This post is in no way revised. I simply wrote my experience and I don’t plan on proofreading this. Enjoy ❤
One of my absolute favorite television programs is AMC’s The Walking Dead. I’ve been a fan of the show since 2011 and if you’ve never seen it or have no idea what it’s about, I advise you to get your butt on Netflix right now and just give season one a try. Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.
This isn’t a review of The Walking Dead, though, so I’ll keep my opinions on the horrific season seven premiere to myself.
About four years ago, a group of TWD fans got together, talked with AMC, and started a Kickstarter in order to put on the very first Walker Stalker Convention (WSC). In short, it’s a convention much like Comic Con, but for all things Walking Dead. The founders have coined it a convention that’s “for fans, by fans.” Just like Comic Con, you can find artists, vendors, panels, photo ops, autograph booths, and even cosplayers at WSC. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to meet your favorite cast members, make new friends, and nerd out on all the zombie apocalypse universes from The Walking Dead comics to Zombieland.
I have personally been to four Walker Stalker Cons now, and each one continuously gets better. However this past weekend, I went for the big one in the heart of where the show takes place: Atlanta, Georgia.
My sister Nikki and I have dreamed for years of making the trip down south for the biggest WSC. Atlanta is the only city that some of the cast members including Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, and Melissa McBride (just to name a few) will go to. The convention spans from Friday to Sunday, with the last day being the very busiest day. Nikki and I drove into Atlanta on Thursday morning and attended the con for all three days with VIP passes.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28
Nothing much happened on Friday. The vendors and artists are setting up their booths. The panels are small and usually not interesting enough to attend. If there are any cast members present, they are minor characters because the major ones are still filming for the show. In fact, my sister and I went simply to get a feel of the floor. We physically mapped out where the panel stages were, where photo ops would be, which vendors we’d like to go back to the following day, and most importantly, where the food stands were set up. Nikki and I had the option of moving two of our photo ops to Friday, but we decided against it.
Instead, we headed into Senoia, Georgia, which is where season 3’s Woodbury was filmed. Right beside the town of “Woodbury” is Alexandria (another filming location for the show). And cops were everywhere. We later learned while enjoying dinner in the Woodbury Coffee House that they were filming within the walls of Alexandria. So, we were sorta present for filming. In a Can’t See Anything, Can’t Hear Anything, Just Know It’s Happening kind of way. But it was still so magical.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29
Day 2 was a much busier day. Nikki and I got to the convention by 7:30 am in order to get in line for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s “It’s Negan!” panel at 10:45 am. I actually had to miss most of the panel for Emily Kinney (Beth Greene) photo ops at 11:25 am (WHICH I WAS EXTREMELY LATE FOR).
Because I was late to photo ops, I was slipped into the general admission line and given exactly 27.4 seconds to ready myself before the picture. Photo ops are quick because the actors are always on a tight schedule. But…the actors are always accommodating for that, too. While the Celeb Photo Ops team tells you not to waste time, all of the actors will thank each and every person for coming. They’ll make small talk despite their schedules being strict.
So, I walked in breathless after speed-walking 3 miles from the main panel stage to the photo ops area, greeted Emily with a smile and a ‘how are ya’, got my photo taken, and left. It’s that quick, but it’s almost always so worth it.
After meeting back up with Nikki, we went to our Austin Amelio (Dwight) photo op, and then got right back in line for our Jeffrey Dean Morgan photo op. And again, even though the photos are quick, JDM still made conversation. He commented on my sister’s bag and thanked both of us.
Then we could breathe. Because of the tight schedules, some of our photo ops overlapped, like JDM’s and Austin’s. The volunteers and the team at Celeb Photo Ops are so conscious of this happening that they will make it work for you no matter what. I was actually signed up to volunteer for the Philadelphia con in 2015, so I know that the volunteers’ #1 goal is to make everyone at the convention happy. That is literally Rule #1.
With our spare time between photo ops, my sister and I hopped into Emily Kinney’s autograph line for my friend’s birthday present. Emily is always so sweet when I meet her. She kindly signed my friend’s Bethyl (Beth and Daryl) photo and personalized it to them with a birthday message.
Again, we parted ways as I headed for Denis O’Hare’s (American Horror Story) autograph line and she headed toward photo ops for our Danai Gurira (Michonne) picture.
Denis was very very sweet. I got to talk to him for a little bit before taking a selfie with him. I used Snapchat to take the picture, and he noticed it, so I was like, “Wanna use a filter?” to which he replied, “Oh, no. I’ve had enough dog filters today!”
As I was in line for Denis, Nikki let me know that they lined us up for Danai’s photo op, so I hurried my short legs to the photo op lines again. Meeting Danai Gurira was so wonderful. She’s so beautiful in person, and so so so sweet. She greeted both my sister and me with a wide smile, making the entire 15 second experience so personal. There’s something about her demeanor that made my nervousness over meeting her melt away. It was on my walk toward Jeffrey’s autograph line that I realized most of the cast members made me feel that way. Comfortable and at ease with them.
My sister and I got into Jeffrey’s line at 4 pm on the dot. We didn’t leave the convention until 8 pm. Even with VIP tickets, which gets us ahead of the general admission line, we had a 4 hour wait. The convention ended at 7 (so all lines were cut off), and Jeffrey stayed until 10 pm signing for his fans. Just like during our picture, he was as genial as ever. He smiled brightly at each and every fan, signed their things, answered questions, thanked them, and finally hugged them. Every single one. Even across the table, his hugs were warm and enveloping, like a sweater. A cozy snuggle to end a perfect day.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30
Sunday, the convention’s final day, started with Nikki and me carrying very heavy groceries for at least 3 miles from our car all the way to Michael Cudlitz’s (Abraham Ford) autograph line. Walker Stalker Con and Michael have been running an ongoing food drive called the Bisquick Challenge, in lieu of one of Abraham’s now-famous lines from the show. While most people bring boxes of Bisquick, my sister and I bought 50 dollar’s worth of non-perishable food. And since Michael was up bright and early, and already signing autographs, we hopped into his line.
Right when it was our turn to talk with him and get a selfie, Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene) slipped into his booth and stole him from us for a good five or so minutes. We didn’t mind at all. We had time before our first photo op, and it was honestly kind of cool to stand there listening to their conversation. Once Scott decided to leave him be, Michael came back to us with an apology and hugs, and during out selfies, he asked Scott to photobomb us. Buy one, get one free. I’ve never met such a loving and giving cast before.
After Cudlitz, we went into Christian Serratos’s (Rosita Espinosa) line. As we waited, I told my sister that I planned on asking Christian what lipstick she was wearing during the Talking Dead the week before because it was such a gorgeous color and texture. The moment I greeted her, she gasped and asked me what lipstick I was wearing. I thought it was hilarious because then we gushed over makeup for a few seconds as she signed her portrait. She was wearing Kylie Jenner’s lip kit, and I’m not sure of the shade, but I’m guessing it was Kourt K. And I was wearing Katy Perry’s Katy Kat Matte, shade Cosmo Kitty. I received many compliments on it, actually, and I think it was because my lips were stained with her shade Cat Call from the day before, so the mixture made a very vibrant purple. A vendor actually commented saying it looked different from how it looked on herself. I’m not a beauty guru, though.
Nikki and I planned to go to Josh McDermitt’s (Eugene Porter) line, but he’d just left to go to a photo op, so instead, we got some food before heading to the most important photo op of the entire trip: Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) and Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes).
I’d met Norman three times prior to that day, so I had a plan to head straight for Andy. Nikki and I decided on our line up weeks in advance, so upon entering the photo op booth, we went directly to our places.
I don’t get starstruck often. The last time I remember being completely starstruck was meeting Norman Reedus the first time. But seeing Rick Grimes in the flesh with only a few inches between us really hit me hard. I felt like a babbling idiot as I said my hellos to each of them and placed myself on Andy’s left. And then he did it. He did the thing I didn’t want him to do. He said something other than hello to me. He commented on my lipstick.
“Nice lipstiiiiick.” A drawn out vowel in a soft English murmur. I was all smiles, a cheese fest as I thanked him and the flash blinded us. The four of us exchanged our words of gratitude and as I left, Norman held out a hand for me to shake. Our eyes met, he thanked me and called me sweetheart, I looked around for the cameras because I was sure this entire moment was straight out of a movie.
Immediately after Norman and Andy, we had Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene) and Tom Payne (Jesus) photo ops. Between those and our last three, we met Camille and Kennerly Kitt, YouTube musicians, and Katelyn Nacon (Enid). Our final photo ops were with Melissa McBride (Carol Peletier), JDM (but my sister went alone for that one), and Josh McDermitt.
During the con, I learned that Andrew Lincoln will only do Atlanta’s con, and will only do it for one day because all of the money he makes off of it goes to charity. So the percentage he makes off of his photo ops, and autographs, and entry to his panel goes completely toward his charity. Which I think is really admirable.
The convention was so worth all the money we spent on it. It was worth the 13 hour drive from New Jersey. It was worth the blisters and heel pain. It was worth the time spent waiting in lines. It was worth everything. I never have a bad experience meeting the Walking Dead cast members because they are all so genuine and kindhearted. I will never stop going to these conventions as long as they’re still happening.