How to Survive Comic Con 2017
Comic Con 2017 is about a month away! Are you ready?!
Here is my revised survival guide for those who have attended in years past or for those who are newbies. The following will give you a rundown of what to expect from THE largest pop culture convention on the planet.
Comic Con 2017 will be held from Wednesday, July 19 to Sunday, July 23 this year, once again, at the massively large San Diego Convention Center.
By now you must have your 4-day pass if you want to be there for the entire “weekend” and Preview Night or have your daily passes; otherwise, you are virtually screwed because the event sold out early, as usual.
In addition to having your passes, you better have made a hotel reservation or housing arrangements earlier this year or, once again, you are going to be screwed. Hotel rooms are at a premium even through the official Comic Con International website; and if you don’t have a reservation by now, you simply have a difficult time finding one now.
So, for those of you still with me – you’ve got your passes and your hotel room – now you need to know what to expect from this crazy thing called Comic Con.
Read on for tips, recommendations and insight from this 15-year veteran of the event.
Depending on what day you are leaving for the event and how you’re getting there, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to not only get to San Diego but also to navigate around the city and find/get checked in at your hotel. Everyone else is going to be on the road, on the train, on the bus, in the plane or figuring out their own way to San Diego. Traffic is going to be heavy; and once you get there, the foot traffic is going to be even heavier.
Once you’ve arrived in San Diego and settled in, learn where your shuttle pick-up is located (or if your hotel is even on a shuttle route) or whether you have to get a cab or the trolley, where the hotel restaurant is located, where the local restaurants are, how far you are from the convention center if you are within walking distance, et al.
This leads us to dealing with the foot traffic each day of the convention. There are going to be hundreds of thousands of people in San Diego. You are going to need to learn the best route to get from your hotel (or wherever you are staying) to the convention center and back. You need to give yourself PLENTY of time to get there in the morning once you’re up and ready for the day. If you are going by vehicle (bus, car or trolley), it could potentially take you 30 minutes to a couple of hours to get where you need to go, depending on how bad the traffic turns out to be each day.
Pack for comfort. I cannot stress that enough!! Unless you have a valid and very important reason to dress in costume, dress in comfortable shoes and clothes! Your feet and body will thank you later! You will be walking the distance of THREE freaking football fields at the convention center. Up and down escalators and/or stairs. There are elevators, but they are usually crowded with those who cannot use other conveniences.
You will be going back and forth from one side of the convention center to the other or the surrounding hotels and other locations throughout the area as well as standing or slowly moving (if you are moving at all) in the lines to get into the panel rooms.
BE PREPARED!!! (These two words will be an ongoing theme. Consider it your mantra for the convention.)
Dress in layers. It may sound like a crazy idea, but if you plan on getting to the convention center early in the morning it could be chilly, there could be light rain and let’s not enough talk about the mist: wear a jacket! If you’re waiting outside of Hall H or one of the panels in one of the nearby hotels, wear plenty of sunscreen. Make sure you have plenty to wear when you are inside, too, because the panel rooms are downright FRIGID!
You are going to need a good, strong, sturdy large bag, tote bag or back pack. Your shoulders and arms will thank you!
Important Reminder: Do not bring wheeled carts, luggage, bags or boxes that require more than one person to carry or hold!
Besides bringing protection from the outside elements, you are going to need survival gear to get yourself through the long-ass convention days. You will want to think about bringing the following:
FOOD AND SNACKS:
• Snacks and Food (to get you through those long hours in the panel rooms when you can’t easily get away to grab food in or out of the convention center)
• Bottled water (you will want to keep hydrated)
• Handi-wipes/Kleenex/Napkins (keep your hands clean to take pictures, or to hold onto those special gifts or free swag tickets that could be distributed during various panels)
• Zip Lock Bags (for waste or just in case)
• Breath mints/certs/gum (you may not be able to brush your teeth after every meal)
• Body spray/deodorant (if you can smell the person sitting next to you, they can probably smell you too)
NOTE: Food and beverages at the convention center tend to be overpriced and not very tasty so it’s a good idea to bring non-perishable items like dried fruit, crackers, trail mix, candy, cookies, peanut butter sandwiches, energy bars, peanuts, chips and the like to get you through the day.
• Camera (Charger, Extra Batteries, Memory Card)
• Laptop [if you can’t live without it] (power cord and extra battery)
• Cell Phone (Charger, Extra Batteries)
• Cash (it’s best to have small bills to make it easier to get in and out of vendor booths, food lines, et al and keep your money in a safe place in your bag)
• Paper/Pens (if you want to make notes, give your contact information to someone or just in case)
• Medicine for allergies, Maalox for upset stomachs, Tylenol/Aspirin or the like for aches and pains
• Sheet Protectors (for those of you who collect photos or if you get those all-important autographs)
• Tiny flashlight (in case your cell phone runs down so you can navigate the dark panel rooms if need be)
There are hundreds of panels scheduled over the course of the convention. Then there are all the autograph opportunities and all the stuff going on in the Exhibition Hall (and so much more). It is to your advantage to figure out what you want to do each day AHEAD OF TIME!!
The Comic Con 2017 schedule will be released two weeks before the convention takes place. It is a good idea to print out each day’s schedule, highlighting all the panels you are interested in attending. Then go back and double check the times and locations.
This is where you will have to make the agonizing decisions because a lot of your panels will conflict or overlap. You will want to make your main schedule that will include all the panels that you cannot or do not want to miss. Then you will also want to give yourself a back-up list or two in case you can’t get into your top favorite panels. It’s all about choices and acceptance that you can’t get to or in to everything.
The same holds true for hitting the Exhibition Hall. You can learn ahead of time who will be down in the hall by checking out the Comic Con website or going through the Comic Con booklet that will be provided in your gift bag at registration. Learn where your favorite vendors are located and get to them early, especially if they have something specific for sale or an item that you desperately need for your collection.
BE PREPARED for crowds inside the Exhibition Hall, lots of noise and chaos. It is like an unorganized three-ring circus in there and it can get ABSOLUTELY crazy! Be forewarned that Saturday is typically the worst day, but in recent years almost every day of the convention, including Preview Night, are simply INSANE!
PEOPLE: The crowds are insane. Pay attention to where you are going so you don’t run into people who will be in wheelchairs, using canes, crutches or walkers and children who will be in strollers with their parents. MANY people will be in costume and, in some cases, cannot see well out of those costumes. Pay attention and BE PREPARED! Give room to those less fortunate than you!
SECURITY: If you are nice to them, they will be nice to you!! Security is a thankless job and they are routinely not informed enough (or not at all) about what is going on. Cut the security guards a break; they are JUST doing their job as best they can.
YOUR COMIC CON ID BADGE: Do NOT lose your ID badge. You will be out of luck if it is lost! Keep your ID handy, too, as the folks at Comic Con International will be checking ID and at various locations throughout the convention center you will need to tap in and tap out at the RFID stations at various doorways/access areas. If you don’t tap in and tap out, you will have problems gaining access.
BE PREPARED and enjoy Comic Con 2017!