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Anime Festival of Orlando 2023 Review


Anime Festival of Orlando is a dazzling gem among anime conventions, a celebration of the vibrant world of anime that leaves attendees spellbound and eager for more. This convention is nothing short of a fantastic experience, offering a cornucopia of anime-themed activities that cater to fans of all tastes and interests. Please read the entire review for the full scoop about Anime Festival of Orlando 2023.

Honest Critiques and Suggestions

We here at BN'K on Tour value transparency, so we do have a few critiques about the event. However, to be honest these critiques aren't detractors of the event, just places of opportunity for the event to improve.

AFO is a mainstay in the Orlando area for anime cons and has held its convention at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International for the majority of the duration of its existence. Additionally, the Wyndham is a popular partner for special interest conventions due to its accessibility, bookability, and overall price point. That being said, the hotel has definitely been loved on over the years, and even though the hotel is rather spacious, AFO has had to grapple with the hotel accommodating its bustling and growing crowd numbers. 

Additionally, the hotel, being as loved on as it is, has a few things that can make for an uncomfortable con experience, such as the air conditioning breaking making the internal temp of the con swelter and random leaks from the room causing additional clutter on the already crowded con floor. The good news is that this is AFO’s last year at the Wyndham and they will be moving to the much larger Rosen Plaza, located fairly close to the Orlando Convention Center.  

Another critique of AFO is its scheduling.  AFO typically does a great job of balancing events and panels, however this year it felt like there were a lot of events of the same type of event happening at the same time. This made it really difficult to attend some really interesting events and panels, however, we acknowledge this may be a personal sentiment amongst the BN’K press team and not indicative of the sentiments other attendees may have.

Lastly, we’d like to address something we’ve seen at AFO over the last few years but were a little sensitive about saying this for fear of sounding accusatory. So before we make our statement we’d like to state that AFO is a very inclusive and comfortable convention for all to attend, however, there is a trend of panels specifically highlighting the BIPOC experience in otaku culture being scheduled at odd times or in rooms off the beaten path making discoverability difficult for those panels. We’d also like to include that is not an exclusively AFO issue, or even something done by scheduling out of malice. Although we still thought it was important to highlight and pitch that moving forward perhaps some additional should be given to panel submissions dealing with BIPOC inclusivity topics to give them better time slots and placement as they have done the amazing yet difficult job of educating attendees about significant and sensitive topics.

Again, these are just our general critiques and suggestions, and in no way do these detect the overall fantastic experience we had at the convention this year.

AFO is Orlando’s Premiere Anime Convention For a Reason

One of the standout features of Anime Festival of Orlando is the sheer variety of activities it offers. From the cosplay contest to the game room, there's something for everyone. The convention is a treasure trove of anime-themed activities that keep attendees entertained from dawn till dusk. Whether you're a hardcore fan or just dipping your toes into the world of anime, you'll find something that piques your interest.

The Warriors or Orlandia LARP and interactive card game at Anime Festival of Orlando are truly a cut above the rest. These immersive experience transports you directly into a captivating fantasy world and deeply interesting story, allowing you to immerse yourself into an extremely fun game of high stakes, love, and time travel that is only comparable to your favorite high-octane anime. 

As you participate in the game throughout the weekend, you have the opportunity to collect cards, and duel in games with other attendees and NPCs, battle for a clan, and even save a timeline. In addition to the exciting and interactive card game, some mini-plays play out during the duration of the weekend that let you know where you stand when the battle is done. The attention to detail and the dedication of the organizers in creating these experiences are awe-inspiring. If you haven’t been to AFO yet, The Warriors of Orlandia is a very good reason to go.

The fan and guest panels at the convention are fantastically run, providing valuable insights, discussions, and entertainment. Whether you're looking to learn more about your favorite series or engage in lively debates with fellow fans, the panels never disappoint. The convention goes the extra mile to ensure that you have access to some of the brightest minds and most passionate fans in the anime community. Additionally, AFO offered a well-balanced game room and Tabletop game room with everything from
retro games and modern anime games to D&D sessions and fun board games.

The local idol festival at the Anime Festival of Orlando is a true highlight. It's a showcase of incredible talent, and the performers bring boundless energy and charm to the stage. It's a testament to the convention's commitment to representing every facet of the anime culture.

The curated vendor hall is a haven for anime enthusiasts. It's filled with an array of unique merchandise, collectibles, and goodies that cater to every imaginable interest within the anime world. Whether you're hunting for interesting figures, Japanese snacks, retro anime merch, or stylish anime apparel,  you're sure to find it here.

The diverse artist alley is a showcase of artistic talent at its finest. It's a place where creativity flourishes, and you can discover a wide range of artistic styles and creations inspired by anime and manga. It's not just a shopping experience; it's a journey through a world of artistic expression. It’s honestly one of the best places to shop at the con in addition to the vendor hall as the artists bring the attendees cute renditions of their favorite characters, adorable appeal, accessories, and even original projects to fall in love with.

AFO definitely is a love letter to not just the anime community, but to the Orlando otaku community.

What about Cost and Accommodations?

Anime Festival Orlando offers a pretty standard price range for a convention or its age and prestige all while still being rather affordable and comparable to its competitors. For 2023 AFO offered a few different weekend badge types with standard passes for
the event going for $80 (plus taxes and processing fees), and Gold passes going for about $120.  They do offer early bird passes and child passes for attendees under a certain age so if you plan on going to AFO 2024, please check in on their website and socials frequently to get the most up-to-date pricing. Their day pass pricing is pretty standard as well with Friday going for $50, Saturday for $60, and Sunday for $45. 

As for hotel and parking accommodations, the Wyndham offers standard hotel pricing at $130 at night, however, AFO did offer hotel discounts and the Wyndham offers occasional discounts as well to members and non-members alike, so just like for any other convention, plan ahead. If
you decide to stay at the Wyndham and park you're looking at a parking fee of about $29 per day on the property. However, if you park off the property and in the main parking area, parking is absolutely free. To be transparent, none of us on the BN’K team as long as we have attended AFO have stayed in the host hotel as we all stay very close and the commute isn’t dreadful, so we’re not sure if the parking fee is required for those staying on property.

Should You go to AFO?

Anime Festival of Orlando is a must-attend event for anime lovers of all kinds. With its wide array of activities like the Warriors of Orlandis, captivating panels, electrifying idol festival, dynamic vendor hall, and diverse artist alley, it's a convention that caters to every facet of anime fandom. The convention is a tapestry of passion, creativity, and community that will leave you with cherished memories and a burning desire to return year after year. It's a place where you can immerse yourself in the enchanting world of anime and forge connections that last a lifetime. Don't miss out on the magic that is Anime Festival of Orlando!

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