Comic-Con International Issuing Wristbands For Hall H Entry [UPDATE]

hall h san diego convention center line

[UPDATE] Since so many of our readers had questions on how the new Hall H wristband policy would work, we reached out to Comic-Con International for some clarification. Thanks to David Glanzer, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Comic-Con International for the answers to your questions, below:

SDCC Unofficial Blog: What was the reasoning for the policy change?

David Glanzer: The wristbands will help those in line for the first panel of the day better understand whether they have a good chance of entering Hall H. The wristbands are color coded with each quarter of the room being assigned a specific color. This will allow us to also place signage at those points (where the wristband color changes) to alert those still in line where they are in the cue for entering the Hall for future panels.

What time will wristbands start being handed out?

On Wednesday night, we will start passing out wristbands for Thursday only, shortly after the exhibit hall closes.

On Thursday night, we will start passing out wristbands for Friday only, shortly after programming at Hall H ends.

On Friday night, we will start passing out wristbands for Saturday only, shortly after programming at Hall H ends.

On Saturday night, we will start passing out wristbands for Sunday only, shortly after the last panel is loaded.

Will staff be handing wristbands out continually once they do start or is it incrementally every hour/every 30 minutes?

As people get in line we will hand out wristbands. We will stop at 1:00am and resume at 5:00am.

If successful, will this be implemented for other lines (Ballroom 20) in the future?

After the show we’ll review how successful this program was and then move forward accordingly.

What about people who don’t have their single-day badges yet, (i.e., they would be picking them up in the morning). Can they participate or will they have to go to the back of the line? And on that note, will you need to present your Comic-Con badge in order to get a wristband?

You will need to have a badge or barcode to receive a wristband.

Thanks again to David Glanzer and the rest of the CCI staff for addressing these questions.

Original story is as follows…

Coming-Con International has announced a fairly major policy change this year, though it’s one that will only affect those who plan to line up for Hall H before the first panel – so basically, a lot of people.

For the first time, CCI is introducing a new system called Toucan Trackers. At certain times before the first panel each day, CCI will distribute color-coded wristbands to anyone standing in line for Hall H (and Hall H alone – the Ballroom 20 and general line will remain as always). There will be four different colors, with each color representing roughly the amount of people to fill each quarter of the room. Wristbands will be given out “as attendees get in line” until 1AM, and then wristband hand-outs will resume at 5AM, starting with the last person who received a wristband from the 1AM cutoff time.

This affects attendees in two ways. The first is that now, when you show up for Hall H, you can have a better idea of where your placement in the line will place you once the doors for Hall H are opened. Receive the second color batch? You should be somewhere in the first half of the room. Have they already run out of wristbands? You’re probably not going to make it inside before the first panel, and you can better plan your time for the day, rather than wondering if being back on the island means you’re getting in or not.

The second way that it will affect attendees, of course, is that for large groups of attendees camping out, it’s often common for only a few members to stay in line at a time, while the rest swap out to take showers and sleep for a few hours. While it’s still possible to do that, it’s important that prior to leaving to do these things, everyone in the group gets their wristband. Comic-Con International has stated that if attendees have a friend coming to join them later, they will not be distributing wristbands for those missing bodies – instead, anyone who arrives after wristbands have been handed out will be forced to join the back of the line, regardless of where their friends are. Better make sure you have a wristband before leaving to use the restroom, too!

Once attendees have a wristband, only one member of the group needs to remain in the line in order to save their place – but if your wristband colors do not match, you will not be able to enter at the same time. Having a wristband also does not guarantee entry into Hall H, though it is a good signifier.

After the first panel of the day, the wristbands will not be used – entry will be based on first-come, first-serve in the line, as always.

The practice of line-cutting has run rampant for years, and this could be CCI’s answer to the problem. It should also stop those who wait until doors open, and manage to sneak their way in.

You can find more information about the policy change on Comic-Con International’s Toucan Blog.

Are you excited about this policy change?

About Kerry Dixon

Kerry Dixon is Editor-in-Chief of The San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog and the site's resident panel guru.
  • Randy

    Wristbands didn’t cause people to camp overnight; greater demand for panels, attendees becoming more savvy and being more willing to sleep overnight caused the problem. Wristbands are just a reflection of the reality of the situation. It won’t alleviate the problem, but at least it will provide attendees & CCI more information to address it.

  • Randy

    Exactly. If CCI cleared Hall H every panel, that’s a stampede waiting to happen, and fatalities would be almost certain.

  • Randy

    I wouldn’t be surprised if CCI starts charging day passes for Hall H. $30 for Thursday, $50 for Friday or Saturday, $40 for Sunday. Increased prices for premium seats in the first 5 rows. Sell them online the week after the schedules get announced using member IDs, and when people pick up their badges, they could affix a special sticker denoting which day(s) they can get guaranteed seating in Hall H. CCI could let people in at 9 AM, but cutoff at 10 AM. They can then let a stand-by line enter Hall H (with admission).

    Makes CCI seem greedy, but it would reduce the length of the lines tremendously. People could still camp out, both stamped and un-stamped, but there would be much less incentive since the stamped campers would be locked out of the most premium seats and the un-stamped outside the first 100 or so would be very unlikely to get in.

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  • JS

    Ultimately I’m concerned that this will unfortunately turn out to be a frusterating mess. People will misunderstand or attempt to abuse the policy and all 6000 wristbands will be handed out by the time 10pm rolls around. People will show up, grab a wristband and head off to return around 6am. No one will police the line properly, no one knows how many people won’t show back up, and we’re still going to be in the same situation this policy was hoping to avoid. I envision a mad dash for wristbands, and a lot of angry confused people. The only ones versed and understanding of the new policy will be the only ones who would normally show early, stay in line, and not cut anyways. Trying to remain hopeful, but I fear that the wristband thing will only make it even harder to get into H. Not the other way around. 8pm will be the new 1am.

  • specialist

    This is could be totally awesome and helpful if people don’t abuse it, which, considering those douches who appear to cut into the line in the morning, unfortunately will probably happen.

    Looked over all the comments. To be honest, if you’re looking to minimize the wait time for the first panel, I think SDCC should simply ban lining up overnight.

    Yes, people will try to camp out anyway, but if it’s simply banned until 2-3 hours before the first panel and everyone in the vicinity is dispersed by security or police AND/OR banned from the panel if they don’t break it up and come back when line-up is ok (scan badge barcode for blacklisting, scan again on room entry to kick the blacklisted out) then maybe it’d help. IDK. Come to think of it, scanning badges or recipt barcodes could be useful for the line-up overnight portion too.

    SDCC could also do something like they’ve been doing for Masquerade and pass out Hall H/Ballroom 20 vouchers beforehand, but I can’t see the logistics of that being easy.;

  • Tin

    I understand your point. But it’s different than the laws against homeless people. That property belongs to the convention center and they allow people (paid guests) to camp out. They also say that if you do not have a bagde, you cannot camp out. So people who are camping out have paid to be able to.

  • Anthony

    So, kind of a selfish question here: Can I get a wristband Wednesday night (or Thursday night, etc.), then go home, sleep in my own bed, and show up the next day at 6am or 7am and get back in line–at the end of the section where my color wristband is queued?

  • dianora2

    What an amazingly ableist comment. Wow. Cool story bro.

  • Diane Stoddard

    Have you ever considered that not everyone has the freedom to be “Hardcore”? I’m as crazy as the next person to get to see the great Panels in Hall H and Ballroom 20. I also have the responsibility Of my 84 year old Father who is wheelchair bound and a 26 year old profoundly autistic daughter. It’s hard enough getting them looked after during regular comic-con hours. So considering your theory, It’s ok to punish me because I have two disabled members of my family. I do think they should find someway to let more people get a shot at the good panels. This year getting tickets was not first come first served and no one had to sleep out. At 9 am they randomly generate who got in when. Be nice if they could allow those that cant wait all night a fighting chance.

  • AlTheKiller

    They stopped selling badges for the next year because people were camping out overnight to try to buy them. It’s fucking ridiculous, NOTHING at Comic-Con is worth camping out for. There are an infinite number of things that deserve your attention and a large portion of people think that the ONLY thing worth doing is sitting in uncomfortable chairs all day so they can be in the same room as a celebrity they want to see? Fucking pathetic. I enjoy going to the panels for shows and movies I like, but not enough to get in line more than an hour (two at the most) early. I’ll find something else to do with my time, and sleep in my bed and shower at home, then watch the panels on YouTube the Monday after Con ends. If all you care about at Comic-Con is camping out to see one or two of the big panels, don’t bother going.

  • The Great Leon

    You are telling people what to do with their own time because you don’t care to do it smh. You must like the small panels because anything close to big no one that gets there an hour early is getting in. And the big panels don’t go up on youtube quick. The people that camp out don’t complain about camping out its usually the people that don’t think it is worth it that complain. You can take your own advice and not go to.

  • GooniesAndy

    No. If you leave a friend behind, you can rejoin your party (with the same color wrist band), but that’s the only way.

  • marybluefairy

    Nerd HQ uses less than 300 seats for their panels…I’m sure they could scootch over a little.

  • marybluefairy

    Personally, I think NO ONE should have to spend all day and night in line just to see one panel. I used to be a Hall H and Ballroom 20 line camper, but “in my day,” that meant showing up at 6am with a chair and a starbucks. I started realizing all the things I didn’t get to see or do because I was inside a dark cave all day. Instead of waiting for the final “Chuck” panel, I was meeting the cast and getting their autographs…and I got to sleep in my expensive hotel bed that night. Instead of sitting under a tent for 24 hours, last year I was on a pirate ship, racing a Viking boat, and sitting on the iron throne, and yes…asleep in a bed by 2am. I want to see panels as much as anyone else, but I’ll be just fine if they continue this asinine queue-up situation.

  • MoiraB

    The lines for Hall H are completely ridiculous. I only have interest in one or two of the panels, but because people are allowed to just “camp out” in the hall once they get in, the rest of us are unable to see the panels we’d like to see. I don’t want to have to spend my valuable Comic Con time camping out in a line and then camping out in Hall H (because once you’re in, you can’t leave! You’re basically trapped there…)

    Most of the time the campers are mainly people who don’t even HAVE an interest in the panels other might like to see, but they’re just camping out and taking up chairs and paying little attention (sometimes rudely jabbering away to each other instead of listening to panels they’re uninterested in!).

    Personally I think wristbands should be issued for specific panels, and the room completely cleared out between panels. Yes, it would be a mess and would take a huge amount of time for the room to clear and fill up again, but oh well. Maybe schedule fewer panels and make the process fairer for everyone.

    Also, they should consider the idea of tacking on extra $$ for the really big panels — I personally would be willing to pay, say, $20 extra to see the Marvel, Fox, etc. panels. That would also clear out a lot of the uninterested campers who are just there taking up valuable space and making it impossible for the rest of us.

  • Bob_Tha_Ruler

    you can’t do that i literally don’t understand why people keep saying that. I have friends who work for companies that do secruirty for major events and the reason is mostly time and fire marshall codes. It will never happen and ppl need to get over it.

  • eddoggie

    The convention center is owned by the port of San Diego which is a public corporation established by the Sate of California. Also when did the port authority authorized camping on their property? This would require a port authority vote and I find no record of any such vote taking place. So the only authority who has allowed camping on site is SDCC which is then in violation of Federal Penal Code 647(e) since they don’t own the property. Also people are sleeping on the side walks that surround the back side of the convention center. The side walks are not convention center property but public access ways. Why doesn’t the SDPD ticket those individuals for illegal camping and blocking of public access? I don’t see individuals who attend biotech shows at the convention center camping on the lawn. SDCC has created a massive problem by allowing individuals to camp on convention center grounds and public access ways.

  • killerassclown

    I think this is a great idea and I hope it works. I slept outside a few years ago for the Firefly panel. At 10pm the night before I was about 50 people back from the front of the line. By 8am the 50 people turned into about 200 and I was pissed. I put in my time on the sidewalk with the rain and cigarette butts, they didn’t. I hope this works to curb some of that.

  • MoiraB

    I don’t think it seems greedy at all. Economists will tell you that if there’s a huge demand for something, charge more for it. I would gladly pay even $100 for a premium Saturday pass to to Hall H if it meant I didn’t have to stand in a frakking line and miss most of Comic Con.

  • MoiraB

    Just charge a premium price for Hall H for each day and make it an extra ticketed event. Then ONLY those who paid extra for, say, a Saturday Hall H pass would be allowed in. Somebody just needs to think about these things creatively — it would give people a chance to see the panels they want IF they care enough about them to pay more, it would solve the problem of people camping out inside Hall H all weekend, AND the con would make more money. Many of us would gladly pay for Hall H over and above the Comic Con registration price IF we could be guaranteed to see the panels we want to see — and that way we wouldn’t have to waste all our valuable Comic Con time camping out.

  • eddoggie

    This time around if you lined up at 10pm the night before there would have been 10,000 people ahead of you and you would not have hand any chance to get in.

  • eddoggie

    You were a little wrong. 5pm became the new 1 am. Friends wanted to camp and got to the line by 7 pm only to find about 5000 people in front of them. They waited unitl midnight on Friday and the wristbands were all gone before they received one. Could not get into hall H.

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  • Regina

    Hi, I’m still confused about the issuing of the wristband. I purchased a ticket for Friday for SDCC 2015. I also want to participate on the Hall H panels that day too. If I line up on Thursday night, and is one of the first people to do so, I won’t be able to get the wristband because I don’t have my badge for Friday yet? So are they saying that even you’re already lined up first, you won’t be able to get into Hall H without your badge for that day you want to attend the panels? Hoping for some clarification because I’ll be pissed if I won’t be allowed inside Hall H even if I line up early. Thanks.

  • They let you use your barcode e-mail in place of a badge when getting the wristband last year. No guarantee the system will be the same this year.

  • Regina

    Thanks so much. I hope they’ll go with that this year.

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  • lovepass

    This will be my first time coming to San Diego Comic Con, I’m so excited/nervous. I really want to go to Supernatural panel and the rest of the panels after it on Sunday, so what time Saturday should my friends and I line up. I know we will have to camp out but what is the earliest time we can get in line the day before?