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Ben 10 at Gallagher Convention Centre takes Johannesburg by storm

In a first for Gallagher Convention Centre, the Ben 10 experience held over the weekend of 26-29 June was a runaway success.
Ben 10 at Gallagher Convention Centre takes Johannesburg by storm
The Ben 10 event, hosted for kids under 12, was a first for Gallagher Convention Centre. But it was also a world first - the first four day expo of this scale for the Cartoon Network hero staged in the world. Parents with their kids arrived in their thousands to partake in the 10,000m2 mega-experience. With activities such as Ben 10 inflatables, bungee trampolines, train rides, human bowling, live action shows and photo opportunities with Four Arms and XLR8, kids were in Ben 10 alien heaven.

Every child wants to be a hero, and this weekend thousands were given the chance to emulate one of their favourites: boy hero, Ben 10. With all the running, jumping and flying, emergencies. The safety of all children was further ensured by a guardian-child tagging system.

Ben 10 at Gallagher Convention Centre takes Johannesburg by storm
The kids far outlasted their parents, and while they ran around with faces painted and hair sprayed green, exhausted moms and dads enjoyed a tasty snack at one of the many coffee shops and kudos have been streaming in, like this one from Dr E. Fourie: “I would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to all involved in the Ben 10 expo. Wow, as a mom of a four-year-old and a stepmom to an 8- and 11-year-old, I was so impressed at the brilliance of this expo. Fun was had by all - including myself - in a clean and well-organised event. The crew was also polite, involved and really wonderful with the children. The most notable point of the whole event was the strict security. I was thrilled to wear an armband and have my number checked with the boys on the way out.”

Ben 10 at Gallagher Convention Centre takes Johannesburg by storm
As a result of the event's overwhelming popularity and the huge response to it, all door sale tickets were sold out for Saturday and Sunday before midday on Saturday. Some queuing resulted, and Gallagher management had to stagger access to comply with safety and security requirements and ensure that no visitors were endangered. Within an hour, an additional expo space of 2,500m2 was opened and equipped to accommodate as many fans as possible, and visitors could re-enter the venue again.

Said Vivian O'Brien, a Sunday visitor, “There were some queues, but they were worth it. I was there with my two little boys and they thought it was the best thing they had ever seen! Although they ran me off my feet, that whole armbands thing worked and I knew I'd be able to find them easily if we got separated.”

Organisers did not anticipate the massive popularity of this event, with visitors from as far afield as Botswana, Swaziland and Durban making their way to Gallagher Convention Centre to experience it. Despite the run on tickets and capacity crowds, both of the managing directors of Gallagher Convention Centre and HDI Youth Marketeers (Cartoon Network's South African marketing agency) and their management teams were on hand at all times to ensure the smoothest possible running of the event.

“We have been bowled over by the flood of positive feedback we have received, but we know, because of the extreme levels of demand, some people did end up being disappointed that they could not get tickets, and for that we are very sorry. We kept a register of anyone who had a grievance or had been inconvenienced and we are contacting all of those people to make amends.”

All that remains to be said is wait for Ben 10's return.

30 Jun 2009 14:31