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 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, 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.
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
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.
- Prohibited devices include, but are not limited to, cameras (both film and digital), camera
phones, and camcorders
- Photography within the Artists Alley is only allowed at the discretion of the individual
artist. Permission must be obtained from the artist for photography of any kind.
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
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 22,000 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.
- First and foremost, please do not leave your child unattended at Otakon. As mentioned
before, we are expecting an attendance of over 22,000 people at the convention. It's easy
for a young child to get lost in a crowd this large.
- Make sure your child knows important information, such as your name, what you are
wearing, what hotel you are staying at (if any), a cellular phone number, and a home phone
number. If a child is lost, we will make every attempt to contact you via this information.
- It is a good idea to set up meeting places and times for children older than 12. Otakon
suggests that you do not use the following locations as meeting areas: the Dealer's Room,
as it is constantly crowded and extremely large; video theaters because they are dark and
also fairly large. We do suggest using landmarks, such as the large fountains located in
the Charles Street Lobby or the glass-encased ships on the second floor of the Convention
Center. Also encouraged is to locate and meet at any of the Otakon Information Desks.
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!
- Only Otakon members will be allowed into the dance. valid Otakon 2011 Membership badges must be clearly displayed at all times within the dance area.
- Otakon is not responsible for members' bags. This includes but is not limited to outside, beside, or near the entrance to the dance.
- No bags (of any size) will be allowed in Hall D during dance hours. A bag check will be located in Sharp Street Lobby.
- Empty plastic bottles will be allowed into the dance. Any other container types will not be allowed.
- No large costume props allowed.
- No commercial grade photography or videographer equipment is allowed.
- Please be considerate of the other dancers…
- ...and REMEMBER, drink plenty of water!
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)
- NO LIVE STEEL will be permitted on the premises of the BCC, without exception. Live
steel is defined as:
- Swords, bayonets, and knives (regardless of whether or not they are sheathed)
- Star knives and shuriken
- Metal armor, including chainmail (some exceptions may apply. Please check with
- Other objects made of metal which can take an edge. This holds true regardless of
whether the object is actually sharp.
- Metal studs on costumes or other metal components of costumes/props may also be
subject to approval by Otakon.
- NO PROJECTILE WEAPONS OF ANY KIND will be permitted, without exception.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Airsoft guns, any and all kinds, regardless of whether functional or not. A non-
functional Airsoft gun with no moving parts is still an Airsoft gun.
- BB and other pellet guns
- Crossbows, dart guns, and blowguns
- Water guns and/or pistols
- Stun guns and Tasers
- The ONLY exception to this rule will be "prop" or resin models that are easily
identifiable as toys, provided that they possess no moving parts and are clearly
marked with a non-removable orange tip. The exception is with Airsoft guns; they
are never acceptable -- see above.
- NO "PADDLES," of any sort will be permitted at the convention.
- This includes, but is not limited to, Yaoi/Yuri Paddles.
- NO NUNCHAKU of any kind will be permitted.
- Nunchaku are defined as two sticks or other body connected at their ends with a
short chain or rope. Two sticks can be made of any material, or shape.
- NO EXPLOSIVES or CHEMICALS of any kind including, but not limited to:
- smoke powder, sparklers, or fireworks of any kind.
- Finally, if it is illegal in the City of Baltimore and/or State of Maryland, it is illegal inside
Illegal weapons will be reported to the appropriate authorities.
- Staves, bo sticks, boken, shinai, and wooden swords will be permitted as long as they are
handled responsibly and meet all other criteria.
- Fake, prop, or made-up weapons (i.e. made of tissue paper, plaster of Paris, cloth) are
permitted if they are safe and not dangerous to others around you.
- Examples of dangerous conditions include, but are not limited to, items that may trip
others, items that can snag on people or surroundings, items that obstruct doors and
- Prop weapons shall be limited to less than six feet six inches (6'6") in height and less than
fifty pounds (50lbs) in weight.
- Any chain must be less than three feet (3') in length regardless of material. This includes,
but is not limited to, chain wallets and non-costume chains.
Behavior with Weapons/Props
- Misuse of a weapon or prop, such as swinging it in a public area or posing a hazard to
others, will result in the weapon or prop being deemed unsafe for the convention, and you
will be asked to remove the item from the convention center.
- Any edged or other non-permitted weapons purchased in the Dealer's Room must be boxed
and removed from convention center property immediately. Weapons are not to be taken
out of their packaging or wrappings while on BCC property.
- All props and weapons brought into the convention may be inspected for policy
compliance by authorized Otakon staff, including those that may have had prior approval
(other conventions, previous conventions, or pre-convention approval by Otakon staff).
- Any item that poses a potential safety hazard may need to be removed from the
- This includes any costume, prop, or accessory that obstructs doors or hallways, or
otherwise poses any kind of danger to other attendees, staff, or convention center
- When in doubt, check with Otakon staff.
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
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's official, scheduled autographing sessions are
governed by the following rules:
- Otakon does not and cannot guarantee that you will receive an autograph
from any particular guest. Otakon's official autograph sessions are
free of charge to any Member. However, individual guests may participate in
private or industry-sponsored appearances in the exhibit halls, and there
may be fees or purchases associated with those sessions. For-fee or
purchase-required autograph sessions must always take place in the Industry,
Dealer, or Art halls.
- Guests will always be glad to sign your Otakon program book, as well as
any officially licensed and properly credited products. They absolutely will
NOT sign bootleg or unlicensed merchandise, nor material for which they are
not properly credited. At their sole discretion, they may sign handmade,
personal, or otherwise unusual items. If you are uncertain about a
particular item, check first! (Guests may be offended if they're
presented with bootleg items.) As a last resort, check with the staffer in
charge of the session. Otakon staff may veto any item as unsuitable for
signing, and such decisions are final.
- Unless a specific limit is posted for a particular guest, assume that
you are limited to ONE ITEM PER PERSON.
- There will be no flash photography during official signing sessions,
unless otherwise noted.
- There will be no photo ops during official signing sessions, unless
- Do not monopolize the guest's time if there are others waiting. (Assume
that whatever you have to say must be said in 30 seconds or less, while the
guest is signing your item. It's a good idea to write down what you
want to say.)
- Do not request excessive personalization, sketches, etc. unless the
- If you are bringing an item for the guest to sign, please have it ready
for signing when you are within sight of the guest. (For CDs and DVDs, you
should remove the cover insert to save time; for unusual items, please ask
the autograph staff for their recommendations.)
- Policies for specific guests may differ.
How Our Autograph Sessions Work:
- Official line space will open up an hour before an autograph session is scheduled to
begin. For those attendees who show up before the line space officially opens up, we
will set up an unofficial "overflow" space that people can hang out in until the line
officially opens. We will make every effort to move overflow people into the official
line space when the time comes. There are no guarantees that you'll end up further up
in the line because you got to the overflow space first. Your spot will be random.
- Once the official line space fills up, we will temporarily close off the line. If you show
up after a line has closed, please see the nearest autograph staffer for a ticket. These
tickets will be color-coded for each particular autograph session, and will have a time
written on the back (30 minutes after the start of session, 1 hour after, etc.). Please
come back to the line at your specified time, and if additional line space has opened up,
we will let you in. How many ticketed people we can add to the line space will vary by
guest; some people sign quickly, and some guests take more time.
- A limited number of passes for each guest may be made available during the guest's
Q&A panel, specifically for those who attend the panel, but do not assume that these
will be available. If getting an autograph is your priority, lining up in the Autographs
area is your best bet.
- EXPRESS PASS: In rare cases, a member (typically a prize winner) will present
an "Express pass" for a particular guest. This allows the member to bypass the line
entirely. Those who are lucky enough to possess one should proceed to the front of the
line and speak with the staff member there.
- When interacting with the guests, please be considerate of the guest and the attendees
behind you in the line. They have often been waiting as long as you have, and deserve
their chance to interact with the guest, so please do not monopolize their time.
Photography may be permitted at the discretion of the guest and as time permits, please
ask a nearby Autograph staffer well in advance.
- Otakon staff reserve the right to refuse access to any member who fails to follow
the rules (or attempts to circumvent them). Anyone caught in the act is subject to the
disruptive behavior policy, and risks having their membership revoked.
- If getting an autograph for a particular guest is important to you, it is highly
recommended that you visit the Autographs section in the Camden Lobby at your earliest
opportunity and check in with a staffer there. They will be aware of any scheduling
changes or policy changes, and will let you know when and where you'll want to be.
There will also be an updated scheduling board set up near the stairway there. If the
first time you arrive is right before the session is scheduled to start, you may well be
disappointed by the results.
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.
Notes and Gifts for Guests
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.
- Please ensure that you provide the name of the guest, as well as
your own name and contact information, either written on the outside of
the message or attached clearly to the outside of the gift.
- Please do not wrap your gift using tape or tie it using ribbon;
however, a gift bag or simple tissue paper cover is acceptable. (We must
be able to screen all gifts.)
- Avoid anything large or bulky or easily damaged. Most guests fly
quite a distance to appear at Otakon, and may have limited space in
their luggage. Any gifts you bring should be small, durable, and easily
- No food items will be accepted.
- If you have an item to present as a gift at any guest appearance,
please bring it first to the Otakon staff member in charge of the
- DO NOT use Q&A time to present your gift to the guest; this
is extremely rude and unfair to the other people who came to hear
the guest speak.
- DO NOT use autograph time to present your gift without first
clearing it with the staff member in charge, as this may deny others
the opportunity to get to meet the guest.
- You may be asked to wait until the end of the session, or the
staffer may accept the gift in order to present it to the guest on
your behalf. (Rest assured, your gift will be given to the guest on
your behalf — that's why we request your contact
information on every gift.)
Tips for Interacting With Guests:
- If you're going to ask a question, write it down first.
It's easy to become flustered if you're not used to public
speaking or if you're about to talk to someone you really admire.
Writing down what you want to say helps you to organize your thoughts so
you don't waste everyone's time or embarrass yourself.
- Every guest at the con is someone who has a cool job that
they're quite good at. It isn't necessary to worship the
ground they walk on — just be friendly and polite.
- Remember that guests get tired, too, and they're entitled to
downtime. If you encounter a guest outside the con, try to make eye
contact before you approach them, and look for a signal that it's
okay to chat. Please don't interrupt meals or private
- Try to avoid asking questions that the guest has answered a hundred
times. And if you come late to a panel, find out whether a question has
already been answered before you waste everyone's time.
Don't ask questions that are answered in the guest's bio,
homepage, or Wikipedia entry.
Write down whatever it is you want to say.
Be BRIEF. (see note #1)
Tell them you like their work, and why. (BRIEFLY)
Ask interesting questions about past, current, and
Ask open-ended questions.
Ask about favorite hobbies, shared interests, etc.
Ask them questions that are answered in their Wikipedia
entry or Otakon bio.
Ask questions that can be answered with a Yes or No.
Ask for hugs, kisses, or their hand in marriage.
Ask for autographs or other favors.
Waste everyone's time.
Ask deeply personal or invasive question.
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