Ok I've been coming to FanimeCon since '99 and been to ~75 anime conventions in total so lets see if I can help you out here.Before Con
1) My convention starts about a week PRIOR to the convention when I will look at the schedule that is posted on the website. I would suggest printing out the schedule and sit down for a few hours with a highlighter and try and figure out what you want to go to. I use several colors of highlighters to differentiate the priority events have to be - this is because I know that I will face certain burnout (and a first time con-goer would probably face more) so I can ensure that I will take my breaks during lower priority events I wanted to attend.
2) The second pre-con event I perform is setting a budget. This is VERY IMPORTANT because whatever budget you set expect to go 15-20% OVER it. Food around the convention center is not cheap and it is hard to realize exactly how much you are spending just wandering through the dealers hall/artists alley/swap meet.
3) The last pre-con activity I partake in is packing. Make sure you pack enough clothing and toiletries. If you are sharing a hotel room with people talk with them to make sure everyone knows what the sleeping arangments are (ie bed sharing vs air matresses).FanimeCon Badge Pickup
Badge pickup at Fanime takes place on the lower floor of the main convention center concourse and is pretty easy to find. I would expect to spend a bit of time in the registration line so bring a book/ds/etc to keep yourself entertained while you wait in the line.
Most every room at Fanime will have a door "guard" making sure that everyone entering has a badge so the first thing you should do (after checking into your hotel) is picking up your badge.Event - Dealers Hall
One of the largest attractions is the Dealers Hall which is located on the 2nd floor of the convention center about half of the way between the Hilton and the Martiott (it will be clearly marked). This is a large room of vendors selling anime or related merchandise. It has traditionally been a cash only room but with the advent of smart phones more and more vendors seem to be accepting credit cards but don't be surprised if the vendor is cash only. Some dealers will lower their prices as the convention progresses because the don't want to transport their merchandise back to wherever they came from.Event - Artists Alley
This is similar to the Dealers Hall but is comprised of a mix of amatuer and professional artists selling their original work. Artists will sell everything from buttons, to prints, to cel phone straps, to plushies, to jewlrey and more. While vendors have moved towards accepting credit cards assume that you will need cash to purchase stuff from the artists alleyEvent - Swap Meet
People have extra merchandise that they don't want anymore and need a few bucks. This is a great area to just browse and see if anyone has some hidden jem they don't want anymore. I try and hunt here for hard to find items rather than good deals on common items but to each his own. Sellers at the swap meet are usually the most open to negotiating the prices they have listed.Event - Panels
There are several rooms on the 2nd level of the Marriott that will have panels running in them. Panels range from meet-up style panels (like "Ask a Hetalia Character", etc) that I don't go to so I won't comment on them to informational panels to GoH panels. Informational panels (ex "The Rise and Fall of the OAV") will be much like a college lecture where people will have researched a subject and share their findings with the audiance - these are my favorite panels but that is not usual. GoH (or Guest of Honor) panels usually take the form of a Q/A where you can ask the guests questions about their work - sometimes guests are ok asking more "personal" questions but generally a scope of what questions are appropriate is given at some point during the panel.Event - Autographs
The Guests of Honor will also hold autograph sessions throughout the convention where you can wait in line to have them sign your merchandise or program guide. The main thing I will say here is DO NOY ASK A GUEST TO SIGN A BOOTLEG ITEM. If you have doubt whether an item is appropriate ask a staff member at the autograph session prior to reaching the front of the line.Event - Black & White Ball
The black and white ball is FanimeCon's formal dance. I have never been but you can see what information has been posted for this years B&W Ball here
.Event - Masquerade
The masquerade has been on Saturday evenings in years past but moved to Sunday evening last year (it has not been announced when it will be this year) and is also known as the cosplay spectacular. Groups ranging from 1 person to 10+ will put together a skit or performance that they will put on in a 2.5 minute window. One thing to note about the masquerade is that you will probably need to get in line prior to the event actually taking place.