A Newbie’s Guide to Attending Comic-Con

In Culture, Featured by Amanda Valdovinos

– By Lana Young –

Last year my best friend Julia and I were able to check the San Diego Comi-Con off our bucket list, and we continued to surprise ourselves by succeeding in getting tickets for the second year in a row! Below are some things I want to pass on about my experience from attending the past two years.

Getting In

When people find out that I have gone and or are going to Comic Con their first question is “How did you get tickets?” Well, the first step is you have to actually sign up and register for an account on their site. Then you wait for them to send you an email about when tickets go on sale. Follow their instructions then hope and pray you’re one of the lucky few to become ‘the chosen ones.’

*Pro tip: Get together with friends – it increases your chances, because if you’re chosen to purchase ticket you can buy for 2 other people as well. This is how I got tickets the last two years, the portal has actually closed on me twice but my friend got chosen both times!

Now What?

So you got tickets, now what? There’s so much to do and so little time. First if you’re planning on cosplay make sure you get that all planned out and ready way before the Con. One of the most important things is to NOT FORGET YOUR BADGE. After all the toil of trying to get a hold of one you don’t want to get all prepped and dressed up and show up to realize you can’t get inside.

What should you bring? I suggest that you bring a bag of some sort to carry things from water and snacks to souvenirs. Bring lots of snacks because the food in the convention center is expensive and limited. I would also suggest making sure you have some cash on you as some of the booths won’t take cards.

Plan of Attack

Now the next bit of advice might sound counterintuitive but don’t show up early. You’ll just be waiting outside in the hot sun waiting to get into the center. Show up on time or even a bit late because then you can just walk straight inside.

Don’t forget to collect your freebies! My friend Julia and I didn’t know our first year that along with the badges you also can collect a free packet upstairs that contains an exclusive tote/book bag to carry all your stuff along with a lanyard for your badge. In addition, it will have a booklet of information about what’s happening that day and where.

Decide as soon as possible what you want to dedicate your day to – whether that’s after you get the schedule or before you show up. Are you going to try to go to panels, autographs/meet and greets, or are you more interested in hanging out and walking the floor? If you only have a one-day pass you won’t be able to do it all, so you’ll have to prioritize what you want to do.

Getting Into Hall H

The infamous Hall H where all the big panels take place, such as Marvel. If you want to get into a panel you’ll have to strategize when the least popular panel is and try to get into that one, as the wait will be way less time. Then once you’re in, you get a ticket to return within the next hour. Once you’ve gotten in you can come and go into the hall as you please.

Surviving the Floor

The floor is where all the booths are. There are all kinds of things to see and buy on the floor. It’s very busy and can be overwhelming. My main advice for maneuvering the floor is to follow your gut instinct. If you’re wandering around and you find something interesting or that you like, stop and go for it. I would encourage impulse spending on the floor mostly for the fact that unless you really know where everything is, it will be hard to find your way there again. And if you think it’s really special or something you want then it will be worth it.

Take advantage of all the people actually there. If you like the artwork, the majority of the time the artist will be there and you can talk to them about their work and have them sign it. And if you like an artist but don’t/can’t buy something from them, then take their business card.

Also, if you see people on the floor with cool cosplays and you want a picture, just be polite and ask. Or even just say in passing that you appreciate their costume.

Please don’t try to take pictures in passing as you might be holding up an area with lots of moving people and it can sometimes be a bit creepy; all you have to do is ask. Cosplayers want you to talk to them and ask them for pictures and interact – that’s part of the reason why they do it. Also please do not grab someone as a way to get their attention as that can be very scary when in a packed crowd.

It’s Like a Vacation

San Diego Comic Con is a nerd’s dream come true and it’s really fun despite all the stress you have to put up with during it. It really is an incredible opportunity to experience all the excitement and to be surrounded by such passionate people. It’s not for everyone, but if it sounds like something you’re interested in I would suggest trying to go. Or even maybe wet your feet at another smaller Con. If you do go, remember to have fun and enjoy the experience! And if you don’t, get in there’s still lots to do outside the convention center.