It is very important that you read and understand these policies; they'll be posted at the convention as well, but anyone who attends Otakon is expected to follow these rules.
Your membership in Otakorp, Inc. entitles you to enjoy the primary benefit of that membership: you get to attend Otakon! But as the man said, with great power comes great responsibility.
We work very hard to ensure that Otakon takes place in a safe and family-friendly environment, and we need your cooperation. We have policies to address specifics such as weapons and lost children. We also have a general policy that we do not tolerate disruptive behavior or harassment of any sort, and we can and will take action when we see something we feel is dangerous or disruptive. The type of action we take may range from a quiet but stern word in private to forcible ejection from the convention, revocation of your membership in Otakorp, Inc., or even criminal charges. (Action taken is solely at the discretion of Otakorp, Inc.)
The sorts of things that may trigger such action include but are not limited to: fighting (fake or real), heckling, impeding traffic flow, offensive behavior, harassment, failure to observe basic hygiene, public inebriation/intoxication, or any other failure to follow the rules and directions of staff members. Remember, anything illegal outside the BCC is illegal inside the BCC! If your behavior is clearly problematic, we will deal with it as such. Show common courtesy to your fellow otaku and follow the rules, so there's no problems.
Simply put, Otakon is a smoke-free event, within a smoke-free facility, as required by Maryland State Law. Since the Baltimore Convention Center (BCC) does not permit cigarettes or tobacco products, Otakon can not allow them either. Please remember that we are a family-oriented event, and want to make sure to not only appeal to but respect all of our attendees, and know that there are no designated smoking areas inside the BCC. If you are really feeling the need for a smoke, feel free to step outside and respect a distance of at least 25 feet or greater from the entries as per Maryland State Law. Attendees caught smoking are in violation of this policy and may be ejected from the BCC.
Regarding E-Cigarettes: This policy also applies to electronic cigarettes or any alternative smoking product – they are not permitted and are considered the same as cigarettes by the convention center.
With so many people attending, waits in lines may last hours. We know that this is frustrating, but it is unavoidable. Please don't take it out on other attendees or on the staff, and please remember that following the directions of staff members will make the lines smoother for everyone!
When lining up, be sure to check for Otakon Staff holding "Line Starts Here" and/or "Line Ends Here" indicators. We can't promise to have them up for every event, but please be mindful of them to get you in faster!
NOTE: Members caught jumping in line will be sent to the rear of the line. You will not be allowed to hold places in line. Lines cannot block entrances or exits, so leave a gap in front of the doors as per Baltimore Fire Codes
The usage of photographic devices is prohibited within certain areas of the convention, including but not limited to video and 35mm theaters, within Main Events and/or concerts, and in the Art Show. All such areas will be marked, so please pay attention.
Events that allow photography will be marked as such.
When stopping to take photographs in the hallways, please be considerate of your fellow members by being brief and not blocking traffic.
Otakon's guests have the right to maintain their privacy. Convention members may be asked to refrain from photographing guests if the guests would prefer to not have their picture taken. Guests have been known to join con-goers for photo opportunities, but there are no guarantees.
Otakon is a fun family event, but also one of the largest east coast Japanese animation conventions; there is an expected attendance of at least 30,000 people. As a result, Otakon wants to ensure the satisfaction and safety of all of our members, especially children. In order to safeguard the well being of our youngest attendees, Otakon has put these policies into effect and offers some advice to keep track of children at any large convention.
A parent or guardian must accompany any and all children under the age of 12 at all times.
Children are required to carry some form of written identification and parent/guardian contact information with them at all times so that Otakon staff may contact the parents or guardians should the need arise.
THERE IS NO CONVENTION-WIDE PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT SYSTEM.
We are unable to page your child if he/she becomes lost.
In the case that you cannot find your child at your designated meeting place and cannot establish contact, please notify an Otakon Information Desk.
Otakon wishes you and your children a safe and happy convention!
NOTE: All other Otakon policies are enforced in the dance, such as disruptive behavior and swinging items attached to rope/string/chains/etc.
There are certain events at Otakon that are designated as 18+. Members who wish to attend these events must be at least 18 years old and MUST obtain a wristband from the wristband booth prior to the event. Please have your identification ready when obtaining your wristband.
Otakon Staff will not be able to check identification at the door.
While we understand the appeal of signs as ice-breakers and conversation starters, there have been too many complaints from other members about offensive content or signs that amount to little more than panhandling.
No signs are permitted except for those signs that are an established part of a costume.
(i.e. the sign must be part of the standard "look" of the character, such as the sign carried by Genma the Panda from Ranma 1/2)
Those members wishing to post notices or find other people should use the bulletin boards provided. Please note that, according to the Baltimore Police Department, signs asking for food, money, hugs, etc. are considered panhandling and signs offering to exchange any sort of sexual favor (kisses, hugs, glomps, etc.) are considered solicitation.
Signs with offensive content are not allowed regardless of whether they are "in character."
Signs in violation of this policy will be confiscated. Repeat offenders will be considered in violation of the disruptive behavior policy.
Please note that this policy applies to all types of signs, regardless of construction. Otakon staff decisions regarding signs are final.
Weapons policies at Otakon are for your (and others') safety, and include (but are not limited to) the following:
Illegal weapons will be reported to the appropriate authorities.
Remember: just because a staffer has not stopped you to check your item does not mean that the item is allowed
All decisions made by Otakon and/or the Public Safety Staff of the Baltimore Convention Center are final.
We understand that getting autographs from our guests is a major highlight of the convention for many attendees, not just because it's a fantastic souvenir, but also because it's a chance for that tiny bit of face time with the guest. Guests, too, value that rare opportunity to meet some of their fans.
However, demand nearly always outweighs supply, especially for extremely popular or extremely rare guests. Even the speediest and most accommodating guest can only sign so many things in a given period of time. In order to give the greatest number of fans the opportunity to meet the guest, we MUST keep the lines moving smoothly.
Otakon staff reserve the right to make changes to guests policies as circumstances dictate. If you have a question about policy, please see the Otakon staffer in charge of the guest appearance or signing. All staff rulings are final.
If you've brought something special for the guest, such as a personal note or small gift, we ask that you follow certain guidelines for practical and safety reasons. Most guests appreciate these small gestures, but many gifts cannot be accepted.
Participants in Otakon or other Otakorp, Inc. events are granting their permission to be photographed or recorded by authorized Otakorp, Inc. individuals. By purchasing your membership you inherently grant Otakorp, Inc. permission to use such images or footage for archival or promotional purposes.
While this is not officially policy, many points covered above are addressed in a more detailed manner here, specific to cosplay.
A word about Cosplay Safety (For a better Convention Experience!)Cosplaying is fun, exciting, and a hobby that brings unique challenges in construction and execution. But what comes with creating and donning that unique design is a responsibility to yourself and your fellow con-goers. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind to ensure a successful convention experience:
You owe it to yourself to make sure that your costume is manageable for your own safety. This entails that not only is your vision, mobility, and range of motion is adequate to get around but also your ability to show your badge upon request, and communicate well with your surroundings. If you are wearing a costume that jeopardizes any of the things above, consider having a handler – that is a friend who will make sure that you are not going to pieces, (figuratively or literally), and that you have an extra set of hands and eyes.
Your ability to move in a flowing gown, cloak, cape, or anything with fabric that trails is very important. To get a feel for it, try vacuuming a room with it on. You'll learn not only to avoid stepping on the excess fabric, but how to avoid having a tripping hazard for anyone else around you. If you have a particularly long train, consider putting handles or hidden loops on the inside of the hem so you can easily carry it on the go. Remember that conventions are pure excitement and not everyone is going to be paying attention when they are walking close to you – you may have the occasional treading so keep an eye on your surroundings.
Cosplaying from something like Jet Set Radio with rollerblades may seem great in photos and at home, but at a convention center with large crowds, multiple floor surfaces, and escalators, this is not the place for anything that does not allow you to be 100% securely stationary on two feet.
The escalator is not the place for wings, mechas, costumes with stilts, or large costumes. If you have a bulky costume think about your surroundings. Do not block and cause areas to "bottleneck." Stay away from the dealer's room, confined areas, or areas with a lot of people. If you need to, bring part of the costume to the convention center and get dressed there.
If you have a headpiece that is pressing down on your head or a wig that is a little tight, keep in mind that this pressure may not be too bad for half an hour at home, but when you are at the convention center for several hours, sweating, and posing your head may start to really hurt, resulting in a headache for the rest of the day. Fit your headpiece and wigs loose enough to be comfortable but tight enough to be secure.
If you are doing a skit in the Masquerade with choreography or falls, or see yourself doing crazy photoshoots, consider taking an extra step to secure pieces so they stay – this means chin straps, elastic, extra straps or buttons.
Take the extra couple of hours and put hooks and eyes, snaps, and the proper closures into the costume. Safety pin are a quick fix but they can easily pop with movement and stab you. You also owe it to everyone else to makes sure that your costume is not a threat to the attendees, staff, or convention itself! There should be no sharp edges on your costume that are potentially dangerous – this goes with plastic, metal, or fiberglass. Splinters or sharp edges are prohibited and are dangerous to everyone – including yourself! Sanding equipment is very important to finish those sharp edges to dull. Blunt edges that stick out, such as blunt/prop swords, weapons, bokken, or projectiles that stick out from your costume must be considered as walking into someone may injure them and you will be at fault. Remember that at no time is live steel or sharp metal allowed into the convention center.
Costumes with heavy makeup (such as Homestuck), are allowed but must be sprayed down with a make-up fixative. This not only prevents the make-up from rubbing off and staining others and their costumes, but prevents damaging the convention center as well. Also, making the proper choice of make-up (proper make-up that is non-toxic, is designed to bend and flex with your skin, and blends well) applied is very important. Remember that facial makeup is oftentimes different from body makeup and remember to leave proper spaces on your skin open as you are essentially "sealing" off your body and this may lead to deleterious effects. Your skin needs to breathe and sweat – you do not want to have paramedics wiping the make-up off your skin so they can re-hydrate you.
Makeup and contacts ordered from the website in China or picked up at the roadstop for 12 dollars on the way up interstate 95 is not recommended. Find trustworthy contact dealers who have a strong reputation for cleanliness and health. You may scratch or infect your eyes by trying to take your cosplay to the next step and it's never worth damaging your eyes. Safely store them with fresh contact solution and in clean cases. Water is damaging to contacts and are not an option for storage.
Fursuits or other heavy costumes at summer conventions come with particular recommendations – get dressed at the convention, keep movement to a minimum, and have a handler. Keep water or juice on hand and make sure you have someone who's helping look after you.
When you stop for photos consider the traffic around you. Is this a good place to stop everything in a ten foot radius? Would, maybe, moving to a side area for a quick shot not only result in a better photo, but keep traffic from building up and creating a safety hazard?
Know where and when to cosplay. During the day and early evening at the convention is great. Thursday night around 11pm wandering the streets of Baltimore alone is not recommended. Standing in the hot line to get your badge on Friday morning is not recommended.
The number one word of costuming safety at Otakon is HYDRATION. Drink water and stay away from sugary drinks or drinks that give you a quick buzz and dehydrate you in the process. You are going to be wearing costumes that will require more energy and having to deal with the heat on top of that is very tolling on your body. Eat two square meals, snacks that are high-protein, and drink 100% juices. By taking a break and eating a snack or having a bottle of water, you can really help yourself have a better experience overall. Pocky does not a dinner make. There are many affordable food options around the convention center. Cosplay responsibly and the convention will be that much more of a better experience for you!
(Credit goes to Jez, our Hall Costume Contest Coordinator for this great write up!)