How Cosplay Almost Killed Me, or Why You Shouldn't Always Go Into Decrepit Areas for Photoshoots
So after my best friend made this post I feel the need to talk about the full story for it because it’s just great. Let this be a lesson that exploring for cosplay photoshoots can sometimes get a little too real.
This story takes place in Florida, at a little con called Florida Anime Experience. Previously, there had been a con called Jacon that ran from 2000-2009 and was in general a Really Great Con but closed in 2009 for it’s 10 year run because the organizers wanted to move on. To take it’s place, a convention called Florida Anime Experience emerged, and for its first year took the same hotel and weekend Jacon had had. However, it hadn’t gotten it’s start until 2011, when the first FAE was held.
Jacon had previously been run for its last few years out of a fairly large hotel. The design of the hotel had the hotel in four main “pods”; each pod had two levels of hotel rooms, all of which that had windows that faced inward and outward to show a pool area and grassy hangout. There were four of these; the last “pod” was the convention center and lobby. This hotel had been very nice in 2009 when Jacon had its last year, but two years later the hotel had gone endlessly downhill (for reference, the hotel closed less than 2 months after this event). Only half of the “pods” still had functioning pools, and one had been abandoned entirely, not rented out and lost to the elements for over a year, according to the hotel staff. It had even been wiped from the hotel maps.
Thursday night we’re sitting in our hotel room and my best friend, Vanessa, decides that she wants to see this place in person. Then, my friend Johara decided she had wanted to bring her Gamzee cosplay there; a good macabre feeling would make a good shoot for a creepy character, and we made plans to go the next day. Since many of us in the hotel had been to Jacon and had even stayed in rooms in that pod, we knew where it was and how to get there. We had obligations at the con so we didnt make it out there until Friday afternoon, almost when the sun was setting, so we sort of just got to look at the exterior before we vowed to come back tomorrow.
Cue Saturday. A group of about 9 of us make the trek out to this building; I was dressed as Jade in her original outfit, with Johara as Gamzee, out to get some shots. As we open the door to the internal hallway (to make it to the middle), the place looks like a scene out of a zombie apocalypse movie. The “exit” sign is hanging from its wires, sparking. There’s broken televisions sitting in the halls, door locks busted, couch stuffing littering the hall. I want to note here that I went looking for photos of this (because there were photos taken) and I seriously cannot find any and its creeping me out a little. At one point we had accidentally locked my best friend in there- we found out the doors only opened from the outside, but thankfully we got to the middle of the pod, and you could go in and out through some tunnels that weren’t enclosed, no big deal.
So we get to the center of the pod and start to look around. The pool is drained and the grass is past our waists. The sun is just starting to set, so we’re thinking about turning back. Just as we’re talking about how this would be a great area for a Pokemon shoot, my best friend looks up at the second floor of buildings, and notices a light is on. She decides she NEEDS to go find out why, and we go to follow her.
When we get to the second floor area, the door with the light on is locked. As we all go to turn back, Vanessa sees a piece of paper on the floor with two numbers on it; the numbers matched some room numbers down the hall. She runs off to check the first one and we all follow because we’re curious and stupid.
So we open the first door and flip the switch; the lights come on, flicker once, and steady. There’s evidence someones been living there. There’s used towels strewn around, food detritus, some makeshift blankets on the mattress left behind. We’re all getting more and more nervous so we back out, but Vanessa HAS to go see the second room.
So we go down the hall, push the door in, and flip the switch; the lights come on, flicker once, and die. Everyone else fucking runs. I’m left with her halfway into the room, holding the door open with my foot, praying to god that I can reach her and pull her out.
And in the silence, Vanessa steps in and says “Hello?”
In the top right corner of the room, there’s a door that connects this suite to the one next to it. And the both of us freeze as we see the door begin to open, with a hand pressed to the center of it.
I don’t actually know if we were chased, but the both of us turned and fucking BOOKED it out of there, screaming the entire way. We went down the hall, almost broke the door getting out, lapped our friends (who had stopped running because they weren’t scared, but starting running after us when we looked almost in tears) and didn’t stop until we were almost back to the convention center, where I remember staying on the sidewalk for a couple of minutes to regain my composure.
So remember this, friends: sometimes going to places even the hotel doesn’t reccommend you see for a cosplay photoshoot is a bad idea and it can make you feel like you’re in a horror movie.