Oh, Las Pegasus. You’ve met a terrible fate, haven’t you? You can find DHN’s take on the greatest convention disaster in pony fandom history after the break! Las Pegasus Unicon appeared on the surface to be a contender for one of the best pony conventions this year. An incredible VIP lineup, plenty of fandom artists and musicians, some interesting and varied panels (this reporter personally enjoyed the brony psychology panels) and three days to enjoy pony in the world’s greatest adult playground, Las Vegas. Gambling, booze and colorful cartoon horses; what could go wrong?
Everything, apparently. So much, in fact, that even the news crews that were present (and there were many) are struggling to come to terms with the catastrophe. A fun weekend in the desert has turned into massive headaches and financial losses for all parties involved: VIPs and special guests, musicians, vendors and even the regular convention attendee. Too many people were affected by this for a single article to tell the full story of the tragedies that transpired. DHN will be working on getting first hand accounts and expert opinions on the convention. But for now, an overview and concluding analysis of the convention will suffice.
The first of the many problems that led to the fall of Unicon was the dismal attendance. The convention (and the vendors) were expecting a repertoire of about two thousand pony fans to attend the event. The actual number of attendees were no where near that lofty mark. This led to low sales for the vendors, much lower then expected income for the convention.
Inexperience of the lead staff played a major role in Unicon’s downfall. Making promises their wallets couldn’t keep is the obvious complaint, but there were also little things that brought down the convention experience. Not enough convention books were made to supply the few people who actually attended the con, much less the two thousand they were hoping for. There was also a massive wall separating the artist alley into two separate rooms. Attendees had no idea the second room existed, and many of the vendors behind the wall had incredibly low traffic on the first day of the convention. The wall was removed on the second day, but it should have never been there in the first place.
The handling of the VIPs and the special guests was especially poor. Some guests were never picked up at the airport by the convention staff, and had to find alternative ways to get to the event. At the event, VIPs were seen walking to events and panels without even so much as an escort. It was rare to see the VIPs out at any point during the convention though, as they spent most of their time shackled to autograph booths. The general feel that was given off was that these guests were treated less as the honored, respected talent that we have come to love and more like Sharpie wielding autograph factories. It could not have been any fun for these guests, and really adds on top of the fact that they’ll probably never see a penny of all the hard work they did at the convention.
The location and timing of the event were also not ideal. For many, this convention came at the same time college finals were going on. And for those too young to be in college, Las Vegas doesn’t have much to offer due to the over-twenty-one nature of the town. Then there’s the hotel choice: the Riviera. The Riviera is one of the older, lower end casinos on the strip, and it’s age and quality shows. Paper thin walls, mediocre food, and smutty show advertisements bring down the living experience for attendees. Worse still is the absence of banking establishments near the hotel, forcing denizens to face hefty withdrawal fees from the casino’s ATM machine.
The con was riddled with enough small problems to warrant a poor report had the con succeeded. However, Las Pegasus Unicon went above and beyond the call of failure. The convention was shut down early on the final day. Guests hit with massive hotel bills and kicked out of their rooms. VIPs not getting payed. Charity money disappearing. Now the community waits in anticipation to see what the consequences of these events are. To conclude this article, I’d like to speak directly to some groups of people directly effected by the aftermath of this convention:
To the Laspegassist charity organizers and backers, a thank you is in order. These individuals have come together to help the people negatively effected by this disaster, donating their time, money, and in some cases personal items. Every one of these people has shown great character in the face of disaster, and deserves high praise for their efforts, big and small.
To the VIPs of this event, an apology. Las Pegasus Unicon is not the kind of impression that we’d like to leave as a fandom. Though I wouldn’t blame you for turning away from fandom activities as a whole, please know that Unicon is a singularity amongst the fun times you can have within the fandom. For those who do decide to stay, I hope we can make your future visits as much fun for you as it normally is for us.
To those planning on running conventions this year, a word of caution. The tragedy of Unicon must not be repeated. You must know what you are doing, and plan accordingly. This may mean being conservative with guests and how many promises you make. It may also lead to adjusting expectations on how many people will attend your events. You may even want to consider scrapping your event if you are not prepared to handle these kinds of responsibilities and compromises. Now is the time you must prove yourselves, not only to those burned by this convention, but to yourselves and your staffs. Be prepared.
And finally, for the people in charge of Las Pegasus Unicon, a word of advice. You screwed up, and no amount of finger pointing and blame shifting is going to change that fact. In fact, while you were busy trying to pass off blame upon others, a motley crew of internet strangers have gotten together and done a thousand times over more than you to fix the mess that you are responsible for. Harsh words and anger towards you has not relieved you of your duty to help these people. The choice is now in your hands: whether to go down with your ship, or become the brony version of Captain Francesco Schettino. The choice is yours and yours alone, but there is one path I’d clearly rather be on.
DHN will be continuing Las Pegasus aftermath coverage, including firsthand interviews and experts on what consequences the disaster will have on the community. Until then, though, let’s play the Song of Healing and hope we never have to go through this again. Though if you don’t like Zelda music, I’d recommend some CCR.