It's a longer teleport to BlizzCon for some groups than for others. Guild groups from across the United States and Canada knit BlizzCon into epic road trips and shout across the aisles of flights packed with players comparing specs and progression. Still, it's not as uncommon as you might think to discover that the fan next to you in line is from another continent entirely.
BlizzCon is the trip of a lifetime for 21-year-old Christian Olsen and 22-year-old Mickey Exaudi of Roskilde, Denmark. The best friends are spending nine days here in America. Yes, they're planning to hit Universal Studios and the other Southern California tourist standards -- but Blizzard and BlizzCon is where it's at for this focused duo.
"I don't believe in religion -- I'm an atheist -- but this is the closest thing to me," Christian says with utter earnestness. Mickey laughs, yet he agrees with the sentiment. One of the first things the pair did after arriving was a pilgrimage to Irvine to see Blizzard headquarters. "Yeah, we could only just drive by and see the outside," Christian admits, "but wow. That's where it all happens. Wow."
Can't get enough
Both Christian and Mickey are Blizzard fans through and through. They're not only WoW players; Christian favors Diablo, while Mickey is a StarCraft fan. A trip to BlizzCon, with all the opportunities for presale souvenirs, autographs, sightseeing and more, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the pair.
"According to Mapcrow.com, the distance between our town of Roskilde (which has the world's largest collection of Viking ships) and Anaheim, Calif., is 8,987 km or 5,584 miles," Christian says. "I was a high school exchange student in Erie, Penn., back in 2005 to 2006, and I've always felt America was my second home away from home. One of my secret reason/wishes when getting to America as an exchange was actually to attend the first BlizzCon, but my exchange family and exchange program wouldn't allow me to travel to California and skip more than two school days. Oh, well ... I still enjoyed and treasure the lessons I learned from my stay in America."
The easy, open camaraderie with other BlizzCon fans has made a deep impression on both young men. The best thing so far, in Mickey's opinion? "The fans. The ambiance. We really loved when we got our badges; somebody had a [beach ball], and we all started playing with it. People were hitting it back and forth across the lines, and we were all happy and having fun together ... We love meeting all the people who've been here before. We love all the tales of raiding. Everyone is so friendly."
The duo has poured not-inconsiderable financial resources into their epic BlizzCon journey. "We just spent $1,300 on the presale merchandise, and $300 of that was the shipment fee to Denmark!" Christian says. "Although we aren't cosplayers, we didn't wanna end BlizzCon thinking 'Aawwww, I should have gotten that ...' Also, someone has to boost the U.S. economy, you know! So we sure are going to spend some money at BlizzCon and post-BlizzCon.
"Personally speaking, I can't get enough of Blizzard, and neither can Mickey."
For married couple Kerri Pearce and husband Dennis Reel, winging to BlizzCon means flying all the way from Australia across some 12,000 kilometers of wide, blue Pacific.
"What makes our trip maybe slightly more interesting is that not only are we mad WoW fans, but we actually met on WoW about six years ago (he's [originally] from San Francisco)," Kerri explains, "and about four years ago, we were married here in Australia."
Kerri and Dennis travel to the United States every other year to see friends and family. This year, the couple decided to schedule their trek to coincide with a family visit in San Francisco, a trip to Las Vegas, Dennis' birthday, her first celebration of the American Halloween holiday ... and of course, BlizzCon.
The couple met in-game in Molten Core back in 2005, Dennis as a fury warrior and Kerri as a priest. Their relationship developed slowly. Based on the miles between them, they decided not to meet until they'd given it some time. "We decided that if after 12 months the novelty hadn't worn off, we'd meet in person," Kerri remembers.
The novelty didn't wear off, but neither did the miles between them. After making the cross-oceanic journey several times, the couple finally decided to make Australia their home base and married there in March 2008. Dennis plans get to get his Australian citizenship next year.
The couple wasn't sure they'd be able to swing getting BlizzCon tickets. "OMG!" Kerri cries. "I was so excited when I was 3,200 in queue!" Now that they're here, they're gobbling up the sights and sounds. "It's going to be an action-packed visit this year, not the least of which a probably once-in-a-lifetime visit to Blizzcon," she finishes. "So excited!"
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