So I’m just back from VidCon 2015 in Anaheim California. For those who don’t know, VidCon is a convention of YouTube creators, producers, industry types, and fans. Lots of fans. Mostly girls from what I can tell, between the ages of 12 and 24. These days it’s hard to tell the age of some of them based on clothes, makeup, height, and just the general way they carry themselves.
While I wasn’t actually attending the convention, there wasn’t a need for me to spend money on a ticket, I was at the Hilton hotel and convention center where everything is taking place. It gave me the opportunity for a bird’s eye view (being on the 11th floor we got to see a private YouTube party Thursday night – more on that in a bit), as well as a street level view in the lobby, the restaurant, the gym and the pool.
Here are just a few random observations.
- Girls travel in packs. I guess they always have. I know I did at that age. And they are always on the look out for whoever their favorite creator, just in case they can get that selfie they are always chasing. It got to the point that the hotel had to set up security checkpoints in order to verify that you were actually a guest and had reason to be going up to the rooms. Some of these packs were downright rude, in one case immediately closing the door and not letting people on the elevator who had already been waiting a while. I know because I was one of the people who had been waiting.
- You never know who you will randomly meet. One morning I shared the elevator with Drew Scott of HGTV’s Property Brothers. Personally I had no idea who he was at first. It wasn’t until someone else in the elevator asked why he wasn’t wearing a “yellow badge” (for the featured creators) and he said he was just here as a producer, not an actual creator. Super nice guy, polite and no ego on display during the ride or on the walk down the hall, since we were staying on the same floor.
- Even if you’re not attending the convention, there is still a lot of walking involved. We didn’t rent a car, there wasn’t a need to, but place we’ve wanted to go for dinners have been at least 1/2 a mile to a mile away, so we would walk. Downtown Disney, which is a public area (no ticket required) is also a must stop and see place while we’re here, so we’ve walked there at least 3 times. And while the teenager is at the convention, I’m occupying my time at the gym and in/around the pool, so add that extra exercise in and let’s just say, my muscles are feeling it.
- It was nice to see on the agenda panels discussing issues that are relevant to the audience that is attending. There was a mental health panel addressing anxiety, depression, cutting and other current issues teens and young adults are facing. There was a LGBTQ panel and then meet up as well. There was no tolerance for bullies (one attendee/creator was kicked out of both the convention and the hotel). As a parent it made me feel a little better about letting my 15 year old explore and do her own thing without me having to hang around all the time.
- All in all things seem to operate much more smoothly this year. The only hiccup was on Wednesday evening. The e-mail attendees received said registration would be open until 8 pm. The website also had this listed as the time for registration. The sign outside the convention center where they were supposed to go to register had 6:00 pm printed as the closing time. This led to some confusion when the girls got there at 7:00 pm they found out that it was already closed. Because of this it took away some of their time from the following morning. With an event this large I know there are bound to be mistakes, but when it comes to registration and associated signage/messaging this should have been caught beforehand.
- Thursday night there was a private party for what appeared to be the featured creators, industry types, and invited guests. This was what we were guessing since we we’re actually watching from the 11th floor and the party was on the 5th floor lanai area. The teenager actually spotted quite a number of creators that she follows, so you would randomly watch them throughout the crowd to see who else she could spot at the party. It was something like a real life “Where’s Waldo?” or in this case “Where’s Phil?” game. It turns out we must not have been the only ones doing this because suddenly party goers started shining their phones lights up at the rooms and waving hi. Of course we got in on that fun, waving back and using our flashlight apps to signal as well. Neither one of us has any idea who most of the people were that interacted with us, but it was a fun memory made during the conference.
- You pretty much are running on adrenaline the entire time you are there. As an attendee you are rushing around, trying to get to signings, panels, events, and meet-ups. Food, who has time to eat? As a parent, you are on a heightened level, because you will get the “OMG I just met fill in favorite YouTuber’s name here!!” text accompanied by a picture of said event or the “I’m staying out later. Is that okay?” text, or the sobbing, hysterical, breakdown phone call because they have finally reached the limit of over stimulation and absolute exhaustion. (Thankfully we didn’t have that happen this year, but it has happened). You’re getting up early to try and get breakfast, then up late because all the events of the day must be rehashed and replayed over and over and over.
All in all, a great time was had by all. The teenager had a blast meeting her favorite creators, giving them her personalized artwork, I was able to get in some good, quality time with her too, and had a chance to relax poolside and enjoy the southern California sunshine. Now to rest up, because I know we’ll be doing this all again next year.