Heroes Vs. Villains FanFest – Day 1
We woke on the morning of Saturday, March 12 at 6:30 am CT. That was 7:30 am at home so I felt really good and Avila awoke with a smile. “I had fun,” she said, speaking of our adventure from the day before of visiting the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium.
We got dressed and got her into her costume. I packed her tennis shoes, and made sure I had our Funko Pop figurines to be signed. I made sure we had our passes, vouchers, bands, money, and cards and we headed out, down to breakfast around 7:15 am CT.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites at Rosemont, which is right across the street from the Donald E. Stephenson Convention Center, which is where the FanFest was taking place. I was nervous about us eating there, since Avila is on a restricted diet and isn’t a big eater in general, so I slipped an apple from the breakfast buffet and some snacks from the car ride into my bag before we left and headed over. We had made the trek the night before to get our bands and passes, so this morning we were able to just walk across the street and go right into the convention. I had told Avila numerous times to not let go of my hand, and that there were going to be lots of people and I didn’t want to get lost. Normally she’s pretty stubborn and wants to be independent, but now was not the time to be trying those skills.
Since we had VIP passes, we were allowed to enter at 9:00am CT (whereas general admission passes entered at 10:30am CT). I gripped her hand nervously as I tried to navigate her through the crowd of people, waiting for the go ahead to run to whatever lines or vendors they were interested into going to first. Once they released us, and told us to have a safe, and enjoyable experience, we hustled with the crowd into the heart of the convention.
Avila had our first stop be the vendors that had two huge shelves of Funko Pop figures and she carefully chose an exclusive edition pink Batman character. I realized we needed to get to the Stephen Amell autograph line, so I tried to gently push her along and we wound our way through the throngs of people to the back end of room where his line was already crazy. I handed over her Batman figure, while I got the Arrow figures I had brought from home in my hands. We waited in line for a good hour when we finally were able to get up to exchange our autograph voucher for a sticky note with Avila’s name on it attached to her Arrow figure she wanted signed and personalized to herself. I paid the $60 to get a second autograph and bring Matt home a signed figure too. We were almost next for Stephen Amell to sign our things and Avila put her Casey Jones mask and started looking around for “Casey Jones the Green Arrow” as she calls Mr. Amell.
It was our turn, and I hurried Avila up to the counter and instructed her to tell him “Hi.” He asked how old she was and was her pronouncing her name correctly. I about hugged him when he did so, and blurted out, “Yes! Oh my God, thank you! Yes, it’s Avila.” Later, I remembered he is a very avid Toronto Blue Jays fan so I’m sure he had heard of Alex Avila before.
We moved on from the autograph spot after he signed our two figures and I ushered Avila towards the photo op lines. She started crying when they directed us to start the beginning of Line 5 (based on our passes is how they split the lines), and after apologizing for the beginnings of a meltdown, she finally got out enough for me to understand her problem. She was really, really sad she didn’t get to give him a high five and a hug and I rocked her in line as I reassured her she would be able to do that when she got her picture taken with him. The Stephen Amell VIP pass holders were supposed to start having their photo ops at 10:30 am CT, but he never started it until closer to 11:00am or later. The Platinum pass holders were in Line 1, Gold pass holders in Lines 2 and 3, Stephen Amell VIP pass holders in Lines 4 and 5, VIP in Lines 6-8, and general admission in lines 9-13 or something crazy like that. Anyway, the Platinum and Gold holders went first, and mind you this isn’t a meet and greet; just a quick hello, pose, smile, click, next, repeat sort of thing. As lines 1-3 start moving Avila announces, “I have to go potty!” Of course you do! After waiting all morning, of course she picks now to have to go. I felt panicked and desperate, I turned to the lady in the front of line 4 and explained my predicament. She inspected my badge to make sure I had the same level of priority as she did and she let Avila go ahead. I thanked her profusely as we were waved inside the photo tent, and I instructed Avila that now was the time to give him his high five and hug. I was thinking silently to myself, “Please do not pee on him. Oh my God, I’m going to be known as the mom of the kid that peed on Stephen Amell. Oh please Avila, just don’t pee on him.”
The photo people started instructing me to place my bag and her stuff on the table and to get in the photo. As I was refusing, I was able to catch the heart-melting exchange between Stephen and Avila.
He smiled at her as soon as she walked in, knelt to the floor and he greeted her by name. She ran over and gave him a high five and hug. As they hugged he went to lift her up and I saw him make the “she’s heavier than I thought!” face, typical when you go to pick her up for the first time. She immediately grinned and as he was trying to coax me into the picture, she was rubbing her face against his like she was a cat or something. They snapped their picture and Avila didn’t pee on him. We thanked him for his time, and Avila happily darted out of the tent, content with her meeting. That moment, right there, was worth every single saved penny. Worth every second of every night I stayed awake, literally making myself sick with anxiety over the trip. Worth every feeling any parent – especially one with special needs – gets when their kid is being rowdy in public. Worth everything, for that moment they were able to capture for her. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this picture is worth a million words. There aren’t enough for me to express fully what it meant for me, as a parent, let alone a fan.
We ran over to the bathrooms and Avila made it in time. We followed the line back and went and picked up her picture. I immediately took a picture of it and sent it to my mom and Matt. Avila was excited, I was relieved it was over, and all that was left was to let Avila bounce in the bounce houses they had set up in the Kid Zone.
We saw some awesome other cosplayers, that were really awesome and took the time to take pictures with Avila in her costume.
We were able to get in the autograph line right away for Gotham’s Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepotts) and I had got an autograph for Matt since he’s his favorite, and got Avila’s “selfie” taken with him. He was super duper sweet, and very paitent with Avila. He even claimed he knew where our hometown was, so that was pretty cool since we aren’t that big really.
We walked back to the hotel around 1:30 pm CT , then we showered and Avila called and ordered room service. She got in the bath tub and played with her rubber shark she picked from the aquarium gift shop and we just generally relaxed and soaked in the comfort of our room.
After we ate our lunch and we laid in the bed for forty minutes or so, Avila asked to go back to jump in the bounce houses and there was going to be a costume contest at 5:00pm. So, we geared back up, and ran back across the street to the convention center. She made a bee-line for the bounce house, and I walked around the house, just enjoying watching her excitement and happiness.
We got her ready in time to participate in the costume contest, and they split everyone up into either “Heroes” or “Villains.” Avila joined the end of the parade and she proudly marched up to the microphone and grinned at herself on the TVs projecting everything onstage. She said what character she was and her age and moved off. Everyone clapped and applauded and after all, 10-15 Heroes got finished the crowd voted for their favorites. Avila didn’t make the top three, but she did get an honorable mention, so that was pretty awesome.
After the costume contest, we went back to the Funko Pop vendor and she picked out a purple Batman for Iris, an orange Batman for Jensen, a Civil War series Black Widow, and Kun Fu Panda’s Po for herself. Then we headed back to the hotel for the night.
After another quick rinse, and more room service, we climbed into bed, turned on Disney Jr. and snuggled in for our last night in the hotel.