I woke up early Sunday morning to see the news that Cameron Boyce, a beloved Disney actor, unexpectedly passed away due to complications from an epileptic seizure.
It was a shock to me mainly because I had no idea Cameron even had this lifelong medical condition. All three of my kids watched this very talented actor on the small and big screen. Situations, where celebrities pass away due to various reasons, can surprise even their youngest fans. Questions usually follow and my parent duty is to help answer those inquiries to the best of my abilities.
In most cases, our children are left upset. Maybe they looked up to that particular person or was influenced by something their character did. In my latest Today Parenting Team article, I share how I previously helped my kids to cope with the loss of an actor they adored.
Minnesota Fan Fusion 2018 ***Disclaimer: I received a complimentary media pass to cover this event. All opinions are my own and that of my kids***
Last month my two teenage boys and I had the opportunity to attend our first Minnesota Fan Fusion in St. Paul. We first heard about MNFF during Free Comic Book Day at Hot Comics and Collectables in Richfield this past May. The second my teens and I saw the celebrity line-up it was mutually decided we had to go.
What is Minnesota Fan Fusion?
It is a convention & expo that celebrates Fandom of all genres. They focus on local creators and artists to showcase the finest talent in the Twin Cities area and welcome artists from around the country.
In its sophomore year and previously named Minnesota Fan Fest, this comic book-themed convention offered well-known artist with a huge gallery of vendors. The actors in attendance held panels along with autograph and picture sessions.
In preparation for our trip to St. Paul, my teens and I kept close tabs on social media for updates to make sure we were not going to miss our opportunity to check out the panels with our favorite actors. What was great about the days leading up to the event was the Facebook Live feed that gave attendees a behind the scenes preview of what they could expect at this event.
Matt Solberg, who is the CEO and Founder of Square Egg Entertainment, discussed what made him decide to bring a comic book-themed event to Minnesota. In the second Facebook Live installment, we meet Sara Klick, Director of Talent Relations who shares how they chose and book guests for their event. The final FB live behind the scenes installment had the Directors of Operations, Director of Programming and Programming Manager, discuss various topics that covered the what to expect from the security when entering the building, how the wristbands are made to last for the duration of the event, and what content is planned to accommodate all ages.
For anyone wanting to know who would be in attendance on a particular day(s) the best way to obtain that information would be to follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Not on those social media sites? Sign up for their newsletter, and you’ll receive emails about the event.
Speaking of the Rivercentre, I must acknowledge how this venue was perfect for this particular sized event. The parking situation was not even an issue. Knowing that construction is going on in the area, I went directly to the interactive map on their website. The best part was that I found a spot that was a few feet away from the entrance and only paid $10!
Once we made our way inside the building, the strategically placed signs for MNFF led us to the area we needed to get our passes. Since we arrived 45 minutes before the beginning of the day’s festivities, my boys and I were 3rd, 4th and 5th in line to enter the premises. I’ve covered events on a Sunday before, and each time there’d be a huge turnout. That’s precisely what happened on this day.
Another great feature MNFF offers is an app where you can get a full schedule of their photo ops, panels, and events. I downloaded their app before arriving in St. Paul on Sunday. It was very user-friendly throughout my visit to the Rivercentre.
While waiting in line my kids and I finalized our plans for the entire day with the use of both the program that the staff provided us when we picked up our wristbands and the app we downloaded beforehand. Minnesota Fan Fusion even had their website serve as a third source for finding the schedule of the three days festivities. Talk about having all of your information basis covered!
Vendors and Exhibitors
The moment my boys and I stepped foot into our first MNFF we were in awe of all the exhibitors. There were two areas designated for these vendors to display their items. It took us a good 3 hours to look through each booth. My boys even went back to a few vendors that carried Legos and Original Funko Pops to make multiple purchases.
There are never any shortages of Cosplayers when you attend a comic booked themed event. It amazes me how so many people dress up for the occasion and even act as if they are the actual character. MNFF also offered several scheduled events where people dressed in their costume attire could engage in.
I had the chance to attend two panels on Sunday. The very first panel of that day was John Rhys-Davies. This man had the audience intrigued from the moment walked across the stage to the very second he had to leave for his autograph sessions. Mr. Rhys-Davies could be a one-person show. His ability to get into character and act out scenes made me wish he had more than an hour to entertain us. My teens enjoyed listening to John talk about his time on the set of The Lord of The Rings and Indiana Jones.
I loved hearing him get into Shakespearean Mode and reciting some of the lines. If you ever had the opportunity to attend a John Rhys-Davies panel, you must do it! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
The second panel I had the opportunity to attend was that of Firefly’s and The Sarah Conner Chronicles, Summer Glau. In her sweet, soft voice, Summer enjoyed answering questions from the crowd about each show she worked on. One of the questions was more of a personal one, about living with anxiety, that Summer did not hesitate to answer.
I truly admire her courage to speak openly about the struggles she faced as someone living with this disorder. I’ve always loved Summer as an actress but left loving this devoted mother of two even more after learning how her family is everything and refuses to take on a role unless they can join her on the set.
Photo Ops and Autographs
In between panels one of my teens had John Rhys-Davies’ sign his The Lord of the Rings Gimli Funko Pop. The cost of John’s autograph was under $50. The smile across my son’s face after getting his collectible signed was priceless.
For any person wanting an autograph or picture op with one of the guest celebrity, the prices are listed on the MNFF app, program guide and online. You can buy those ahead of time, something I strongly advise because it could cut your wait time in the line down, or you can also purchase those items once you arrive.
My kid also brought along some of his comic books that writer and artist Dan Jurgens was happy to sign for him. There was no charge for Dan’s autograph, but there was an option to leave a donation in any dollar amount which my teen was more than glad to do.
Food and Beverages
The food options accommodated anyone with gluten, vegan, and other dietary requirements. I have one very picky eater that was pleased with his slice of cheese pizza. The other kid had a brat while I indulged in a turkey sandwich. The cost for three drinks, three bags of chips and our food were around $35. Not too bad considering we were full afterward.
Special Accommodations for Medical Purposes
One thing I always have to check on in advance is the setup for people with specific disabilities, and the type of restrictions are in place for bringing in my emergency medical items for the various health issues I live with (chronic migraine, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis).
There are times I need to take short breaks and get away from the crowd activities. The bright lights, loud sounds, even the smell of certain odors will cause me to become unexpectedly ill. Even walking around for a few hours will cause my fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis to flare-up. When any of these situations arise, I need an area to rest and in most cases allow my medications a chance to kick in.
A few of my items that could cause some security issues is a Cryohelmet or scarf which has frozen gel-packs that require proper storing in an insulated case. The other is my Boost Oxygen which is a handheld canister containing 95% and 5% air.
The Rivercentre had multiple areas throughout the venus for any patron to sit and get away from the dense traffic areas plus their security did not give me any issues with carrying in anything I needed for medical purposes. Wheelchair accessibility was sufficient for the attendees. There are also plenty of volunteers on hand that are more than happy to accommodate anyone needing assistance.
What are my final thoughts after attending my first time to Minnesota Fan Fusion?
I loved how easy it was to find the panels and events with the help of the complimentary MNFF program guide and app. The celebrity line-up was a perfect blend of well-known actors that were incredibly friendly during their signings, photo ops and panels. There was plenty of places throughout the exhibit hall to sit down, relax, and charge your electronic devices. And most importantly, the volunteers and staff were very knowledgeable and courteous when I stopped to ask various questions about the day’s activities.
My 15-year-old’s favorite part of MNFF was the panels and having another one of his collectibles signed. My 13-year-old loved the selection of vendors and being able to go inside the replica Doctor Who Tardis.
The 4 1/2 hour drive to attend our first Minnesota Fan Fusion was well worth making the trip into the Twin Cities. Our family loved everything about MNFF that we’ve officially added this to our must-attend annual events.