After what has seemed like far too long, Derpy News has had the privilege of attending the second iteration of the pony convention Nightmare Nights Dallas. Being a convention run by a longstanding friend to Derpy News, I was exited to see what he’d brought to the balmy heat of Dallas. And he did not disappoint. There were a few bumps in the road, but the pleasant, homely atmosphere of Nightmare Nights shone through regardless. You can find a more in depth report, along with more convention pictures, after the break.
On October 24th, the Crowne Plaza hotel in Dallas opened it’s doors to the second iteration of the Nightmare Nights convention. Over thirteen-hundred people attended the three day convention, along with a small gathering of artists, musicians and special guests. Now, normally in my convention editorials, I would go over the pros and cons of the conventions. However, the convention has released on their tumblr a list of really most of my major complaints about the con. So in order to save some redundancy, I’ll be going over what I liked about the con, and then some suggestions for next year.
One of the things that stuck out the most to me about Nightmare Nights was the scale. Being the first smaller convention that I’ve attended (that didn’t implode), I got to see firsthand just how different cons could be. The first thing I noticed was the atmosphere. The lower attendance and smaller hotel made things feel less crowded, and it was less of a rush trying to get to one area to another. Seeing special guests hanging out in the hotel bar after hours is something I’ve only seen at Nightmare Nights so far. The laid-back atmosphere felt great in comparison to many of the conventions I’ve been to. And I wasn’t the only one to notice, as a special guest told me that the convention was “the perfect size”.
As someone from the midwestern United States, I could really appreciate the location of Nightmare Nights this time of year. Going from near freezing temperatures to 70° nights was a dream come true. The hotel itself was very nice, though they did run out of blankets during the convention. Restaurants and food were a bit far away for my liking, but if you’re up for a walk, restaurants like The Blue Goose and The Londoner were very nice. I also had some issues getting to the convention arriving from the Dallas Love Field airport. If you know you are going to end up there, be careful in planning your transportation, as very few shuttles go between the airport and the hotel.
Vending halls have changed quite a bit from the last time I’d been to a con. While Nightmare Nights did not have as many vendors as other conventions I’ve been to, there was quite a variety of things available from those who were selling. Fanart prints seem to have fallen out of favor, with many vendors offering more varied wares, ranging from Dungeons and Dragons supplementals to pony-inspired perfumes. Probably the biggest hit of the convention was the Twilight Sparkle’s Secret Shipfic Folder card game. I saw many groups of attendees playing the game in the halls of the hotel and down in the bar.
Something I would like to see for next year is something a bit more Halloween themed. I can understand that Nightmare Nights is a pony convention, but seeing as the name of the convention is taken from a Halloween episode and that the con took place just before Halloween, I had been expecting things to be a bit more seasonal. Decorations would be nice to see next time, as there were none that I saw outside the vendor hall. Events like costume balls, bobbing for apples, and other Halloween games could have been implemented. It was a missed opportunity to add some more character to the convention and help distinguish it from other conventions, as even though the people are there primarily for pony things, I’m sure that there are very few in that crowd who had an aversion to Halloween.
If there had to be an event to cut next year, I would recommend the concert. Attendance at the Nightmare Nights concert was dismal, to say the least. Part of this stems from half of their musical talent list not showing up to play, but I think that isn’t the heart of the problem. I don’t really understand the necessity of concerts at every pony convention, especially smaller conventions like Nightmare Nights. Concerts take up a very large amount of space and time for the enjoyment of only a few attendees. Another idea that could work while keeping the concert is inviting non-pony bands to play. There are plenty of local bands in the Dallas area who would love to have a venue like Nightmare Nights to play at, and it may even bring more people to the convention just to see them play.
Despite the flaws that existed in the convention, it was hard to find an attendee without a smile on their face. The staff of Nightmare Nights did a great job this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again next year. I will have more Nightmare Nights coverage throughout the month, including interviews I was able to get with special guests Tabitha St. Germaine, G.M. Berrow, and M.A. Larson.