Wizard World Chicago is already upon us! Just a few short days after Bit Bash, Chicago’s amazing alternative games festival, the four day behemoth of pop culture is set to open its doors. We’ve been waiting (and waiting) for the details on just what we’ll get to see in the various panels, and though there were a few notable cancellations, like Jason Momoa and Katrina Law, there’s a still a pretty hearty lineup of celebrities awaiting you once you breach the doors of the Donald E. Stephens Convention center, and quite a bit of great programming from locals and industry professionals that’s more than worth exploring.
We’re putting on our comfy shoes and filling up our water bottles to make sure we’re ready to hit the floors all four days and bring you the best con coverage in Chicago, with daily panel catchups in case you ran into conflicts or needed to grab lunch, a drink or a nap, as well as a daily gallery of the amazing cosplay Wizard World always brings with it. Keep an eye on us on Twitter and Facebook for live tweets from panels and the floor, too. Now, down to business! We’ve got a basic lineup of who’s coming to play what day for each of the four days of Wizard World Chicago, along with some panels that we thought might be particularly interesting. Celebrity appearances listed for each day do not include the guests’ signing schedules, which you can scope out here. Here’s the official programming schedule as of press time (though things may yet be shuffled and added), so make a note of the people you want to see and the panels you want to catch and you’ll have yourself a fantastic road map for fun while you’re there. And, take our advice: Try something new. Whether it’s giving speed dating a chance, checking out Cosplay 101 and learning about that world, or learning more about how to draw comics, you’ll find whole new worlds if you just dig a little deeper, beyond celebrity panels and signings.
First, let’s talk logistics. Thursday night at 4 pm is the first chance you’ll get to get out on the floor. It’s a good opportunity to get a little taste of the weekend’s action, and (if you keep it relatively quiet), a less crowded time to shop for merch on the show floor.
Who’s on Thursday: Celebrity Guests with appearances on Thursday include Thomas Ian Nichols, who’ll be serenading the crowd from the Entertainment Stage Thursday night, directly followed by Michael McFarland with even more musical stylings.
What Looks Interesting: If you’re suffering from Game of Thrones withdrawals, seek out the After the Thrones panel discussion Thursday night to talk about what was good, what was bad, and what you wish you’d seen. Another great panel will be Thursday’s Diversity in Cosplay with Wizard World Cosplay Guest Papabear. We met (and interviewed) Papabear at last year’s con and learned more about the amazing group of cosplayers he heads up right here in chicago, Chicago POC Cosplayers, and think he’s got a lot of great things to say on the subject, and a fun, welcoming way about him that’ll be sure to draw you in to the conversation. If you’re in the mood for some fun and games, think about Family Guy and Simpsons Trivia.
This is where the real Dark Souls begins. In other words, lace up your best sneakers, hydrate and prepare because Friday’s the first long day at the Stephens, and it’s jampacked with stuff to do.
Who’s on Friday: Steve Guttenberg of Police Academy and Cocoon will kick off panels on Friday, followed by Shazam! A Conversation with Zachary Levi later that afternoon (where we hope he’ll also discuss Chuck). Say “Eyyyy” and make your way to Jumping the Shark: A Conversation with Henry Winkler Later that evening, wrestling fans can get in on a conversation with pro wrestlers Honky Tonk Man and Rob Van Dam. Some of our favorite panels at both Wizard World and C2E2 have been with voice actors, so we’re really looking forward to Friday’s Turtle Power: A Conversation with the Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Voice Actors which includes the amazing Rob Paulsen, Cam Clarke, Barry Gordon, and Townsend Coleman. Whether you’re a Turtles fan or not, this should be amazing. If you’re a sci-fi fan and love The Orville, Friday will be a big day for you too, with A conversation with the Cast of The Orville, featuring Scott Grimes, Mark Jackson and Kelly Hu.
What Looks Interesting: We’re curious to hear what panelists have to say in the Cosplay and Anxiety panel, and are sure horror fans will not want to miss The 13 Most Iconic Horror Film Characters from The Silver Screen. Whether you’ve built props or not before, Cosplay Foam Building with Cosawesome Studios and Wulfgar Weapons should be neat, too, though you might also want to add Cosplay 101 to your schedule. Round out your night with Disney Trivia and get some shuteye for Saturday.
Saddle up and do it all again–this time with bigger crowds! Saturday is almost always the most chaotic day–but it’s also got truly great panels, tons of guests, the most amazing cosplay and caps off with the cosplay contest at night.
Who’s on Saturday: Get started right on Saturday and head to Inside the Buffyverse: A Conversation with Amy Acker and Emma Caulfield if you’re a Buffy or Angel fan (or really, a Whedonite of any type.) Keep the magic going with The Charmed Life: A Conversation with Holly Marie Combs, Brian Krause and Drew Fuller, and carry on, my wayward Wizard Worlders, to attend The King of Hell: A Conversation with Mark Sheppard (A panel we’re really hyped up for). Some other heavy hitters on site will be John Travolta, for his Tell Me More, Tell Me More: A Conversation with John Travolta and SUE’s favorite human Jeff Goldblum for his Life Finds A Way: A Conversation with Jeff Goldblum. For a dose of nostalgia, the Holding Out For Some Heroes: A Reunion with the Cast of Heroes panel brings to the stage Greg Grunberg, Adrian Pasdar, Jack Coleman and David Anders. Those steeped in the Potterverse should make sure to appear for Acting the Supernatural: A Conversation with Dan Fogler of Fantastic Beasts fame. Wrestling fans get more programming, too, during the Women of Wrestling: A Conversation with Torrie Wilson, Lillian Garcia, Lisa Marie Varon and Katie Forbes. Finally, another panel we absolutely can’t wait for, As You Wish: A Princess Bride Reunion with Cary Elwes and Chris Sarandon.
What Looks Interesting: Saturday kicks off with some Princess Bride Trivia it’d be inconceivable to consider missing, then keeps it going with a live taping of the 3 Geeks Podcast. If you’re looking to get into something more local, why not stop by the Intersection of Pop Culture and Comedy panel with local comedy pros ComedySportz. If you’re a cosplayer, don’t miss the Cosplay Posing & Photoshoot Workshop so you’re ready for your closeup, and if you’re into Stranger Things, hit the trivia panel. Then, of course, make sure you grab a seat for the annual Wizard World Costume Contest.
Finish the con off right. Sunday still has goodies in store!
Who’s on Sunday: Step into the Arrowverse for An Arrowverse Conversation with Matt Ryan, Teddy Sears and Kelly Hu. Later on, prepare for Halloween and Christmas with the Nightmare Before Christmas Reunion with Chris Sarandon and Ken Page. Whether you’re a teenage witch or not, make your way to Melissa Explains It All: A Conversation with Melissa Joan Hart, and make sure to check out He’s Batman: A Conversation with Kevin Conroy.
What Looks Interesting: You’ve probably burned a lot of calories milling about the showfloor, but if you want to condition just a little more, especially for next year’s costume, check out Cosplay and Fitness on Sunday. If you’re more about Turtle Power, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trivia will be your time to shine. Writers may want to check out Storycraft: Perspective on the Art of Creation, and everyone might feel good being bad with Evil Animated, where cartoon historian Joe Wos will list the top ten meanest animated movie villains.
That’s a wrap on this con preview–don’t forget to say hi if you see us on the floor!