Set your phasers to awesome.
Pensacon returns to Pensacola this weekend – bigger, better and geekier than last year.
The full weekend's schedule of events is available on Pensacon's official app on the Apple Store and Google Play. To download the app and begin customizing your own schedule, visit pensacon2015.sched.org. For other information, visit pensacon.com.
The second annual convention is based at the Pensacola Bay Center, Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, and the Saenger Theatre, but will take over much of downtown for the weekend, including a Saturday evening party, “Pensacon After Dark,” that will close down Palafox Street.
VIP passes sold out months ago, but a limited number of three-day and one-day passes will be available at the door.
Attendance this year is expected to be double what the inaugural event drew last year, with approximately 30,000 attendees is expected to flood downtown streets and venues for the event.
“We have already outgrown the Bay Center, and we’re only in our second year,” said Ben Galecki, CEO of Pensacon. “We have found ways to expand this year, but we fully anticipate Pensacon to continue growing each year.”
Downtown business will be hosting themed parties throughout the weekend. The Fish House, Play, Seville, Hopjacks, Tin Cow, Beef o' Brady's, and O'Riley's include the venues hosting official Pensacon parties.
The Pensacon Short Film Festival will be held at the Crowne Plaza on Friday. The Pensacon Costume Contest will take place at the Saenger Theatre at 8 p.m. Saturday while “Pensacon After Dark” takes over Palafox Street.
That Pensacon uses the city as a venue is a boon for all the downtown businesses, said Chris Wilkes, talent buyer at Vinyl Music Hall. Vinyl is hosting a special Bustout Burlesque Presents: Bad Girls of Burlesque event including new acted themed from “The Munsters” and “From Dusk 'til Dawn.”
“The whole of downtown is very conducive to wandering,” Wilkes said. “We may take it for granted, but to an outsider, having a shopping and dining and nightlife area so close to the water and with such a quaint atmosphere is great.”
People actually get to experience the city, which means they’re more likely come back throughout the year, said.
“Downtown Pensacola actually means something again now, where it didn't for a very long time,” Wilkes said. “What was once referred to as 'geek-culture' is quickly just becoming 'culture' so Pensacon is another huge step in solidifying Pensacola as the cultural epicenter of the Gulf Coast.”
According to Visit Pensacola figures, the 2014 Pensacon brought more than $1.4 million into the local economy, including more than 5,000 hotel rooms booked. Almost all of the Pensacon attendees said they would attend the event again, and the vast majority of out-of-town guests said they would put Pensacola on their shortlist for a non-con vacation.
The event itself includes guests that appeal to every nerdly niche, from old-school comic book heavy-hitters to stars from the latest and greatest TV incarnations of favorite sagas.
Celebrities will be on-hand all weekend to interact with fans, sign autographs, and take photos. This year’s guests include: Star Trek icons Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura), Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi), and Garrett Wang (Harry Kim); Lita Ford, founding member of The Runaways; Sean Gunn, who played a large role in bringing Guardians of the Galaxy’s Rocket Raccoon to life and is also well-known his role in Gilmore Girls; Arrow star Katrina Law; Star Wars’ Boba Fett, Jeremy Bulloch; The Sixth Doctor of Doctor Who, Colin Baker; Georgina Leonidas, Katie Bell in Harry Potter; Naomi Grossman who plays the lovable Pepper in American Horror Story; voice actors Trina Nishimura (Attack on Titan) and Frank Conniff (Invader Zim, MST3K).
Game of Thrones fans can see cast members Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon), Julian Glover (King's Grand Maester Pycelle), Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne), and Finn Jones (Ser Loras Tyrell).
Fans of the Power Rangers can see one of the team’s biggest reunions to date featuring Austin St. John, Karan Ashley, David Yost, Walter Jones, Barbara Goodson, David Fielding, Kerrigan Mahan, and Robert Axelrod.
Comic book fans can interact with legendary Batman artist, Neal Adams; celebrated Star Wars artist Dave Dorman; science fiction author Jody Lynn Nye; Marvel’s GI Joe comics’ writer, Larry Hama; and Star Wars and X-Files author, Kevin J. Anderson.
The most recent addition to the roster: a “Staremaster” rematch at the Saenger Theatre, 7 p.m. Saturday. What is being billed as “Rematch of the Decade” will be filmed as part of an upcoming documentary produced by Kinematic Entertainment, Heretic Films and filmmaker Kevin Smith.
Attendees can also shop on the vendor floor, which has grown by an additional 20 vendor booths, sit in on interactive panels with celebrities, attend informational workshops, participate in contests, and interact with fellow fans.
"It's been incredible to see the city embrace our event whole-heartedly," said Manda Manning, Pensacon's director of marketing. "In particular, we are really excited about our partnership with the airport this year. Our celebrity guests and attendees are going to feel the love as soon as they step off the plane and see the way the Pensacola Intergalactic Airport has transformed to welcome them."