What to Know Before You Take Your Kids to VidCon

Your kids probably know about VidCon, the annual convention built around online video stars and wannabes (I learned they’re called “creators,” not “YouTubers”). However, you may not know about this massive event. Unless, of course, you follow the likes of creators like Miranda Sings, JoJo Siwa, and LaurDIY.

As you can likely tell, I had never heard of VidCon, but I thought my kids would love it. I just didn’t know how family-friendly the event was. Most tips-oriented posts on VidCon that I found were written by 20-somethings sans children, so they were light on parent-focused advice.

Still, I went ahead and bought tickets and built the SoCal portion of our annual road trip around the dates of this Anaheim event that includes lots of fun Q&As, panel sessions, movie nights, dance parties, and more. We had a great time and here’s what I think you should know if you’re thinking about taking your kids to this convention.

1. There’s So Much for Kids to Do. I was pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do for kids. My kids are 8, 11 & 13, but younger kids were there, too. There were loads of kid-friendly brands manning interactive, hands-on booths all across the convention, including Nickelodeon, Hasbro, Nerf, and Mars (i.e., Twix, Skittles, etc.).

My son took a pie to the face multiple times at Hasbro’s booth thanks to the Pie Face Cannon, while my older kids got temporary tattoos from Snickers. They also jumped around in two ball pits, played loads of video games, and got into an every-man-for-himself battle with Nerf guns.

2. Your Kids Will Love the Meet & Greets. One of the high points of the convention for my kids was being able to meet and take photos with their favorite creators during Meet & Greet sessions. Months ahead of VidCon, you’ll have the opportunity to get into a Meet & Greet lottery. Look out for the emails and do not miss the sign-up dates.

This year, we were able to choose 15 creators we wanted to meet. From there, our names were placed into a lottery and we received four meet & greet appointments, including LadyLike and Worth It (of course, I had no idea who these people were). A professional photographer is there to take photos. You’ll get a link to access the pics later in the day to share on social media.

3. You’ll Want to Take Video of the Meet & Greets. Most of the creators don’t allow autographs or selfies, largely because some of the lines are very long and autographs can really slow things down to a halt. As I noted above, a professional photographer is there to take photos. However, ready your phone and plan to take video of your kids’ meeting the creators.

The moment is such a blur that my kids loved re-living the meet & greet again and again. I didn’t even know you could do this and was so glad to see one of the moms a few places ahead of me in line video the moment her child met her favorite creators.

4. Be Prepared to Wait (and Wait) in Meet & Greet Lines. Depending on the creator, the meet & greet lines can be very long, with as many as 250 people in line. While the event staff do a great job moving eager fans along, the wait can still be lengthy. My advice is to bring snacks and entertainment. We’re partial to playing cards and Heads Up. There’s a snack bar, but it’s pricey.

Ahead of VidCon, the advice I read about meet & greets was to get in line early. We got there early once and waited 90 minutes. We got there late another time and waited about 75 minutes, so there you go. For a 12:30 time slot, you can arrive as early as 11:30 and as late as 1. Less popular creators can finish up early, so don’t wait too late.

5. There is Some Language. I don’t know why this surprised me, but there was some language. It’s not like the f-bomb came out in every sentence, but lesser curse words did make their way into on-stage interviews and panel sessions. Of course, my kids had heard these words before, but it’s just worth noting. It kind of turned the event from G-rated to PG-rated, but it was fine.

6. Download the App Ahead of Time. Every event and attraction has an app these days and VidCon is no different. The VidCon app includes the schedule, a map, a lineup of creators and the panels or sessions in which they’ll be appearing, and more.

The app also makes it easy to create a personalized schedule on your phone. This is key because there are a lot of sessions going on at the same time. If I had one wish for the app, however, it would be the ability to slot your individual meet & greet sessions into your schedule.

7. There’s a Parents’ Lounge. I didn’t get to take advantage of the Parents’ Lounge, but I liked that there was one available. It’s basically a parents-only space where moms and dads can hang out while their kids (who must be at least 13) roam the convention. It’s a great idea if you want to be close to your kids but not immersed in the sensory overload of VidCon.

Speaking of sensory overload, there’s also a Quiet Room when you or your kids need a break from VidCon. There’s no talking, eating, or noise-making allowed. It’s just a place to relax, re-charge, and re-connect with inner peace (and quiet) before returning to the convention floor.

8. Be on Social Media. I’m not advocating social media use, particularly if you’re not already on social media. However, there were quite a few booths that required you to share a photo with their hashtag to get some free swag or to enter a contest. There were also a lot of cool things to do that you’ll want to photograph and share with friends and followers.

9. Stay Close By (But Not Too Close). While attending VidCon, we stayed down the street at Great Wolf Lodge, and honestly, it was a very nice break from the convention. The primary hotel for VidCon is the Anaheim Marriott. That’s where most of the creators and lots of fanboys and fangirls stay during the convention.

I had no plans to stay at the Anaheim Marriott. After a day spent at the convention, it was nice to not be at the convention. However, the Anaheim Marriott is a very good place to go for people-watching because you and your kids will see creators come and go throughout the day. Get a cup of coffee and a mid-afternoon snack and just watch (and maybe eavesdrop) on convention-goers.

10. Go on Saturday Morning. The last day of VidCon fell on a Saturday, and if you like swag, this is the day to go. By this point, most of the booths are eager to get rid of their freebies so they don’t need to ship it back to their offices.

I also found that the last morning was a great day to go for checking out booths that had super-long lines the previous days. We arrived at VidCon the same time on both Friday and Saturday (around 9 am) and there were markedly fewer people on Saturday. Also, much shorter lines.

Overall, we had a fantastic time at VidCon. It’s always held in Anaheim and if it wasn’t so far away, this east coaster would definitely go again. If you go, let me know what you think. Or if you have other good tips or advice, please share in the comment section below.