First Time to Expo - Advice?

(Topic ID: 198075)

First Time to Expo - Advice?


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1 year ago



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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Gatecrasher
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    #1 1 year ago

    So I decided yesterday I'll fly out to Chicago and checkout this whole pinball expo thing. Just coming myself. What should I expect?

    I can't take time off work so I'll fly over just for the Sat/Sunday unfortunately. I'm a bit late to planning this and with the quick turn around I'm just going to stay near the airport and commute into the city.

    • Is it pretty easy getting form o'hare to downtown?
    • Am I going to end up buying a bunch of stuff? Should I bring an extra suit case?
    • If I'm just going for Sat and the 1/2 day on Sunday should I buy a pass or just day pay?
    • Are most vendors cash only or do they accept usually credit cards?
    • I'm coming from Los Angeles, it's 80 degrees here today, am I going to freeze in Chicago?
    • When is the ideal time to checkout the halls?
    • Any other advise I should know?
    #2 1 year ago

    I'd at least go Friday and Saturday. Thursday evening you get the JJP Fireside chat and later me. Not a lot on Sunday unless you are in the tournament.

    Read the schedule. Make plans on what you'd like. And be happy if you do half of them.

    Assert yourself. You get out of Expo what you put into it.

    I'd bring a light coat. You can check many weather websites in advance to help you like : https://www.wunderground.com/forecast/us/il/chicago/60290

    Try and find LTG and get mugged.

    LTG : )

    #3 1 year ago

    sunday sucks, point blank, most leave soon as they get up

    and if Pacak doesn't change something real quick, the rest of the weekend just might to sadly

    #4 1 year ago

    The Expo is actually in Wheeling which is about 15-20 mins from the O'Hare/Rosemont area and 40 mins northwest of downtown Chicago.

    14
    #5 1 year ago

    Save your money and go to TPF.

    #6 1 year ago

    It's not worth the trip

    #7 1 year ago

    If you aren't going for Thursday and Friday, don't bother.

    #8 1 year ago

    Wow. There is no shortage of critics on this site. First off, take Lloyd's advice. Lloyd gives great advice.

    Second, seriously, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are prime time. Sunday will be a let down because folks are going to be breaking down everything starting shortly after breakfast. I used to come back to break down my pins after the early football game and they'd be among the last four on the floor.

    That being said, you could certainly use Sunday to check out downtown, it's worth the effort.

    Whatever you end up doing, say hi to folks and they'll likely be more friendly than you'd expect. Have fun.

    #9 1 year ago

    Thursday afternoon, friday morning pinbrawl, then head to pinball life.

    Pretty much the only way to do expo.

    Honestly I highly suggest not spending the time to fly out for the show. If you are going to fly to a show then go to VFW or MGC or TPF

    #10 1 year ago

    Wear Depends, because once you start playing you won't want to leave the room for _anything_.

    #11 1 year ago
    Quoted from JWJr:

    Wear Depends, because once you start playing you won't want to leave the room for anything_.

    Huh, start playing what? The freeplay room has been on a steady decline since three years ago and there are about a dozen Sterns in the main room. The pins for sale usually aren't set up by sellers for play. No sane person would go to Expo for the pinball play. You go because of the seminars and schmoozing. Seriously, Expo is about 7th or 8th on list of events as far actually playing goes. And it's taking a steep nosedive as far as meeting and greeting because alot of people are so turned off by the last few years that they aren't going any longer.

    #12 1 year ago
    Quoted from robotron911:

    Huh, start playing what? The freeplay room has been on a steady decline since three years ago and there are about a dozen Sterns in the main room. The pins for sale usually aren't set up by sellers for play. No sane person would go to Expo for the pinball play. You go because of the seminars and schmoozing. Seriously, Expo is about 7th or 8th on list of events as far actually playing goes. And it's taking a steep nosedive as far as meeting and greeting because alot of people are so turned off by the last few years that they aren't going any longer.

    Damn, that's sad, if true. I haven't been able to make it to an Expo since I bought Kerry Stair's NIB Monopoly off the floor in '02, but _that_ year (and years before), the free play room _rocked_.

    #13 1 year ago
    Quoted from robotron911:

    Huh, start playing what? The freeplay room has been on a steady decline since three years ago and there are about a dozen Sterns in the main room. The pins for sale usually aren't set up by sellers for play. No sane person would go to Expo for the pinball play. You go because of the seminars and schmoozing. Seriously, Expo is about 7th or 8th on list of events as far actually playing goes. And it's taking a steep nosedive as far as meeting and greeting because alot of people are so turned off by the last few years that they aren't going any longer.

    Your actually quite wrong on that. Since Andrew took over, three years ago, the freeplay hall has improved greatly. He even had a EM collection brought in. And the Cincinatti collectors group always brings very nice assortment

    But this year will be different, no one knows what going on. Many are boycotting altogether because of decisions Mike has made. I'm not a fan of the boycotting, but cant do anything about it.

    #14 1 year ago

    Andrew is a great person to have in charge of the free play room. The more things that can be wrestled out of Mike's control, the better. I think it has been fine the past few years.
    I do agree that expo isn't really for playing [other than standing in line over and over for the tourney] and more for getting together with friends I don't see very often and catching up and enjoying each others company.
    This year will be my 14th straight. I do appreciate everyone [especially CPM] for bringing nice games for people to play.

    Agree that if you're missing Thursday and Friday, don't bother coming.

    #15 1 year ago

    I was able to make it out last year on Saturday for a few hours and thought the free play room was pretty good. I have nothing to gauge it against as that was my first pinball expo that I had ever attended. Overall a decent time and I was able to get a few parts that I was in need of.

    This year I had my sights set on the pinball life open house but unfortunately won't be able to make that either. So maybe i'll make MGC this next year.

    #16 1 year ago

    Travel with friends, and you will have the best time.

    #17 1 year ago
    Quoted from robotron911:

    No sane person would go to Expo for the pinball play. You go because of the seminars and schmoozing.

    This is the right answer. You play because you're there, you don't go to play. The people are what make it a special event. You go to hang out with your pinball friends who aren't local, it's been the event everyone travels to. Maybe not anymore, I dunno. I'm skipping it this year and I'm not alone. Sure it won't be a ghost town or anything though.

    And Sunday is useless, no reason to be there for it.

    #18 1 year ago

    We're flying out for the first time this year. After reading this thread, I'm starting to have doubts about going, but I'm sure we'll make it fun. I mean, if the pinball expo doesn't entertain us, there's that whole city of Chicago we can enjoy.

    #19 1 year ago

    I went to both the Expo and MGC for the first time last year. For Expo, I would suggest coming at minimum for Friday. The bulk of the action is on Thursday and Friday. I don't know what the free play room used to be like, but I didn't think it was as bad as some here are making it sound. There were 100+ games setup and you could basically play all night. I also bought a game there, which I felt was very fairly priced. I do get the feeling that it could be worse this year, which is too bad. Hopefully personalities don't ruin what should be a celebration for out hobby. My plan as of this moment is to just attend the Pinball Life party, then perhaps just hang out with friends on Saturday.

    PS: MGC is larger. It was pretty much a zoo during the day. If you attend MGC you really need to bring a machine. For a pinball fan, the after hours party is undoubtedly the best part of the event.

    #20 1 year ago

    The Stern tour is pretty cool. Thats on thursday morning though. Always cool to see the production line humming away.

    #21 1 year ago

    Everyones joy outside of pinball, is unique.

    Right in the area are phenomenal eats, and an amazing Russian Market about a mile away. Really wild and unique food. We also enjoyed spending time and all the reserves and seeing the Elks. Traveling north and walking along the lake and exploring old and new small towns along the way, especially near Terry and pinball life. Equally at the show my only suggestion in my opinion is if you are one that enjoys your Libations enjoy to the fullest it seems to me that as the hours go on a little bit goes a long way. Mostly for me it was the seminars and the people first, but we thoroughly enjoyed our first Stern factory tour and highly recommend that trip. Terry's party and hospitality is second to none. Whatever you do enjoy the heck out of it and keep saying hello to everybody we all want to know who the other guy is behind the Avatar on pinside.

    Have a blast.

    #22 1 year ago

    Saturday is just as good a days Thursday or Friday, but does get crowded. The size and quality of the free game room is open to your perspective of where you have the ability to play currently. The chance to play tons of great 80s games, and a bunch of EMS as well as 90s era B/W and newer Sterns is not something everyone gets the opportunity to play. For the anniversary a few years ago, there were a ton more machines that normal, and they needed an overflow room, but as I said, plenty of games to play.

    Rumor is JJP will show Pirates, I assume Stern/Marco will have SW, which most folks have not played yet. There will be mulitple Houdini machines there, and I'm sure CC will have AFMr. TNA can be played out at Pinball Life if that is high on your list and it is always a fun time out there (but may be sold out). And there is the chance to tour Stern, not something you can do at other shows. So despite the naysayers, anyone who goes to Expo is going to have a good time, especially if you take the time to meet people.

    The fact that P3 and the p-roc custom games won't be there is unfortunate, since I know that is something a lot of folks enjoy.

    So, while for many Expo does not live up to its past, and I'm not going to say that is not true. It is still a fun show with some really interesting seminars, the latest info from manufactures, and more industry folks and other personalities then you will see at other shows.

    Is Expo better than TPF, not sure, they are both great shows, and for any real pinball fan, you should try to get to both at some point. Not saying that places like allentown, MGC, SFGE, NW, etc. are not worth going to, they absolutely are, since each of those has their own personality. I know a few guys who will say Allentown is there favorite show, since it is a great place to buy and sell. SFGE and MGC are great shows if you like the spectacle of 'gaming' vs just pinball.

    #23 1 year ago

    Thanks for the input everyone. I booked my flight already so I'm definitely going. This will be my first show so really nothing to compare it to. It's a bummer I'll miss Friday. I especially wanted to see that Dutch Pinball update as I've been following TBL saga for years.

    Sounds like I'll get one good day on Saturday and I'll make plans to do something else Sunday. Hoping there's a TBL on location as I've never seen it in person. Not sure if it would be worth the seminar pass + the $30 day daily fee just for the single day though. I'll have to think about that.

    #24 1 year ago

    Really surprised that P-Roc will not be there, They have dragged their games there for many years with never actually getting one out in the wild. Now, there is one in the wild in Sacremento and they are not doing expo, really odd to me

    #25 1 year ago
    Quoted from vidgameseller:

    Really surprised that P-Roc will not be there, They have dragged their games there for many years with never actually getting one out in the wild. Now, there is one in the wild in Sacremento and they are not doing expo, really odd to me

    They're busy building/shipping games. Going to a show takes money and people out of that process. Since they've got a line of orders to fill, they're focusing on that for now (at least, that's the gist I got from the last public update they sent out).

    I'm guessing there's been ... uh ... friction ... with a certain show organizer, too.

    #26 1 year ago

    Way long ago (before sourcing on the internet expanded exponentially and before any of the other pinball events even existed) Pinball Expo was the absolute best place to find the parts you needed for your games. The factory tour (in the old days WMS and more recently Stern) is great to do every so often - at least once for sure. (It was while talking to Dwight Sullivan during a Stern tour that he told me how to access Secret Mania on WHOdunnit.) Expo has always been a good place to meet and talk with industry people and other enthusiasts. (I chatted with Aurich last expo and talked with the ColorDMD guys there and got a free T-shirt from them.) The seminars on Thursday and Friday are usually worth attending (some more than others, of course). Actually playing pinball is very low on the list of things to do at Expo (but I do like filling in the off hours playing some games). I'm sorry you already have your ticket, since it's not worth going just for Saturday in my opinion.

    #27 1 year ago

    Up until ClePin, it was the only show I attended that will let you walk in with yer beer. So there's that.
    You'll def need lots of beer...from the spectacular LQ right down the road I might suggest. I get almost as excited about that liquor store as Expo.

    #28 1 year ago
    Quoted from Time:

    So I decided yesterday I'll fly out to Chicago and checkout this whole pinball expo thing. Just coming myself. What should I expect?

    Just stay in town and go to the Banning Arcade Expo in October instead.

    Sunday might as well not exist, so you're really just going for Saturday. You're missing the Stern Tour on Thursday & the Pinball Life parties on Thurs/Fri.

    Save yourself some money and skip it. If your interest is in the vendors, you can buy anything online that you'd find at Expo.

    -1
    #29 1 year ago
    Quoted from Time:

    Not sure if it would be worth the seminar pass + the $30 day daily fee just for the single day though. I'll have to think about that.

    Don't make the newb mistake by buying the seminar pass. No one checks for passes for the seminars. Just walk in to the ones you wanna see and don't sweat it.

    #30 1 year ago

    It's Thurs-Sun. Pencil it on in every year and just tell the boss and the wife to not even look for ya.
    SEE YA BYE.

    #31 1 year ago
    Quoted from Time:

    So I decided yesterday I'll fly out to Chicago and checkout this whole pinball expo thing. Just coming myself. What should I expect?
    I can't take time off work so I'll fly over just for the Sat/Sunday unfortunately. I'm a bit late to planning this and with the quick turn around I'm just going to stay near the airport and commute into the city.

    Is it pretty easy getting form o'hare to downtown?
    Am I going to end up buying a bunch of stuff? Should I bring an extra suit case?
    If I'm just going for Sat and the 1/2 day on Sunday should I buy a pass or just day pay?
    Are most vendors cash only or do they accept usually credit cards?
    I'm coming from Los Angeles, it's 80 degrees here today, am I going to freeze in Chicago?
    When is the ideal time to checkout the halls?
    Any other advise I should know?

    If you are coming just for Sat. and Sun. plan to get there as early as possible on Sat. and check out everything. The vendor hall usually has alot of cool stuff, there really isn't an abundance of actual parts to buy as most vendors have online shops. I kinda miss the days where Mayfair and Steve Young came to shows so you could shop and find that part or BG that you just had to have, rather than ordering it online and pick it up while there. (That's not as much fun!) Expo is about walking around talking to people, hitting some seminars, running into Steve Ritchie in the hallway. You can watch some of the best players out in the main tournament area. The Stern tour is always fun! (I know you won't be able to make that but if you get the chance it's a good time!) Sat. afternoon is also the autograph session so if you have something you want signed bring it along. Or if you don't have anything, most of them usually have some flyers or something to sign for you.
    The free Play room is what it is...not the best machines, but not the worst either. Not the most # of machines you might see at another show, but plenty of games to have fun playing. First year I went to Expo I was in AWE! in general...so many games I had never seen let alone gotten to play. I took 2 games the first year I went and have been bringing games since then because I enjoy sharing my games with others. My group brings anywhere from 15 to 20 games for everyone to play and leave them on the floor as long as possible. I leave my games up till around 1 or 2 on Sun. so they will be there Sun. if you want to come and play. Other than that, Sun. is usually a tear down day and most of the vendors are packing up or gone and alot of the games from the free play are leaving. Pretty much the only thing going on on Sun. is the tournament in the main hallway. So whether you choose to stop in on Sun. is up to you.
    If you don't do anything else at Expo make sure you get "mugged" by LTG!! It's an experience you won't soon forget! Talk to as many people as possible because it is what you make it...have fun and enjoy yourself!

    Phoebe

    #32 1 year ago

    Bring hand sanitizer and liquor.

    #33 1 year ago
    Quoted from Butterflygirl24:

    Sat. afternoon is also the autograph session so if you have something you want signed bring it along. Or if you don't have anything, most of them usually have some flyers or something to sign for you.

    Have you heard anything on who will be there this year? The website just shows who has signed stuff in past years. Last year they had a list of who WOULD be there to sign stuff.

    #34 1 year ago

    I always have a pretty good time at the Expo.

    #35 1 year ago

    I've always wanted to go to Expo. Wanted to do the Stern tour, go to Pinball Life's party, get my balls busted in person by gryszzz. But I think I've missed the boat since I've heard nothing but increasingly bad things about this show...and it's wickedly overpriced as well.

    I've been to one TPF and am going back next spring. That show is what Expo used to be and what it lacks in not being local to Stern, it more than makes up for in the best f**king BBQ I've ever had. If Expo gets its act together I'll give it another look. Damn shame the Blackhawks aren't playing yet when that show is going on. That'd definitely sway my decision.

    #36 1 year ago

    Oh you TPF swallowers...
    Chicago was the birth.

    #37 1 year ago
    Quoted from doublestack:

    Bring hand sanitizer and liquor.

    You'll meet some great guys and also some morons. These items will help you cope with both encounters.

    #38 1 year ago
    Quoted from KingBW:

    Have you heard anything on who will be there this year? The website just shows who has signed stuff in past years. Last year they had a list of who WOULD be there to sign stuff.

    The list is never a guarantee of who is going to be there...They invite lots of pinball "celebrities" but not all show up it just depends on their schedule that day...

    Phoebe

    #39 1 year ago
    Quoted from starfighter:

    You'll meet some great guys and also some morons.

    But what if you're kinda both? Asking for a friend.

    #40 1 year ago
    Quoted from beelzeboob:

    I've always wanted to go to Expo. Wanted to do the Stern tour, go to Pinball Life's party, get my balls busted in person by gryszzz. But I think I've missed the boat since I've heard nothing but increasingly bad things about this show...and it's wickedly overpriced as well.
    I've been to one TPF and am going back next spring. That show is what Expo used to be and what it lacks in not being local to Stern, it more than makes up for in the best f**king BBQ I've ever had. If Expo gets its act together I'll give it another look. Damn shame the Blackhawks aren't playing yet when that show is going on. That'd definitely sway my decision.

    Don't believe everything you hear. All the shows have some good stuff and are worth attending if you are into pinball.

    You can get good BBQ in areas other than Texas too. The world BBQ championship (Memphis in May) is held in Tennessee every year since 1978 and the winner isn't usually from Texas (although there have been a few over the years). I think the last time a Texas joint won the world championship was in 2008 when "Natural Born Grillers BBQ" from McAllen, Texas won.

    The current reigning world BBQ champion is "Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q" from Decatur, Alabama (5 time world champion).

    I used to go to the south regionals and Memphis in May every year when I lived in Tennessee. Awesome events.

    You can get some good BBQ in Chicago too along with just about everything else. Chicago is hard to beat as far as restaurants go. No shortage of awesome ones to go to.

    #41 1 year ago
    Quoted from Gryszzz:

    But what if you're kinda both? Asking for a friend.

    You mean Taylor? Is he still round?

    #42 1 year ago

    Talk to people and get in on some multiplayer games . This is how to make the most of your expo expirience .

    #43 1 year ago

    And if you happen to find a hot mic grab it and yell "LIONMAN!" . It's the perfect way to fully indulge on the expo expirience .

    #44 1 year ago
    Quoted from trilogybeer:

    And if you happen to find a hot mic grab it and yell "LIONMAN!" . It's the perfect way to fully indulge on the expo expirience .

    MikeP said it was OK

    #45 1 year ago

    This is a poorly run event, but good luck. Seminars are $60.00, but a lot of attendees never pay, Numerous attendees just use the same badges from years ago. I went for years, but not going this year. Bottom line: there are much better expos in Louisville, Nashville, Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando.

    #46 1 year ago
    Quoted from knobstone:

    This is a poorly run event, but good luck. Seminars are $60.00, but a lot of attendees never pay, Numerous attendees just use the same badges from years ago. I went for years, but not going this year. Bottom line: there are much better expos in Louisville, Nashville, Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando.

    So that's your reason for not going and your crusade to try and convince others not to attend?

    Because you claim some people use old badges to get into seminars?

    Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    #47 1 year ago
    Quoted from Gatecrasher:

    So that's your reason for not going and your crusade to try and convince others not to attend?
    Because you claim some people use old badges to get into seminars?
    Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    No, it and his reason is that it's poorly run, which no-one can deny. When was the last time you heard something positive about Mike? Andrew as looked at favorably and was able to get people to volunteer for the free play room, that wasn't Mike. Andrew is fed up with Mike and is out, Mike's driving out the volunteers. Vendors generally have not had good things to say about Mike either. Vendors who give things for the charity take have been routinely ignored at the event. This event really still exists because it's the old show. If it didn't have the history it does it would have died. You don't see people complaining about TPFs leaders, or Dan at MGC. There are good reasons for the negative reviews of expo. We need a new show, who knows maybe one it's being considered...

    #48 1 year ago

    I met the Vanderveens (sp?) from TPF at Expo two years ago. We had breakfast together. Nothing against TPF or especially Louisville, which I attended last time, but Expo has industry folks just walking around, which the other shows cant match since they are outside of Chicago. Putting Mike aside (and I've never had a problem with him personally), other shows can match Expo in some respects but not overall. I know, I hear you, I respect your points, but this will be my 8th Expo in Chicago and I always have a good time.

    #49 1 year ago
    Quoted from Pinballomatic:

    Expo has industry folks just walking around,which the other shows cant match since they are outside of Chicago

    You obviously haven't been to TPF in the last few years.

    #50 1 year ago

    Yes I have and believe me I like TPF and I'm not knocking it. Expo has the ambience that's all I'm saying. This is not a line in the sand thing I think everybody should do Expo at least once. My first one was 1996. That's my only point.

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