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1. There’s a line for EVERYTHING!
If there’s something you really want to see/buy, be prepared to be up by as early as 4:00am. Even if the panel doesn’t start until 2:00pm. Be prepared to sit through a bunch of crap you don’t care about. This is especially true of everything in Hall H and Ballroom 20, but even true of some of the stores (Hasbro/the official Comic-Con store). Even some of the easier rooms to get into will be packed, so plan ahead. This is apocryphal, but the only room I was able to walk right into this weekend was the Indigo Ballroom.
2. Bring water and snacks.
You probably won’t have a chance to eat breakfast or lunch if you follow tip one, so make your food and drink mobile. Chances are you will not have a problem finding time to waste eating while you’re standing around waiting to do something.
3. Avoid Saturday as much as possible.
Saturday at Comic-Con is an absolute, unfettered mess. Being the weekend and having a lot of people decide they want to attend at least one day, the Saturday pass seemed by far the most popular and the exhibit hall floor was by far the most packed and stressful of any day at the convention. Additionally, most of the stores sell out of their Comic-Con exclusives on Saturday morning, making your chances of scoring one near zero if it’s a popular item.
4. Head to Preview Night.
Preview night (Wednesday) is popular for a lot of people shopping for Comic-Con exclusives, but if you avoid shopping, there is a LOT of stuff you can get accomplished on the least crowded night of the con. I was able to take in almost every sight I wanted to see in the exhibit hall on Wednesday, freeing the rest of my weekend up to…work. But if you’re just there for sightseeing/shopping/panels, then preview night can allow you to feel like you’re not missing anything while you’re standing in line for the other stuff.
5. Check out the Areas Around the Con.
A lot of sponsors pay a lot of money to set up events and take over businesses around the convention center in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. A lot of those events have free food/drinks/swag and are free and open to the public. Others, are just cool little spots that you probably won’t get to see again.
6. Pack Light.
I had three full bags of crap to schlep home with me and I barely bought anything on the show floor. If you’re interested at all in buying and bringing things home with you, you’re going to have to bring less stuff with you on the way out, or check some empty bags. Another option is using the FedEx Office in the building or the UPS store a few blocks away to ship home, but it’s very expensive.
8. You Don’t Have to Stay Too Close to the Convention.
While staying at the Hilton or Marriott or other nearby hotels has a certain appeal, if you’re attending on a budget, San Diego is one of the most commuter friendly cities in the country. You can stay as far away as Old Town or even out near the football stadium and take a regular tram right down to the convention center all weekend. The tram stops running on Sunday night though, so beware if you’re planning on attending any after parties.
9. Wear Comfortable Shoes.
I would estimate that I was standing or walking around 15 hours per day traveling to and from and experiencing the convention. There are opportunities to sit, especially if you’re just waiting in line or you’re attending a panel, but for most people those are few and far between. If you’re cosplaying, only do it one day (likely Saturday) and be comfortable for the rest of the weekend.
9. Save your non-exclusive shopping for Sundays.
If you really really want a Comic-Con exclusive item, your best bet is to try to get there Wednesday or Thursday. If the item is popular enough, it will be gone by Friday. Many of the booths had exclusive items coming in until Saturday morning, but after that they were gone. If the item you want is just a regular book, toy, or art piece, try tracking it down on Sunday as most vendors will be more willing to give you a deal or haggle over the merch they don’t want to bother bringing home with them.
10. Check out Artist’s Alley
A lot of cool artists are available every day, taking relatively inexpensive commissions for cool artwork.
-A thousand yard stare as I fought off sore feet, general tiredness, jet lag, and lines, but I got to see just about all the booths and developed a plan of attack for what I could do in the weekend to come.
-Visited the Defiance café in the Gaslamp. Total conversion from the original standard restaurant into a giant ad for the SyFy channel show/game waited on by “Sailor Moon”
-Attended the How to Get into Comics panel ahead of the X-Play panel. Scored an exclusive interview with two Mass Effect writers.
Thanks to Chris and Sylvia for their time.
-Twilight fans caused at least two riots (Hall H and autographs on the floor)
-Ran into the Mustache Monocle Kickstarter guys
-Not much happening on the floor.
-6,000th in line for the Community panel (Thanks Firefly!) so got to see South Park: Order of the Stick and Assassin’s Creed 3 demos on the show floor with no lines. Thanks Walking Dead, Firefly and Hasbro panels!
-Interview with the people behind Necomimi:
It’s a cool device and really interesting. By Sunday, I saw one pretty much everywhere I looked, so it seemed like a big hit, and some of them were going absolutely nuts. Laura has one, what do you think about it?
-Checked out press events for Coma (a TV show on A&E), History Channel’s Great American BBQ, and Frankenweenie. Coma and Frank had great atmosphere but were missing on the delivery (just a photo op and just a HGTV ad) but the Frankenweenie booth inside the CC was cool. BBQ was fine but timed and boring.
-Visited Mass Effect Lounge (cool, relaxing) and GameSpot lounge (cool but a lot of the games were broken)
-Optimus Prime: Up Close and Personal Panel
Larry King was a horrible host in the sense that he clearly did zero research outside “Peter Cullen plays a Truck” and had to be walked through who Eeyore was and why Mr. Cullen didn’t want to talk about his ties to Disney. However, he was generally very good at audience banter.
Peter Cullen was just on fire, however, providing telling a lot of nice stories about how much playing Optimus Prime meant to him, why he resented but forgave Michael Bay for having Optimus say “Kill them all” in Transformers 3, and telling two little boys to be good because Optimus Prime loved them.
-Exhausting Hasbro Line
-Interview with Roger Corman and William Shatner. Audio on the Hock Show next week!
-Talked to Iron Sky people who are very excited to be coming nationwide soon.
-Saw Sheamus, RVD, Shane Helms, Zack Ryder, John Morrison, Alicia Fox, Layla and Christopher Daniels on the show floor at one time or another. The big difference? Only Christopher Daniels didn’t have a posse.
-Nobody wants a Star Trek guy’s autograph for $40 L But it’s better for them than it is in the `Sails Pavillion featuring such luminaries as Admiral Motti from Star Wars, Kynt and Vyxin from Amazing Race, and Fat Momma.
-Visited the Indigo Ballroom for the Being Human, Shameless (they just started filming and things are going to be darker this year) and Glee (they clearly don’t have anything written for next season yet) panels.
-Ate at Dicks Last Resort, but my thousand mile stare kept the waiter from being too mean to me.
-Checked out the Merlin (cool show and the cast and crew they had there seemed very excited that a BBC show was going over well in the US. Girls went NUTS for this) and Star Wars voice panels. At least one of them was high and Tara Strong had no idea that she’d ever appeared in a Star Wars game so she just decided to do My Little Pony voices to appease the crowd. No new info about the game until they announced HK-51 at the very end.
-Perused the show floor for deals
-Winner Twins panel: two 17 year old dyslexic, ADD girls with poor immune systems who are more accomplished than any of us put together. Self published and interesting when they aren’t distracted by everything ever.
Top Stories from Comic-Con that I *didn’t* see: