Sunday, January 10, 2016

Anime Boston: Good Security Checks, Bad Crowd Controls

Beginning with Anime Boston 2013, security has improved on their checkpoints. However, when it came to crowd control, they need to find a better solution or improve on it for 2014.


Since the implementation of bag checks, MCCA Public Safety Department continued to provide a quick and painless process. You put your bags on the table, unzip the pockets, they look through it and if you have nothing that you shouldn’t have in there, you go on your merry way. Seems pretty simple, right? The smart improvement was having props checked at the same time as bag checks. Yes, I know in the lobby there was a sign down the ramp near the coat check. However, having it right up front near the entrance with the bag checks makes more sense. Basically, you kill two birds with one stone. Plus, security does not have to worry about sneaky attendees or those who are not responsible enough to go to the Prop Check area.

There was one security guard I had to compliment. I told him he was strict yet friendly, which makes him approachable. He didn’t have a frightening demeanor. If I don’t feel comfortable enough to go to you for assistance of any kind, then that’s a problem. I didn’t have that issue with this guy.

There is one thing I miss though. It probably would have made the atmosphere at the security check slightly less intimidating for some (Ninja101 says: I feel like the more security you have makes it more intimidating, like an armed guard). I’m talking about the bomb sniffing dog. It’s possible I didn’t notice it. I saw one last year at the main entrance, but this year, didn’t see any at all. Unless you are afraid of or don’t like dogs, these quiet friendly animals tend to provide the best relief and comfort.

Crowd Control

This year Anime Boston was expecting more people, which resulted in an attendance cap. Unfortunately, I am not sure if they were sold out or had thousands of tickets left by the time the convention ended. When I checked online before the convention started, their counter on the homepage (which is no longer there) showed there was more than 7000 left. Regardless of how many tickets were sold, announcing an attendance cap meant it would be more crowded than before and the possibility of feeling like sardines in a can.

As I was walking in the mall, I noticed a new addition to the Hynes Convention Center entrance. There were signs that indicated which doors to use if you had bags or not. This provided an organized flow of traffic, especially with the bag checks. No point in having those who didn’t have bags pass through the bag check area. So on the days the convention center was opened to the public, there were Anime Boston staff security and convention security at hand to guide people through the appropriate door. Once you go through two thresholds, attendees encountered a sign that continued to direct those with no bags. However, this no bag walkway had to be shared with those exiting the convention. Don’t worry, at least from what I experienced the traffic flow still ran smoothly without people crashing into each other.

Inside the center, there was a certain traffic control I was relieved to have. When I was approaching the escalator, there was a crowd with a security guard in front. Initially, I thought he was simply trying to smooth the flow of people onto the escalator. Then someone near me explained what he was really doing. He was trying to prevent the escalator from turning into a slide. I’m sure we’ve seen it happened in movies, but I thought it was all fairy tales. If there is too much weight on the escalator, we would be sliding down from it and creating a pile of humans at the bottom. Better safe than sorry.

Here comes the bad. It was Friday and we were all pumped and ready to have a good time. Then you encountered a line…a line that went outside into the cold! We were coming from inside the hotel and had to walk outside the threshold across the gift shop and make a small loop back inside the same doorway. Saturday was worse! We were inside the mall trying to get back to our hotel without going outside. Guess what? Security told us to go outside AROUND the whole block to get back into the Sheraton Hotel. Why did no one warn us beforehand?! Not all of us had jackets! The wind was cold! I was cold in my cosplay. What were they going to do if it rained, make us walk in it and then possibly get sick?

One of the best things about Anime Boston is their indoor environment (Ninja101 says: Lots of people are not lucky enough to get into the Sheraton hotel, so it’s not always an indoor environment.). I was able to go to and from the Sheraton Hotel to the convention through the mall. Now I’m just disappointed; I lost that convenient feature. I sincerely hope they improve on how they direct the crowd during heavy traffic times. There has to be another solution instead of having us already indoor attendees walk in cold or possibly rainy weather. Maybe they’ll be nice and give us some overhead coverage if we have to walk in bad weather. Whatever the solution is for next year, I hope that I won’t experience the same unexpected nuisance as this year.

© 2016 Linda Thai

Photography by Linda Thai

For more pictures, check out the Something Deeper: Anime, Manga and Comics Page on Facebook

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