I only attended four official Con events, and only made a couple of turns through the Dealer's Room and Art Show -- most of my time was spent socializing. I spent lots of time with lots of folks, and always seemed to be able to find someone to pester. (Discovering that my phone could send texts to multiple recipients helped a lot there.)
After five straight years of presenting the Not-Adult Dragon Species Panel, I skipped this year, and finally got to see the Masquerade -- the NADSP has been scheduled opposite the Masque for three years in a row, thank you so very much. The Masquerade was fun to see in person for once.
On the other claw, I pitched in at the eleventh hour to help eclipsegryph give the Gryphon Panel, and had a blast and a half. Presenting panels has always kicked up a con into high gear for me, and I'll probably volunteer to take back the Dragon Panel again next year.
(Who went to the Dragon Panel this year? How did it go without Your Obedient Serpent at the helm? I've only heard feedback from one person who heard it from another person.)
I think the best part for me was the new location. I've always liked downtown San Jose, though I don't go there nearly often enough. The new hotel is in a splendid location, and is a pretty decent venue for the con, though I suspect we'll outgrow it quickly.
The afore-mentioned Unusual Circumstances allowed me to take public transit into the con with little difficulty, so I avoided the trauma of downtown parking this year. That's unlikely to happen again next year.
Having decent food and little conveniences like a grocery store and a drug store in the immediate vicinity was pleasant enough for us as attendees, but there's a hidden benefit that a lot of attendees have neglected. Being smack in the middle of downtown -- and the Fairmont is as close to dead-center in the middle of Downtown San Jose as you can get -- gives us the opportunity to become a local institution, to be part of the community in the same way that AnthroCon has become part of Pittsburgh. The local businesses certainly enjoyed our patronage, and the local populace seemed downright enchanted by our brand of madness.
This is an opportunity and an experience that we simply didn't have hiding in the Doubletree, stuck in a part of town that's flat-out dead on the weekends and not overly lively during the work week.
Furries are always worrying about how to improve their media image, and I submit that a goodly part of it is simply to be VISIBLE, being happy, friendly, fun people getting together to have a good time.