So you got your tickets last year for this year’s epicness of badassery - ie San Diego Comic Convention 2012. Now what? What do you expect? What do you do? What do you bring? Here’s how we do it in my house.
If you aren’t good in crowds you might be in trouble. 176,000 people in attendance, plus panelists, pros, and the entirety of downtown San Diego will be ever present for five full days.
Wednesday pack the bags load the car and drive down to San Diego to pick up passes for the weekend. Four day pass holders pick up at the Convention Center and if you got Preview night hang out and enjoy the convention hall. If not get your pass and enjoy Downtown San Diego for a little while. We then hit our accommodations (free at a friend’s house!) and get dinner then begin to plot out of weekend with the free Program you get with your nifty weekend badge. Keep this handy you aren’t getting far without it!
Pack the book bag and camera bag for the following day. Charge up the cell phone and camera batteries. Fill water bottles, and prepack lunches and/or snacks (veggies and fruit go a long way). Make sure to bring enough $1’s, $5’s and $10’s to hold off for tips, parking, trolley pass(es), must have first day purchases and vending machine sodas. Bring CASH money although most venders take plastic, the ATM’s take fees and vending machines are more worth the value of a bottled caffeine charge verses the overpriced concessions.
Morning of, up before the sun, shower and dressed, grab and go breakfast: Comfortable walking shoes, cell phone, DEODARANT, backpack, camera(s), tripod, a BUSSINESS CARDS, pens, a buddy, and loads of energy.
Pre-purchase parking. $15 a day is better than the hiked up prices day of. Or better yet, park away from the convention center and take the Trolley $15 for the full weekend. Be sure to buy your passes in advance (the theme of this entire weekend is buy ahead of time!) - cops do patrol the trolley’s and will ticket you’re ass if you try to skip paying for the ride.
Convention Shuttles/buses from hotels - you were so lucky to get a hotel room nearby (I stay with friends so I don’t have pointers for that) so take a shuttle, they are 24hrs this year (2012) and free. So that’s a good deal!
Bike taxi aren’t poor choices either, $10-$15 plus tip and can fit about 4 people (tip well these kids are working students).
Once you are in the convention center entering via DOOR C or D, get your baring’s. SAILS PAVILLION up the escalator to the right. Through the pavilion you will find AUTOGRAPH AREA signings. LIMITED signings will have a LOTTO drawing the morning before they begin, get in line and pray. If the signing is a first come first served signing you get in line and wait. These often go by quick, rushing through the line as the limit is based on time rather than number of autographs. Some actors, authors, artists, etc. will even come back a second day to sign more, or set up booths of their own either on the SHOW FLOOR (i.e. EXHIBIT HALL) or in the AUTOGRAH AREA to sign (for a fee). Bring $10-$15 … technically you paying for the photo they are signing…so whatever.
To the LEFT back towards the escalators you came in from you will find BALLROOM 20 – the line usually will wind around DISNEY style outside, once it’s moving it MOVING. Get your buddy and rotate in line if you have to. It’s done all the time just don’t save space for 5 or more friends NO ONE will WANT YOUR DAMN FREE HUGS after that! (It’s a joke once you are there you will understand). Some people may be loitering outside ballroom 20 near the pavilion and concessions – this is sort of a pain to walk through them all but you get used to it and maneuver around them. More panel rooms for smaller educational panels will also be on this side (such as Room 30 – 32 etc).
If you go back through the pavilion to the RIGHT you will go into ROOM 6DEF and other slightly smaller panel rooms.
Downstairs you will find the EXHIBIT HALL, ARTIST ALLEY, FOOD COURTS and SWAG – that means free chiz all around, lights, motion, people! Lots of flipping peoples, playing games, trying new technology or video games, buying books, toys, action figures or getting an artist to draw (for a “fee”) anything and everything for you in ARTIST ALLEY. Walk back OUT of the EXHIBIT HALL and OUTSIDE and to the RIGHT you will find the LONGEST LINE IN HISTORY – HALL H often winding down towards the HILTON and zig zagging under tents in hopes of preventing the spandex from sticking, make-up from melting and the everyday heat stroke. Here you will need to line up at the butt crack of dawn with breakfast in tow. Bring enough for the five to six friends you will probably make in line while waiting for whatever panel it is to begin hours later.
HALL H has its own restrooms and concessions so if you are in…STAY IN! Years ago we had a pencil in the eye incident that shut down the room for hours; do you really want to be the person to piss off 6,499 people because you were saving a seat for someone who may not even make it back in the room because s/he just HAD to leave for some unheard of reason? (And get banned for LIFE!)
Con does NOT empty rooms between panels. Repeat CON DOES NOT EMPTY ROOMS between PANELS! Get a seat, get comfortable.
Suggestions for purchasing food: I like the fish n chips across the streets, the beer’s not bad. Vending machines by the TROLLEY are $1.25 per purchase – Coke products. Inside prices range from AIRPORT to DODGER STADIUM prices and don’t serve beer. Reservations may be a downer but help – get them in advance. The PROGRAM will list places with DISCOUNTS during the CON and aren’t bad. STARBUCKS inside convention bumps up the price about 20% over the STARBUCK on 1st, 5th, etc. Smartphone GOOGLE MAPS are great.
Water fountains all around the convention center and STARBUCKS both in and out of the CON provide FREE WATER.
Now you’re in, now what? Make sure you know what line you are in. Know the room schedule. Most of the smaller rooms will have the day’s events on a board outside but the larger rooms, Hall H, Ballroom 20 may not. Know where and when you are going. So that’s covered, and you are now (finally) in the room of your choice, found a seat (if you are lucky one for your friend if not suck it up sit alone – won’t kill you I promise.) The panel is about to begin – PAY ATTENTION TO THE ANNOUCER they will give you the rules in which to play by such as:
- Give it up – if you have a seat near you that isn’t going to someone FOR SURE – let them know so someone can have a seat and enjoy the panel with you.
- Yes, there will be a Q&A at the end of the panel but there are rules for that too such as ASK A QUESTION, NO PURPOSALS, NO PHOTOS, NO HUGS, NO AUTOGRAPHS (don’t ask for their name card – it’s sort of a lame attempt really and takes up time from the other fans with questions).
- No filming of the sneak peeks, previews, etc. Basically if it’s new previewed exclusive material on the screen DO NOT FILM IT, might actually get you kicked out or your camera taken away. I know it happens and will be on YOUTUBE within moments but why? The official stuff will post soon enough too.
Weapons check: Lobby E near the entrance will have security checking all mock (or otherwise) weapons. Basic rules – NOT LOADED. NOT ACTIVE. NOT SHARP. NOT REAL. If security deems you a “go” you get a wrist band and sticker on the weapon to be worn or displayed at the CON. If you are not deemed worthy your weapon will be stored until the end of CON where you can pick it up from security. If you do not check your item and are caught you will be escorted to Lobby E for weapons check.
Basic courteous behavior is nice. If you bump into someone or need to get by quickly SAY EXCUSE ME. Don’t be a dick. If there is a puppy-aid or someone in a wheel chair in the crowd (there will be!) then be polite to them, and if you are the person with a puppy or in a wheel chair – be patient with those of us who are not. Similarly after a couple of days some persons may be a bit ripe. BATHING and DEODARANT are common courtesy.
The free stuff maybe nice but BE nice about it. Don’t claw or climb over the vertically challenged to get that XL t-shirt from FOX or the MEGA BAG from SyFy (aka SciFi).
Check out the after parties, the pre parties, the outside events (HAMMER DON’T HURT EM has had improve shows in the past with the cast of THE GUILD) and my new favorite NERD HQ. These events are always listed online, just seek them out.
Last but not least SDCC has a no tolerance for bullying, violence or prejudice. This is a place of peace. We are on common ground, be excellent to each other.
*Note: Load up on B vitamins, purell and EmerGenC - you’re immune system will thank you.