Pokémon GO Fest 2018: An On-Ground Experience and Review

Pokemon GO Fest
Pokemon GO Fest

On Saturday and Sunday, members of the Go Hub team attended Pokémon Go Fest 2018, located in Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois. The expectations of this event were high, given the poor (yet justified) reviews of Go Fest 2017. With that in mind, let’s provide an honest review and recap of the experience that was Go Fest 2018!

I (BedelTheBard) and other members of the Go Hub team want to hear your experiences! A link to our Twitter can be found here. Myself and other writers will be in the comments replying to your experiences, so feel free to tell us how it went for you.

Let’s first address the main concern that affected Dortmund to a degree, and plagued Go Fest 2017: cellular reception.

  • If you had Verizon and attended on Day One, your experience was probably bad. About 20 minutes in, those with the above carrier just could not connect. Consider yourself lucky if you could run off a hotspot. The issue was mostly fixed the second day (barring a two hour midday outage around the Desert Habitat).
  • Use of Incense (or other items) did not affect Go Fest 2018 like it did Dortmund.

Lack of Lines

Compared to Dortmund and Go Fest 2017, the line for the event was non-existent, and should serve as an example for any future events. That being said, this was a result of wristbands being sent early, as well as people attending Friday’s Will Call line.

Friday Midday Will Call Line GO Fest
Friday Midday Will Call Line GO Fest

Waking up early to the sound of eight alarms set just in case, I made my way to Lincoln Park. The traffic was not as bad as expected, and the overcast weather seemingly had no effect on the buzz and excitement that increased the closer the time approached 10 A.M. CST.

After I obtained my pass, I meandered around the South Entrance Tents. They were full for the most part as the Ludicolo were out in full force using Rain Dance! Anyone familiar with weather knows that if there is a chance of rain, it will rain!

S. Entrance Mystic Tent

Trainers, Go! Start of the Event

Activating your ticket was easy enough, being able to scan it using an in-game QR code reader or entering it manually. Once your QR code was entered, the real fun began. Trainers from the North Ends made their way towards the Jungle Habitat, while those located at the South made their way to the Volcano Habitat.

Those coming from the South Entrance encountered the best foam party the Arctic Frozen Habitat! This was the most interactive of the exhibits! Kids of all ages were running through the foam, and Trainers were taking AR Photos of Sneasel on the ice, or Snorunts on the top of the Igloo! (If you have any to share, please post them in the comments on Twitter. We’d love to see them featured in an upcoming article.) The Desert Habitat was the least interactive of all four habitats, but had some of the best spawns! You could not help but be swarmed by all of the Trapinch on the ground or the Skarmory in the air.

AR Photo by Wolfie (GO Hub Writer)
Jungle Habitat at GO Fest
Jungle Habitat at GO Fest

And what I found clever is that guests were encouraged to visit all of these habitats due to the nature of the Celebi quests. The first quests encouraged Trainers to roam about, but the second quests (catching 10 Fire, Water, Steel, Rock, Ice, and Grass each) had people travel from the South to the North, and likewise. Catching 7 Unown had players returning to either entrance, even though it seemed like most of the Unown had drifted towards the South Entrance by the time the event was coming to a close.

Glacial habitat and Bedel, GO Fest
Glacial habitat and Bedel, GO Fest
Desert Habitat Source: Amino Apps

My words and complete exhaustion are not enough to do this event justice. They vastly improved the cellular connection on Day 2, with friendly staff helping others along the way. The nature of this event begs another article that goes more in-depth with what can be improved for next year, so look for that later in the weeks. In the meantime, here’s a short summary of the good and bad.

Pros:

  • In comparison to last year, cellular connection was fantastic. Everyone except Verizon had excellent service, and Verizon’s issue were mostly fixed on Day 2. Mostly.
  • The Celebi quests encouraged Trainers to roam the park, taking advantage of the natural beauty.
  • Staff interaction was quite abundant during the event.
  • Lines were much smaller than last years due to early will call and wristbands being sent early.

Cons:

  • Some of the Hydration Stations were not refilled during the course of the event. Niantic staff were seen giving out water bottles, but just as many were seen standing near stations and letting people know they were empty.
  • Almost complete lack of merchandise, and what was available only was through contests (i.e. most stops spun, pokémon caught).
  • Lack of food trucks. Anyone who stood in line likely stood for more than an hour. Staying in one spot for so long did not encourage traveling through out the park. Better layout and inclusion of many more trucks should be encouraged for any future Go Fest.

I’ll also be covering the local Chicago community aspects later in the week. The event itself was made possible by the people that attended it, which created an atmosphere that anyone with a love for Pokémon could be themselves. People floated about in dressed that made them look like Eevee, and other dressed as Pokéstops! This event could have been better in many aspects, and we will cover that later, but for the time being, rest assured that this event was a success.

GO Hub team at GO Fest
GO Hub team at GO Fest