We're fresh back from the first-ever Hello Kitty Con in Downtown Los Angeles at the Comtemporary at MOCA. The convention, in honor of Hello Kitty's 40th anniversary/birthday, is a Hello Kitty lover's dream come true.
The problem is, there are thousands of Hello Kitty lovers sharing the dream with you.
Here's what you should know if you are planning to get super cute with Hello Kitty this weekend.
Tickets Are Sold-Out. There are no more tickets for sale. So don't show up thinking you can buy one. Also, Sanrio, Hello Kitty's parent company along with the event organizers, are very strict about the tickets. The purchaser of the ticket must hand over their photo ID in order to pick up their convention badge.
Parking is Limited. There is no parking at either the Geffen Contemporary or the adjacent Japanese American Museum, where you must go to pick up your convention badge. There are plenty of parking structures and lots around the Little Tokyo area, but those fill up quickly. (You can print out a parking map provided by Hello Kitty Con.) We randomly lucked out with a spot at the Office Depot, one block south of the convention. It was $10 for the day. We recommend this lot as it is so close-by but this leads us to our next tip...
Go Early. Earlier Than You Think You Need to Go. It could have been that we showed up on the first day which was peak time for Hello Kitty fanatics, but considering every day is sold-out at the convention, the crowds will probably be similar each day. So the earlier you go the better. The convention opens at 10am while badge pick-up begins at 8am on Friday and Saturday and 9am on Sunday. Get there when badge pick-up opens. You can then chill out until the convention is ready to open.
Plan to Wait in Lines For Everything. After driving around for parking, we made it to badge pick-up around 10:30am. Way later than we wanted. That line took about 15 minutes but it moved quickly. We then had to wait another 10 minutes to enter the convention area because they were only letting people in by groups of five every couple of minutes or so. Once inside the "Sweet Happy Plaza" which is outside, we were confronted with more lines for various things, including a line to go inside the actual Hello Kitty Con. Pretty much everything you want to see and do inside and outside Hello Kitty Con will require waiting in line. There was even a line to take a picture in a Hello Kitty teacup (above.)
Go Get Your Hello Kitty Tote Bag First. After a few minutes outside, and asking questions of a few random people, we decided we would first get in the long, winding line for the Hello Kitty con tote bags, done in partnership with Target. That took about 15-20 minutes to receive our cool tote bags, which are worn like backpacks.. (Only one per person please.) They served Yoplait yogurt in Hello Kitty printed containers at the halfway point which was kind of a nice treat.
Read the Guide Book and Game Plan. While you are waiting in line, read the Hello Kitty Con Official Guide Book given to you at badge pick-up and decide what you really want to see. The workshops sold out long ago but there are shows and lectures that are open to everyone.
See What Started It All. We also recommend stopping by The Coin Purse, the first ever Hello Kitty-branded item, released in 1974 and on loan from Sanrio in Japan for the convention.
Shopping is Serious Business Here. There are three places to shop--The Super Supermarket where you will find Hello Kitty Spam and Sephora make-up amongst other things; The Vintage Shop, where you can buy old-school but incredibly expensive Hello Kitty items (like the scooter above); and The Hello Kitty Friendship Station, a pop-up shop upstairs. The line for the Friendship Station was out the convention doors when we walked by it around 11:30am.
Other Notable Long Lines include:
- HK Ink, the Hello Kitty tattoo shop. The line was super long because Hello Kitty was giving out free tattoos. Yes, free, real, Hello Kitty tattoos. We saw a lady pulling down the shoulders of her shirt for a back tattoo. UPDATE: Katy Perry got a tattoo here.
- Target Presents: The Adventures of Hello Kitty and Bullseye: This line was not as long as the Friendship Station but still winded throughout the main floor. We're not really sure what went on in here but we're sure you can find pics on Instagram.
- Hello Kitty Cafe Food Truck: This line was insane. But people will wait forever in the hot sun for food shaped like Hello Kitty. (The other food trucks include the Creping Around truck, The Grilled Cheese Truck and a taco truck.)
- Signing Booth: Illustrators from Sanrio will be available every day in the Super Supermarket to sign autographs and personalize drawings. When we stopped by the booth at noon, they were not allowing any new people to wait in line.
For The Little Ones: If you plan on bringing your kids with you, there's a special Kids Activities tent outside where they can do adorable Hello Kitty sand art and some basic coloring. But you may have to fight some adults for a space. Also, remember to dress for hot weather, apply sunscreen, bring snacks and a portable travel stroller. We didn't bring the latter and kind of regretted it while waiting in the lines outside. It will be a pain to manuever inside but it's better than carrying your kids through the crowds.
What Made It Totally Worth It. (And there was no line!)
MORE TOTALLY RANDOM PHOTOS:
All photos by Trips + Giggles.