If you’ve attended Rhode Island Comic Con through the years, you know how much it has grown since that very first day in 2012. The 2018 event brings exciting changes to fans attending the three-day pop culture celebration, which begins this Friday, Nov. 2.
Last year dawned the first phase of the convention space expansion to include the Omni Hotel. This year, however, the connected hotel will play a major part in the programming aspect. The Narragansett Ballroom on the ground floor of the Omni will serve as home base for most of the guest panels. Beginning Friday at 5 p.m., fans will assemble to see Q&A sessions with Tim Curry, Billy Boyd, Gwendoline Christie, Zachary Levi and many more.
To access the Narragansett Ballroom, fans will exit the Rhode Island Convention Center via the ground level Rotunda doors, cross the street and enter the Omni Hotel leading directly to the ballroom.
The Waterplace Ballroom on the second level of the hotel will play host to even more guest panels from Richard Dean Anderson, Elvira and James Murray, with special guest Joey Fatone, as well as a performance from RKO Army of a "Rocky Horror Picture Show" shadowcast. Fans will access the Waterplace Ballroom through the Omni connector on the third floor of the convention center.
With the transition of panels to the Omni, the main ballroom on the fifth floor of the Rhode Island Convention Center will now serve as Celebrity Central. Some guests will still occupy the lower level of the Dunkin' Donuts Center, such as Tim Curry, Gwendoline Christie, Hayden Christensen, Zachary Levi, Tom Felton, David Harbour, Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric and Noah Schnapp. The rest of the guest list, which has now reached almost 100, will occupy the entire space formerly used for guest panels.
Since the guests are moving, this leaves room in the exhibit hall on the third floor of the Rhode Island Convention Center. Epic Photo Ops has moved into the available space, with four photo booths to accommodate the thousands of fans seeking photos with their favorite guests. Sessions will take place throughout the weekend.
That takes care of all the layout changes fans will experience. Now for the best and most anticipated change.
As fans with badges already in hand line up to enter the convention, they will now have the option to enter through either the Dunkin' Donuts Center or the ground level of the Rhode Island Convention Center. Fans will line up starting from the back of the Dunk, and as they approach the front of the building, the line will split as they choose which entrance they will use. Organizers suggest choosing based on what they plan to see first.
Fans needing to purchase admission will still enter through the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
With all these changes in mind, the ultimate goal is to create an enjoyable and comfortable environment for fans, vendors and guests. Doors open at 2 p.m. on Friday for VIPs, and 3 p.m. for General Admission.
For maps, panel schedules and tickets, visit RIComicCon.com.