The Cast of Characters

Todd: My Roommate and one of my best friends. We’ve been going to Anime Expo together since 1996.
Jody: Todd’s younger brother, he’s gone to AX a couple of times in 99, and 2000.
Dave: Close friend, he’s been going to AX since 99.
Timmy: My nephew, this is his first AX ever.

Before Dawn Broke:

The day before the day before Anime Expo, I went to the car rental place and picked up one of the ugliest vehicles in which to travel: The Chrysler PT Cruiser. It’s big enough to fit all our luggage in, but barely large enough for people, which was our mistake in selecting it (I went to the car rental place with Jody and Tim). But, seeing as how I wanted to put the trip’s miles on something other than my Toyota Camry Solara, it seemed like a good investment to shell out the $280 for the week’s rental instead.

It was my intention to leave for AX by 4:30 am. My reasoning behind this was largely due to the fact that they typically start pre-registration early afternoons on the day before, and getting there in time to decompress from the long drive was a good idea. I had slept the night before, but it was only for six hours, and as it turned out, I did not actually get underway until after 5 in the morning on Wednesday. After a stop at the Safeway’s by Todd’s father’s house, dawn broke before we even left the city’s limits and sped down US-101 towards Pacheco Pass. The Cruiser is a four-banger, so it putters up and down the hills with a full load in the same audible fashion that my old red Toyota Tercel did back in the nineties. We made pretty good time, making it to Coalinga in roughly two and half hours, pulling in to the Chevron station there at 8am. After we filled up on gas, we headed to the Denny’s, had breakfast and then I handed the keys to Jody to drive some of the way so I could write a little bit on the laptop about the journey. I got online via my cell phone and chatted with a few friends online.

The total time of the trip was about seven hours; we parked the PT Cruiser at a little after Noon, checked in to the Anaheim Hilton and then relaxed for a little bit. Dave, Timmy, and I walked down to the hotel lobby and stood in line for registration around 2pm, and did not realize that for not having paid beforehand, we were consigned to a little-known, oft-visited place called line limbo, wherein all lines around you move but you remain absolutely still for over an hour. Dave and I were incredibly frustrated with the event, and vowed that next year, we would prepay no matter what. It just seemed to us that all the excuses just amounted to the fact that they dropped the ball on organizing registration for the second year in a row. We did not leave the line until almost 7pm, having spent five hours waiting for our badges.

We met up with Thomas and Alma, friends of mine from San Francisco, and then took the hotel tram to the Disneyland shopping area, known as Downtown Disney, to go to the theater and watch Terminator 3. T3 ended up being a disappointing film, but I won’t bore you with a review. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was already late, and it was time for sleep. After all, tomorrow morning is Day One, and I’ve got an appointment with an exhibit hall…