Are you a fan of the show, “Once Upon A Time” on ABC? Would you like to meet some of your favorite stars from StoryBrook? What if I told you that not only could you do that but you could also meet other fans and form lasting friendships? Pretty cool,right? Well, thanks to Scott Distasio and Laurie Mahoney, all of this is possible!
Scott and Laurie have teamed up to create EnchantaCon, a convention for fans of “Once Upon A Time” and dedicated to making a magical experience for both the fans and the stars. Think Comic Con, only more intimate and concentrated on the characters and experience of “Once Upon A Time” alone. I have been to Comic Con and had a great time but I have also been to EyeCon (a convention dedicated to The Vampire Diaries) which is a completely different vibe.
It is a whole new level of convention when you are surrounded by people who are all there for the same reason. There is something completely magical that takes place when you are attending events that are specifically created for one show as compared to a weekend full of many different shows coming together under one roof.
I met Laurie at an EyeCon event a few years ago and I can tell you that she has plenty of experience with these events. What makes her different is her genuine heartfelt respect for the stars since she is a true fan just as many of us are. Anytime I have seen her while she is performing her duties at a convention, she is respectful to and concerned about the fans around her as well. Laurie always looks at things from the fans perspective, which is what makes it so easy for her to relate to their needs and makes her the perfect candidate to create a weekend that will be truly Enchanted.
EnchantaCon will take place in Orlando, Florida in November so I thought it would be good to sit with Laurie and Scott so that I could bring you all the info you will need to plan your trip. Be prepared to be dazzled, starstruck, and to make quite a few new friends.
Q: As a fan of Once Upon A Time, tell me what appeals to you about the show.
Laurie: The intermingling of Fairy Tale and real world and all the twists and turns the characters go through. Oh and of course Dr. Whale… honestly, I started watching the show because David Anders had signed on. I went back and got caught up on the first few episodes of Season One so I would be ready for his first episode. I have been hooked (no pun intended, lol) ever since.
Scott: I have always been fascinated with the struggle between good and evil. The fairy tales we all grew up with came from a time when people were thought of as all good or all evil. But the truth is the world has never been that way. We are all born with the freedom to choose one or the other. But the events in our lives ultimately shape us as we make our choices. I am amazed with how the show has been able to depict these choices within the fairy tale characters as it adds complexity and depth to their traditionally one dimensional portrayals. But I think the shows ultimate success comes from the way it has been able to depict the struggle between good and evil as characters move seamlessly across time and space within the fairy tale worlds and our world.
Q: How did the idea for EnchantaCon come about?
Laurie: Scott Distasio, my boss at the time (now my business partner) and I were at lunch. We were celebrating me having survived the last 8 years working for him. I had just returned from a convention weekend. Apparently, my face lit up when I talked about the different aspects of “convention life” and I expressed how it would be great to put on a convention for the show Once Upon A Time. In the past he had been skeptical. Every time I brought it up he shot me down. But this time it was different. He gave me some homework to do in the form of research. I did my research, I came back to him with it, we reviewed it, he did his own research and here we are.
Scott: I am a personal injury trial lawyer. Helping injured people has been my passion for a good part of my adult life. Running a Celebrity convention company was the farthest thing from my mind. On the other hand, Laurie Mahoney, my office manager, has been involved with celebrity conventions for as long as I can remember. One day, she came to me with the idea of putting together a convention to highlight the stars of Once Upon a Time. I told her no. But she was very persistent. Over the course of what seemed like a year, she brought it up just about every week. Each time I pointed out a different obstacle she would have to overcome. Quite frankly I thought she would give up on the idea. But she didn’t. Each time she came back with ways to overcome the obstacles I pointed out. Finally I ran out of obstacles. In retrospect, the process was very instrumental in making the planning of the event very smooth because it forced us to identify and overcome most of the obstacles before we even started.
Q: What stars from Once Upon A Time have you signed so far?
Laurie: So far, we have Raphael Sbarge, David Anders, Tony Amendola, Michael Coleman, Faustino DiBauda, David-Paul Grove and Chad Michael Collins. We are in active negotiations with many more top names.
Scott: I would love to tell you what I know about future signings but it is important to keep the negotiations confidential until the details are finalized. What I can say though is that I believe the future signings will exceed my wildest expectations.
Q: What can people expect when they attend EnchantaCon and what will make it different from the other conventions out there?
Laurie: We want the fans to feel enchanted. We have put together many great events that will occur during the course of the weekend. Of course we will have the traditional star panels, photographs, and autographs. But we have also put together, parties, meet and greets, and special opportunities for all the fans to interact with the celebrity guests. In addition, the top three winners of our trivia contest are in store for a once in a life time moment.
In my opinion, what makes us different from other conventions is our passion to make this an experience the fans walk away with feeling Enchanted, as well as our celebrity guests being portrayed in a light that makes them shine. Our staff has a combined 15+ years of experience. Between all of our knowledge and listening to fans and the celebrities over the years of what they want and what works, I believe this is what is going to set our event apart from any other.
Scott: Previous conventions that have had stars for Once Upon a Time have been very large multi genre events. There is nothing wrong with those events. But they tend to be impersonal, crowded, and difficult to maneuver through. As far as we know, this is the first time that a convention is focusing on just OUAT. The advantage is an intimate, exclusive setting that is limited to the first 1400 people that purchase tickets. Our single show convention concept gives fans the opportunity to personally participate in a fun filled weekend that focuses on their favorite show.
Q: Conventions seem to be growing in popularity, what do you think continues to draw people to them?
Laurie: Honestly, it is the actors who draw fans to conventions. As a fan, to be able to interact, get an autograph and/or have your picture taken with that actor whom you adore and watch on TV or the movie screen is a priceless experience. But, I also have to say the friendships that are born at conventions is a priceless experience as well. Someone can come to a convention, by themself, and leave with many, many friends. I’ve seen it happen, it is amazing.
Scott: The complexity of modern life is stressful and draining. TV shows are an excellent way to leave reality behind for a short period of time and escape into a fantasy. Vacations are great for relaxation but they usually don’t provide that added element of fantasy. But a convention that focuses on a single TV show allows the fan to take that moment of fantasy created by the show and participate on a deeper level.
Q: What do you hope people will take away with them after attending EnchantaCon?
Laurie: I hope the fans leave the weekend feeling like they have just stepped back into reality from a Fairy Tale. I hope the celebrity guests leave the weekend feeling like they were portrayed in the light they deserve and this convention experience was like no other they have encountered. Not to mention, for the fans all the great friends they are going to meet and form relationships with that will last years to come.
Scott: Our goal is to give the stars an opportunity to give back to the fans in an environment where they feel comfortable being themselves. If we accomplish that goal I know that both the stars and the fans will take away wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
Q: Putting together a convention is no easy task. What is the most rewarding part for you?
Laurie: That’s a tough question, because it is all so rewarding to me to be able to put together this event that is going to be like no other, in my opinion. But, if I had to pick the most rewarding part, I would have to say there are two things… Putting together the line-up of celebrity guests, these gentlemen, we have signed so far, and their agents/managers have been amazing and truly fun to work with, and secondly, the fans. The interaction that I am having with the fans, answering their questions, seeing the excitement from them and the over pouring of love and appreciation from them is making all the hard work worth it.
Scott: Watching something that did not exist a year ago form into an idea and then manifest itself into a spectacular production.
Q: Can you give us the details on EnchantaCon, such as pricing and packages available?
We have put together some very exciting packages for this event. We have our Diamond Package which is limited to 180 tickets being sold with exclusive events for those ticket holders. Those events include the Friday Night Cocktail Party, Saturday Evening Banquet and Sunday Morning Breakfast, which some of the celebrity guests will be attending with the fans. Plus entrance into the Fairy Tale Ball as well as autographs from 6 of the guests in attendance and 3 photo ops…and a special Swag Bag. This is the package that gets you the most interaction time with the guests. The cost of this package is $699.
Then we have our Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby ticket packages that include entrance into the Fairy Tale Ball, autographs and with the Emerald you get 2 photo ops and the Sapphire you get 1 photo op.
We have also General Admission Weekend tickets.
Some of the extras that we are offering are Meet & Greets with some of the celebrity guests. This is a more intimate time with the guest, as the tickets are limited to 10 per guest. So, basically it will be the guest and 10 fans sitting and chatting in an informal manner. We are also offering a VIP ticket that can be purchased separately, which gets you VIP access during the convention, backstage before Q&A’s to spend a few minutes with the guest, first in line for autographs and photographs and other special VIP exclusive
We are also offering payment plans for anyone who spends $449 or more on their ticket packages and the extras. We understand that there are some fans on a budget. We want to make this event something even those on a budget can attend.
Also, we have a contest running right now through June 24, 2013. We will be doing a weekly drawing starting Monday April 22, 2013. All fans who purchase ticket packages during the week leading up to the Monday drawings will be entered to win a special commemorative gift that they will pick up with their ticket packages at the event. The final drawing on June 24, 2013 will be for the grand prize, a Convention Survival Kit Basket that will include an assortment of goodies to get them through the weekend.
Our website has all the information of ticket packages and extras www.enchantacon.com