Good Bye Wizard World, Hello Fan Expo

The Fandads received press passes to attend Wizard World 2021. All thoughts, opinions, and bittersweet tears are our own.

The filled lobby back in the days.

I have been attending Wizard World Chicago since it was known as the Chicago Comic-Con. Every year I would save up my money to attend and buy the back issues that I was looking for. I would go every year with my friend Jose, and his father and my father would take turns taking us each year. It was a great way to geek out with friends and just get lost in the world of comic books and their creators.

One of the biggest moments that I remember is when the entire Image team was there, minus Jim Lee. They were our rock stars and seeing all of them in one place was just amazing! I remember Whlice Portacio signing my X-Factor comics and drawing a little “I” in the middle of the “X”. I just thought that was so rock-n-roll!

The con moved from the Ramada Inn to the Donald E. Stephens Convention center and started getting bigger and getting more movie stars coming in. Around this time Wizard magazine was my go-to for anything comic related and then one year it happened. Chicago Comic-Con changed its name to Wizard World and while I was sad about the name change, I knew that big things were going to happen.

As a Star Wars fan, I was so excited when cast members of these movies started being guests at these shows. I was able to meet Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and David Prowse. Back then autographs were either free or very affordable and you could chat with them for a minute before they pushed you aside for the next person to get their autograph. I remember one year walking through the walkway to the convention center and running into Ray Park. We walked together to the con and the entire time I could not believe that this was happening.

Meeting David Prowse

Every year I would attend and my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, would come with me and I introduced her to this exciting world. She had fun seeing the celebrities and buying t-shirts and toys of her favorite childhood cartoons. We would bring her nephews with us a few years and I loved watching their eyes get wide when they saw one of their favorite movie/cartoon characters walking around the show floor. It was always magical experiencing Wizard World with a first-time attendee.

When we started Fandads, I was still going to Wizard World and one year I applied to get press passes to the event and we got them. Every year after that we got press passes and made the most of them passes by being there every day. I have written about attending Wizard World every year and I even wrote a piece about my 10 favorite things about going to Wizard World. Yes, having press passes was awesome but getting to attend some of the press-only events was pretty great too.

The press events were pretty cool. One year I was sitting across from Lou Ferrigno talking about his children and upcoming movies and the next year I was interviewing Bruce Campbell about his upcoming game show. One of the coolest moments for me was talking to Micheal Rooker at the Music Box. He was there to promote The Driving Dead series and I talked to him about comics, driving, and being a dad. I was wearing an “Ewoking Dead” shirt and he really liked it. I hope to attend more events like that in the future.

One of the great things about Wizard World is that it is an event that I can enjoy with my family. It is one of the many events that we look forward to attending. My children love seeing all of the cosplayers and taking pictures with them. I enjoy making these memories with them and finding old issues or figures that I was looking for. As my children get older it was always great to see what they were into. One year my daughter was all about finding Marvel-related toys, now she is all about the Funko pop figures. My son is all about wrestling figures and this year I was able to find some good ones for him.

While the con is going to have a new name, I will miss seeing the big W everywhere. Leaving Wizard World was a bit bittersweet but I am excited about what Fan Expo will offer us.

Thank you for all the great memories Wizard World and thank you to all of the staff and volunteers that made the event run smooth every year.

Until next time.

Share with us your favorite memories of attending Wizard World and you can see all of our coverage by searching “Wizard World’ in our search box.

The Chicago show, which started as Chicago Comic Con in 1972 and became Wizard World Chicago in 1998, has attracted tens of thousands of fans a year as well as celebrities and creators like Stan Lee, Michael J. Fox and Carrie Fisher. FAN EXPO HQ is currently collaborating with Wizard World on a smooth transition and will honor all prior commitments with fans, exhibitors, and artisans. Plans for FAN EXPO Chicago 2022 will be announced later this year, and fans can expect a new, reinvigorated brand and revitalized attendee experience. Wizard World will continue to operate the Wizard World Vault and will be participating at all FAN EXPO events.

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