More than ever, the con gives the impression of bursting at the seams. Memberships sold out; food trucks ran out of food; the dealer's room was huge and crowded enough I didn't get to everything; I didn't plan adequate time to see the Art Show given that my back was still acting up - there was just so much going on; I know at least three folk who wanted to do casual gaming but couldn't get a table because the game room was 100% booked.
None of these are bad things, but they can cause friction if not managed. I think next year's Chair is very smart and I hope they come up with a good set of solutions. The hotel dealt pretty well (with a couple of notable lapses in service by restaurant staff) and every Arisia staff person I interacted with was top-notch. Scaling up a con requires scaling up the staff by some factor, too. I saw fewer new faces on staff this year than last but that might just be sample bias.
My own con experience was generally good. Our kids were essentially free-range this year so much that we just bought them regular memberships for next year. They'll spend most of the con in the (e)gaming room no matter what. We did a lot of parties and enjoyed all of them. I still owe Helsinki a pre-reg (they weren't taking CC at party) and I really missed having a central party authority. The hit-or-miss of getting and remembering various slips of paper was... well, hit and miss. I know I didn't get to at least three events I would've attended if I'd been better organized.
I know - parties, alcohol, hotel issues, party organizers being stupid, issues, etc. Still. On the plus side I managed to have two or three really good conversations with people at parties this year, which is a rarity for me. Most of my good chats usually happen in the lobby or pre-/post-panel.
I liked that the con had a set of dances with lots of options. I liked some of them better than others, but was glad they were there. If only it had been easier to go between party spaces and dance spaces I would have danced more, but I don't see how to do that with the hotel's physical layout.
I was on four panels myself, all of which went tolerably well. I flatter myself to think that the one I moderated was the best. I did significant research for it and had a structure in mind. My panelists were great and their spontaneous discussion followed the outline I had in my head. I even went to panels I wasn't ON, a rarity for me.
I think that next year I will do more planning - I left several things at home that I could have used, not least of them the charger for my camera battery, which led to it dying near the end of the belly-dance show. I also would like to see if I can plan a proper block of time for the Art Show, can plan more meal options, can worry less about the kids, and since I have to spend less time on them maybe do more volunteering for the con or be on a couple more panels.