Coconut’s Survival Guide to Anime Expo LA

It’s that time of year again. Time to pack those bags, charge those camera batteries, and ready your cosplay outfits for Anime Expo (AX). This year will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) on July 1-4 and will be my fifteenth year of attendance. I thought I would draw from my experiences and give readers Coconut’s Survival Guide to Anime Expo LA.

Moving AX to the LACC has increased max capacity, however this did not come without consequences. The downtown LA area has a few more dark corners than what you would find in Anaheim or Long Beach, but in response the SPJA has provided direct shuttle service from all convention hotels similar to that of Comic-Con. You may run into the occasional weirdo on the street, but just keep to yourself, ignore, and move on. You should be relatively safe because you will also be surrounded by your fellow otakus.
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Most official Anime Expo programming resides within the LACC, LA Live, and JW Marriott (Last year, Dances were held at the Westin 5 blocks away, but not this year at the JW Marriott). Except when venturing out to eat or sleep, you will not have much reason wander beyond those grounds.
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First things first, figure out the Main Events that you want to go to. For me, these have been the Opening Ceremonies, AMV’s (Anime Music Videos), the Masquerade, and any concerts. Opening Ceremony and AMV’s are easy peasy to get into. I usually goto the Opening Ceremonies on the first day because nothing is open yet, so I usually find myself wandering into the Opening Ceremony line. It’s not an impacted event at all, so they usually hand out tickets while you wait in line. AX has been having this evolving ticketing policy the past few years for Main Events, so be sure to review them for the events that you want to attend.
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If there has been any complaint about AX, it was probably about the lengthy registration lines. Let’s face it, there’s no easier way to receive convention badges than in the mail, but AX still has it so even Pre-Registered attendees must wait in line to pick up their badges. Wed June 30, is Day 0 reserved for Pre-Registration Badge Pick-Ups, but last year I still found myself waiting 2+ hours in the hot sun. Maybe if the lines were indoors I wouldn’t mind as much, but nonetheless we are all still stuck with this primitive process. To make amends, there was a time 2 years ago, when all I did was walk in on Day 0 right up to a registration terminal and walked out within 10 minutes. I would attribute it more to timing though, since I showed up in the later hours of Day 0. Just something to keep in mind. Don’t forget to bring your books, magazines, PSP’s, and DS’s. You’ll be needing them in line.
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If you cannot be convinced that convenient convention food is worth the high price and diminished quality, then you should probably ignore this next section. Let me break it down for you, food yummy-ness dramatically increases when leaving LACC. There are some well-known restaurants at LA Live, which includes Yard House and Lawry’s Carvery. A small walk will land you at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), but those aforementioned are not places you would be eating if you were on the Subway, McD’s, Carl’s Jr, and In-n-Out diet/budget. Expect to splurge a bit when exploring the local food choices. One of my hidden favorites around the area would be Weiland’s Brewery Underground, found underneath the City National Bank Building, for none other than its great happy hour and garlic fries. Happy hour runs from 3-7pm and 10-1:30am on Thursday and Friday, but is closed Saturday and Sunday, as with most of the other downtown restaurants. Fernando’s Taco In is right across the street from LA Live and has good old Carne Asada burritos, for those of you in the Carne Asada Fan Club (me).
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There you have it, Coconut’s Survival Guide to Anime Expo. I’d like to thank the SPJA for organizing this premier event (largest Anime gathering in the US!) and employing me for 2 of those years. More info is available on AX’s main site . Please remember to enjoy AX responsibility and refrain from torching any cars or assembling massively in an unlawful manner (Naruto cosplay-meet exempt). We all know that Staples Center and the LAPD has had enough of that in the past month. And remember, Coconut is watching you.


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