…or any convention, for that matter!
If you’re a fan of pop culture and comic books, then you know that as Summer nears, so does the San Diego Comic-Con. That’s right, every July the enormous convention takes Downtown San Diego by storm and brings celebrities, pop-up shops, exclusive merchandise and more than 100,000 attendees over the course of five days.
It’s exhilarating. It’s fun. It’s awesome. It’s also exhausting. If you’re not prepared, you’ll end up spending the funnest weekend of the year tired, sweaty and upset. Here are our tips for attending San Diego Comic-Con, if you’re lucky enough to have that golden ticket this year!
Bring Comfortable Shoes
Let’s start off with the obvious. Your’e going to be walking. Like, a lot. No, you’re not understanding me. You will be walking so much that your feet will be sure to exact its revenge before the end of the day, and for the days following the convention.
That’s why you should plan on bringing a nice pair of walking shoes. Nike, Adidas, Reebok, or whatever you like. Just make sure the shoes are supportive, cushioned and somewhat thin. Thick and heavy shoes will be hot, uncomfortable, and will make your feet sweat. Gross.
Bad shoes to wear: Chuck Taylors, Vans, boots, any flat bottomed shoe.
Have A Game Plan
San Diego Comic-Con is overwhelming. If it’s your first time attending, then you’ll no doubt be in awe of how much there is to offer. Fight the temptation to blindly scale up and down the aisles. Do your research before attending SDCC.
Use the resources at your disposal by checking the Floor Plan for the convention hall. Decide what booths are on your “Must See” list and plan accordingly. The San Diego Convention Center is enormous so don’t expect every popular booth to be right next to each other.
If you’re trying to get your hands on some Convention Exclusives, then you might want to hit those up first. In recent years, SDCC has been holding raffles and/or lotteries just to be able to get a shot at getting that awesome Funko Pop. That means that it’s not first-come-first-serve anymore. The popularity of some merchandise grew so large that it became too chaotic to do it that way. So my advice to you is decide what you want the most, and enter a raffle or get in line to get a ticket.
The problem with this is that you’re essentially waiting in line to get a ticket to wait in another line. Oftentimes, the line for a line ticket takes up more time than actually waiting in line to buy that exclusive KidRobot Vinyl Figure. Yeah, it’s frustrating but it is what it is. We have to deal with it.
Parking Will Be Hard To Find
If you plan on driving to the convention for a day, then you better get there early enough to find a parking spot in a public parking structure. By “early” I mean 6-6:30am early. The convention usually doesn’t open their doors until 9am, so people are rushing to get in line. That’s not necessary in my opinion.
If you get to Downtown San Diego near opening time, then you’re definitely going to have to park like a mile away. If you don’t want to accept that you came too late, then you can still find parking in private lots. The problem here is that I’ve seen some lots charge upwards of $75 for the day! You don’t want to do that. That’s money you could be spending on geek stuff.
Bring Your Own Supplies
This one is sort of important but easy to forget. Bring your own pens and/or Sharpies. If you’re planning on waiting in line to get an autograph from your favorite voiceover artist, comic book writer or TV character that has their own booth, then they usually come supplied.
This is for those unexpected situations. Say, when you’re waiting in line at the concessions stand and one of the kids from Stranger Things just happens to be waiting in line next to you. It always helps to be prepared, and I’m sure they’ll appreciate your consideration.
I also recommend bringing your own headshots, comics, and toys if you’re planning on getting an autograph from someone specifically. A lot of times their booths will have merchandise to sell but at a very inflated cost!
Have Hand Sanitizer With You
As I mentioned before, conventions get very, VERY crowded and you’re pretty much touching and rubbing up on everyone and everything. I recommend bringing a travel sized hand sanitizer, or better yet, wet wipes.
If you’re planning on attending SDCC specifically, then the wet wipes will be a godsend! I can’t tell you how sweaty and musty the air will be and having a wet wipe on hand to wipe your forehead and hands is probably the smartest thing you can do to stay cool.
On top of these hygiene products, I also recommend bringing some Tylenol. You don’t want your day ruined by an unwelcome headache.
Bring Some Snacks
I’m not talking about junk food or soda. As tasty and refreshing as those may be, you should really be eating something that will give you energy instead of something that’ll make you feel more gross.
You should definitely have a water bottle with you. I recommend bringing some small snacks like peanut butter cookies or protein bars. They’ll fill you up and give you a little more energy to last a bit longer.
Plus, the concessions stands are usually outrageously priced so you’re saving money in the long run. Also, don’t feel like you HAVE TO buy food at the convention center. San Diego Comic-Con is located next to tons of restaurants and small bodegas in San Diego’s Gaslamp District that are much better priced (if you don’t mind waiting in a long line.)
Be Prepared To Have Baggage
It’s very rare that you attend a convention as big as SDCC and walk out empty handed. There is so much merchandise, clothes and toys that you are bound to find something to take home. Thankfully the good people at SDCC supply you with a giant convention bag to carry all your freebies and goods that they’ll give you when picking up your lanyard and program guide.
The problem is that after a while, it’ll start to weigh you down. Going back to the parking situation, if you were lucky enough to score a parking spot close by, I recommend taking a trip back to the car halfway through your day to unload some stuff and head back feeling light as a feather. If you were one of the lucky bastards who got a hotel room in the vicinity of the Convention Center, you’re in even more luck.
Just a heads up: If you plan on bringing your DSLR Camera and accessories, just remember that those are things that take up precious carrying space on your person. Unless you’re there for journalistic purposes, then your iPhone will do just fine.
In such an overwhelming and fast-paced environment, it’s easy to lose our cool at some point or another. This can be with the friends who came with us or the other attendees. Chances are that someone will make you angry after a long day of walking and breathing other people’s must.
I’ve seen fights at every convention I’ve ever attended, and they usually stem from something as little as, “Why did you bump into me!?” or, “Hey! You cut in line!”.
Don’t ruin your day with such petty things. Stay in a good mood. If not for yourself, then for the people you came with. Just remember that you’re there to have fun!
Well folks, hopefully we’ve enlightened you with some insight about what it’s like attending a giant convention. No matter what, have fun and enjoy your time there. There’s truly nothing like being in a giant building filled with people who are like-minded.
Don’t forget that you can see all the info about SDCC at their official site.