New To MAGFest - Advice?

It's not a Con, it's a Festival! Except when it's a Stock! Or a Gen!
Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:47 pm

  • Hello you wonderful people.

    I am travelling from western Canada and I am very unfamiliar with this festival. Only heard about it a few months ago but it seems to be a pretty perfect place for me to go. I am more a Musician than a gamer but I love both very much.

    I was hoping to get a little advice as to what to expect as far as going to events, schedules, panels etc.

    I was also wondering if there was a place that would be easier to meet up with other people. I was hoping to meet a few people to attend a few events with. I've got a room in the hotel itself so I don't have to worry about transportation too much.

    Thank you in advance and I can't wait to be there.

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Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:05 pm

  • I find that the best way to meet people at MAGFest is to go to events like MAGES, as these panels tend to have the most intelligent and thought provoking content. There is also the open forum styled Brainspace next door (not sure if it is called that this year) in which any topic can be debated and discussed among an informal gathering of fans of video games. The discussions were thoughtful last year, with careful balance to encourage that no one person talks too much or hijacks the conversations.

    It's not only the best thing at MAGFest, it is a great way to handle downtime and meet new people!
    "Fire, Fire! Heh Heh Heh!" - Kefka Palazzo's retainer - Final Fantasy VI
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Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:45 pm

  • If you're more of a music person than you've come to the right place. MAGfest is the Music And Gaming Festival afterall...

    Magfest for me has always been about going to the concerts and seeing the bands each year. There's a wide variety of different genres performed but the thing they all have in common is they are playing covers of video game music. You've got bands like:

    -Bit Brigade. My favorite by far. They are a rock/metal band but what really sets them apart is they have a guy on stage who will speed run through a classic game (Mega man 2, Contra, Castlevania, etc.) while the band is playing the soundtrack perfectly in sync with the action on screen. It's totally unlike anything else you've seen before!

    -Powerglove. If you're into metal you will love these guys. They are fucking BRUTAL!!! Heavy as fuck. Mosh pits abound!

    -Mega Ran. This dude is a hip hop artist who raps to beats from games like Mega Man, Final Fantasy 7, Castlevania and more. He also does a Freestyle at some point in his set where the audience will hold up random objects and he will make up raps on the spot about them. Really impressive!

    -Triforce Quartet. A string quartet that plays classic game series like Zelda, Mario, Final Fantasy and more. These guys were a huge hit last year on the second stage and now they'll be playing on the main stage.

    -Lonely Rolling Stars. Named after the song from Katamari Damacy. These guys are basically a super band of musicians from other bands that have merged together. They bring a very fun goofy vibe to the show that literally had me laughing out loud when I saw them last year. One of my favorite shows.

    -Super Guitar Bros. This is my band so of course I gotta plug myself a little bit. My friend Sam and I play acoustic/classical guitar covers of classic games like Zelda, Mario, Chrono Trigger/Cross, Earhtbound, Final Fantasy, Castlevania and more. Lots of people who arent really big into the rock/metal scene really enjoy coming to our show which has a much more laid back, intimate vibe to it. This will be our fourth year playing there and our second year on the main stage.

    And there's a ton more bands to check out too. If you're not familiar with any of them I'd suggest checking them out on YouTube to get an idea of which ones you'd be interested in seeing. Who knows you may end up leaving Magfest with a handful of CDs from bands you never even knew existed.

    Not to mention there are also chip tune artists and electronic djs if you're looking to get your dance on!

    I basically like to spend the whole weekend trying to see as many different musical groups as possible. And even then I can't manage to see all of them. There's just so much! I don't even bother with panels anymore unless it's something very specific I wanna see. Also I've met a lot of cool people just from talking to people while waiting for the next band to start. People here are super friendly so no need to feel intimidated.

    Man, that was a mouthful! I hope that was helpful! And hopefully I'll see you at our show!
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Thu Dec 18, 2014 10:47 pm

  • This year was my first MAGFest and I'll tell you what, you get what you want out of it. I had more fun there than I had in years before that and I am super excited to go again next year.
    Mr. Sautrn
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Sat Dec 27, 2014 1:21 am

  • This will be my third year - trust me, you will love it!

    The band recommendations made by SGBsteve are solid, and I'd also recommend The Protomen. Think if Queen, Megaman and George Orwell had a baby, and toss in some fantastic stagemanship, and you get a band that has deservedly headlined many Magfests past.

    The panels are one of the show's best kept secrets, though I am biased somewhat, as press, I'm paid to cover them. Still, there is always top notch stuff.

    The vendors are great too, come expecting to spend money.

    If you want to meet new people, I am organizing a networking event there - thread should be on the forum a few below this one.

    Regardless, have fun and have a great MAGfest!
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Fri Jan 02, 2015 4:21 pm

  • Hey man, gratz on your first MAGFest! This will be my fifth year attending so I have a little bit of experience from which to draw. My advice to you would be to bring some Timmy Ho's doughnuts and some LeBatt Blue, lot's of it. Then, give me your room number so we can share. :mrgreen: Honest advice from a MAGFest veteran.

    No seriously, bring some Timmy Ho's...I'll buy.
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Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:06 pm

  • In terms of food. Try to bring what you can because local places and delivery could be jammed.

    I try to pick coldcuts/sandwiches, instant oatmeal that could be made with the in room coffee maker and various other snacks that could be made easily in your room. Since you're probably flying in, try to stock up at the nearby CVS (Pharmacy/food mart).

    For nutrition purposes; because you will be awake and on your feet all day try to keep yourself hydrated and snack often. You will be burning calories like crazy because of the things mentioned above.

    In terms of ordering food for delivery; I've experienced that with everyone at the show ordering delivery from various places it could take a long long time to get your food delivered. 2 years ago it took almost 2 hours to get my rooms delivery.

    Also bring hand sanitizer and use it every time you touch something that everyone else probably touched
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Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:48 pm

  • It really depends where you want to spend your time. I tend to figure out what concerts i want to hit first and then fill in other stuff around it.

    Last year I did a grocery run and got sandwich stuff which saved a ton of money, (there's something on the NH1 bus route that's pretty close)

    Also everyone probably wants to be your friend and geek out about something, so I'm sure youll make friends. I generally don't and have made a ton.
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Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:21 pm

  • Wow!

    Thanks for all of the replys! I can do my best for the Tims but I'm afraid it gets pretty rock hard quick.

    I really appreciate all the advice regarding water and food. I was planning on just getting food at the hotel but if I can save some money and buy sandwiches, that's the route I wanna take.

    I'm really hoping to meet up and Jam with some of you fine people. If any one is in need of or wanting a keyboard/flute player I'm your guy.

    I am even more excited to go now.

    Thank you!!
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Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:48 am

  • This is my 5th year going (or 6th if you want to count 8.5!) and I always tell people that I work so that I can attend this con every year (I guess being able to afford food and shelter is another reason, too).

    This convention is so, SO much fun. Everyone is there to have a good time and party together, so it's really easy to just strike up a conversation with people. Epic dance battles will happen in the hallways (IE: the epic Michael Jackson dance off last year), random silly antics by cosplayers... you name it, it's there. There's ALWAYS something to do, so as a first timer I would try and see things you for SURE want to attend and plan accordingly.

    If you want to go to a panel that will be packed, get in line EARLY. Don't try and get in line for the Game Grumps panel 30 minutes before it starts; you won't get in! Also, if there is a band you know you want to see (which is all of them, because they're all amazing), be sure to check the calendar to make sure you don't miss it! Last year they had the Guidebook app for the convention which was so handy; definitely check that out if they've got it this year. It'll let you set alarms and make your own schedule for what you want to see .

    This turned into a long post. TL;DR: Plan ahead if there's something you definitely want to see, and adjust arrival/line up time depending on how popular the event is.. and HAVE FUN! I'll see you there =)
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Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:42 am

  • ^This. Everything Kuri said. Plan ahead of time. I went to the Game Grumps panel two years ago and must have been waiting in line at least an hour and a half and just barely made it in. Don't think I'll be bothering with that anymore.

    And yeah man there's an awesome lineup of bands playing this year so find the ones that you're not too concerned about seeing and use that as your time to get something to eat.

    Speaking of that, the hotel food is crazy expensive (naturally) so don't do that unless you feel like treating yourself fancy or something. There's plenty of restaurants within walking distance of the hotel that range from Subway to sushi. If you like burgers you absolutely must try Elevation Burger. They pride themselves on using all grass-fed cow beef and are super delicious. I go there at least once every year though sometimes the line can be ridiculous. It's right next to the Subway which also has a ridiculous line. Basically wherever you go eat don't expect to get in and get out right away cuz every place is gonna be packed with Mag people.

    Other things I can think of off the top of my head:

    -Keep yourself hydrated. Especially between bands. They'll have several water coolers in the concert rooms but don't be surprised when you see them empty.

    -Take advantage of any opportunity to sit down and rest. Even for a minute. Your body will thank you.

    -If you take your badge off in your hotel room don't forget to put it back on before you head back down or you will be making the "walk of shame" back up to your room when they won't let you in the concert hall or whatever you're going to.

    -Don't be afraid to talk to anybody. I find the elevators are a great place to say hi to people and ask what they're going to do right now or what their favorite thing has been so far.

    -Wash your hands regularly to try and prevent getting sick. Also shower every day and please use deodorant! I remember the game room just reeking of BO last year.

    That's everything off the top of my head. Man this was longer than I meant to be but hopefully this helps you and others out.
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Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:45 pm

  • The guidebook app was awesome last year for finding the concerts/panels/ect.

    My advice:
    - Remember that it is winter. If you plan staying in a nearby hotel or going to restaurants outside the event hall, have your coats ready. Among the many ways to get sick, going from hot to cold unprepared is not fun.

    - Even if you plan on getting takeout or local food, remember to bring something as a snack.

    - If you have battery powered chargers, bring them. It bites to find a group wanting to group up in the 3ds title that you love, to see your system blinking red because it used up all its power trying to streetpass with everybody within 90 feet.

    - Check out all the major areas of the event. You might find something surprising.

    - Look at the schedule and try to make it to at least one panel. They tend to be interesting discussions.
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Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:02 am

  • There are two main rules to MAGFest

      Don't piss off the hotel
      Don't be a dick

    Other than that, everything else pretty much goes, as long as it's legal.
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Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:18 am

  • If you're bringing food: Unless something has changed in the past year (and I can't speak for other hotels), the Gaylord has fridges and coffee makers in the room, but no microwaves or other means of heating things. Plan accordingly.

    If you're going out into National Harbor for food: Plan for a longer wait then you might think. There's a lot of us at Magfest, and only yay many restaurants in walking distance. Expect lines, sometimes out of the restaurant (dress warm, too). If you wanna go to that panel in twenty minutes, you're probably not going to make it through the Elevation Burger line in time, especially during peak lunch/dinner hours.

    I really do recommend the Elevation Burger and the Potbelly Sandwich place first and foremost. Baja Fresh ain't bad, but it's one of the closest places to the hotel so the line's usually pretty bad (also it's a really cramped building). Chi-Dog-O's is cheap, easy, and doesn't seem particularly crowded most of the time.

    If you need any little things, like razors or aspirin: There's a CVS Pharmacy about two blocks away from the hotel. There's a general store inside the hotel, but I had a headache a few years ago, went in there because I did not yet know about the CVS (this was the first year the fest was at this location) and two aspirin cost me something like forty thousand dollars. (Actually it was about $8 but still.)

    If you're playing arcade machines: Bring a little bottle of hand sanitizer. Seriously-people's hands get sweaty and gross real quick down there. You'll be glad you did-it doesn't stand in for handwashing, but it beats walking around with nothing on your hands but whatever ooze was on the Windjammers cabinet.

    If you're playing anything: Occasionally check and make sure there's nobody behind you who wants to play. This is not a way for you to have fun specifically, so much, but it is the easiest don't-be-a-dick action you can possibly take. Nothing more frustrating then never seeing the challenge corner or the fighting games or whatever pinball/arcade cabinet open because people are hogging them.

    If you're buying retro games: Shop around down there! Not all vendor prices are created equal.

    This is personal preference, of course, but I say check out the other stuff available in the vendor's room first and foremost, though. That art print or that perler or that cool hat someone knit are A) real cool, B) not things you're necessarily going to find elsewhere, and C) nice ways to help support (and help justify the travel costs of) people who're drawing or making cool stuff of things they're passionate about.
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Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:49 pm

  • Hey, I saw on gaylord website under room amenities it mentions "Instant hot water"
    can anyone confirm this??
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Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:03 pm

  • I attended last year so this may be a bit "noobish" but eh we gotta start somewhere.

    One thing I'll tell you that's probably most important(to me anyway), Do not use the ATM's around the hotel! I recommend you get the cash you plan on spending there before getting to the convention or finding somewhere else that isn't the Gaylords. I say this because the ATM's can run out of money very quickly because of people using it often so they can buy stuff due to most of the vendors only accepting cash. I ended up having to call my mom to call our bank due to an ATM going through the entire process of giving me money, only to not give me the cash because the machine was out. However it still acted like I got my money, so you want to avoid having this happen to you.

    Maybe this is something that only happens to me though so just a word of caution.

    Let's see everyone else already told you about all the music there, but you have to make sure to get a good bit of gaming done there too. It is part video game festival after all! If you're a fan of arcade games you came to the right convention because free play arcade games are the best thing since sliced bread. There's a really good amount of them there too, so you can live off some old nostalgic memories too if you find that special arcade game that you played back in the day.

    Fair warning though, all dance/rhythm arcade games and figthing games seemed to be the most popular ones there. So either go when the hall isn't that crowded to enjoy those, or just spend some time nearby until one opens up.

    There's also pinball machines there too, so if you're a fan of pinball go nuts.

    The console and game lineup here at MAGFest is really great too. Tons of games for you to just sit down, pick up, and play for a couple of minutes. Possibly hours as well. I'm pretty sure some people just sat at certain games that they can beat in a few hours because they could. :lol: You can get the games changed out too. I didn't do it, but feel free to try that out yourself. Personally I just kinda spent hours there playing Smash Bros Melee with others. It was so much fun, and everyone was nice and good sports. Only thing that really annoyed me is that everyone camped out and hogged the Project M setups. About only two setups where there and there was no room to get in every time I checked there. Hopefully this will be avoid this upcoming MAGFest(I can't imagine what the Smash 4 setups would be like).

    Also check out some panels and don't be a doof like me and don't go to any. I guess that's what I deserved for ignoring most of them completely for gaming, but I still would have liked to attended a few of them. Like others said though make sure to get there early so you can make it in. My advice would be to get in line early, plop on the ground and whip out the 3ds/PSP/Iphone/whatever the hell else you use to keep yourself entertained until it's time. Or mingle with others, that's always good.

    Make sure to just take some time out of whatever you're doing at the moment and wander around the convention. There's always something fun going on like either a sweet rave dance party, people doing awesome cosplays, everyone siting around to play some Pokemon/Yu-Gi-O/DnD or some other tabletop/card game in the halls. Who knows maybe you could join a group and learn the basics if you don't know how to play a particular one.

    Bring lots of money for the vendors. It's like a second Christmas there of things you can buy. I'm pretty sure they have everything there and the people running them are usually nice. Well, unless you're taking pictures or videoing the products...don't do that or you'l get yelled at to cut that shit out. Happened to me. -_-

    I guess last thing is to make sure you're well rested and have enough to eat and drink while there. You'll be doing a lot of walking and mingling out there so rest is important. If you're tired, head back to your hotel room for a power nap. Whatever you do, don't fall asleep on the floors of the convention halls. You'll get yelled at by the hotel employees to wake up. Unless there's some super secret rest spot nobody clued me in on.

    Most importantly have fun, and either bring a buddy or jump in a group of others if they're inviting. This is definitely a convention that you'll not regret going to, and I don't know exactly if I'm making it back again, however if I do I'll know that I'm going to have another blast like I did last year. You will too.
    Jeeze I rambled far too long here.
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Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:51 pm

  • Going along w/ all the advice for going to panels & such (which you should! Easiest way to find ppl. w/ similar interests & make amigos :D ), see all the various types of panels MAG has to offer. Whether it be by guests, staff, or ‘regular joes’, try to see a good variety. As someone that’s been going to cons since 2004 I can guarantee whether a panel is done by an ‘industry person’ or ‘regular joe’ doesn’t dictate the quality of the panel. I’ve seen some awesome panels by run-of-the-mill panelists & I’ve seen some bad ones by ‘industry ppl.’ & vice-versa; it’s really a crapshoot, you won’t know until you get there.

    Additionally, if you see a panel & you have any feedback whatsoever (good, bad, or indifferent), make sure to make every effort to tell the panelist! All of them will have emails you can send feedback to or Social Networking things you can use to contact them (upon asking them or mentioned @ some point during the panel). Honestly, the only ppl. that run to the forums to b***h are usually ppl. that have complaints that fall under the “WHY DIDN’T YOU DO YOUR PANEL THE WAY I WANTED YOU TO DO IT :evil: ” category; i.e., nothin’ legitimate, & are usually avoiding making any direct contact w/ the panelist in question b/c they’re planning to talk smack online. Not that you shouldn’t still go to the forums, but if you want to help the panelist out, telling them directly is the best way (not everyone’s on the forums or checks them regularly). Cons generally don’t share any feedback they receive w/ panelists (maybe if they’re staff, but in general, no). Sometimes they'll give the panelist what little they have if they ask…assuming they have anything at all to share.

    Anyway, getting back to ppl. online, I truly hate seeing this b/c most put a lot of work into what they do & can be devastated when they see really sardonic, acrimonious feedback about their presentation (“XXX panel SUX! They had no idea what they were talking about…I could do a better job!...Worst. Panel. EVAR!”) &, quite frankly, can outright be cyberbullying, especially w/ the way some ppl. plaster bad things about others on every social networking site they have. Almost always whenever you see crap that bad anywhere online it’s almost guaranteed they didn’t say anything to the presenter (some cases, didn’t even attend the panel or skipped out relatively early) & ran to the forums/anywhere online so they can b***h w/o anyone challenging them on the validity of their complaints.

    (G.D., this is way longer than what I intended…fml & smh)
    Real quick; conversely, if you see any panels & like them, make sure to mention that either at the live feedback session @ the con or on the forums. Lastly, do a little bit of research. If you see negative comments on any event @ any given con, get the facts: how many ppl. attended total, how many ppl. could the room seat, how many ppl. were left by the end of the panel, etc. These are the only things that matter, all else is superfluous. You saw 5 ppl. complaining (quite loudly) about an event? Well, 5 doesn’t sound like all that much if you also knew that 500+ ppl. attended & stayed for the entirety of the event. Heck, if you have a chance to talk the panelist in question, talk to them (& do so politely & w/o bias)! Why believe ugly rumors online when you can get info. about the event from the source?! Seriously, I’m friends w/ ppl. now that I gave them some feedback on their FB page about a panel & we’ve been friends ever since.

    If nothing else, don’t take 1 bitter Ben’s scathing review to heart when, upon closer inspection, most of their complaints are trivial @ best or have nothing to do w/ the panel itself; i.e., personal preference (they used too much profanity, they didn’t mention X, they mentioned X, (it wasn't me talking), etc.)

    (Ohh, jesu Christo, this is too long, so sorry ~.~;)
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Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:13 am

  • Forgot a real easy trick:

    Put stuff in your shoes at night. You're gonna put shoes on before you leave the hotel room, right? If your badge/room key are tucked in there you're not going to leave without them.
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Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:56 pm

  • The biggest thing I've learned - make sure to always carry a snack around with you. You may plan to head to lunch or dinner at a certain time, and will inevitably find something awesome that will sidetrack you. It's better to prepare for those situations rather than starve yourself needlessly - that will catch up with you fast.
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Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:59 pm

  • With the schedule being so packed, it's easy to want to fill up on panels, tournaments, etc. But leave room for just hanging out in the marketplace, game areas, tabletop floor, etc. There are so many games available (even more now that the indie game showcase is a thing), and you'll definitely get sucked into them. Someone will just happen to leave a half-finished save of Metroid Prime sitting out, and you'll be so tempted to sit down and finish it...
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Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:06 am

  • I'm gonna repeat a few of these items because they are good tips for cons in general

    -Put items in your shoes when you go to bed so you don't forget them the next day. Your badge/room key are the most important.

    -Ask for a 2nd room key, if you can get one. I keep one in my wallet and the other in my main pocket.

    -TAKE EXTRA CASH. The ATM will drain quick. Worried about having so much cash on you that you might loose it? Keep half in your room, or stuff a few 20s in your sock (just take them out before you do laundry).

    -Planning on buying lots of swag? Think of how much room in your luggage you will have on the return trip. People driving here, the issue is less. People flying here? Try negotiating how much of your clothing you are willing to part with to carry home all these wallscrolls and PS1 games you just bought. (Also consider carry-on bag size and luggage weight limits).

    -BRING HAND SANITIZER. I got nerdflu baaaaad after Sakuracon. So many people, plus so many arcade joysticks/doornobs/handrails/elevator buttons, and a single asshat with the sniffles equates to a tactical nuke.

    -Bring your own food. Don't rely only on the immediate area for food, the lines can be long and the prices can by high. A few granola bars, some bottled water/poweraid, and beef jerky would serve you well. Remember you can order out for pizza from chains or even local places like Glorious Pizza nearby.

    -If you happen to see a celebrity or person of interest in the halls, try not to get in their way. They may be willing to stop and say hi to you quickly, but some are there for work and do not have time to dillydally. Steve Blumb got swamped when I saw him in Seattle and had to be escorted to and from everywhere he went. I can't say everyone else will be like that, but don't get your hopes up for a personal fan meeting either.

    -Brush your teeth

    -No seriously brush your god damn teeth for crying out loud

    -If something does not go your way (cant get into a panel, an arcade machine breaks, someone acts like a jerk), take it in stride and don't let it get to you. Things can go wrong, but it's important to have fun at these events. You spent good money to get here, and one bad item is no reason to QQ over the whole con.

    -If someone has a complaint about you or a thing you are doing, kindly try to resolve it in a peaceful manner. If someone accuses you of camping one arcade machine too long, don't tell them to piss off, think "maybe I should give him a chance and find something else to play". This connects to the previous note: If you step on toes, either by accident or not, apologize and move on. A quick way to make things go from bad to worse is to get tossed out of a con and into the back of a police cruiser (see that one meme image of the Naruto kid in handcuffs, lol).

    Be prepared, be kind, be hygienic, give feedback, and have fun!

    Adding 2 more travel tips in general.

    -Put labels on everything you care about loosing. Cellphone, tablet, carkeys, game system, camera, as well as charging cables. Print/write down your first name, Last first letter, your contact number, and tape it to the back of your item. If the item ends up in lost-and-found, it will be very difficult if not impossible to identify your blue 3ds from everyone else's. Also, don't think that just because you left something in your room when you left means the hotel HAS to mail it back to you. I'm not going to say all cleaning staff take left behind items for themselves, but it is known to happen. Be sure to do a good inspection of your room and ask "wouldn't it suck if I lost my phone charger?". Go look where you had it plugged in, it might still be there.

    -Label your luggage with name, email, and cellphone ONLY. NEVER PUT YOUR STREET ADDRESS ON YOUR LUGGAGE. Reason being, this is the number one way thieves find targets. Someone working in airport baggage handling sees a full suitcase with your address on it. That location may be in a town close by. They can look at your tag and see where you are going and for how long. They put 2 and 2 together and figure out you will be gone for 5 days and your house will be unoccupied. This is the majority of all house break-ins happen. NEVER put your home address on your stuff. If you loose something, the person who finds it will try to contact you via your phone and email. The street address is unneeded as they will learn it when they call you to return it.
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Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:55 pm

  • I couldn't have asked for any more. Seriously thank you for all the tips and advice. I will try and utilize all that I can while I'm down there :)

    I will do my best to bring some Tim's for the one who asked. I am arriving Thursday night to give myself a bit of time to prepare. For those who wish to help out a MAGFest newb I will be the guy with the Meagan X Touque and a Flute strapped to my back.

    I can't wait to see you all there!

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