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Long lines frustrate fans on first day of Salt Lake Comic Con

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Comic Con organizers vowed Friday to improve and begged attendees to give the second-year convention another chance after angry and disappointed ticket holders blasted the event on social media over the long lines to get in Thursday.

"This Comic Con was not at all worth the long wait in line," Christine Monaghan posted Friday on the event's Facebook page. "We waited in line nearly four hours to get in. No signs, nobody around to ask anything, and nobody inside ushering people through the lines. They were horrible. My daughter stated she likely wouldn't be interested in coming back, and I'm definitely not interested in going again. Poor planning and execution of this event."

Bryan Brandenburg, Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer, acknowledged the first-day problems on Facebook.

"We really got slammed (Thursday)," Brandenburg posted Friday. "We were expecting a big turnout, but this was astonishing."

Between 60,000 and 70,000 people turned out for Salt Lake Comic Con's opening day, according to early estimates, though not all of them were able to get in.

"There were about twice as many people that normally come to a Thursday event," Brandenburg said.

Salt Lake City resident Marla King said she got in line for Comic Con about 2 p.m. Thursday but didn't get into the event until 6 p.m.

Like most of those waiting in line Thursday, King, who had a three-day multipass, hadn't preregistered for the event and needed a wristband to get in.

The biggest problem, King said, was the lack of volunteers or employees at the back of the lines.

"There were no signs, no volunteers anywhere," she said. "We assumed, since everyone was waiting in line, that we were in the right place. We figured it would all work out in the end."

King said she had waited in line for more than two hours before seeing a Salt Lake Comic Con volunteer, who told her she was in the line for those with VIP and Gold passes, not multipass holders.

"I had a few choice words for the volunteer," she said.

King said she and "hundreds" of others who had been waiting in the line left that queue and got into another "super-long line" on the southwest corner of the Salt Palace Convention Center.

"Really, all it would have taken is to have had a few signs or a couple volunteers going down the line and telling people (which line they were in)," she said. "But they were just kind of stationed (at specific places) and just assumed that would be enough."

Several people who complained about the lines on social media Thursday and Friday said they didn't know they could preregister and pick up their passes early.

There were three preregistration locations where ticket holders were able to get their passes as early as Monday — Megaplex Theatres at Legacy Crossing in Centerville, Jordan Commons in Sandy and Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.

Others preregistered at the Salt Palace between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Mallory Morgan, of Sandy, was having a much better day Friday than she did Thursday, when she waiting in line for three hours and had only five minutes to experience the convention before she had to leave to go to work.

"They didn't have sufficient staff to let people know which lines they were supposed to be in," Morgan said.

It was the first visit to Salt Lake Comic Con for Morgan and her brother, Jacob Morgan, of Spokane, Wash. The adult siblings arrived about 11 a.m. Friday, and because they already had their wristbands, they didn't have to wait in line to get in.

Mallory Morgan said she plans to attend Salt Lake Comic Con in the future, but she'll make sure to preregister so she can avoid the first-day lines.

"Comic Con needs to do a better job telling people that (preregistration) exists," she said. "I don't think they advertised that enough. They didn't express how important that was."

As the event got underway Friday, Brandenburg said several of the "logistical problems" that resulted in long lines had been corrected and people were getting into the event with little or no wait.

Registration was kept open well after the event closed for the day at 8 p.m. Thursday, he said. Those who were unable to get in received apologies and a ticket to attend the show Friday.

As for those who left in frustration Thursday and didn't make it into the event, Salt Lake Comic Con organizers were offering either a refund or a ticket to the show for Friday or Saturday.

"We do want to encourage you to give us another chance," Brandenburg said in his Facebook post. "We have a very special show. We threw a party and invited so many interesting people that many more people showed up then we expected. … We will do so much better. I promise."

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