Before I start this mini survival guide let me just say that for this post I am going to assume that San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) starts Thursday. I know the hardcore fans will ding me because technically tonight is the start of the Con with Preview Night, but please don’t give me too much hate.
Now to the matter at hand. This post is really for you nerd daters, especially those who are attending their first Con. Here’s the situation, your nerd is a Comic-Con veteran and this year wants to bring you along, and you agree thinking, “a weekend vacation in San Diego?, yeah I could handle that”…STOP RIGHT THERE, this is no vacation it’s like stepping onto the battlefield. Don’t worry I’m here to help you make it through the weekend with some tips that I’ve picked up over the past 5 years.
1. Wear comfortable shoes. If you are like me, you live in your flip-flops and are convinced that you could walk a marathon wearing your Rainbows, so when thinking about what to wear all day they are your go-to shoes…WRONG. DO NOT wear flip-flops to Comic-Con for the following reasons:
A. They are not ideal for dashing from panel to panel, which will probably happen at some point.
B. You are going to be doing A LOT of walking, you are basically on your feet for 4 days straight, so no matter what your feet will be killing you by the end of each day. It was surprising for me to learn that Rainbows do not take this pain away.
C. There is a huge chance that a rogue Wonder Woman will crush your toes with her boots.
2. Get Yourself a Zombie Survival Bag. In other words get yourself a backpack. Then fill it with all the items you could possibly need, because there is a good chance you aren’t going back to your hotel room until that night. Suggestions on items: snacks, a camera, a sketchbook (if you like to draw), something to read, tissues, sunglasses, a hat (for the Hall H waiting game), Chapstick, aspirin, water, iPod, phone, schedule of panels that you want to attend, map of the convention floor, and a map of the Gaslamp. Here’s my Comic-Con backpack.
3. Do Some Pre-Planning. I am prone to making organizational type grids because of my job and I know they aren’t for everyone but in this case they help. Go thru each day of the Con and Create a nice little spreadsheet containing the following info: title of panel, description of panel, time of panel and location. This will help you see if any of the panels you want to attend overlap, how early you need to arrive to each and if there is anything happening before in the space that you might be interested in.
4. Don’t Underestimate the Popularity of a Panel. You might think, no one else likes My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as much as I do, I can show up 5 minutes before the panel starts and get in, WRONG. I would recommend getting to a panel at least an hour ahead of time to get in, that is unless you are trying to get in to a panel in Hall H or Ballroom 20, then it’s at least 2-3. See my comments on those spaces in the next tip.
5. If You Get into Hall H or Ballroom 20, Set Up Camp. If you are a fan of TV and movies as I am those panels about True Blood, Vampire Diaries and Divergent sound amazing and you want to go to all of them. If this is your first time attending Comic-Con I wouldn’t recommend it because you are going to stand in line all day. More than likely these panels are being held in 1 of 2 places; Hall H or Ballroom 20. These are without a doubt the hardest rooms to get into to, people have camped overnight to get in to the first panel of the next day. If you just have to see a certain panel (believe me I’ve been there) and don’t mind standing in line for hours at a time then I suggest you get there and stay. The rooms ARE NOT cleared out after every panel so if you have something you want to see at 10 and then again at 2 in Hall H, there is no way to get back in if you leave. This can lead to you being in one room all day, but that’s a price some are willing to pay. Don’t believe me about the lines, see this photo below…
6. Get Away From the Convention Center. There are always a ton of things happening in the surrounding SD Downtown Gaslamp District during Comic-Con, even during the day. For example last year, Cyclops and I got sweet free TMNT hats and got free food at the History Channel area. Take my advice, do a little exploring, pick up from SWAG and escape the convention floor for a little bit each day.
Here’s a great list I found of events happening outside of the convention floor by Outside Comic-Con:
Check out the Zachary Levi (swoon) lead Nerd HQ Conversations for a Cause:
7. Yelp It Before Hand. And Eat at Weird Hours. For the past few years I have researched food options around the Con, including type of food, hours, Comic-Con specials and location. Then I mark it’s location on a Google Map, print both the list and map and bring with. This seriously cuts down on the amount of time you spend wandering around trying to figure out a place to eat. San Diego has a ton of great restaurants, you just need to know where to look. Also another little tip, sometimes if you eat a little off of your normal schedule of lunch and dinner you can avoid the thousands of other people trying to eat at say 12 and 7.
Here are a few places I’ve found with good tips on where to eat during the Con.
Comic-Con Restaurant Guide
Where to Eat & Drink During Comic-Com via Eater San Diego
More Comic-Con Food & Drink Deals Downtown via Eater San Diego
8. Explore the Nightlife. Ok maybe you can’t find anything you like at Comic-Con, but who doesn’t like to get their drink on? Every night of Comic-Con most bars and restaurants are having specials and there are always parties happening. Type in SDCC to Twitter and you can probably see your favorite shows and movies broadcasting how to get in to their parties. Or you can see if there are any shows or concerts happening, for example Cyclops always wants to hit up The Aquabats show at the House of Blues and this year we are attending a live taping of my favorite podcast, Hollywood Babble-On with Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman. So booze it up down because more than likely you are staying at a hotel within walking or shuttle distance so you can party all night long.
There are a few repeats from the Outside Comic-Con list from tip #6 but this list from Blurppy has all the parties going down.
9. Know the Name and Address of Your Hotel. If your hotel is on a shuttle route, and you party all night (see above) you might miss that last pick up. Getting a cab is much easier when you know where you are going. Maybe just paperclip an address tag to your coat or something…
10. Embrace the situation. Maybe SDCC doesn’t float your boat but if you pout the entire time you are closing yourself off to having fun and probably ruining the experience for your nerd. I pretty much give you my 99.9% guarantee that you can find something that interests you at the Con and if not then find a comfy bar stool and people watch the entire time, that in itself is entertainment enough. If you’re lucky you might see some sweet things like this:
There you have it, my 10 tips to get you thru this weekend. Good luck to all attending! For you newbies you can do it!
If there are other Con veterans please post below and share your knowledge as well.