Thousands Expected for Dallas Fan Days

Organizer says measures in place to avoid overcrowding that marred Dallas Comic Con in May

The organizers of Dallas Fan Days say they are ready for the thousands of sci-fi and comic book fans expected this weekend.

Mark Walters, Dallas Comic Con event manager, said an estimated 30,000 people are expected to fill the Irving Convention Center over the next three days.

"The buzz is just everywhere," he said. "You know, with the advent of all this social networking sites now, everybody tweets and Facebooks, and we get more hits on Facebook than we get on our actual website."

The Dallas Comic Con in May drew an unexpected number of fans. More than 16,000 people packed the convention center in just one day, leading to complaints.

"Nobody could've prepared us for that," Walters said. "Nobody thinks your attendance is going to double within the span of a year."

The Fan Days event typically draws a smaller crowd, but the Dallas Comic Con is not taking any chances.

"We've taken a lot of measures," Walters said. "We've been working very closely with the Irving Convention Center to figure out different ways to work around line control problems. We actually are using a good portion of the parking lot to feed the line through."

And each day will have a 15,000 people cap to make sure the event flows smoothly.

Celebrities such as Stan Lee and Freddy Krueger, or Robert Englund, will be do question-and-answer sessions as well as sign autographs.

"If you're a horror fan, there are horror guests here," Walters said. "If you're a sci-fi fan, there are sci-fi guests here. If you're a Star Wars fan, there are Star Wars guests here. There's something literally for everybody."

Maura Gast, Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director said she hopes the turnout will lead to a big economic boost.

"You can tell when you've got 20,000 strangers in town over the weekend that it definitely creates demand and influence that isn't there otherwise," she said.

About 20 celebrities are expected to attend, including famed comic creator Lee, who is coming back to Irving for his second time this year.

One of his biggest fans, Dallas Cowboy Tyron Smith, also will be at the event. He will sign autographs on Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Ian McDiarmid, who played the Emperor in the Star Wars movies, also be in attendance.

"This is the first year he's doing any sort of convention appearances and this is actually his final convention appearance, because he's only done three or four this year, and he's basically said this is it," Walters said. "We've got three Darths from the Star Wars universe. We've got Darth Sidius, who is the Emperor there. We've got Darth Maul, played by Ray Park. We've got Darth Vader played by David Prowse."

Walters suggested visitors with a flexible schedule consider coming toward the end of the weekend.

"Sunday is typically a lighter day," he said. "It's a lot easier to walk around and, with the exception of Bruce Campbell, every single guest that is here on Saturday is here on Sunday."

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