On the Quest for Zombies

The Walking Dead, Atlanta
by Heather J Sell, ShoutOUT®
November 15, 2014

Walker Stalker Con, Atlanta, GA 2014

Face to face with the dead? Was I intrigued? Hell yeh!

Scoring media passes to the Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta, GA the weekend of October 17-19th was my opportunity to come face-to-face with the walking dead, literally! Zombies, katana-wielding bad ass zombie slayers, and brooding cross-bow slingers – who wouldn’t want to go?

Walker Stalker Con, a travelling fan-centric convention launched in 2013 is based on the popular AMC TV series “The Walking Dead”, bringing together actors from the hit TV show and their ardent fans. Fans get a chance to meet, snag autographs, and have photos snapped (for a fee) with their WD show faves. Scheduled discussion panels afford fan question-and-answer sessions and interaction with cast members, while vendors offer Walking Dead-themed wares. Definitely something for every devoted Walking Dead fan!

Being a dedicated fan myself, I was psyched to meet the talented thespians depicting these resilient survivors that I spend my Sunday nights biting my nails watching who hack away at “walkers”, slaying grotesque zombies, while feverishly searching for a cure to the zombie apocalypse that has brutally stricken mankind.

Venue

The Atlanta Convention Center at Americasmart (Building 2), where the 2014 Atlanta event was held was a prime location in downtown Atlanta with ample venue space providing 3 levels to meet-and-greet the actors, directors, and producers. Though most indoor parking garages seemed to fill pretty quickly, there was no shortage of parking in the surrounding area and outside parking lots only a few blocks away was easy to come by.

Walker Stalker Con, Atlanta, GA 2014

Photo: Walking Dead fans dress up at Walker Stalker Con, Atlanta, 2014

Guest Appearances

The event interactions with the actors and vendors was an incredible experience! I was truly amazed at how down-to-earth the actors were. A few of the most memorable exchanges were the following:

Jose Pablo Cantillo, portraying Caesar Martinez and originally part of the Governor’s crew, was one of the sweetest, most considerate, and obliging people. He spent quite a bit of time just chit-chatting, granting me a memorable selfie without charge, and being delightfully charming.

Scott Wilson, who played Hershel Greene until his death in Season 4, is still one of my personal faves! Such a treat to meet! Though the lines were lengthy, the wait was well worth it! Relishing a big hug from the genteel actor, followed by a quick selfie and a brief tête-à-tête, I was walking on sunshine!

Rosita Espinosa, played by actress Christian Serratos, was stunningly beautiful, energetic, and naturally amiable. A pure delight!

Walker Stalker Con, Atlanta, GA 2014

Photo (left to right): Andrew Lincoln, Christian Serratos, Madison Lintz and Laurie Rose, Emily Kinney

Nick Gomez, “Tomas”, had a wicked sense of humor, hilarious stories to share from his current project, and personality that would not stop!

Chad Coleman, Tyreese Williams in the series, was one of the most surprising. Though his PR rep didn’t want to grant us a “hello” with the actor, Chad quickly arose from his post behind the table to give us a big bear hug and thank us for watching the show! A HUG! Yeh, I was floored too! We then had the opportunity to laud well-deserved praises on Chad’s incredible performance in the “No Sanctuary” episode where he single-handedly demolished a throng of house-battering zombies, then bulldozed down a door to rescue baby Judith from a ruthless “Terminite” – brilliantly executed and serving up sheer entertainment!

Other fabulous actors and actresses I had the pleasure of meeting were Jeff Kober (“Joe”), Denise Crosby (“Mary”), Andrew J. West (“Gareth”), Paul Wesley (“Stefan” Vampire Diaries), Emily Kinney (“Beth”), Sonequa Martin (“Sasha”), Madison Lintz (“Sophia”), Daniel Thomas May (“Allen”), and Norman Reedus (“Darryl”).

 

Walker Stalker Con, Atlanta, GA 2014

Photo (left to right): Jeff Kober and Heather Sell, Laurie Rose, Michael Rooker and fan, Norman Reedus and Heather Sell

Recommendations for future Walker Stalker Con Attendees

For those attending future Walker Stalker Cons, a few things to prep for. By all means, bring your camera, however, just be forewarned. Even though pictures are said to be encouraged within the convention, they are not always allowed. Also be prepared for long wait lines if you’ve scheduled a photo op with one or more of the actors. My 6pm scheduled Norman Reedus photo op didn’t occur until 9:30pm, a wait in line for 3 ½ hours.

Recommendations for Walker Stalker Con Coordinators

Media: Provide a facilitated meet-and-greet between the actors and media to permit the media time to take photos, ask questions, etc. During panels, if the media aren’t able to sit up front because of VIP stations, have a designated station for them off to the sides. During the discussion panels, media was placed in the back of the hall, which seemed to be counter-intuitive of a media presence and media passes only seemed to afford you entrance to the event, which I’m definitely not balking at, but was a bit disappointed since I was hoping to help promote future events – especially the one coming to the Orlando area. Pics always help in promotions.

Celebrity photo ops: Have a sales cut-off for all celebrity photographs/ops so as to not overbook. For fairness sake, perhaps so many schedulings through the online portal prior to the event and so many onsite. But once that max is met, that’s all. This not only reduces frustration of the attendees, but saves the over-exerted actors.

Volunteers/Staff: Ensure volunteers conduct themselves professionally without getting physical with attendees. Also, make sure all staff and volunteers are on the same page with operational procedures.

Overall Impression

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet many of The Walking Dead actors and crew, hear some of the entertaining panelist discussions, and check out the many amazing vendors.

The venue in downtown Atlanta was a good location being centrally located with several floors keep a steady activity flow. The venue had a clean facility, bathrooms, and there was adequate outdoor parking.

The convention staff were generally friendly and helpful, though quite a few of the volunteers we approached for information were somewhat surly, “handsy”, and provided participants with conflicting information as to how the lines worked, when we could take pics, etc.

Epic Photo Ops and their photographic staff were pleasant, though the lines were unimaginably long and the photo rushed. Food and beverage vendors were on-site, which was a nice hunger and thirst reprieve during the days’ events. Media arrangements, from both a personal and in speaking with other media reps, lacked organization and was a bit of a promotional disappointment. WiFi availability was a nice perk to tweet and post throughout the conventions’ events.

Appreciation

I have to give kudos to all of the actors and crew that attended and especially those that spent extra time with their fans at the booths. Many of the actors were there all 3 days, not just at their booths with fans, but upstairs in the scheduled photograph sessions. A grueling day for them, but they were amazing! Heartfelt thanks as you provided memorable moments for many! It was heartwarming to watch you all interact with fans, taking photos, smiling with children and families.

To those volunteers and staff that were approachable, pleasant, and gracious, my deepest thanks for all your hard work and being so patient. It was definitely noticed and appreciated! And lastly, thank you to the coordinators to whom this massive event wouldn’t have been possible.

Upcoming Cons and Event Information

For upcoming Walker Stalker Cons and a list of confirmed guests, visit their website: http://walkerstalkercon.com/

Vendors/Exhibitors: For general exhibitor questions please contact vendors@walkerstalkercon.com

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Contact:
ShoutOUT Enterprises, Inc.
Heather Sell, President
Phone: 813-334-9797, Email: contact@shoutoutinc.com


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About ShoutOUT

Founder of ShoutOUT. Love to discover, share, and connect my community to events, businesses, and services locally, nationally and internationally.
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