With images of overwhelming crowds and lines of attendees stretching for what seemed like miles, Anime Expo staff members found themselves under fire by fans for the poorly organized security procedures implemented in order to enter the Los Angeles Convention Center.
With rumors spreading about the event being oversold and poor management being the cause of the line fiasco, it makes complete sense that the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) published a statement on Sunday to try to clear up the air.
PUBLIC STATEMENT BY SPJA RE LONG WAIT AT EVENT ENTRY
Safety and security for Anime Expo attendees are SPJA’s highest priority. SPJA deeply regrets attendees’ frustration at the long waits to enter Anime Expo yesterday. SPJA immediately added many more bag check stations as lines grew. As of yesterday, 70,000 attendees checked in and went through bag check. Overnight, SPJA moved its shuttle bus drop off point. Today, those who already have badges can enter along the South side of West Hall rather than in front, where people first pick up badges. This morning, lines are moving more quickly. Delays are under half an hour.
The world we live in has changed dramatically. Balancing enhanced security with treasured parts of the AX experience, like cosplay, moved Prop Weapons check outside the event. To accommodate the extra time bag check would require, SPJA opened registration on Thursday, a full day earlier than usual. The registration line moved quickly, but the separate bag check line slowed and then merged. Immediately, SPJA reorganized the lines and opened more bag check stations. For Day 2, many more bag check stations were added, fans were asked to bring fewer bags to the event, and shuttle routes were changed.
Given recent world events, for everyone’s safety and security, there was no choice but to implement bag checks. SPJA is deeply sorry that doing so made the first day experience so difficult for many. We deeply appreciate the patience everyone showed yesterday. Some one-day badge holders who were not able to enter the event until late in the day were given substitute one-day badges for another day at AX, or were given refunds if they were not able to return another day. Today’s entry into the event is moving smoothly. Please come to AX and enjoy the incredible talent and programming here for fans of anime and Japanese culture.
Anime News Network has a great interview with the SPJA Chief Operations Officer Ray Chiang. Make sure you check it out.
Here is my opinion. Yes, security at these cons is becoming more of an issue, especially as they have now entered the mainstream. However, large lines at Anime Expo to pick up badges and get into the convention have progressively become an issue since 2012. This problem is nothing new and each year the management’s handling of the lines leaves very little to be desired. The only difference this year is that they decided to add more security procedures to better protect the public’s safety on behalf of the LAPD.
However, I will give them substantional props for realizing that there was a significant issue and for taking steps to fix the issue. However, what happens next year when confronted with similar lines?
My recommendation for Anime Expo is to look into the costs of mailing out badges to fans to further reduce the lines. If it cuts down on the bad publicity for SPJA and makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone, it would make the expenditure worth it.