VidCon Attendees Embrace Increased Security
The online video conference more than doubled its security presence in the wake of the Orlando, Fla., shooting.
In the wake of The Voice contestant Christina Grimmie’s death on June 11 and the Orlando, Fla., shooting the following day, VidCon has implemented stricter security measures for the three-day event, running Thursday-Saturday. But fans have embraced the changes to the annual convention for all things online video.
Karisa Gratton, 21, who traveled from Fargo, N.D., says she was a bit nervous at first about coming to the event, but didn't experience much of a change from last year. “I will say that about a day before, I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach about coming to a big event again, but I feel the same amount of security as I did last year.”
VidCon organizers posted to Tumblr earlier this month, announcing that they would double security personnel to around 450 guards stationed throughout the Anaheim Convention Center. They said they would also put metal detectors in the meet-and-greet hall and have undercover enforcement that would conduct random bag checks. As they noted in the post: "Obviously, we don't want to build a wall between creators and their communities, but it is unfortunately necessary."
It was in the meet-and-greet area, known as the Meet & Tweet hall, where attendees noticed the biggest impact of the changes. Leslie Flores, 17, says she went through three security checkpoints to get into the hall, including a metal detector and bag check. But she understands that the precautions were necessary, saying that “it’s safer and better for us and makes us feel more comfortable.”
Attendees who wandered the main area inside the convention center were not subjected to those measures, though security did check for badge credentials and would only let certain badge holders (like industry and creator) to the upper floors.
The measures were meant to ensure the safety of the more than 25,000 people expected to descend on Anaheim during the event. But there were concerns that fans would have fewer opportunities to interact with the creators they were there to see. Gratton attended the event with a creator badge and acknowledges that the new restrictions mean "we can't enjoy the conference in the ways we used to," referring to past events where creators would mill about outside and in the expo halls with fans.
Other changes made this year included moving some company-hosted creator lounges from the convention center to meeting rooms inside the Hilton Anaheim. Only attendees with special wristbands were allowed into the lounges, giving creators a more intimate and exclusive place to rest up between appearances.
Some fans were disappointed that they wouldn’t be able to approach creators for more informal meet-and-greets after their panels and performances. At the convention center’s larger Kia Mainstage, Kristen Eng, 22, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., says she saw no more than “three to five security guards within a five-feet radius” of the stage. While she understands the added precautions, she still notes, “it’s just not what I was expecting at all.”