As a long time attendee for the last 30 years for this crazy lil’ comic convention called San Diego ComicCon, I thought it might be helpful to pass along some tips on surviving the show:
1) Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will be doing marathon walking just to get around. It seems like one end of the convention to the far end is over a mile, at least it seems like it.
2) Avoid trying to drive a car and park a car anywhere close to the convention center. There just isn’t enough parking spots and way, way overpriced. Best option try to park outside of the down-town area, but close to the San Diego Trolley and take the Trolley in. Trolley drops you off right across the street of the show. Another way to get to the show is to use one of the multitude of the free Con Shuttle buses that stops at a lot of the hotels in the down-town area. Usually you just have to wait about 20 minutes, hop on a nice air-conditioned bus, and be dropped off curbside to the show! Use the shuttle, it is what is there for! Here is the link for the ComicCon Shuttle schedule.
3) Bring cash BEFORE going to the show. The long lines and excessive ATM fees are to be avoid. You don’t want to spend all of your precious time waiting to pull out money at an ATM, do you? Paying by credit card is accepted by some of the dealers, but will probably charge you an extra 2 or 3 percent fee to use your credit card.
4) Check out the ComicCon website, and get valuable information about panels, hours, etc. Have a smart phone or tablet, download the free ComicCon app. The app is updated often with the latest info and panel listings.
5) Bring a light backpack to carry your loot that you will be picking up. Don’t bring a bulk box. Wheel carts are NOT allowed at the show.
6) Food/Snacks: The food at the Con isn’t great and is very expensive for what you get. Bring some high energy snacks like Trail Mix or Granola bars to keep up your energy level. Bring a water bottle. You can fill them up at the various water fountains or some of the panel rooms.
7) If you finish the day at the Con early, and would like to save a bunch of time leaving the Con in a timely fashion, try leaving the show a minimum of 30 minutes before it closes. When the show closes for the day, there is a mad rush of people heading to the Shuttle lines or Trolleys or even to cross the street to the famous Gaslamp Quarter. You can beat most of these crazy cattle stampede by leaving a bit before everyone else. I know you don’t ever want to leave, I don’t either, but trust me that 30 minutes will save you an hour or more!
8) Take breaks. Walking the convention is a lot of work. Take breaks often and find a place to sit down and relax a bit. Enjoy the amazing array of CosPlay people in costumes as they walk by. Your feet and body will thank you. It can be a little hard to find empty chairs to sit down. Find a small panel room, and you can usually find empty seats at the back of the room to unwind, and take a load off your feet.
9) CosPlay photos: You will see a ton of people in an incredible dizzying multitude of colorful costumes. If you would like a picture of them, make sure that they are not busy and politely ask them if it would be okay to get a photo of them.
10) Extra juice: bring extra batteries for your camera. If you are taking pictures with your phone, you might want to look into bringing some kind of external extra battery pack. Turn the WiFi and Bluetooth off on your phone, cellphone reception is spotty at best, and if you don’t have a signal, nothing drains your phone faster than it constantly searching for cell service, WiFi and competing Bluetooth signals.
11) Going to the show with family and friends? It is easy to separated from your party. The dealer room gets so crowded, that sometimes you can’t even see the carpet beneath your feet. Have a regular meeting spot and time picked out BEFORE entering the Hall, just in case you get separated or want to meet up later. I usually tell my friends, to meet at the columns in front of the DC Comics booth at specific time.
1) Sketch: If you plan on getting a sketch or two, make sure you locate the Artist in Artist Alley as soon as possible early in the show, preferably the first day. Artists have a limited amount of time to do drawings, and their sketch lists fill up very quickly. So this should be one of your first priorities!
2) Autographs: If you would like to get an autograph, please be respectful of the signer, please limit the number of items to be signed to 3 or under, and don’t forget to thank the signer. You don’t want to be one of those dreadful eBay opportunists who bring a large stack of comics to be signed, simply to get home and sell them on eBay! Don’t do it! We see your eBay bozos a mile away, with your large stack of items to be signed!
Attending Panels especially Hall H or Ballroom 20
1) If you would like to attend a panel, especially one in Hall H (the big monster huge room, I think the H stands for Humoungous!) or Ballroom 20, plan on waking up and getting to the show BEFORE the show opens, and get in line outside at the far south end of the convention center. Better yet, if you do make it in, you might want to stay in the room for multiple panels, or even the entire day.
2) Don’t take pictures or videos with your phone. The staff wanders the room and looks for people taking pics or videos. Don’t bother, it will probably be uploaded to YouTube.com later anyways!
1) Don’t forget the Con is 4 days of 24 hours of non-stop fun! There are 24 hours each day of genre movies, anime, and panels going on. There are a lot of activities going on outside of the convention. There are vendors, food trucks, parties all around the show. Don’t forget that there are usually fun events going on at the PetCo Stadium too.
And most importantly, have a great time! Set phasers on fun!
Thanks this was helpful, especially the parking and shuttle stuff. keep it coming.