Wizard World Cleveland review


Wizard World Comic Con hit the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio March 8-10, 2019. I was able to attend one single day, Saturday, March 9, to take in as much as possible.

Main Convention Floor

The main convention floor was very large and extremely busy at Wizard World Comic Con. A stage with live entertainment greeted attendees as soon as they walked through the main entrance. Programming on the main stage varied throughout the day.

When I first arrived, there was an artist creating something live on-stage. Celebrity guest Thomas Nicholas performed a musical set later in the day. At some point the men of Smallville briefly joined one of the bands for an impromptu performance as evidenced by a live video posted to Wizard World’s Facebook page. The rest of the convention floor was filled with vendors, artists, writers, tattoo artists (that’s right, you can get a tattoo while attending a comic con), and food vendors. The number of things available to purchase was remarkable.

The center aisle of the convention floor was set up for the celebrity guests. Each guest was given their own space and table for autographs and selfies. A large, curtain-covered area was provided for the official photo ops. Even if you didn’t purchase an op, you had a chance to catch a glimpse of all of the celebrities as they sat at their autograph tables.

Thomas Nicholas on the Main Stage at Wizard World Cleveland. March 9, 2019. Photo: Meredith Miller

Official Program — Missing or Non-Existent?

In 2018, I attended Wizard World Cleveland as my first ever convention. One of the main differences I noted between this year and last year was that there was no official program handed out this year. Or, if programs did exist, I was never given one at check-in and never saw one in the hands of any other attendee. I was handed a floor map and nothing else. I had looked up the entertainment schedule online the night before, so it didn’t pose a problem. I imagine not everyone planned ahead to learn the entertainment schedule. Last year’s program was full of pictures from ‘past conventions’ mainly featuring many of the actors from the Marvel Universe. Considering Wizard World did not bring a single Marvel actor to Cleveland last year or this year, perhaps forgoing the program this year was a conscious decision to not advertise the fact that they’re unable to lure certain talent to this region.


Despite the lack of an official printed program, each room clearly marked the time for each event taking place within. Lucky for me, the three panels I planned to attend occurred one after the other in the main ballroom.

Sean Astin at Wizard World Cleveland. March 9, 2019. Photo: Meredith Miller

Mikey from The Goonies, Rudy from Rudy, Sam from Lord of the Rings, Bob from Stranger Things. This list could go on for days. Sean Astin has created so many significant characters over the course of his career that anyone in their 30’s and 40’s feels like they actually know him. Rarely has a span of a few years gone by where he hasn’t appeared in something that became a pop culture phenomenon. He casually walked into his panel from the back of the audience and continued to cultivate the feeling that we were listening to a friend. He told stories about his roles, his kids, his parents (John Astin and Patty Duke, for those unaware) and gamely took questions from the audience answering each thoughtfully and with humor. He also complied with several requests to do video shout-outs to friends of attendees who couldn’t make it to the convention. As the allotted time wound down, Astin stated that he hated leaving panels when people were still in line with questions, so he got out of his chair, stood at the end of the stage in front of the audience question microphone and answered the questions of everyone remaining in-line a rapid-fire format. His panel was relaxed, informative, and a lot of fun.

Chad Michael Murray at Wizard World Cleveland. March 9, 2019. Photo: Meredith Miller

Next up, Chad Michael Murray. He of One Tree Hill, Agent Carter, and Riverdale. Murray was thoughtful as he discussed decisions made for his career, his family, and his life. He answered a lot of audience questions about One Tree Hill, but didn’t touch on Riverdale until the very end of the panel. He was interesting, kind, and accommodating to requests for video messages to absent friends.

(l-r) Wizard World Moderator, Tom Welling, Alaina Huffman, Michael Rosenbaum, Laura Vandervoort, and John Glover at Wizard World Cleveland. March 9, 2019. Photo: Meredith Miller

The last panel I attended was a cast reunion for Smallville. Before the actors took the stage, the panel moderator laid out a few hard rules. No special requests for hugs. No requests for video messages. No questions about or mentions of Allison Mack — at all. Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, John Glover, Alaina Huffman, and Laura Vandervoort took the stage to greet a capacity ballroom. The moderator threw in questions now and then, but the five actors kept the conversation moving at a brisk pace among themselves as they told stories about shooting the show. They took questions from the audience throughout and attempted to answer as best they could while often talking over each other. It was very clear that the group gets along well as they seemed to be having a great time teasing each other throughout.

Michael Rosenbaum in the audience at Wizard World Cleveland. March 9, 2019. Photo: Meredith Miller

Similar to Sean Astin’s desire to leave no audience question unasked, with about fifteen minutes remaining Michael Rosenbaum hopped off the stage and worked his way down the line of people waiting to ask questions. He held the microphone to each person, often with is other arm affably thrown around their shoulders, and encouraged his cast mates to answer each question rapid-fire, with the first response they thought of. With little time to think or filter, the responses to these questions provided some of the more entertaining answers of the day.

No Panel for Aquaman?

Last year, arguably the biggest name guests were Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher from Justice League. In addition to the requisite photo ops and autographs every celebrity offers for purchase, the two DCEU actors also participated in a panel.

Jason Momoa signing autographs at Wizard World Cleveland. Credit: Wizard World

More from Conventions And Shows

This year, one of the biggest name guests was Jason Momoa of Justice League and Aquaman. Curiously, he only did photo ops and autographs. When questioned about the lack of a panel for Momoa, one of the panel moderators quipped that Momoa never did panels because he was too in-demand elsewhere for the ops. I’m not sure if his answer was a joke or serious, but I found it incredibly odd that the name they advertised the most was not available to fans who didn’t shell out big money for photos or autographs.

Panels are free at conventions. They are a way to see and possibly interact with the celebrities in attendance without spending beyond the entrance fee. I’m not sure where the fault lies here — if Momoa chose not to do a panel, or Wizard World chose to book his entire time with paid ops, thus preventing him from having time for a panel — but it’s something they should consider when booking big name guests in the future.

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Wizard World has already announced that it will return to the Huntington Convention Center from March 6-8, 2020. I highly recommend attending if one of the celebrity guests is someone you’d like to see. Beyond celebrity interactions, there is plenty to do and see with all the vendors, artists, and cosplayers.