Norman Reedus, Ian Somerhalder and Andrew Lincoln are only three of the whole bunch of guests present on the Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta on 10/30-31 – 11/1/2015 in Georgia World Congress Center. This even takes place in a lot of places in the States during the whole year and they’re going to be in London in February 2016 as well. It’s mostly for The Walking Dead fans because most of the actors are from this tv show but not only. For example, The Vampire Diaries or A nightmare on Elm Street are there too.
My main goal was to meet Norman Reedus who plays Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead and also a few other actors from this show. I wanted to see his and Andrew’s panel – Rick from The Walking Dead. When I decided to buy tickets I didn’t watch The Vampire Diaries yet and I started around two weeks before this event. I’m very happy I did it back then because I really like this tv series. So it was even better for me that Ian – Damon from TVD – and Paul – Stefan – were there as well.
I had a three day pass because when I bought it, they didn’t have the full list of guests and I didn’t know what would be when and so on so I decided to play safe. I missed Friday completely, on Saturday I went there for Norman’s panel only and also to see what everything is about and I spent there the whole Sunday. I need to say that Nathan was driving me so I’m very thankful because I wouldn’t go there otherwise.
On Saturday the main door to the hall was open at 10:30. I was there around 9:30, Norman’s panel was at 12:45. I knew there would be a big line so I preferred to have some more time. When I went inside there was nobody waiting for budges so I went to one woman and got mine. Then I went to bathroom and when I went out I saw a LOT of people. I had some luck! Then everyone had to wait in another line for them to let us go downstairs to the main hall.
There were 150 booths where you could buy some souvenirs. Most of them were about TWD but not all of it. Prices for shirts were from $15 to $45 and I obviously bought one. Some man my size stopped me and said: “it’s good to be tall, huh? You can watch everything from above!” There were some people wearing Halloween costumes and I liked most of them! I was walking a little, checked what they had to eat and there was nothing that I could yet. Maybe it was better because prices were much higher than they would be normally.
I saw that there was not many people by Chad L Coleman (Tyreese, The Walking Dead) so I decided to stop there.
I waited maybe max 15 minutes because everything went very smooth. Some people would just go to him, say “hello!“, took a pic and went away. There were some who talked to him for a little bit which I personally like more because I can’t imagine going there for two seconds and that’s all. But you know, everyone is different.
I said hi, took off my bag and camera bag and I gave my camera to a volunteer and explained how to take a picture. We stood together, she took a pic and I talked to Chad a little. He’s a very friendly person! I thought that I was there to get to know the actors but then he wanted to know something about me. He asked where I’m from and when I said Poland, he asked “Krakow?” (I lived in Warsaw). And some other standard questions, I mean how it happened that I arrived here, if I like it, what I do and so on. I liked our little talk and I even got a compliment even though I didn’t have any make-up on my face ;).
Around 11:30 I changed a place and I went upstairs to the Main Convention Stage to stand in line for Norman’s panel. There wasn’t too many people at that point so I was at the beginning almost. People who had VIP, Gold and Platinum tickets went inside as first ones before General Admission so they took a lot of chairs in the audience. At first, the whole audience was divided into two parts – one for VIPs and the second one for General Admission. Later we found out that there wasn’t enough VIPs to fill the whole section prepared for them so volunteers let the rest sit closer to the stage.
In my opinion Norman is a very nice guy with a cool sense of humor. He was sharing anecdotes about the set and his own life as well. He said, for example, that he sometimes gets pissed off and he wants to go and tell people that and then Andrew says: “wait, calm down, I’ll talk to them!” – like in a show. He said he had an idea that Daryl should have a dog but their director didn’t agree. Norman has more ideas out there but then what he hears is: “this is the worst idea I ever heard”. He revealed that he didn’t want his character to be like Daryl’s brother – Merle – so he asked for some changes and it happened, fortunately. And also some of his fans ask him if we could lick their faces for their picture ;). One of his favorite killing scenes is the one where he waved a chain and walker’s heads fell off and one of the most disgusting scenes is eating a turtle… If you want to watch a video from this panel, go HERE.
And that’s all of what I did on Saturday. I was satisfied 🙂
Sunday was much more complicated. I got there around 9am and Andrew’s panel was supposed to start at 10 which was half an hour before the opening of the main hall. His panel was the only one with tickets and they cost a few dollars only. This panel got sold out of course but I watched people and I saw that a lot of fans didn’t come and some of the present ones didn’t have tickets. So it was similar to what happened on Saturday – they let people sit closer to take empty chairs.
The first person on the stage we saw was Josh McDermitt who plays Eugene in TWD, it was a surprise for everyone. I really like the way he talks on the show and it makes me laugh often. After a short talk with him, Andrew showed up and after a while we had one more surprise – the second guest on this panel was The Governor (David Morrisay). Andrew’s from Great Britain and he was learning a southern accent especially for the show but during the panel he was speaking British. His spoiler about a new season was: “wait for it!”… He said he doesn’t really like all those new technology stuff like Instagram and memes and he still has a flip phone. He was talking about Norman and what made me laugh was him saying: “this man is… strange!” and then even Josh laughed too. He said that one Norman made a joke in which he put a plate saying “Daryl Dixon” in front of Andrew’s car. Andrew realized that after four weeks and only because Steven Yeun (Glenn) asked: “are you doing this on purpose?” A video from this panel is available HERE.
It took 45 minutes and 30 minutes after that the meeting with Ian and Paul was planned to start and Andrew had photo ops scheduled then. I wanted to buy tickets for the pic with Andrew but they were sold out after a few seconds because he was there on Sunday only.
The volunteers told us that the whole audience had to go out and if someone wanted to stay for TVD panel (like me), they had to go downstairs and wait in line again. So I did it and I waited for my turn. And the situation with chairs was exactly the same so I won’t repeat that again. This time I was closer to the stage then before, though.
Guests there were Ian, Paul and Michael Malarkey (Enzo). They were talking about what was happening on the show and what’s happening now but I’m very early (just finished season 1) and I think that my brain was defending and I don’t really remember anything. I like it but I won’t tell you much ;). I can tell that they seemed to be very relaxed too. Ian was the most talkative one, then there was Paul and they both have a good sense of humor. They seem to complete each other and when Ian talks a little bit “too much and too deeply”, Paul shoots a comment that lose the atmosphere a little. They both shared stories from the set. Michael didn’t talk much and there wasn’t many questions to him either which isn’t very surprising but a little sad after all. Ian has a loooot of things to say and also about some serious stuff like, for example, that bullying online and in a real life isn’t good and it has to be fought; or that the fewer people watch shows on tv, the bigger are the chances that some production will disappear because it won’t make enough money… Unfortunately I didn’t find any longer video from this panel.
The next thing in my schedule was a photo op with Ian and Paul, it was set for 2pm so I had a little less than two hours of break. Traditionally, I went to bathroom and then bought some coffee and ate my sandwich. I was watching people and I saw one woman dressing up in a Halloween costume. She was pregnant and she put a doll under her shirt, then she made four holes in the shirt so the doll’s feet and hands were sticking out. And there was some fake blood too. It was… well, I don’t know how to describe this but the fact that I’m pregnant made me not be able to stop looking at her.
After I went back downstairs I asked someone if there was a line for Ian and Paul already and she said “not yet”. So I went for a little walk and I saw some The Walking Dead actors meeting people and that Jon Bernthal (Shane) was at his booth at that time as well. I stood in line and even though it was a little longer, I still had enough time.
When I went to him, he was typing a text message and he said “I’m sorry!” I didn’t mind it at all because this is a human like everyone else and he could do that if he wanted to. When he finished, he came closer and asked for my name. I said Agnieszka and he started to talk to me in Russian! I was like, nooooo, I’m from Poland and he apologized and said that “szka” in my name made him a little mistaken and he doesn’t know any Polish but he’d like to then. I told him that I didn’t like Shane at all and I was glad when he died but on the other hand he was one of a few actors there who could make me be so emotional and I really liked that. He said he appreciated what I said and the fact that I’m honest, hugged me for good-bye and I went away. A very friendly guy, totally different than Shane ;). And he would come up to everyone from behind his table to say hi or anything. Even when they didn’t take pictures. I liked that!
Then I went back to the previous place to wait for a picture. Each booth was fenced the way that nobody from outside could see the actors and that nobody could take any other pictures. So you would go inside and then one woman was scanning people’s tickets and then you would go to another, smaller room where actors and a photographer were waiting. There was also a table where people could leave things they didn’t want to have in their pictures, like back-bags or jackets.
Everyone had a minimum amount of time so each person would go to stand with them for the picture, then the photographer yelled “NOW!” and then they had to go. When my turn came, I went there slowly and when I was halfway, Ian started to talk to someone so Paul was the one who was looking at me and I hugged him first. Ian said that he had to go to bathroom and when he found out when he would have a break, he looked at me, then opened eyes more, smiled and said: “oh, hi!” The photographer said “ok, picture!” so I told them: “feel free to hug me guys!” and then both of them laughed, came closer and hugged me more. When we took a picture I turned my head to Paul and then to Ian, said thank you to both of them, they responded something and I had to go.
I was very hungry so I went to look for food one more time. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything so I had to hang on to my snacks I had in the back-bag.
And then I started to feel much worse… I started to feel weak, I was dizzy. I had a lot of time before a photo op with Norman and I didn’t really have anything to do at that time. The other people who were giving autographs weren’t that interesting for me to pay for meeting them so I went to the other side where I could see booths of The Vampire Diaries actors but I was interested in Paul and Ian only. I thought I’d wait. Paul was supposed to be there from 3 to 5pm, Ian from 3:30 to 5pm so I went to Paul’s line first. I waited not that long but I began to feel terrible and I had to ask for help. I explained to one girl how my situation looked like and she saw it too because I was very lightheaded and she said I could get a “red card” that allowed me to sit on a chair and wait outside the line. That card is on the table then and when the time comes, one of the volunteers comes and gets a waiting person. I loved it! Another volunteer was writing down people’s names on little cards so that the time wouldn’t be wasted on spelling later.
When I went to him, we said hi and right after he looked at my card he said: “Agnieszka! This is my mom’s name!” And he sounded like a Polish person, I don’t remember when was last time I heard someone saying my name so perfectly. I knew he had something to do with Poland but I didn’t know about his mother’s name so I got a little surprised. He asked if I’m Polish and if I speak Polish. I told him that yes I do speak Polish because I lived 21 years out there and he said he lived there too and he added “really!” as if he thought I wouldn’t believe or something. I told him I was during the first season only but I’m loving it already, he laughed a little and told me he was very happy about that. And he said something else but I can’t remember what it was. A volunteer told me that my time was up so he shake my hand to say good-bye and when I was already going away, he said in Polish: “it was nice to meet you!” and he laughed sneeringly. I didn’t expect that so I got stuck for a moment and at first I responded in English and after that I added a Polish version :D. It was cool that Paul wanted to talk to each person even for a little bit. Although, not all the fans seemed to want to which was surprising.
The thing with Ian was much more complicated because he was over an hour late. It wasn’t because he was “acting like a celebrity” but before the autograph session he was taking pictures with fans and he’s this type of a guy who talks to people so it took some time. The line started to create around 3pm and at one point there was so many people that volunteers didn’t let anyone else to go in it anymore because their chances to actually see Ian were low. They said that Ian’s contract says he’s staying until 5 and if he wanted, he could stay longer but nobody knew what he’d do. So volunteers were giving people blue tickets that later would let them know who was before in case they had time to see him.
There was the same thing with names on cards so when I went to Ian and he saw my name he read “Agnieszka!” so I told him that he’s one of only a few people in this country who can pronounce my name with no changes and then he said: “Paul’s mom is Agnieszka too” and so I said I just found out. I told him almost the same thing I told Paul and he said that the first season is his favorite. I need to tell you that he took his time with signing the picture. It took him a while and he gave each person some more time which was really cool (this was the reason of delays but, you know, can’t have everything). When I was about to go he raised his hand to “high five”, smiled a little more and he raised one of his eyebrows. And one more thing is that I saw a lot of people with prettier eyes than Ian’s but his are different because when he looked into mine I felt as if he was reading my mind; like he really got inside of me with this look.
When I was done with that I had to go to a place where Norman’s photo op took place and I didn’t have much time anymore… At least I thought I didn’t. And again, the same situation – I got there, I showed them my card, I sat on a chair. There was 5-6 more people sitting and in front of us there was a bunch of others waiting. This photo op was supposed to start at 5pm but it was 2 hours late! And my phone had only 4% of battery and I had to keep it to call Nathan later because he was to pick me up and drive us home. I turned it off and listened to some people’s conversations. Norman was the only person during that week who made my heart beat a little faster ;).
This pic made me excited the most! I couldn’t wait and I even wore a special shirt :). People with red cards were going first, before all the VIPs and others, fortunately for me. I was watching what was happening inside and I noticed that Norman was coming two steps closer to each person, said hi and they would go back to the center together. So he also realized that they didn’t have much time but he wanted to give as much as he could. Perfect! He came to me as well, took my hand and held it in both of his hands for a while. I told him that it was good to see him and he said the same back to me. We took a picture and when I was about to leave I said thank you and he held my hand again, smiled and when I was on the way out he kept holding my hand. After that I picked up my pic and I felt fulfilled because it was my main goal! Say whatever you want but I think he’s HOT.
If it comes to my reactions about organizing this event, I’m happy in general but there’s a few things I didn’t like much. The biggest minus goes to the size of that venue and amount of people. I totally understand that organizers have to have money not only to pay actors, pay all the bills and whatever else they have to pay for but they also want to make money on it too. However, numbers like that (around 25.000 of people on Sunday; over 60.000 during the three days) cause the problems like waiting 3-4 hours in one line. If this does happen in the middle of the day, someone is in a risk of missing other stuff. I didn’t have this problem but I know there were people who had to forget about some things to do other ones, even if they paid for them. Second minus goes to limited food options because I think if there’s so many people for whole days, they should propose something for a wider audience. One more minus – prices. My ticket cost only $130 but paying $700 for one ticket or hundreds of dollars for a few seconds with actors is ridiculous.
Volunteers I talked to were very knowledgeable and they helped me a lot so this is a plus. And actors were a huge plus too! Also, despite thousands of people, everyone was nice, calm, they waited in line for their turn without hitting each other and so on. I liked it a lot.
The actors I met were rather relaxed and even though very tired, they really wanted to have a moment to talk to fans. That was great! You could see they weren’t forced to be there and they cared for everyone to be noticed. I really appreciate it.
So if you know how to organize your time and you’re ready to spend some cash, I highly recommend this even! By the way, you don’t really have to spend much money but then you have to remember you won’t have pictures/autographs. I might be there next year in Atlanta (10/28 – 10/30/2016) but now it’s too early to make any plans.
Talk to you next time!