The most important part is that I didn’t do it alone, there was a huge team of about 20 people that helped me or put their hands on this kart in some way. The father of a high school friend, Mr. G, was INTEGRAL in helping me build the base of the kart with all my specifications. The giant wheels had to turn, I had to be able to assemble and disassemble it to fit in my actual car, and I had to be able to wear it and move with it.
Once that base was built, the next 2 weekends was me basically bribing my friends with food on Facebook (dinosaur chicken nuggets and lumpia goes A LONG WAY) and somehow tons of my friends came over to help paint, cut, glitterfy, and decorate. It was an incredible experience, but I had worked on it so much, and was still so new to cosplaying, that I had no idea what the response would be, I was just happy it was done.
I definitely connected with Vanellope from the first time I saw Wreck-It Ralph, but I knew that I wanted to stand out in a big way. The first time I cosplayed Vanellope for SDCC, I actually built the Lickety Split, which is the self-made kart that gets destroyed in the beginning of the movie. It wasn’t a huge cosplay, but it was fun and I knew I could handle an oversized prop at the con. The following year, I wanted to go all out in making the kart that Ralph helps her make - wheels that turned, all the crazy parts and decorations, and to make it larger than life.
I remember being so nervous the first time I brought this to SDCC. It was about 6 or 7 AM and I was walking from Seaport Village to the Convention Center, and there was this massive line waiting to get into the building. I knew I was just going to walk around to the front and get a sense of the area while waiting for friends, so I kept my head up and prepared for a lot of walking. I wasn’t expecting such an overwhelming, positive, awestruck response. I was taking pictures all morning, I didn’t stop. People were cheering, and gasping, and laughing. It visibly brightened people’s day, and the day had barely started. I ended up in so many cosplay articles, Snapchats, livestreams, Twitter feeds, everything. I was so shocked. It was the first time I had such a viral experience in my life. It was incredible, and I was so honored.
I probably have a million stories about congoers, and I’m so grateful for every experience I’ve had with the kart, but I think in the span of a weekend, I had 2 vastly different “King Candy” experiences. The first was someone who really had the voice and character down. I had to be in character around him as he was yelling at me, “You can’t race, glitches can’t race!” but it was in good fun and all, he was great. Later on in the con, I was parked in the Marriott lounge, exhausted, resting my shoulders, figuring out what to do next, when someone walks up to me, puts out his hand, and says, “Hey, I’m King Candy. This is amazing,” and I shake his hand but I barely register it, and I say, “Are you the real King Candy or are you kidding, a lot of guys have been yelling at me as King Candy this weekend.” and he laughs and he’s like, “I’m Alan Tudyk, I’m the voice of King Candy.” and I almost fall over asking him for a selfie.
Cosplay has impacted my life in so many ways. Dealing with depression growing up, it gave me an escape from being myself, and a community of like-minded nerds to connect with. I’m thankful for the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet and connect with at cons. Even though I cosplay for way different reasons now, and I’m doing way better mentally than when I first started, that love of connecting with people through nerdy things is still so strong. Sometimes people will ask me if I’m going to stop cosplaying the kart - I’ve been doing it for 3 (going on 4!) years now, it’s huge, it gets in the way, some people get tired of it, etc. The answer is probably, yeah. I’m waiting on new content from Wreck-It Ralph or even Kingdom Hearts 3 (FINALLY). But until then, I don’t want to stop. I love the magic the kart brings every year. There’s always new people who have never seen it, new experiences with different crowds. I love cosplaying her, and I love cosplaying her my way.
World, go out and cosplay whoever you want, whenever you want. Whether it’s still relevant, or if anyone knows who you are, or anything. As long as you aren’t hurting anyone, do you, have fun, and take lots of pictures.