are usually non-refundable, but this rule can be lifted when the convention is being held during a time of global crisis. If you need to transfer your badge, then you can do this within 30 days after the end of the convention.
Pre-registering for your ticket or badge can be an effective way to save money and guarantee your attendance.
Pre-registered tickets and badges can be collected on the day of the convention but you will need a photo ID and your Eventbrite confirmation number to do this.
Currently, Yamacon does not offer single-day passes, so any tickets or badges you purchase will cover the full three days of the convention.
Because Yamacon currently offers a variety of tickets and premium badges, we have outlined the various offers down below:
- Pre-Registration 3-Day Badge: This badge offers 3-day access to the Yamacon convention, as well as to all public convention areas, guest autograph sessions and the exhibit hall. This badge is usually sold at $40.
- Yamacon Pre-Registration Tier 1: This ticket offers 3-day access to the Yamacon convention, as well as to the vendor hall, game hall, guest panels and select complimentary autographs. This ticket is usually sold at $40.
- Yamacon VIP Badge: This badge offers 3-day access to the Yamacon convention, as well as to all public convention areas. The badge also provides priority VIP access, one complimentary autograph and an exclusive convention t-shirt. This badge is usually sold at $90.
- Yamacon Lifetime Membership: This ticket offers 3-day access to the Yamacon convention, as well as to all public convention areas. The ticket is free but can only be purchased by a Yamacon lifetime member.
What To Bring To Yamacon
If you are the kind of unfortunate person who has never attended Yamacon before, then you are probably wondering what you need to bring.
Remember that a trip to Yamacon is a 3-day commitment, and so you are going to need a lot of supplies to make the experience both enjoyable and memorable.
Of course, what supplies you decide to take to Yamacon is entirely your decision, as you are the only person who truly understands your various needs.
However, there are some basic survival items that we think every Yamacon guest should take with them. And we have outlined these items in the following list:
- Backpack: If you are attending Yamacon for the first time, then we recommend taking a sturdy backpack along with you. Not only will your backpack provide ample storage room for your other necessities, but it can also be used to carry any new merchandise you decide to purchase. You should also make sure that you find the bag comfortable, otherwise, you could risk hurting or exhausting yourself.
- Water Bottle: Yamacon is often held during the winter months but this does not mean that the convention can’t get hot and sweaty. And when you are trapped in a warm and stuffy room, you need to make sure that you are staying hydrated. That is why we recommend taking a refillable water bottle, which you can drink throughout the day.
- Various Snacks: Food will usually be provided at any comic or anime convention, but it can often be expensive and hard to locate. That is why we recommend taking some snacks in your backpack so that you can keep energized throughout the busy weekend. Some great snacks to take include potato chips, granola bars and candy.
- Phone Charger: If you are going to Yamacon then chances are you will also be taking your smartphone. If this is the case, then you must always remember to take your phone charger as well, especially if you are the kind of person who loves taking pictures and updating your social media.
- Autograph Book: Like any major convention, Yamacon often hosts a variety of different celebrities, writers and artists. So if you are interested in getting some autographs before you leave, we recommend investing in an autograph book where you can keep all your signatures in a neat and accessible place.
- Storage Tube: When you go to Yamacon for the first time, chances are you will leave with a selection of new posters, which are both fragile and prone to damage. So why not invest in a storage tube and keep your posters completely intact. Not only are these handy devices useful, but they are also light and can be easily carried on your back.
What To Wear To Yamacon
If you are going to Yamacon for the first time, then you may be wondering what clothes you should wear. Although Yamacon has a rich cosplay culture, we understand that dressing up isn’t for everyone.
So if you are stuck on what clothes to bring, we have outlined some suggestions in the list below.
- Hoodies: Not only are hoodies fashionable and comfortable, but they can also keep you warm during the winter months or when the venue has decided to crank up the air conditioning. If you want to be prepared for any major convention, then you should always have a hoodie close to hand.
- Comfortable Shoes: When it comes to attending anime conventions such as Yamacon, you will probably spend most of your time walking around and queueing in lines, which can be particularly strenuous on your feet. So always make sure to wear comfortable footwear that fits properly on your feet. We promise it will make a difference!
Easy Yamacon Costume Ideas
If you are interested in dressing up for your first time at Yamacon, then chances are you have realized just how expensive authentic costumes can be.
If this is the case, then you could try making your own costume from scratch, which can save both time and money. However, if you are not a particularly creative person, then this may not be the most viable option.
That is why we have chosen to compile a selection of easy costume ideas to help inspire you. Not only are these suggestions easy to make, but they can also be constructed using materials found in your home or local costume store.
- Legend Of Korra: If you are drawing a blank on what character to dress up as then Avatar Korra is always a popular and effective choice. For this particular costume, all you need is a blue shirt, blue pants and a pair of ugg boots – it’s that easy! And if you want to add a touch of authenticity, then you can also pull back your hair and style it in Korra’s iconic ponytail.
- Pokemon: If you and your friends are looking for a group cosplay that requires little to no money to make, then the cast of Pokemon is always a solid choice. Not only does this particular cosplay involve wearing basic clothing, but it also will look immediately recognizable to fans and newcomers alike.
- Sailor Moon: Another quick and effective way to dress up as a group is by donning the uniforms of the iconic cosmic sailors. For this particular cosplay, you only need to purchase vibrant wigs and Japanese school girl outfits, while the fans around you will happily fill in the blanks.
- Black Butler: This particular cosplay idea is perfect for both groups and individuals alike, as it only requires you to wear a formal black suit. If you want to add a hint of drama to the ensemble then you can also make the character’s iconic weapons using cardboard and art supplies.
- Spirited Away: If you are looking for a costume idea that is both minimalistic and beautiful, then look no further than the cast of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away. This cosplay idea is not only classic and memorable, but it also requires very few supplies and can be executed to perfection even with a small budget.
- Attack On Titan: Attack On Titan may just be one of the most iconic animes in history, and yet the heroes’ iconic costumes are particularly easy to replicate. For this costume, all you need is skinny jeans, a worn leather jacket and leather boots. If you want to add some extra detail, then you can also make the characters’ weapons using various craft supplies.
Can You Go To Yamacon Without A Costume?
Yes! Of course, you can! There are no rules written in stone that state you have to wear a costume to Yamacon.
Many people who attend the convention will often wear their own clothing, as wearing costumes can often prove hot and uncomfortable.
However, if you are the kind of anime fan who often wears hoodies and t-shirts displaying your favorite shows and characters, then we highly recommend that you wear them to the convention.
Not only is Yamacon is the best place to wear your anime merchandise, but it will also provide you with opportunities to bond and discuss with other anime enthusiasts.
What Do You Do If Nobody Gets Your Cosplay?
There’s probably nothing more disheartening than when your fellow anime fans don’t get or understand your costume, especially if your cosplay cost a lot of money or was the result of hours of hard work.
But what do you do when nobody gets your cosplay? Well, the first thing you need to do is stay positive.
Yamacon is attended by thousands of people every year, so you are bound to find someone who understands what your cosplay is meant to be.
And if this is the case, then you can use this opportunity to discuss your interests with another fan, which could result in you making a new friend who shares the same passions as yourself.
Guide To Yamacon Lines & Crowds
Unfortunately, Yamacon is very similar to other anime conventions, in that the venue will probably get crowded very quickly. If this is the case, then you may find yourself having to queue for hours on end, which can rob you of both time and pleasure.
If you want to avoid waiting in long queues for the whole weekend, then we recommend prioritizing autographs and other line-heavy activities on the first day.
By doing this you will be able to get all of the waiting done and out of the way, which will provide you with sufficient time to enjoy the other booths and events.
Getting Your Comics Signed
As we have previously mentioned, Yamacon often hosts a wide variety of celebrity guests, from actors, writers and artists. So if you are interested in getting your stacks of manga autographed by your various heroes, then Yamacon is the place for you!
However, you must remember that these guests are at the convention to make money, which means they will usually charge for their signature.
The price of a celebrity autograph will usually vary depending on the person’s fame and prominence, with most autographs starting at $20.
So if you are keen on having your manga signed, then you will need to locate the autograph booths and see how much money your intended celebrity is charging.
This information will usually be found on the celebrity’s table or will be made available when you enter the convention.
How Much Money Do You Need?
The amount of money you are planning on taking to Yamacon depends on how much money you are willing to spend. However, even if money is not a problem for you, we recommend setting yourself a spending limit.
If you want an actual figure to work with, then we believe that $600 is more than enough money for both food and merchandise over the 3 days.
If you are concerned that you have not brought enough money to spend, then the venue and surrounding area will most likely have ATMs where you can purchase more.
Don’t Forget To Bargain
Shopping at Yamacon can be a fun and enjoyable experience, especially if you have no issue with the price of the merchandise you are buying.
However, sometimes products at conventions can be rather expensive and you may have to haggle with the various booth workers to lower the price.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to haggle, then it is important to keep a positive demeanour, as a friendly person is more likely to have the price lowered for them.
However, there is no guarantee that this will happen, as the sellers at Yamacon also need to make their income and may not be willing to lower their prices.
Other Tips For Yamacon Goers
- Pace Yourself: There’s no point in trying to see everything on the first day, as you have the whole weekend to explore the convention. Just take your time and plan each day out so that you get everything covered.
- Ask First: If you see a person wearing a beautifully constructed costume at Yamacon, then you must always ask them for permission before you take a picture or pose with them. After all, they are just normal people and should be treated as such.
- Explore Pigeon Forge: If you are allowed to explore the local area, then you definitely should. Not only is Pigeon Forge a beautiful and mountainous place, but it is also home to restaurants, hotels and even a Titanic museum.
- Go To Dollywood: If you ever get tired of looking at anime and games all day, then you can always pay a visit to Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s critically acclaimed theme park which is located just outside of the city.
Hotels Near By
There are various hotels located near the LaConte Center, and we have compiled a small selection down below:
- River Place Inn
- The Ramsey Hotel
- Black Fox Lodge
- Holiday Inn
- Mainstay Suites
Car Rental Near By
There are also numerous car rentals in the local area where you can acquire a vehicle, we included a small selection down below:
- Jeep Rentals
- Affordable Car Rentals
- Ridge Riders Adventure Rentals
Parking At The Event
If you intend on driving to the convention, then the LeConte Center has a large free car park that features its own unique tram system that can take you to the front door of the venue.
If the car park is full then you can also park in the surrounding area, in car parks such as Old Mill District Parking and Dollywood Housing.
Public Transport To The Event
If you need to reach the venue by using public transport, then Pigeon Forge offers the Pigeon Forge Mass Transit, which is a bus route that can take you directly to the convention.
These buses can also be used to reach other attractions in the area, such as Dollywood and the heart of the city.