anime north lines

Anime North Toronto looked like pure chaos with long lines and sweltering heat

Many fans attending Anime North 2022 in Toronto this weekend got a whole lot more than they bargained for, as the convention was swamped with long lines, reports of attendees being treated by paramedics, and a general atmosphere of chaos.

The celebration of Japanese art took over the Toronto Congress Centre, Delta Hotel Airport and Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel from July 15 to 17, and just like nearby Pearson Internation Airport, the event was overwhelmed by throngs of crowds and a seeming lack of event staff to process the thousands of attendees.

Anime North's return was overshadowed by countless reports of unbearable wait times and a complete lack of amenities for crowds left in the blazing heat of parking lots as staff struggled to process guests' proof of vaccination as per event policy.

One eventgoer tells blogTO that "poor management turned the convention into endless line-ups. Paid customers were only able to obtain badges to attend the convention after a minimum of two hours of waiting."

"No water and cover were provided to the attendees. Many cosplayers were escorted to ambulances," adding that once inside, guests had to deal with poor ventilation within the venues.

"I suspect the management has oversold their tickets and has insufficient staff to check vaccine passes."

The madness wasn't entirely without warning, as Anime North issued a statement on the eve of the convention, announcing the cut-off of further sales for the second day of the event.

"Due to very strong Saturday sales, we have had to cap Saturday-only sales in order to manage crowding at the convention and are no longer available online or at the door."

Though even with large crowds all but guaranteed, event organizers continued with day-specific tickets for Friday and Sunday as well as full weekend admission.

A representative of Anime North tells blogTO that organizers "knew running a large event after a two-year hiatus would have additional challenges."

"Everything reported by other similar events in the year leading up to our event led us to expect a smaller crowd. We were aware that fewer big-name guests would be available and also expected that would impact our event, leading to lower attendance."

"For most of the year, our ticket sales were steady, but very slow, so our planning was aimed at having a somewhat smaller event than usual. That did not change until a few days before the show itself when half of our ticket sales were made in the week leading up to Friday."

"When we realized the badge pick-up line was not moving as fast as we needed it to, we identified where the bottlenecks were and rearranged things to process more people as quickly as we could. We brought in more paid crowd management to speed up the lines. We also ended sales of all ticket categories that weren't already sold out."

Organizers admit that they fell short of expectations, telling blogTO that discussions are underway to prevent such disorganization in the future, including the reintroduction of attendance caps used in previous years, saying, "we want our community to know that we are already working to make it better next year."

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