IMG_1255IMG_1257
As soon as it was announced last year my friend immediately scooped up tickets for us.  This was Japan’s Sanrio company bringing their official Hello Kitty Supercute Friendship Festival to Vancouver. It will be the first time that this Hello Kitty convention would tour through North America. It promised a venue fully decorated and transformed into a Hello Kitty Wonderland. A setting with multi-stage shows, interactive entertainment, dance performances, and Hello Kitty themed activities. All intermingled with exhibitions and displays; creations of art, animation, and fashion, and collectible merchandise. Though I felt the online descriptions really mislead in what there actually was. I rushed to get this post out as a warning. I enjoyed myself and my company more, but for $50 a head, let me save you some money. The details of what the festival entails are below. Just experience it here, as I felt it could have offered more and that I left unsatisfied.

IMG_1383IMG_1260

The festival was hosted within the PNE Forum. Sandwich boards, signs, and themed trucks in the parking lot lead the way. Doors opened at 7pm, but the line started growing long before. Luckily only limited tickets were sold and everyone was allowed in.

IMG_1258

As with any comic-con-like event attendees are strongly encouraged to dress up. Though the number of those doing so weren’t too many. Bows and head gear ran rampant as a minimum. Especially as cardboard head pieces with white cat ears and a red bow were handed out by the entrance. A one size fits all adjustable crown worn by both men and women, on top of kids of all ages. There was a broad spectrum of ages, young and old fans came out dawning Hello Kitty Swag. Plenty of tee shirts, accessories, and tattoos showed love for their favourite little girl who only resembled a cat.

IMG_1417IMG_1382

But if you didn’t have anything to represent your fandom this evening, they sold Sanrio gear to help you earn participation points. Character hoodies, head bands, and jewelry. Along with toys, balloons, and totes. Two stands carrying all the same stuff. Given how many things have Hello Kitty’s face on it, I was sad at the mediocre showing here.

IMG_1390

Sadly there was not even convention food sold. No Hello Kitty shaped cakes, no bow cookies, and no strawberry anything. Just the PNE’s “Forum Cafe” serving cotton candy, candied apples, kettle corn, and cookies. The regular fair fare. I was having none of it. Our group discussed the loss of income the event faced by not offering more. A collector’s cup for fountain drinks? A bag of anything with Sanrio characters on it? Heck, anything with Hello Kitty’s imagine on it would have sold at double its valued price here. Given the exclusivity of where we were, most people feel the need to purchase a memento to remember their time.

IMG_1289

I really did not like the dim lighting that filled the entire room. The yellow glow cast shadows and washed out our complexions. A sad fact, considering the whole event was more or less photo op driven.

IMG_1419IMG_1355

Pose in the Little Twin Star universe sitting on giant star shaped cushions, but shoes off please.

IMG_1359IMG_1401

Giant Hello Kitty slippers that your whole body can fit into.

IMG_1279IMG_1395

Hello Kitty in a giant tea cup.

IMG_1418IMG_1284

Feel how change does inside this Hello Kitty coin purse.

IMG_1294IMG_1295

Visit Badtz-Maru’s garage and strike a pose on his motorcycle.

IMG_1343IMG_1393

Join Keroppi at Donut pond. He is just hanging out.

IMG_1322IMG_1324

 

Purin was taking a nap. Either join him or watch what he is dreaming about, while sitting on either of his pudding shaped seats.

IMG_1291IMG_1397

Even regular seating was dressed for a photo worthy occasion. Park benches paired under inflatable apple trees.

IMG_1345IMG_1342

At Hello Kitty’s cottage you can write her postcards in exchange for a pink collector’s pin. Get a blue one from just visiting the information booth.

IMG_1348IMG_1329

Hello Kitty loves her apples, there are three large inflatables ones behind her cottage.

IMG_1303IMG_1300

The cottage included some choice shrubbery on the outside, and inside a collection of collectables: toys, plushes, and housewares.

IMG_1352

At My Melody’s bakery colour to your heart’s content.

IMG_1420

Fold paper fortune tellers and paper bows at the Hello Kitty Paper Play booth. With instructions printed on the actual sheet, I took my sheet of paper to go.

IMG_1282IMG_1336

The Hello Kitty bouncy castle was for little fans only. I found the entrance a poor choice.

IMG_1373IMG_1412_2IMG_1416

Get rub on tattooed at Badtz-Maru’s tattoo stand. You choose your image and the employees add water and rub. Pick from some Sanrio themed, vintage looking tattoos and point out where you want it on your body. I felt bad choosing my foot, and having her get that close. I asked for the tattoo to do it myself later, but the employee insisted she had to do it. I really liked my large choice.

IMG_1386IMG_1267

Dress up your face with some quickie face painting. Choose from black whiskers and a yellow nose or pink rosy and round cheeks.

IMG_1421IMG_1266

At the “You Can! Musubi” stand, you could purchase your own Hello Kitty themed rice block mould. Buy one and get a can of Spam for free. Though I rather they sold the actual edible snack instead.

IMG_1269IMG_1361

At the Hello Kitty sweet movie time theatre a rotation of clips scrolled on repeat. As expected, the screen was shaped like Hello Kitty’s head.

IMG_1360IMG_1389

A giant box of Hello Kitty popcorn marked the way.

IMG_1377IMG_1374IMG_1376IMG_1378IMG_1375IMG_1363

Beautiful dressed inspired by the style of their most popular Sanrio Characters.

IMG_1347IMG_1339

They also had displays where you can read up on your favourite characters and learn a bit of Sanrio history.

IMG_1340IMG_1346

Learn how to draw your favourite characters and make your mark on their how-to white board.

IMG_1349IMG_1335

And keeping their guests in mind, you can charge your mobile devices at one of their milk jug stations. They had any cable needed.

IMG_1332IMG_1338

Most of our time was spent exploring each station to its fullest. Lining up, waiting. A natural order allowed guess to take photos in  each backdrop, one at a time. Most people were kind enough and willing to snap groups shots for us. We did the same for them in return. We waited for a photo at the “Share A Smile Kiosk”. A machine took our picture, added a border to it, and sent it to our emails. A line to take the photo and another to send it to our emails, or post it directly to our social media outlets.

IMG_1391

The neat feature with this photo is the traffic tracker, telling you which number was your photo. Ours was 13394.

IMG_1311IMG_1404

There were various shows across two stages, the main stage towards the back with folding chairs up front and bleachers on either side. We watched the first performance: “Hello! Celebration”, an opening musical show welcoming everyone to the festival with multi lingual greetings. Hello Kitty, Dear Daniel, My Melody, Badtz-Maru, Keroppi, Chococat, Pompom Purin were all here.

IMG_1271IMG_1410

On the “rainbow stage” were smaller performances. Different shows at various times to entertain in between activities. The “My Melody’s Super Sweet Friendship Fashion Show” gave those who dressed up a chance to hop on stage and pose for a photo with My Melody herself. Though not all were Sanrio based. Some were just dancing done by professionals, to which most thought, “this isn’t Sanrio!”

IMG_1278IMG_1312

There were more people taking photos and videos than they were actually watching and enjoying. And I was one of them!

IMG_1318IMG_1321

Although each act was cute, I really couldn’t watch them. It was definitely geared towards younger minds, I had outgrown such shows.

IMG_1399IMG_1351

Chococat came out to take group photos, we were able to grab a photo. It was nice that they arranged employees to take photos, this definitely sped up the process.

IMG_1371IMG_1406

And Hello Kitty too came onto the floor for posed photos. Twice at two different time slots. We missed the cut off for the first, and like most guests were determined to get one. So we waited in line for over 40 minutes for the next and last opportunity. I figured it was time well spent, seeing as you came here for her. She allowed individual photos. I asked for a hug and she showed agreement through arm gestures and hand movements.

IMG_1423

Like everyone else, we left around 9pm, having seen it and done it all. Having gone through the whole thing and leaving 1 hour before the doors closed, I am happy that we did not get the packages. The “Red Bow Package” went for $125 where you receive a guaranteed photo opportunity with Hello Kitty, VIP check-in, and advance access to tour merchandise. The “Platinum Bow Package” at double that cost gets you up close with Hello Kitty and some of her best friends. This package includes a guaranteed character meet and greet and photo opportunities with a minimum of five of the characters, including Hello Kitty. It also gave you reserved stage show seating, advance access to tour merchandise, and a custom tote for $250. In truth you had enough time to go through it all, and patience was all that you had to pay. We paid $35 for the regular adult passes. This included a $9.25 charge and a $2.50 fee, not disclosed until you are were asked to pay.

Once again I had fun and appreciated the opportunity to attend. The experience and the energy of like minds gathered together over a shared interested was truly special on its own. However I would have never paid for it, knowing it would be like the above. Luckily, I was gifted this experience so throughly enjoyed my time here.

HELLO KITTY SUPERCUTE FRIENDSHIP FESTIVAL