Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Top 10 Tips for San Diego Comic Con

I began attending San Diego Comic Con in 2009 almost on a whim.  My ex-husband is a professional and he was able to get free passes for us, so I said go for it since we were living in San Diego. Looking back on these last six SDDCs, I have learned a LOT and every year has been better than the last! Here I will share with you what I have learned and loved most about SDCC.

1. Get up early. Just be prepared not to sleep from Preview Night until the end of SDCC Sunday evening. Maybe catch a quick cat nap in between panels, parties and people watching. There is just too much to see and the lines are longer than ever.  If you want in Ballroom 20 or Hall H panel you are going to have to put in the time. In 2009 I got into H Hall's first panel with an arrival time of 8am. In 2013 we arrived in line for Ballroom 20 at 2am and I was the last person to get into its first panel of the day.
2. Leave the convention center! The first two years I didn't even venture outside the convention center and now the Hard Rock Hotel is my favorite spot to spy celebrities {Nathan Fillion, the cast of Being Human U.S., Thomas Jane, Nick Swardson}. You cannot miss NERDHQ (RIP) with its small panels in an intimate setting. Plus Zachary Levi walking around chatting everyone up. Need more proof. My brother was DYING to meet Robert Kirkman last year, but inside the convention center there were only ticketed lotteries and no way getting through the mob. While walking downtown looking for Nerd HQ, I spied a small store that had a sign saying Robert Kirkman was going to do a signing there a few hours from that moment and there were about 7 people in line! Made my brother's con. Venture out people!

3. Parking passes are a God sent. When they go on sale buy them and buy them fast. We have been able to park underneath the convention center since 2010. Only 2013 was I unable to get a pass for the convention center on preview night and had to park at the Hilton Bay Front Hotel, still an amazing spot. You can drop stuff off, have extra supplies readily available and not have to worry about where your car is all day. Completely worth the money. Note the convention center garage does not open until 5am.

4. Your camera should always be at the ready. You NEVER know who you are going to bump into. It was Sunday one year and as soon as I walked on the floor I saw Andy Serkis chatting away with Peter Mayhew! I was so busy walking and taking their picture I almost ran straight into Sam Witwer! Which would have actually not been too horrible! That is why I try to always keep eyes up and not ALWAYS on the phone. Though...
5. Check, check, check Twitter.  Who do you want to "bump" into most?  Follow them and all their friends on Twitter. Follow the SDCC hotels. Follow the Gaslamp and all their restaurants. One year I was about to leave SDCC for the day and checked Twitter. I saw that Nathan Fillion tweeted that he was at the CA Browncoats booth. I booked it over there as fast as my legs could carry me and I was able to get a Serenity comic signed by him! Which actually leads me to my #6.

6. Have cash! If it wasn't for me having cash I wouldn't even have been able to have the comic. I had spent all mine that day, at that exact booth ironically and Nathan was only signing a special comic with all the money going to charity.

7. Laptop and chargers will come in handy for those LONG days! You can start downloading pictures, sharing the fun and keep connected. For me I was able to start editing pictures and writing blog posts that I needed to have done before any sleep that night, if there was any sleep to be had. My favorite thing to keep me electronically charged at SDCC are these re-useable batteries.
8. Just ask. Have a question? You never know when you will get a yes! Felicia Day was a ticketed signing and my brother was super bummed he got there late. There was such a short line and it was moving rather quickly, so we asked and they said sure walk right in. No was ticket needed. Asking made him a happy fan boy.

9. Snacks. The convention center food is pretzels, nachos and the like. Not something that is going to help you get through the day. Buy bars, fruit, crackers and have a water bottle to keep on your person.  Also have your car or hotel room well stocked to for pit stops throughout the long days and nights. Gaslamp restaurants are usually crowded, if you can make reservations before hand. Another easy thing to do, call room service!
10. Bathroom Passes are a great way to get stuff done in between panels you are waiting for. Just make sure you have a friend with you to save your seat. By all means use the restroom if you need to, but last year I was in Ballroom 20 and used mine to run down to the Fringe signing and take pictures during a panel I didn't particularly care for. You could also shop or just stretch your legs. We usually spend at least one full day in Ballroom 20 so it is definitely needed. Just do not lose the pass or you will NOT be allowed back into the room. I keep mine in my badge holder.
BONUS: Seat Hoppers. When the panel looks like it is about to end, go up as close as you can and starts stalking people who intend to leave. Last year for the Firefly panel we queued up at 2 a.m. and got great seats. The next day we seat hopped and got even better seats.

My final advice is to just breath, take it all in and be kind to one another. We are what we make it! Comment below if you have any additional questions about San Diego Comic Con. You can also check out our San Diego Comic Con Guide for more useful tips and tricks! If this post helped you, share please share it with your friends!


Dolnor said...

Started going to Comic Con back when you could buy tickets at the door and it was in the old convention center. My last one was 3 years ago. Just too many people, can't wait 6 hours in line for a 30 minute presentation, and tickets sell out in minutes! 4-day passes sell out at the show, can't get them at all (I don't have a S.O. who gets free ones! Wanna adopt me???!!)

Have fun and post lots of pics. I shall live vicariously through you! -)


Anonymous said...

The lines increasing are no joke though I must have better luck because I didn't line up till 5:30 am for Ballroom 20 but made it in for the first panel Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I am definitely going to get a parking pass this year I didn't realize they were so cheap.

Karla Do More said...

Loved this post!!! Seeing as I've never been to one it is good to have these things in mind. :)

MrFixit said...

2014 will be my 31st cci and your advice has the ring of truth. good job Great site.


Francisco, WOW thank you so much!!

grrfeisty said...

I've always wanted to attend one of these bigger events [Houston Comicpalooza is so small scale compared to these] but I would definitely be overwhelmed!


It is at 1st, but there are so many awesome nerds there! Just make sure to talk to someone you are all there for the same thing!! Thank you for the comment! xo

Anonymous said...

This will be my 3rd trip and I've yet to find out how you get to be in line for signatures and swag at WB, ABC, CW, booths (ground floor). The 1st trip you just got in line, the 2nd trip people had tickets to be in line. Where do the tickets come from - at the panel or do you have to register for them???? I'm 63 yrs. old and this probably will be my last trip and I would love to get some up close pics at these sites. Any suggestions??? :)


Head over to the booth the signing will be at. They usually give them out first thing in the morning. I always check with them straight away. Even if the signing is further in the weekend.

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