What you once knew as Wizard World is now under the banner of Fan Expo, and this year’s first major Chicago area convention kicks off in just one day! Fan Expo Chicago is bringing all the nerds together in one place for some good ol’ fashioned convention fun starting Thursday, July 7 at 4 pm at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (though elite echelons of fans may have earlier access.)
No matter what kind of nerd you are, there’s something for everyone at what turns out to be the 50th anniversary of the Fan Expo convention. We’re here to take you through some of the highlights so you know which day’s right for you to storm the castle – or, you know, grab a ticket and come down to get all your nerdy necessities including merch and exclusive intel from the various panels.
We’ve put together some possible timelines depending on your fandom, so buckle up, pencils down and get your plans made, then we’ll see you on the floor as usual!
Thursday, July 7:
Just as things kick off, you might wonder what you’re going to do to get into the action. Or who you’re gonna call. Undoubtedly it’s the Windy City Ghostbusters you should be meeting up with, as 5:15 is Slime Time in the Family Zone and kids and adults alike will have a great time with this charitable, cheerful group of folks who just want to have a great time.
Or, if you’re feeling more competitive, hang out with the folks from the Logan Theatre, who are hosting trivia at 5:30 on the HQ Stage.
Anime fans should get ready at 6, as My Hero Academia’s Jason Liebrecht sits down with fans at 6:00 in Theater 3 for Deconstructing Dabi.
Gamers can and should head over to the Gaming Zone this hour to get in on the Super Smash Bros Ultimate Tournament which runs from 6:30 to 7:30.
Horror fans, try not to drop your keys and get here on time for the Horror: Past, Present and Future panel at 7:15 in Theater 6.
And circus fans (and freaks!) head to the HQ Stage at 7:30 for a performance by wheel artist and circus performer Zack Herzig.
Friday, July 8:
Friday is the first full day, so lace up your comfiest shoes and pack an extra water bottle and get out on the floor early.
Tabletop fans can get their game on with Dice Dojo’s free play games beginning at 10 am and running all day in the Gaming Zone.
TTRPGers will probably also want to pack it up by 11:00 and head over to DND For the Next Generation with Rough Magic Games.
Bookworm? Then get into the bizarro side of things with 12:00 pm’s Blowing Minds For a Living: Bizarro, Horror and Weird Fiction in Theater 9.
If the Force is strong with you though, you’re probably going to want to get your butt in a seat in the Main Theater at 12:00 pm for Carl Weathers’ “Some of My Favorite People Are Bounty Hunters” conversation.
If you happen to be an anime fan too, I don’t know what to tell you – you might have to figure out how to be two places at once, since the Class Reunion! The Voices of My Hero Academia’s Class 1-A begins at 12:15 in Theater 2.
Star Wars fam, you’ve got another great panel lined up for you at 1:00 pm in the Main Theater when I Am No Jedi: Embodying Ahsoka with Ashley Eckstein hits the stage.
Gamers, you should hit up Theater 2 at 1:15 to get some down time in with some legendary voice actors from some truly iconic franchises, when Video Game Voices with David Hayter and Steven Downes begins.
Then, scoot over a theater to Theater 2 at 2:00 because Gaming, Genshin Impact and More! Is next on deck with a Zach Aguilar Q&A.
Better hope you’re not also a fan of Kevin Smith and the gang too though because Snoochie Boochies, a Conversation with the Cast of Clerks at 2:00 pm in the Main Theater, and it’s going to be a big deal.
Now, there’s plenty of other stuff to see Friday, so don’t forget to hit the full schedule up, but for now, let’s move on to Saturday’s lineup.
Besides, there’s lots of mischief to get into after hours, like Drink ‘N Draw ‘N Karaoke at 8:00 pm at the Five Roses Pub nearby, if you’re of age and interested.
Saturday, July 9th:
On Saturday, your epic journey begins in the Shire, as LOTR aficionados and movie fans of all stripes should be at the Main Theater bright and early at 10:45 for Trust a Brandybuck with Dominic Monaghan.
Film fans you’re going to need to look alive and decide if you can wrest yourself away from the LOTR action 15 minutes early here too, because Never Say Die with the Cast of the Goonies begins at 11:15 am in Theater 2.
DC fans, you’re gonna want to be down in the Main Theater at 11:45 am because it’s time to be Saving The World With The Cast of Stargirl, and not only will you find Brec Bassinger, Geoff Johns, Yvette Monreal and Anjelika Washington on stage, but your special guest moderator is none other than Joel McHale himself.
Podcast people may want to hit up Relatable with Ilsa and Kyra, a nerdy pop culture podcast, in Theater Room 8 beginning at 12:00 PM.
Cartoon/animation fans, we’re gonna need you in Theater 2 at 12:15 for What’s the Sitch? Catching Up With Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable.
Anime fans, we’re getting to you, and Total Concentration Breathing! The Demon Slayer Voice Actor panel at 1:15 in Theater 2 is a special one, featuring the full English cast together on stage for the first time- this is a can’t miss if you’re a fan!
If you root for the bad guy, be lurking in the Main Theater at 1:45 for Playing the Villain with Boyd Holbrook, where he discusses Logan, The Predator, Sandman and the upcoming Indiana Jones 5.
Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of…well, anything awesome, you’re likely to find a good reason to be in the Main Theater at 2:45 for the Book of Wen: Bounty Hunter, Warrior and Super Agent which gives the amazing Ming Na Wen a much deserved spotlight to talk about her storied career.
Animation fans, don’t give up and go home early – you won’t want to miss what’s coming to Theater Room 2 at 4:15, as Billy West takes the stage to talk Futurama, The Ren and Stimpy Show, Doug and more in Happy Happy Joy Joy with Billy West.
Cosplayers, just because we haven’t called you out yet doesn’t mean there aren’t a million great panels for you, but what you should be at if you’re a cosplayer or a fan of cosplay is The Masters of Cosplay Grand Prix: Windy City Qualifier at 5:15 in the Main Theater, either on stage or thinking about your turn to shine next year with that next cosplay you’re going to be inspired to do!
Comics fans, though you’re spending enough to be here already, get ready to spend more today as Theater 5 comes alive for Heroes in the Windy City at 7:00 PM and an additional ticket gets you access to an exclusive comic experience with Greg Capullo, Kyle Higgins, Marc Silvestri and Jock.
Film fans, you’re going to have to make a choice (and buy additional tickets, too) because 7:30 means the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old panel at 7:30 in Theater 2
The Four Hobbits: An Unexpected Reunion in the Main Theater at the same time (7:30) with Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, and Elijah Wood.
Then, if you’re a partier, you’re gonna want to save your energy for the Fan Expo Chicago After Hours 50th Anniversary party at the Crowne Plaza Ohare, which starts at 8:30 and runs to 1:30 am.
Sunday, July 10
One more day to round it out! Hope you’re ready to hit the floor one last time!
Start it off with prizes and dancing if you feel up to it at 10 am, with the Fan Expo Chicago 50th Celebration on the HQ Stage front and center, where there’ll be giveaways and live performances to entertain.
Then, at least one of the droids you’re looking for will be in the Main Theater at 11:00 am when Anthony Daniels’ conversation, I Am C-3PO begins.
Of course, you may want to lay in a course for the Main Theater at 12:00 pm instead if you’re a Trekkie as this is what you’ve likely been waiting for this whole time. The Number 1 through Q: A TNG Retrospective panel means you’ll get a chance to see and hear from John De Lancie, Jonathan Frakes, and Gates McFadden all at once, and there’s no good reason to miss it.
LOTR fans, make sure you’re in the Main Theater by 1:00 because it’s high time for I Will Take The Ring: Adventures with Elijah Wood and you cannot simply miss this.
Gamers, you’ll want to head to Theater 2 at 1:15 to Endure and Survive with Troy Baker – trust us on this.
Meanwhile Marvel peeps, move yourself to the Main Theater at 2:00 for One Bad Day Away with Jon Bernthal.
Anime fans, stay in the game, because it’s Over 9000! At 2:15 in Theater 2 with a Dragon Ball Voice Actors panel featuring Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat and you will be sad if you miss it.
Finally, at 3:15 pm, hit up Theater 2 because it’s To Hellboy and Back with Ron Perlman time, and that’s something we all should be in on.
There’s even more to mention but for that, you should hit up the main schedule and find out what else is worth exploring. Stay tuned all weekend for our con coverage and we’ll bring you everything we’ve got from the floor with cosplay panels and more.