This past weekend, I attended Walker Stalker Atlanta, which was the 4th annual Atlanta show, and my 3rd attendance in this city. While this convention has grown and spread to other cities – including international – and even a cruise, the Atlanta show is the Super Bowl of the Walker Stalker conventions. Held at the end of October around Halloween weekend, The Walking Dead is in production only an hour’s drive away. This guarantees that pretty much all of the cast attend as guests, even Andrew Lincoln, who doesn’t makes con appearances outside of this particular one.
Walker Stalker Con – What To Expect
While not directly associated with AMC Network, Walker Stalker Convention is the place to meet all of your favorite actors from the hit zombie apocalypse TV show. Fans can attend panels, have photos taken, and get autographs from past and present cast members. Even future cast members in the case of Atlanta’s show – Khary Payton, who plays King Ezekiel, had a booth, even though his character had not yet made his debut on the show. This was also the first convention appearance by Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz after their grueling deaths in the season premiere the week prior.
Let’s face it, Walker Stalker Convention is primarily an autograph seeker’s convention. Lines of ATM down the center of the autograph floor with rows and rows of fans lining up in the queues can attest to this. One fan admitted that she waited SIX HOURS in line for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s autograph. This was JDM’s first Walker Stalker Convention as well, and he was probably the most popular cast member, along with Yean, Cudlitz, and, of course, Norman Reedus.
Walker Stalker Con – The Events
Despite long lines for autographs and photo ops, there were celebrity panels throughout the weekend, and a few really cool events. On Friday night, I attended “Night of the Rocking Dead”, Jordan Woods-Robinson’s Official CD Release Party for his new album ‘Anthem’. Jordan plays Eric on TWD, but is also a talented musician, as well as a Blue Man at the Blue Man Group Shows at Universal Orlando. Every attendee received a digital download of the ‘Anthem’ album for attending. The highlight of the show was a performance of a TWD themed parody of “Devil Went Down to Georgia”, with special guests Michael Traynor (Nicholas on TWD) and Tate Steinseik (Season 1 and 5 of SyFy’s Face Off).
Saturday evening was a screening of the pilot of The Walking Dead. As viewers watched the episode on the big screens, they were able to ask Andrew Lincoln and Lenny James questions as they followed along using the new iPhone App GabBox. After the episode finished, Andy and Lenny came onto the stage with Ross Marquard (Aaron on TWD) to discuss the episode and answer questions. Midway through the panel, they were joined by surprise special guest, Steven Yeun. It was a very cool experience to view the episode in a room of hundreds of other die-hard fans, and then listen to these actors that have been involved with the show since day one.
Walker Stalker Con – The Cosplay
The other real star of the convention was the cosplay. Walker Stalker brings out the cream of the crop when it comes to TWD cosplay. There is a legion of dedicated fans, The Cosplaying Dead, that pride themselves on screen accurate costumes. But it doesn’t stop there. Families from grandparents down to tiny kids and babies wore creative and often humorous costumes. There were Negans of all ages, boys and girls, men and women. Glenns with their eyeballs popping out of their heads. Abrahams with angel halos. Walker Stalker cosplay is always top of my list.
Walker Stalker Con – Overall Impression
Walker Stalker Atlanta is by fans, for fans. Because the line control, ticketing, and other logistical aspects of the show are handled by the volunteers, be prepared for confusion, long lines, and information gaps. Simple questions could be avoided by proper signage. For example, it was very confusing to enter the convention center in concourse A, to be filtered through security and metal detectors, directed through a pointless turnstile, then walk what felt like a half of a mile to the actual entry to the convention floor in concourse B.
Be prepared to stand in lines. Photo ops were a little more manageable this year, because the more popular actors were divided into groups with staggered time slots. (But the overall quality of the photographs was lacking, which may have been prevented by simply taking a little extra time for quality control.) And as I previously mentioned, autograph lines were extremely long in some cases.
Be prepared to spend a lot of money. Autographs and photo ops can get expensive. Additionally, there are different levels of tickets that can be purchased to get varying levels of perks, such as dedicated (shorter) autograph and photo op lines, earlier admission to the vendor hall, and premium reserved seating for panels.
The vendor hall was marginal at best. There were a lot of local vendors that I don’t normally see at conventions. I canvased the floor and pretty much looked at everything that was for sale in about 90 minutes. The Walking Dead Experience (a 30 minute immersive attraction) returned again this year, but it was a repeat of Chapter 1 from last year’s convention, so I did not participate.
It was great to meet Jeffrey Dean Morgan, get my epic Negan photo op with him, attend a couple of great panels and events, and most of all, and spend some quality time with my friends. I didn’t overextend myself and try to do more than was logistically possible. But I also didn’t do a whole heck of a lot, period. I’m not sure if I will attend again next year, it will really depend if the guest list or event schedules offer anything above and beyond what I have already done in my past three Atlanta shows.
Have you been to a Walker Stalker Con? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.