My obsession with Doctor Who started in high school. I would beg my parents to let me stay up to watch the Doctor fight another day. As I got older and become a mom, I introduced my son to Doctor Who. So, it seemed natural to investigate if the WHOlanta convention in Atlanta would be appropriate for my family.
Prior to coming to the convention, I looked at the website to see if there were any planned activities for kids or things that would interest my 6 year old. In addition to a gaming track, I was excited to see there was a programming track specifically for children called Just For Kids.
Once at the convention, the first room I looked into was the gaming room. There were computer, board and card games for all ages. I saw teens playing on computer console and a family with a small child listening to the rules of a board game being explained by a track volunteer. Gaming for families is an AWESOME addition.
Next stop was the Kids Track room to speak with the staff and participants there. While a child is in the room, a parent is asked to stay with their child/children. During one of the scheduled activities I saw a family working on making edible Who art. I was pleasantly surprised to learn teachers staffed the room. I also learned the Kids Track ran on Saturday and Sunday and had breaks between the arts and crafts activities when the room was closed to allow the staff to clean the room and set up for the next project.
One of the co- directors, Katie Hilliard, explained the staff was discussing adding workshops and demonstrations to next year. Also, the age limit listed on the program book is 13 but the staff has noticed many teens like to come and do the projects also. The directors are considering making the activities tiered to allow for different age groups. Making the activity more complicated for the teens but still having a less complicated version for the younger kids. The directors said they have 15 to 20 kids come to the activities and many times they see kids come back from previous years.
As I walked the halls, I stopped and asked parents the reasons they choose to bring their kids to WHOlanta. Many said they liked the size of the con and that there were planned kid activities. The kids liked looking at people in costumes, props like sonic screwdrivers and K-9 bags and the full sized characters like Daleks arranged around the con.
My last stop was the Dealer’s Room. While I found many things my child would like, I didn’t find many things I would be willing to buy, especially since it would be a toy for him and might get broken or lost. I did find a finger puppet from Felt Nerdy for $3 and a print from My Faerie Tale for $5. Parents of older children might have an easier time since they can be more careful with their items. There were items like stuffed animals, jewelry, or a Tardis building kit from Komai’s Oh My that might appeal to an older child. Mainly the focus was adults with spendable income.
To summarize, the pros were the cost (Under 5 was free, 6 to 12 was $20), the small size of the con in general and the Just For Kids Programming Track. There was also a cafe and restaurant on site which may or may not be true if the con moves to a different hotel. The only con was the Dealer’s room, simply because there were many things my son would want but few things I would buy. Not so much a deal breaker, since I wasn’t planning to buy much for my son anyway but it can make for a grumpy child if they constantly see things they can’t touch or take home with them.
DEFINITELY BRING YOUR FAMILY TO WHOLANTA. It is a convention that understands and respects moms and kids. It is probably the most inclusive convention Southern Fried Geek Girls has been to this year.