With regards to the con sets, background and file cards, keep n mind that the Joe Club likes to insert small, fun bits when producing items, such as the 6 Dreadhead cousins having Smith & Wesson for last names.
We've seen mini subs, Hiss tank, Dreadnok tricycle and AGP as free vehicles. I'd really like to see a redo of the Stinger or a pair of Trouble Bubbles for this year.
As for the big vehicles, who knows? I like the surprise they have. Last year's Mech and the Moray blue decks were sweet!
They've never released a listing of who the vendors will be. Best thing to do is ask your favorite ones if they're going. Or hope they chime in here. I know that Armageddon Toys and Brian's Toys usually make a big showing.
iirc, the earliest list you'll see of all vendors there will be the night you register. i think MC always has a full listing of vendors in the convention registration packages you pick up when you register (i could be wrong though)....
in ref to the hotel, i did some research and it seems like alot of the smaller hotels and b&b's in the french quarter are still closed. the only hotels i found that were open for reservations are the larger ones which are pretty pricey. i went ahead and reserved @ the sheraton.
fyi, they do charge you $27 a day to park your car there...so factor that in. iirc, the last time i went down to NO, most places close to where the con will be also charge for parking....sooo....