ORLANDO, Fla. — Another convention is pulling out of Orlando because of what critics say are anti-LGBTQ laws. The organizers of Con of Thrones canceled their convention in Central Florida because they say continuing on with it could cause harm to their staff and guests.
The Orange County Convention Center recently confirmed they lost two conventions — the 2024 AnitaB.org Grace Hopper Celebration and the 2027 AORN (Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses) Global Surgical Conference & Expo due to political reasons.
Con of Thrones, the Con being short for convention, was expected to bring three to four thousand people to Orlando in August. Event organizers say they had a block of rooms booked at Hyatt Regency Orlando.
Chelsea Keen was looking forward to going to Con of Thrones, which was scheduled to happen just a few minutes away from where she lives in Lake Nona. Keen first got hooked on Game of Thrones through reading it.
“Being a huge history buff and a history student, that’s what got me liking the whole series,” said Keen. “I would’ve loved to hear other fans share their theories, or their other personal opinions on the show and the characters, what had happened on the show and what could’ve happened.”
Mischief Management, the organizers of the convention, announced they had made a difficult decision to cancel Con of Thrones saying in part, “Due to the increasingly anti-humanitarian legislation and atmosphere in Florida and based on additional feedback from partners, attendees, and guests, it has become clear that if we were to proceed, con of thrones 2023 would not be the level of event that the community expects and deserves,” the group said in a statement.
Keen says she’s not just disappointed for herself, but also for local businesses.
“Visitors that attend these conventions are not just in town for the conventions but maybe they want to enjoy all the other business around town,” said Keen. “Like in Orlando, maybe they want to eat out at the restaurants across the city, maybe they want to visit theme parks and other areas of interest.”
Visit Orlando says they are getting calls at least weekly from convention groups and travelers who questions of concern, but the tourism agency says they are working to reassure those callers Orlando is still a welcoming and inclusive destination. Visit Orlando reports hotel bookings for this summer are still outpacing last summer by 15%.
Recently, officials with the National Society of Black Engineers told their members that they had canceled their convention in Central Florida to move to another state in relation to laws signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
According to the letter, the group will move their convention to Atlanta, Georgia.
"After careful deliberation, our National Executive Board voted to move #NSBE50 out of Florida and relocate to Atlanta, GA where we will be able to provide the full NSBE convention experience," the statement said.
The letter also referenced the fact that the NAACP had recently issued a travel advisory to the state as a reason for hosting the meeting in another location.
"As a Black organization working towards equity for Black STEM students and professionals, we stand in solidarity with efforts and advisories from Black legacy organizations like the NAACP, especially on matters that directly affect NSBE and our mission – such as the aforementioned," the statement said.