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Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Weekend of Stalking Vampires and Creating Lifelong Friendships

Photo Credit: CW Network
If you know me at all, you will know I love all things vampires, whether it be movies, TV, or books.  From Buffy, to Twilight, to True Blood, I love it all.  So when The Vampire Diaries debuted in the fall of 2009 I knew it would be right up my alley.  Little did I know, that show would give me a chance to meet so many amazing people and travel to an area of the United States that I’d always wanted to go.

The very first exclusively The Vampire Diaries convention in the U.S. took place in Atlanta March 25-27.  The show films in the Atlanta area so not only was it convenient for the cast to attend the event, it created an opportunity for fans to visit locations that we’d seen on the show.  The town of Covington, GA is about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta.  This quaint, colonial style, town creates the backdrop for all of the outside shots of the town of “Mystic Falls” in the show.  All of the scenes you see of the characters in the town square, the local hangout “The Mystic Grill,” and the outside shots of the character’s houses are all located in this town.

Covington is so well known with The Vampire Diaries fans that an awesome resident of the town is actually making a living at giving tours of her town, showing all of the locations they’ve filmed at.  The Mystic Falls Tours tour was the highlight of my trip to Atlanta.  It was so fun remembering the scenes that were filmed at each stop on the tour.  Because our tour guide lives in the town they film in, she watches them film quite frequently.  She is always able to find them when they’re filming in town.  She refers to this as “stalking.”  People are allowed to watch, depending on where they’re at in town, if it’s a public place.  While I was in Atlanta, they just happened to be filming in town for 2 nights.  We watched until after 3am for 2 nights in a row.  We couldn’t really see what was going on because they were filming in front of a house and we had to stay at the end of the long driveway, but just being there, hearing them yell, “rolling!” and “cut!” was pretty freaking cool!  We got to see a few cast members come and go and they waved at all of us.  Two of them actually came out to greet us fans and take pictures.  They were very generous with their time, considering they were getting off work at the wee hours of the morning and didn’t have to stop.  It made all of us so appreciative and really made us realize how the cast feels about their fans.

The tour and watching filming were Thursday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday was the actual convention.  This consisted of photo ops, autographs, Q & As, a banquet dinner with the stars, and a masquerade ball.  Although the photo ops and autograph sessions were over priced and poorly organized, the question and answer periods made up for it (but that really had nothing to do with the company running the convention.  The cast are just amazing and funny people, so the event runners are still  douchebags).  The banquet was also a highlight of the trip, although many would disagree with me.  Most people hated the food, which I didn't really mind.  It wasn't gourmet like we were told, it was a mediocre buffet, and since 2 cast members backed out of the event a few weeks prior, not everyone was able to sit with a cast member.  I was lucky enough that since I had purchased a platinum ticket and purchased it as soon as they went on sale, I got priority seating.  I got to have dinner and chat with one of the actors for over an hour.  It was pretty amazing!

After the dinner it was time for the masquerade ball, which every one of us was anticipating.  The show actually did an episode entitled, “Masquerade,” so you can imagine our excitement when we found out we were going to get to have our own masquerade, that the cast was to attend as well.  Unfortunately this event was the biggest disappointment of the whole weekend.  The room it took place in was way too small for the amount of people attending.  With that many people crammed into that small space, you would think they would have air flowing, right?  Nope, it was hotter than hell and since everyone was crowded into a line like we were cattle to “mingle with the stars,” everyone was over heated and annoyed.  They had a couple of the cast members secluded in a side room and 5 people at a time were allowed to go in and talk to each person for about a minute and then you were scooted along.  When the information about the ball was posted, we were told that it was an “adult event and not for the faint of heart.”  Well, it was actually like a bad prom with balloons and someone’s iPod playing music.  There was apparently a bar in the small room, but because everyone was lined up to “mingle with the stars,” I didn’t actually see it.  The line of people was blocking it, I think.  We stayed at the ball for about 20 minutes and then decided to get drinks at the other bar in the hotel, which had one bartender working.  You can imagine the frustration we felt by that point.  This event and the dinner were not included in our tickets to the convention, mind you.  They were separate.  I’m not going to tell you how much I spent on each event because it makes me ill, but my money was pretty much wasted.

Besides the tour of “Mystic Falls” and watching filming, the best part of my trip was meeting all of my fellow fans, who will forever be my great friends.  Because of Twitter, there were a handful of people I knew that were going to be at the convention and we’d talked quite a bit prior to the trip.  It was so much fun getting to see, in person, the people I’d been talking to and planning this trip with.  It was amazing to meet people from all of the U.S. and there were quite a few people from out of the country that attended the convention too.  People from all of the world all in one place discussing our favorite TV shows was pretty epic!  Since I didn’t personally know anyone going to the convention at the time I bought my ticket, the company running the convention offered a roommate finder.  They paired up people by gender and age range.  I was lucky to be paired with Andrea, who was a local.  She was a great tour guide!  I was able to get a driving tour of downtown Atlanta and attend a Thrashers’ game (NHL).  I had so much fun with all of the girls that we’re already planning our next meet up.  So, besides the poor organization on account of the convention company and the sometimes rude convention employees, this was a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget!

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