Daisho Con is a veteran anime and gaming convention that is held at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in the Wisconsin Dells. This was the convention’s 11th year running and, for a first time Daisho Con attendee, I can honestly say I was pretty impressed. For those who have attended midsize conventions in the midwestern area, I would liken this con to that of Anime St. Louis but it is definitely not as large as Anime Central or Anime Midwest. Daisho Con was pretty awesome, and although I sarcastically refer to it as “Hallway con” (more on that later), I felt that it is definitely one worth attending.
Above: Artist Alley on Sunday at Daisho Con 2018. Below: YomuChan and Wicked Warlock cosplay as Dilandau and Folken from Escaflowne, taking advantage of the amazing spots to shoot in the Kalahari's Tom Foolery Arcade.
A full weekend for adults was $50 at the door with children 5 years of age and younger gaining free admission. Single day passes were only available for Saturday and could be purchased at the door for $35. Those who only wanted to attend Friday and/or Sunday were left with no choice but to spring for a full weekend badge or not attend. Of course as with most conventions discounted badge prices for pre-registering varied from $35-$50 depending on what timeframe you registered in. With Daisho’s pre-registering there was also the added bonus of the option to have your badges mailed to your home for an additional $5 fee. As with any out of town convention I attend, I was happy to have this as an option to help avoid long lines which did develop for at the door registration. VIP badges for this event were also available for $100 and gave its bearer extra perks and exclusives. These VIP badges were limited though, with only 50 badges being made available.
Con staff were easily found and accessible around the convention floor. Many staffers could be seen hastily running off to help with one thing or another, walkie-talkies in tow. One thing I have to mention is that not all convention staff were friendly and/or helpful. While in artist alley my friends and I discovered a forgotten shopping bag and when attempting to turn it in to Con Ops we were met with confusion and a “put-out” attitude. That encounter definitely left a bad taste in our mouths, but thankfully most other staff we came into contact with were accommodating.
The Wisconsin Dells is certainly a great place for convention goers and the Kalahari resort, with its indoor waterpark, Tom Foolery’s Adventure park arcade, and spa services, makes the Daisho Con location a unique and thrilling experience. The location is even connected right to an AMC theater which made seeing the newly released Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, a hop, skip, and a jump away from the con hustle. Unfortunately Daisho badges did not include passes for the waterpark or arcade games and even those who stayed in the Kalahari still had to pay to game. Attendees had plenty of amazing looking options for cosplay photography in the arcade and waterpark parts of the Kalahari. There were some rules when photographing in these areas and depending on when you tried to take your photos some staff at the Kalahari could either be all for your amazing shot on the skee ball machine or deny you access to areas such as no photos on the carousel, which was kind of a bummer. The general Kalahari areas such as lobbies, seating areas, etc were also pretty decent for cosplay photos. My one critique about this location for photos is that in order to get non-arcade and/or more nature stylized photos at the convention it did require some creativity. This type of background was a bit more hard to come by then what I have seen at most other conventions I have attended. So remember that “Hallway Con” thing I mentioned earlier? Well Kahari along with the arcade, con venue sections, and the hotel portion all was basically one big hallway walk. Essentially depending on where you were able to park you could have quite a few minutes’ walk just to get to the convention features. Also with as popular as Daisho was, there was almost always a crowd and so long congested hallways made for a pain in the you know what walk to and from where you needed to go for all 3 days of the convention.
The Kalahari resort in the Wisconsin Dells was easily accessible. This locations proximity to other features of the Dells including food, other entertainment, and a large hotel selection made it an ideal one for a convention. The hotels in the area varied from on the pricier end with rooms directly located in the Kalahari itself going for almost $430 a night to thankfully more reasonable ones just a few short minutes drive away. One note I can say on those who spent their weekend stay within the Kalahari itself might have had some issues with sleep as halls with rooms along them were also common halls for con traffic which made for some noisy situations. Parking for Daisho Con was a bit of a mess. Although there is plentiful parking space, or at least it seemed, the lots were almost always full to close by entrances and the spots available usually required quite a bit of walking in the cold weather to get to your destination. Another piece of advice I can give is to plan for some short Uber or Lyft trips and avoid the parking lot all together if you can.
Cosplay/Voice Acting/Musical Guests
Daisho cons guest line up was pretty awesome and featured voice acting talent such as Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time/Voltron), Eric Vale (Dragonball Z/One Piece), and Alexis Tipton (My Hero Academia/Escaflowne). Daisho Con also was guested by cosplayers Orchid Nightblossom Cosplay, JaJa Cosplay, Moderately Okay Cosplay, AKrCos,and the super cool Shining Polaris. While some may not like the large amount of cosplay guests, I myself was excited to see a diverse group of cosplay guests and was excited to see them show off their stuff. There was also lot of rave related guests such as Lady Faith, Jimni Cricket, Kutski, and many more.
Above: CKC's LaKinta and RenChan along with YomuChan and Wicked Warlock cosplay playing around as the characters from Escaflowne while in the arcade at Daisho Con 2018. Below: RenChan as Lady Amalthea from the Last Unicorn during her Daisho Con shoot with Mouzycat Cosplay Photographer.
There was plenty of panels to attend at Daisho Con, but if I am being honest I personally did not attend any of them. Daisho con was also hosting plenty of gaming rooms, the Daisho Show talent show, a concert featuring the band Make Out Monday, and of course the rave. Although I did not attend the rave myself I was told by multiple attendees that it not only started late but was a bit of a hassle for convention goers who were not aware of the no bags policy that the convention has in place. Daisho also featured a Drag show but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend which is undoubtedly something I regret.
When it comes to the Vendor’s room and artist alley of Daisho Con I felt like it was kind of a mixed bag. Don’t get me wrong there was plenty of things to see and much to buy but I felt the size and selection overall in the vendor room was a bit lacking. The vendor room itself was a decent size but at times it could get very crowded and very hot making spending any extended period of time in there taxing. Also many vendors seemed overpriced even for a convention of this size, not to mention when my friends and I stumbled across a $4 anime pencil set a vendor had marked up to $8 and didn’t even bother to remove the other tag. The Artist Alley was on the other hand a treat. This was located in the hallway of the Kalahari just off to the side of the vendor room. I was pleasantly surprised, after having been in the vendor room first, that I loved the artists and things I found in the alley which varied from pins, artwork, plushies, and so much more. I was also happy to find a booth for one of my favorite artists PenelopeLovePrints.
Above: Seifer's Stitches during the Master class portion of the masquerade sorting their Blastoise inspired by the art of Cowslip. Below: One of the winners of Daisho Con's masquerade awards.
I am proud to say I had the privilege of attending Daisho Con’s Cosplay masquerade and all I can say is wow am I impressed with the talented cosplayer that attended this convention. The show itself was well done with only some small minor technical issues, such as an incorrect song playing for a walk on. Even the intermission between the show and judging was entertaining as Daisho sported 2 acapella group--one all-female called The Point Pitches and one all-male group whom I believe were called On Point. In all honesty I wasn’t that impressed with the female group but boy could those guys from the other put on a show. They had all the attendees singing along with them and helped make the intermission wait less of a pain. I do have one issue with the Masquerade, or rather with the pre-masquerade handling by the convention staff. When getting ready to attend the masquerade we were all lined up along the hall outside the main events room, anxiously waiting to attend for over an hour prior to the start of the event. If that wasn’t bad enough, my real issue was that where we were lined up was in the hall which also contained the artist alley. With the line growing fast and being present for over that hour the vendors along that side of the hall were completely blocked off, and so those wanting to browse and shop were definitely deterred from doing so due to the crowds. This more than likely led to vendors on that side of the hall losing sales and wasting time staring at the long line which blocked them into their booths.
Con Program Book
I was very happy with the program book at Daisho Con. Not only was the very adorable artwork, including the cover, done by who I believe is artist Kevin Bolk, but the layout and panel descriptions were very easy to understand. I was also pleasantly surprised by the lack of ads, as with a con this size I did expect to see some and other than the section on those who partnered with Daisho there were none. The program also included some information on nearby restaurants which helped when picking out a place to chow down after a long day in cosplay. The book also included a easy to understand layout map of convention center but it would have been nice to have also had one for the vendor room and artist alley.
Our Con Highlights
Daisho Con was definitely a worthwhile convention experience. If I had to pick one favorite thing about this convention it would be the amazing performances, cosplays, and even intermission that was presented by the conventions Masquerade staff and exhibitors. The Ota-Queens collaboration with fellow cosplayers KKreations, Dali-Lamb Cosplay, Miri, Senmurv, and Tyrannosaurus Lex for their Mario Kart Princesses “There Goes First Again” skit was also a personal highlight. It was not only so fun,unique, and incredibly entertaining to watch, even compared to the other amazingly talented participants, but when they didn’t end up winning that portion of the masquerade, I was personally offended. And ofcourse I made time for a whimsical Last Unicorn photo shoot with one of my favorite cosplay photographers and friends, Mouzycat Cosplay Photography. While Daisho Con is not a perfect con experience but it is one that is definitely worth traveling to and taking part in. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed by time there and can’t wait to plan my trip out there for the 2019 year.
REVIEW BY RENCHAN