What is a convention? More importantly, what is Empire City Con?

A fan convention is an event planned by fans, for fans of a particular work, creator, or genre. There are as many types of conventions as there are interests — there are conventions on gardening, dentist equipment, knitting, you name it. They can involve anything from small events with less than a hundred attendees to giant expos with 50,000 attendees or more.

Empire City Con is a small convention — our attendance last year was a handful of a hundred people. We’re exclusively focused on the Cartoon Network show, Steven Universe (here’s a handy explainer if you haven’t seen much of the show yet). What makes Empire City Con special is our focus on creating an atmosphere which is welcoming, approachable, and fun for everyone, even if you don’t attend a single panel. From a previous attendee:

…it had a small town vibe to it; everybody was approachable (even the VAs [voice actors]! When they weren’t on stage answering our questions they were having conversations with random fans who would just come and strike up a conversation with them). It was an atmosphere where all these people you’d never seen before were definitely strangers but could, at a moment’s notice, be friends. At any moment during the con there was a good chance you’d hear some group somewhere…or maybe even the entire floor the con was being held on…spontaneously break out into a song from the show accompanied by a legion of ukuleles!

Should I go with a parent or guardian/do I need to stay with my kid(s)?

You’re very welcome to attend with your family, and indeed many do! About a quarter of our attendees each year are 18 or younger, and another quarter are 18-20. Steven Universe is an excellent show for kids and adults, and we are proud to reflect that with our programming and atmosphere.

Because Empire City Con does not provide childcare, we require anyone 14 and under to be accompanied by a guardian throughout the con, so both the guardian and minor should purchase a pass. Children under the age of 5 can attend for free with their guardian’s admission. Check out our Age Policy for more specifics about registration and age requirements.

What do you do at a con? What kind of events should I expect?

We won’t finalize our 2019 schedule until later in the year, but you can check out our previous schedules to see the programming we’ve hosted before. Generally, we schedule a mix of traditional, sit-down panels as well as things like performances, drawing lessons, jam sessions, dances, demonstrations, and so on. We’ll have a home base just for younger kids, where we’ll host things like meep morp making/crafting, gem story time, and games. There are also quieter activities — last year, we had a game room with dozens of board and card games as well as tables for coloring sheets.

Unlike larger cons, lines are relatively short and the vast majority of our programming will be indoors, so you won’t have to worry about waiting in the cold! Throughout the con, we’ll have a vendor hall open, where you can buy merchandise and art as well as meet the artists and another room for guests to sign autographs and take selfies.

In addition to our planned cosplay events, you can expect to see informal meetups and photoshoots get planned by attendees by word of mouth or via Instagram and Facebook.

Is dressing up or cosplaying okay/required? Will I be able to take pictures?

Cosplaying is optional! We encourage participation in cosplay to the extent of your comfort. Non-SU cosplay is also totally allowed. Just remember that since Empire City Con is an all-ages event, all clothing choices should reflect that, cosplay or otherwise.

We take con etiquette and safety very seriously. If a cosplayer has said it’s okay for you to take pictures, that’s great and you’re welcome to. But it doesn’t matter how cool a cosplay looks or whether someone else is already doing it, always ask first — no photography or touching the costume or props without consent.


Getting there

There is daily bus and train service from Charlotte to other cities in the region (find out more on the city website). On-site parking is free.

JetBlue, Frontier, Southwest, American, and Delta Airlines all have routes through Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT). If you fly in, you can take advantage of the hotel’s airport shuttle service.

The venue

All of our programming will take place in the Crowne Plaza Charlotte Executive Park, a pet-friendly,  smoke-free hotel about 15 minutes from the Charlotte airport. If you book your room online, you’ll need to follow the ‘book now’ link on our Location page to get the discounted rate. If you book over the phone, be sure to mention that you’re there for this con to get the group rate! 

Please note breakfast is not included with the price of your room. If you reserve when you book your room, the cost of the buffet is $5. Otherwise it’s $15.95. Empire City Con will not provide any meals over the course of the convention, so you’ll want to include breakfast in your food budget. Sonny’s BBQ, a Wingstop, Chili’s, McDonalds, and The Kabuto (sushi and steakhouse) are within a half mile of the hotel. There are several options for groceries nearby, including an ALDI, Food Lion, Costco, and several local stores on South Blvd, where there’s also a host of affordable restaurants (5-10 minutes drive, 20 minutes walking — see the map below).

Michael’s, Joann’s, Walmart, and Target are less than 15 minutes away. The Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center is about 16 minutes away and offers emergency services (including emergency pediatric care).

Find out more on our FAQ page.

If you need more information on the Empire City Con experience, please contact us at!

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