What happens under the Homer Dome stays at the Homer Dome… until now.
The Simpsons had an amazing fan experience, exclusive to San Diego Comic-Con 2014. Located outside the San Diego Convention Center, I spent the better part of one complete day soaking in all the Simpsons goodness (mostly waiting in very long lines), enjoying every minute of it.
It seems 20th Century FOX Television spared no expenses in promoting the brand to reach thousands of fans, creating a county fair-like atmosphere to spread the word: The Simpsons is headed to sister station FXX, where the entire catalog of the TV show will be syndicated, beginning with the longest-running marathon in TV history. The series (along with The Simpsons Movie) will air in chronological order, kicking off at 10 am on Aug. 21 and will run 24 hours a day on FXX until 12 am on Sept. 1.
There was a carnival game, where attendees must shoot a water gun into a target. Although everyone received the same prize (a very cool inflatable donut), the prize trumped the experience. This attraction had a continuously long line throughout the week (but the prize was worth the wait).
Marge’s Sweet Station offered a unique opportunity to eat free blue cotton candy (looking much like Marge’s hair).
Statues of the Simpson family — which were very nice — gave the attraction an amusement-park feel, but the chaos created around them by families seeking photo-ops was maddening, as they continuously interfered with the attraction lines. Not to be outdone by the statues, another highlight of this themed attraction was getting your picture taken with costumed characters of the Simpsons Family. Now, this line was completely crazy. It’s a good thing these cosplayers had a handler, who attempted to quickly snap photos for fans before the actors overheated in what looked like some very hot costumes.
Another attraction in this area was a sneaky attempt to work The Simpsons into the record books yet again… and it succeeded. A mural was created with 5,565 blank squares in a paint-by-numbers format. Organizers asked attendees to paint only one square, hoping to break the previous world record (2,042 people) for a mural. When I visited the area on Sunday, the mural was complete and it was officially awarded an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Looks like I’ll be purchasing a certificate of participation in the very near future as an exclusive commemorative souvenir!
The main attraction of The Simpsons area was making a visit into the Homer Dome. As you can guess, the line to this area was the longest of the entire area. While waiting in line (my wait was about an hour and a half), event employees distributed plenty of Simpsons swag, including branded water bottles, snacks and a drawstring bag, heavily promoting the TV show’s move to the FXX network.
Once you arrived at the end of the line, 30 people at a time entered the air-conditioned building (built in the shape of Homer’s head) to watch a video clip (projected onto the ceiling, much like a museum’s planetarium show), peeking into Homer’s mind, flashing back to past TV episodes, all the while promoting the upcoming Simpsons World app. This app can seemingly do it all, allowing users to access to every single TV episode of The Simpsons, 554 episodes (as of this writing) of quotes and endless trivia, behind-the-scenes info and many pop-cultural references. Supposedly, there’s even a way to create Simpsons GIF files, as well.
Wrapping up my visit, I asked the event manager if this Simpsons promotion was a tour, headed around the country to promote #EverySimpsonsEver after SDCC wrapped up. I was shocked when she replied that this was a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive, not appearing anywhere else. A very large amount of money was spent on this promotion and it was an incredible experience. I expect everything to eventually wind up at an amusement park (possibly joining The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios), to be enjoyed by many more people.
While the lines were long and the weather was hot, I enjoyed reminiscing through past seasons as music of The Simpsons played through nearby speakers. There’s been many smartly written and performed songs scattered throughout the show’s 552 episodes (as well as motion picture), so whenever they played, I sang along. I didn’t mind geeking out to one of my favorite TV shows (knowing all the words to each song) while surrounded by fellow geeks.
Overall, I had an amazing time enjoying The Simpsons all over again. Although my cable provider doesn’t get FXX yet, I’m looking into changing providers soon and hope to find a better package. I also look forward to the Simpsons World app. It seems too good to be true. I hope it provides everything it promises. If so, I’ll be buying this app on the first day! Congrats to all the cast and crew of The Simpsons (along with 20th Century FOX Television) for creating and believing in a great product. As a fan of the series since The Tracey Ullman Show aired (which I watched on TV), I’ve seen the show get bigger and better each year. Here’s to hoping for another 552 episodes!