Monday, October 5, 2015

CTNx Breakdown

*This was written in 2015. I know some details have changed, like types of passes and prices, maybe what is included in those passes, but the basics and the concepts behind my breakdown are the same*

I have been involved with CTN for the last 4 years as a staff member. In that time, I've definitely found there are good and bad things to be aware of.
Changes for this year:
- Workshops are included! Yes the prices overall for tickets went up, but something I've been waiting for has happened. Workshops are now included in the price of your 3 day ticket. They work the same as any panel, those with fastpasses can get in first, but you no longer have to spend an additional sum to attend them. (after checking the small print, the only EXCLUDED talks that still have a cost are the Conversations with Creators)
- You MUST have atleast a 3Day lite to attend panels
- VIP does NOT get free parking

Before the Convention:
1. Tickets:
 - There are several ways to do CTN. As either a volunteer, 1 day, 3 day lite, 3 day Plus, and VIP 3 day.
 - You are broke but still want to attend: Volunteer. But know, if you are a volunteer, we expect you to be volunteering during your shift. This is a pet peeve of mine. How it works is you have a shift during the day for 4-6 hours, then you get the rest of the day to do stuff.
 - If you are at CTN just for fun to talk to artists and buy stuff: Do a 1 day pass. The Exhibit halls are large enough to keep you busy for an hour or so, lots of people hang out in the hallways, plenty to see. But if you don't want to go to the talks, you only need 1 day.
- Getting your feet wet but cant commit financially: 3 Day Lite is a decent. It includes all panels, 6 fast passes.
- If you want to do and see everything: The VIP pass. This pass has unlimited Fast passes, which though it seems simple, is its biggest perk. Also, you have access to the VIP lounge. They advertise it as a place for snacks and coffee, but most the time they are out. The real perk here is that all presenters and panelists MUST be in the VIP room before their talk, so its a good way to find and have exclusive access to the talent at the convention.
2. What you should know:
- Fast passes are important. There have been talks in the past, I remember a Glen Keane one several years ago, where there were SO many people with fast passes inline, that only 20 or so regular attendees made it into the room (they had their own line that ran around the building in the rain... to say folks were unhappy is an understatement). These fast passes are the only way to guarantee you get into what you want to see. So if the panels are a huge draw for you, note it. And for the first time, fastpasses can be used to jump you to the front of the line for a workshop you may want to attend.
3. Extras: Alot of the actual learning kinda courses, where someone teaches you their way to draw or gives you advice, are done through workshops now, instead of the panels. These will be key to anyone who is here to directly take a mini class from well known artists. To guarantee that you get in a workshop, you have to have a fastpass for it. To be able to even attend one, you need a 3 day pass. The only exception to these are the Conversations with the Creators talks, which still have to be purchased (but they are usually maxed out at 12 people, so its fairly intimate). There is also the Breakfast with the Pros, which is alot of fun if you go do it.
4. Be Prepared: 
- Print out maps/schedule: There are small last minute changes, but you will be very happy if you have your own version of this printed out for your convenience. There is an app, but the Marriot doesnt always have the best reception. Best to be safe.
- Business Cards. You will meet a ton of new exciting people you will want to hang out with. Have something with your contact info on it.
- Portfolio/Demo Reels: Another huge reason alot of people come to CTN is to network and try and find a job. Bring your demo reel, and portfolio. Print it out. Have a copy on your drive. The internet is spotty, so if you are waiting to load a website, you may lose your opportunities.
- Have a notebook/sketchbook: You will want to take all the notes you can. CTN is boiling over with talent and advice. Have folks critique your work. Write down notes for panels. Take names of the recruiters you talk to. Draw observational stuff.

At the Convention:
1. Try to stay at the Marriot if you can. It really is the best way. You are right there in the convention center. You can take a nap in your room. Drop off that heavy stack of books or art prints. Highly advise this choice. If you DONT stay at the Marriot, parking is around 10-15 a day in the lot that is always full. You can find some street parking if you are there very early. Or you can park somewhere along the shuttle line and take the CTN shuttle in. There are options, but definitely less convenient.
2. Get there early. Each year CTN grows. The lines are getting more ridiculous. Plan out what you want to see. Look at what programs are competing at the same time with eachother. If you want to see John Musker talk about Moana in the large hall, expect to get in line.... HOURS early if possible. Trust me, it sucks, but its better than missing out.
3. Have fun. With all the potential for serious life altering opportunities at CTN, its important to take the time and have fun. Enjoy yourself. Meet some people. Take chances to talk to artists you look up to.
4. Don't go to bed early. TRUST ME. Some of the best times to be had at the convention is the late night scene. I've seen Disney legends at the Daily Grill bar at 2 am, because the crowds had died and they wanted to talk to their old colleagues. THESE are the truly magical moments, and if you are asleep, you will miss them. The networking parties and mixers are worth every moment you are there. The artists in the hall always attend, as well as the studios and recruiters. So much of this industry is being at the right place at the right time. You need to make sure to give yourself every chance to do that.
So there! I feel like my 4 years of experience can advise you a little bit. But you also know your goals better than anyone else. See you at CTN!
Any questions? Feel free to ask!


  1. Thank you for the advice!! This will be my first year going and I am already feeling overwhelmed, so this helps a lot. I am super excited, it'll be a ton of fun meeting other animators and artists! :D

  2. thank you for sharing :)
    I do have a question.
    I'm an international student and we'll be staying at Pasadena during the event.
    should I try and find a room at the Marriot hotel or can I rely on public transportation to get me there early and take me back late (as late as the hours you've mentioned).

    thanks for any input you'll be able to share :)

  3. Glad this post was helpful Dor!
    Pasadena is an awesome town, one positive of staying there is all the great food options! So tasty, especially in Old Town and Colorado Ave.

    Public transportation in LA is very bad, so trying to get to the Marriot on it will be spotty at best. You would be best off to either rent a car for the few days, or use a ridesharing service like Lyft. That is what I would do :)