Monday, June 13, 2011
Garden State Exhibit Center Somerset, New Jersey
This was my first time going to AnimeNEXT, but it wasn't far away and for the price it was a really great opportunity. The con itself was split between three buildings, which isn't too unusual for some cons, some can split between several buildings near the same complex. They aren't too far away from each other, two of the buildings are connected. But the third building was across the street, with no real crosswalk to get there. So there was people watching the street and running across. It was really dangerous, as far as I know there wasn't really any other way to cross. I never have a problem with walking around the convention center or even having it spread out, but it was really too dangerous to have it across the street like that. There had to be a better way to do that, or another room within the two hotels that were there. The hotel I stayed in was just next door (across a bridge) would have been a much safer choice.
The only thing to see across the street was the game-room, which sadly was a nice game-room. Not as big as Magfest (though I doubt many other cons I'll go to will have a gameroom that big or nice) but it was good for an anime convention.
All very important rules.
Other then that I really didn't mind the layout. This con really had some amazing places to take photos. Right outside the doubletree was probably the best. There was this nice little bridge and outdoor area, as well as a walkway between the two hotels. The weather was a bit of touch and go. It rained on Saturday a bit, a sort bit in the middle of the day and right around the end, but not really bad enough to affect any gatherings or cosplays from what I could tell.
The dealers room was really nice and expansive, there was a ton of stuff there, but not a lot of my favorite booths sadly. But there was a lot of options for others. This was probably the first con I didn't get a figure.
The con had a rather large stage area for some of the musical guests they had (that doesn't really fit what I tend to like at a con but it was really nice and massive for the people who wanted to see that. While you're walking into the dealers room you could peak in and see. What I really liked was how nice and seperated the Artist Alley was from the Dealer's Room. They had their own space to sell their work, and they were able to keep it open longer for people who wanted to buy things from them. I tend to prefer them separate like that, there's less crowding and people in the dealers room when they're shopping tend to shop for two different things. I always like to think it's at least two different mind sets, and the prices work much differently.
They had a small food area, that sold pizza, sandwiches, all that good stuff, and it was so nice to have in the con center. The food was a bit pricy, between $5-6 for just one sandwich but that really can't be helped, the hotel will charge more. My one real complaint is that they were cash only, it would have been much easier if their machines took credit cards. There was a few ATMs around though for people to pull cash.
Overall it's a fairly smaller con. It's not utterly massive like Otakon would be, it's smaller but there was plenty of people around. It seems to be one of those cons that are just getting bigger with every year, which is probably why they have such an awkward spacing issue. I think this con is fantastic if you have a group of friends that you want to hang out with and get lots of really nice photos. None of the panels were really terribly interesting to me to check out, but I'm not exactly the person to ask about panels. But I adored the outdoor locations and taking photos and exploring the dealers room. I would go again next year, definitely.
And the rest of the photos are here. Don't forget to check out the subfolders!