Preview: The C2E2 2023 Choose Your Own Adventure

It’s Spring Break time, which means while some are heading to balmier locales for drinking contests and poolside tanning, there’s a different contingent of nerds and pop culture fans headed for McCormick Place because C2E2 starts THIS FRIDAY!

If it snuck up on you, don't feel bad – it snuck up on us too. This is the first year since COVID that things are back to their natural state, and programming is beginning to reflect that, though this year’s lineup of C2E2 panels and spotlights still seems a little diminished from pre-COVID levels. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as a lot of what makes conventions fun goes beyond the big panels and comes down to the late night life, merch halls, and meetups where people go to find their tribes.

As per usual, our team is gearing up for a great weekend full of panels, cosplay, lost sleep and merch, and we’ll be bringing you the best from the con floor every day. Also as per usual, we’ve got a guide you can bookmark and carry with you in the form of our annual Choose Your Own Adventure C2E2 guide that’s got a little something for everyone for all three days of the con. 

Find your favorite things with our guide and the full panel schedule, get your comfy shoes and costumes pressed and ready, and we will see you Friday on the floor!


C2E2 2020. Photo: Marielle Bokor

Sometimes, in the nerd world, you’ve got to be the early bird, and if you’re anything like us, it’s gonna mean putting in some work to get to the convention early on its first day. Why? Well, C2E2 doesn’t ramp up, it kicks off with a bang this year…or, more accurately, a Shazam!

Zachary Levi, all around nice guy, Pixar star, superspy and superhero, has the first spotlight of the con bright and early at 11:30 am on the Main Stage, so if you’re a fan, make sure you don’t get Tangled up in traffic and get your butts in the seats as soon as you get through the gates.

For anyone heading to the floor Friday with the kids, you may want to check out Storytime with League of Enchantment Chicago, a charitable cosplay group with chapters here and in Michigan whose goal is to work together with local hospitals and community organizations to bring hope and smiles to kids and kids at heart –something we couldn’t support more – through the power of cosplay. You’ll be able to find them at Family HQ at 11:45 am.

If you’re a workaholic who’d like to start working your nerdiness into your 9-5 life, or replace your 9-5 altogether with something you’re nerdy about, why not add Business Skills for Nerdy Creators to your planner at 12:30 pm in S504BC – this is a great place to get started if you’ve been holding on to some passion project you’re just not sure how to launch and want to connect with people who’ve made their nerdiness their paychecks.


If you’re an avid cosplayer who loves to create your own costumes, hit up Cosplay Central at 12:45 pm for Sewing for the Galaxy to talk fabrics, tips and tricks. 


If you’re a huge Kpop fan, start off your day at Pop Asia Interactive on the main show floor at 12:45 pm with the KPop Chorus game and get your lungs warmed up for lots of K-pop fun throughout the con.


If you love comics and you especially love the X-Men, don’t miss the X-Men Animated Series Cast Reunion on the Main Stage at 1 pm


If you were also into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, make sure you hit up the Kevin Eastman Spotlight in S404 at 2:00 pm to talk turtle power.


If Pokemon’s your passion, head over to S401CD where you’ll be talking Best Pokemon of C2E2


If you’re a geriatric millennial who still wants to cosplay, head to Cosplay Central at 2:15 for the Over 30 Cosplay Panel to get inspired, and encouraged.

At 2:30, answer the Feeny call and make sure you’ve got a seat for the Boy Meets World 30th Anniversary Cast Panel on the Main Stage. This reunion is a big deal, and features the largest group of actors from the series that’s ever been in one place at one time for a convention. If you’re a fan of Pod Meets World you probably already know what to expect, but for everyone else, expect Danielle Fishel, Will Friedle and Rider Strong with special guests William Daniels, Trina McGee, and Bonnie Bartlett.

If the hit podcast is any indication it’s going to be a massively good time, with plenty of banter, heartfelt discussions, and silliness to spare. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be, and we expect a lot of people feel the same, so make sure you plan ahead to be there for this one.

If you’re someone who’s into things like Bridgerton or the Victorian era, and you’ve got the corsets and petticoats to prove it (or you don’t, and you’re just curious!) there’s a Regency Dance in Family HQ at 4:15 pm to follow up your classroom time, and you’ll be able to learn how to do popular dances from the era, or just join in with others who’d love to throw real, real far back and let loose on a dance floor.


If you’d like to pay tribute to some important names among nerds and the Chicago convention circuit, make the journey to S402 at 4:15 pm where they will be honoring Jason David Frank, a staple at Chicago Conventions, and Kevin Conroy, beloved voice actor who famously embodied Batman in the animated series.

Now, you might think conventions slow down once you hit 7 pm – and honestly, you’re a little right, at least for official programming. Usually it’s time to trudge back to the hotel room, take the train home or hop on the expressway, or at least time for dinner and some well-deserved time off your feet before you head to room parties or out on the town for extracurriculars

One thing that C2E2’s done well in the past few years though is to add a robust schedule of after dark events. So, if you dare…here’s some possible Friday Night Adventures:

If you’re in town, why not take in improv? The Queen B’s Improv Comedy show is 18+ and scheduled to start at 7:45 pm in S403a. This fantastic all-woman improv group out of Schaumburg is ready to get you giggling and all you need to do is show up and snort-laugh.

If you’re someone who loves the classic con drink and draws, do it for a good cause, and meet up at the Drink and Draw for St Jude’s in the Hyatt Regency Bar at 8 pm


If you’re a film nerd, join the amazing folks at the Logan Theatre in S504BC for Movie Trivia at 8 pm.


If you like your fandom with a little glitter and a healthy dose of sexy - don’t miss the amazing talents at the Live 18+ Nerdlesque Show at 9 pm on the Main Stage.

Then, to bed with you! Because Saturday’s not letting you off easy.


You’re going to want to grab your best air bison and Yip Yip your way to the Main Stage bright and early on Saturday if you’re a fan of Aang, Katara and the crew, because the Avatar: The Last Airbender Cast Reunion is at 11 am on the Main Stage, and with Zach Tyler Eisen, Dante Basco, Mae Whitman and Jack De Sena on hand it’s going to be something truly special.


If you’re more a retro Saturday morning sort, you're invited to S401AB with Nerds Know for a Saturday Morning Cartoon special that they say you can come to in your pjs! 


Cosplay at C2E2 on Saturday. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

If you’d like to start off Saturday fancy, bring your favorite princesses to Family HQ at 11 am for Princess Storytime.

We suggest a stop at the Yard for Button Making sometime in your 12-4 timeslot, as Busy Beaver is a Chicago staple for a reason - you can press your own live on site.

But if you’re into Sam and Dean and Crowley and Crew, make it snappy because there’s Two Demons and a Werewolf: A Supernatural Panel happening at 12:30 on the Main Stage


If you’re a wrestling fan, there’s the C2E2 Wrestling Fans panel in S502B at 12:30 pm.


If you’d rather lampoon movies with the best of the best, It’ll be time to head to Berwy- I mean, S402 where you can rendezvous with the one, the only, Svengoolie at 12:30 pm.

If you’re a huge fan of Our Flag Means Death,  make a path to the Main Stage at 2 pm


If you’re more the RPG type, get your game show on in S401AB at 2 pm instead

Scoobies, it’s going to be time to get together and hit the Main Sage by 3:30 pm for Grab Your Crosses, It’s a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reunion which’ll feature Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, James Marsters and Marc Blucas.


If you’re a gamer into trivia and game history, hit up Double Nintendare, a “retro-fied” Nintendo Gameshow in S401D at 3:45 pm.

If the Force is with you, follow that to the Main Stage by 5 pm for Star Wars: The Clone Wars 15th Anniversary Reunion 


Celebrate Black Excellence in Fandom Spaces at 5 pm in S502B


If Trek is your thing, you may want to head over to S405B at 5:15 pm for From 1 to Q - The Best of Star Trek TNG to nerd out about Geordi, Riker, Picard and the rest (if you’ve not already been doing that with this season of Picard!)

After Dark’s got another great menu, not the least of which is the C2E2 Cosplay Central Crown Championship of Cosplay. This event is back and had you not been able to attend before, know that this is cosplay on a whole new level. Not only are regional and national winners announced, but by the end of the show, you’ll see the very best cosplayer in the world get crowned. It’s as exciting as it sounds, and as impressive, so we advise you make sure you get your seat secured.


Like we said, that’s not all there is to do once the clock strikes 6 - as you can also catch a brand new bawdy beauty of a show with Nerdlesque 101 (18+) at 6:30 pm in S402


Beam up to a Trek themed improv show with Starship Edsel: An Improvised Star Trek Satire at 6:45 pm in S401CD


Buy awesome art to benefit St. Jude’s at the C2E2 Charity Art Auction which’ll be happening at 6:45 pm in S403A

Once you’ve had your kicks, have your water and your vitamins and head to bed because there’s one more day left.


Start off in your PJs again folks, because Cursed Commercials from Around The World will be a good one. Beginning at 11 am in S405a, check out some of your favorite celebs in some of their weirdest works and do it in your pjs.


Don’t be late for the Cap, because the Chris Evans Spotlight starts at 11:30 am on the Main Stage.

If you’re into Chainsaw Man, don’t miss the Chainsaw Man Cast Panel at 12:30 pm


If your heart is in Wakanda Forever, don’t miss Tenoch Huerta at 1 pm on the Main Stage.

We always recommend you check out the C2E2 Kids Costume Showcase and Parade at Family HQ at 1:45 pm, because some of the most adorable cosplay on earth is on display there


Checking out the Meng’er Zhang Spotlight may be more up your alley 


If you’ve never been able to leave your island, you might want to check out Animal Crossing Past, Present and Future in S504a at 2 pm.

If your favorite Superman era was with Smallville, don’t miss the Cast of Smallville Reunion on the Main Stage at 2:30, and finally

Comics Fans, round out your time with First Comics 40th Anniversary at 3:45 in S403a.

Like we said, there’s lots to look forward to, especially if retro reunions are your thing, so we’ll see you out there starting Friday, when the adventure begins!

Stay with us for cosplay and panel catchups all con long!

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Marielle Bokor