Geeks of the Valley, get ready to squee. Phoenix Fan Fusion, the biggest pop culture event in Arizona returns this weekend — and it's going to be just as nerdy as ever.
The weekend-long extravaganza runs from Friday to Sunday at the Phoenix Convention Center, and will be a three-day convergence of pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy, comic books, video games, horror and anime.
Dozens of celebrities — including Marvel Cinematic Universe actors Jeremy Renner and Paul Bettany, "Star Trek" captains William Shatner and Anson Mount, Christopher Eccleston from "Doctor Who" and "The Mandalorian" star Katee Sackhoff — will appear at the event to sign autographs, pose for photos or participate in Q&A sessions.
There's more to Fan Fusion than just famous names, though. There are thousands of panels and programming events across the weekend, a massive exhibitor hall to explore, an Artists Alley populated by more than 70 comic book creatives, nerd-oriented activities, and a legion of cosplayers.
In other words, there will be no shortage of things to geek out about. Kellie Ambrosia, Fan Fusion’s operations director, says that’s the point.
“The spirit of Fan Fusion is the people,” she says. “The show gives everyone the opportunity to share their nerdy and geeky passions.”
That’s not limited to the attendees, Ambrosia says, thanks to Fan Fusion's inclusivity.
“It’s [also] the staff and crew. It’s the exhibitors. It’s the guests. It’s the costuming groups. It’s the artists, creators, authors, and dealers in artist alley. It’s the panelists and speakers. The dungeon masters and game masters. The cosplayers and costumers. The Lego builders, scientists and gamers,” she says. “It’s people enjoying a whirlwind weekend where they can geek out, celebrate their nerdom, hang out with family and friends new and old and just have fun.”
If you’d like to make the most of Phoenix Fan Fusion 2023, we've put together an insider’s guide to the event as well as a rundown of the best things to see and do.
Fan Fusion attendees in the North building of the Phoenix Convention Center.
When and where is Phoenix Fan Fusion?
This year’s event is from Friday to Sunday at Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third St.
How much is admission?
Passes to Fan Fusion (a.k.a. “memberships”) can only be purchased online
. Daily general admission is $50 for either Friday or Sunday and $60 for Saturday. A full event pass covering all three days is $110. Kids 3 to 12 can get a $20 “sidekick” pass. Children under 3 are free with paid adult admission. VIP passes are $395 and include a souvenir badge and lanyard, access to private lounges and other exclusive areas, a complimentary T-shirt, and other perks.
Where are the entrances?
Secured entrances are located at Second and Adams streets, Third and Monroe streets, and Third and Washington streets.
Where can you pick up badges?
Badge redemption stations are located outside each secured entrance.
What are Fan Fusion’s hours?
Different areas of the event, like its three secured entrances or exhibitor hall, will have separate schedules. Here’s a rundown of when everything will operate:
Friday: 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Badge redemption stations
Friday: 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Exhibitor hall and Hall of Heroes
Friday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Programming and events
Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Spider-Man cosplayers reenacting that one meme at Phoenix Fan Fusion.
What’s the best way to get there?
Valley Metro Rail. It's $2 for a single ride or $4 for an all-day pass. Stations are located along Washington and Jefferson streets within walking distance of the convention center.
Where can I park?
Try a downtown Phoenix parking garage, which will cost $20 to $100 per day. The convention center’s website
has links to various lots and structures where you can reserve or pre-pay spots.
What will the weather be like?
Hot. Expect 100-plus-degree days and lots of sunshine. If you’re not cosplaying, stick with shorts and a T-shirt. Also, bring sun protection like shades, a hat, or an umbrella.
What will the entry process be like?
The convention center will be enclosed within a security perimeter. That includes the area along Third Street between Monroe and Washington streets between the West and North buildings. Security will screen attendees and their costuming and props upon entry as quickly as possible.
Will there be re-entry?
Yes. Attendees can leave and re-enter anytime they please, but will have to go through security each time.
The Armorer from The Mandalorian.
What are the costume and prop policies?
Cosplay is encouraged, but anyone wearing something covering your head or face might need to show ID. Props that are allowed into the Fan Fusion include lightsabers, wands, sonic screwdrivers, unstrung or loosely-strung bows, untipped and non-removable arrows, and lightweight plastic or foam bats/clubs. Shields and armor made from plastic, foam, fiberglass, resin or cardboard are also acceptable, provided there aren’t sharp edges. Ditto for swords, axes or Wolverine claws. Metal shields and armor can be brought in but might hinder the screening process.
What props aren't allowed?
Real or replica weapons or anything resembling guns, bombs, or explosive devices. Tasers, slingshots, brass knuckles, metal and wooden swords, edged weapons and glass or stone props are also forbidden.
Should I drink water?
Yes. Even if you’re indoors most of the time, you’ll get dehydrated from activity. Ambrosia recommends drinking water as often as possible. You can bring empty water containers to the event and get refills at dozens of drinking fountains inside the convention center. Food vendors also have bottles of water for sale.
Can I bring in outside food or drinks?
Nope. Phoenix Convention Center prohibits outside food or drink. (Reasonable accommodations for anyone with medical conditions, dietary restrictions, or infant children are available by calling 602-262-6225 or through phoenixconventioncenter.com.) Food and drinks can be purchased from the first-floor food hall in the North building or at various snack bars, food carts and vending machines around the convention center. (Note: They’re all cashless, so use Apple Pay or a debit/credit card.) Downtown Phoenix also has a wide variety of restaurants
and bars within walking distance.
Actress Katee Sackhoff of "The Mandalorian" and "Battlestar Galactica."
Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr
What celebrities are appearing at Fan Fusion 2023?
Actors and actresses scheduled to attend this year include the MCU’s Jeremy Renner and Paul Bettany, Katee Sackhoff and Mary McDonnell from "Battlestar Galactica," Claudia Christian from "Babylon 5," Kathy Najimy from "Hocus Pocus," "Arrow" star Stephen Amell, "Harry Potter" actors James and Oliver Phelps and Jeffery Pierce from "The Last of Us." Ashley Eckstein and Matt Lanter from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Trek" cast members Sonequa Martin-Green, Anson Mount, William Shatner and Walter Koenig are also set to appear.
How much are celebrity photos and autographs?
Prices vary per guest. Walter Koenig, for instance, charges $60 for autographs or $70 for posed photos. Meanwhile, Jeremy Renner's autograph will cost $150 to $175. Complete details are available at phoenixfanfusion.com/actors.
Will there be comic book creatives at Fan Fusion?
Of course. This year, more than 70 comic book artists and writers will be at the event, including legends like as Jim Lee (DC Comics), J. Michael Straczynski ("The Amazing Spider-Man"), Renee Witterstaetter ("She-Hulk"), Arthur Suydam ("Marvel Zombies"), Bob Hall ("West Coast Avengers"), Brett Breeding ("Death of Superman"), and John Layman ("Arkham Asylum").
The entrance to the Star Wars area at Phoenix Fan Fusion.
Where are the exhibitor hall and Hall of Heroes?
Both are on the lower level of the West and North buildings. The exhibitor hall will feature hundreds of vendors, artists and a variety of geeky items for sale (from toys and collectibles to artwork and apparel). Photo ops and autographs with celebrity guests will take place in the Hall of Heroes. Elsewhere, you can find comic book creatives, authors and cosplay groups like the Arizona Autobots and the Dune Sea Garrison.
Will there be gaming?
Yes, and it will all be offered in one spot. The North 120BCD ballroom will feature games of the card, tabletop, role-playing, and joystick-powered variety. There will be competitions throughout the weekend, ranging from “Magic: The Gathering” tournaments to e-sports battles, and an “Arcade Alley” with retro coin-ops.
How can I plan ahead?
Matt Hinds of local geek group Blue Ribbon Army suggests downloading the Phoenix Fan Fusion app, which is available for iOS
, to help manage your time and decide what to do. “[There are] a ton of panels, guests and events, so it's important to make an outline of your schedule, at minimum,” he says.
What should I bring?
Comfortable shoes are a must, Ambrosia says. “There is a lot of ground to cover, so you will need [them],” she says. You’ll also want to bring both cash and a debit/credit card (as some vendors and activities will only accept paper money), a fully charged cellphone, and a large bag or backpack.
Any other tips?
Ambrosia suggests taking time each day for rest and self-care. “We get excited, we have fun, and then we realize that it is 5 p.m. [and] we haven't eaten, drank, been to the bathroom or anything. So, we want to make sure we take care of ourselves,” she says. “Take some time for you.” She also recommends being patient while waiting in line at Fan Fusion (which happens frequently). “Patience is the biggest thing,” she says. “First thing in the morning may be a bit busy, so you just have to be patient while everyone makes their way through.”