Guide to Autograph Ticket Drawings in the Sails Pavilion

community signing

The cast of Community signing autographs.

Even for convention veterans, getting autographs at San Diego Comic-Con can be one of the most confusing procedures there is – and that’s in large part because almost no two autograph sessions are run the same way. For some, simply showing up at the booth on the exhibit floor in time for the signing is enough. For others, you must head to Sails first thing in the morning to draw for a ticket to the signing to be allowed to come back later in the day for the signing.

We always recommend checking official press releases from the various companies that you are interested in, as well as checking with the booth itself multiple times during the convention to make sure that the autograph signing procedure is still the same.

But in our ongoing mission to make the convention experience a little easier, we’ve put together a guide for how the Sails autograph drawings work.

Who does the Sails autograph drawings?

Typically, only the largest of the booths on the exhibit floor send attendees up to the Sails Pavilion to draw for an autograph ticket. This includes booths like Warner Bros., FOX, and some CBS signings in years past.

You can find our compiled list of announced autographs, including Celebrity Entertainment, Comics and Artists, Author/Publisher, All Other Autographs, and Offsites to help determine which autograph sessions are ticketed and which are not.

Why do I need to draw an autograph ticket?

Not every autograph session is ticketed, and not every ticketed autograph session requires a random drawing in Sails. However, for the ones that are, the theory is that more people want to attend the autograph session than the convention could possibly have time for, without turning an entire day into a Game of Thrones autograph session. Instead, for select autographs, the larger booths have attendees line up in the Sails Pavilion and “draw” for a ticket.

There are bowls at each booth, labeled with the specific autograph session. Attendees will draw a ticket, somehow labeled as either a winner or a loser, to see if they get to attend the autograph session. Winners will receive a wristband and be directed to come back for the signing later in the day, and losers can join the back of the line to try again, or move on. Once all of the winning autograph tickets have been picked, the line is capped.

How do I get an autograph ticket?

If you’re lining up prior to doors opening, you’ll join the “General” line outside the convention center, which starts outside near the Hall D sign. This line is sometimes referred to as the “Ballroom 20” line, but it’s really a line for anything that isn’t Hall H. Once doors open (which the last few years, has been around 5:30AM – 6:30AM), you’ll head up the escalator along with everyone else in that line:


Prior to doors opening, you’ll line up in the general “Ballroom 20” line under the “D” sign for Lobby Hall D. Once doors open, head up the escalators.

From there, instead of following the rest of the line outside, you’ll turn right and proceed directly into the Sails Pavilion:

sails map

Once you’re up the escalators, head into the Sails Pavilion and find your line.

Once you’ve entered the Sails Pavilion, there are multiple other lines, each run by a different entertainment company. The lines often aren’t marked, so talk to volunteers or other attendees to find out which line you need to be in.

When you’re in your designated line, you’ll need to wait for the ticket draws to begin. Once this happens, attendees will step up one at a time to try to draw for a winning autograph ticket. If you are wanting multiple autographs from the same company (i.e., you want to try for both Supernatural and The Flash from Warner Bros.), some booths allow you to try for multiple signings at once. Be sure to tell the person working the drawing if you’re wanting multiple autograph sessions. If you draw a winning ticket, you’ll be given a wristband. If you draw a losing ticket, you’ll have the opportunity to return to the end of the line to try again.

In general, first-come, first-serve means nothing in autograph sessions, as there’s no guarantee that you will draw a winning ticket. However, arriving early does have its advantages, as there are more winning tickets in the bowl earlier in the day, and you’ll also have more opportunities to try again if you arrive early.

When are the autograph drawings?

There are two important times to consider for every autograph session — the first is obviously what time the actual signing is taking place, meaning what time the person or cast you’re hoping to get autographs from will be at the booth. The second time is when the autograph drawings in Sails are taking place.

When doors open in the morning, you’ll head to the Sails Pavilion, as detailed above. The official schedule normally lists this as starting around around 8AM, but doors have been opening earlier and earlier, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Most of the autograph drawings began around 7AM last year, so you’ll need to be in line prior to that if you want to be one of the first attendees to draw for an autograph.

I got a winning autograph ticket! Now what?

If you’re lucky enough to draw a winning autograph ticket, you’ll be directed to come to the booth where your autograph session is happening later in the day, usually about an hour before the signing is set to begin. Everyone with a wristband will be lined up and receive an autograph. Sometimes, booths will have official merchandise (like a poster) for the cast or people to sign for you, but this is not always the case, so be sure to plan ahead and have something for those doing the signing to autograph.

How do other autographs work?

As we said above, there are so many different ways for autographs to work, that it would be virtually impossible to outline all of them. Your best bet is to check with the booth where the signing event you’re interested in is happening, multiple times, to make sure you understand their procedures.


Will you be trying to get autographs this year? Let us know.

[Thanks to Janna Jeffrey for additional reporting.]

About Kerry Dixon

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

  • alberto

    hey Kristi I’m a first year, when you lined up for GOT and walking dead. did you wait behind sails pavilion? OR general entrance like? also for tickets with GOT and walking dead, do you go to their booths in exhibit or in sails pavilion ?

  • alberto

    hey guys! I’m new, and I’m really confused about autograph process. to get best chances in sails pavilion, do you line up behind the con in the “terrace” or in the general line? or general line and go to their exhibit hall booth? any help please 🙂

  • alberto

    general line to get in con or in back of the con? at 0530 was it already packed?

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  • Jamie

    Hey there Alberto. So I got in the line last year at 11 PM. In the morning they took us through the building and out when I got to the bottom of the stairs were people are lined up there were hundreds of other people who more or less cut in front us. It is incredibly defeating and I did not get the autograph I want to.. My advice would be if you want more popular Shows get there between 5 and 7 PM the night before such as Game of Thrones. If you want when your brothers autographs you be better off out back. Siri some people can get away with this it is city of San Diego property outback and the con people can’t control that area. However they do have people waiting out there. There’s no such thing as too early for SDCC. good luck!

  • TastyNonDon

    does anyone know what the chances of getting a winning ticket is?

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  • Kerry Vanderberg

    I would add, that last year the DC comics booth did the same thing for signings for their high profile writers/artists like Scott Snyder and Jim Lee. It was confusing, because volunteers that direct you where to go don’t know the difference if the line is for WB (cast from a movie/TV show) signing, versus DC (comics writers/artists) line. They gave out the last tickets for those guys just before my turn last year because I was misdirected by a volunteer who didn’t know the difference. Two years ago DC handed out these passes at their booth in the show floor, then switched to Sails Pavilion. I hope they make those distinctions a little more clear to volunteers this year (but they probably won’t).

  • Eva

    now this is an awesome idea! We waited and wasted time in line last year getting line at midnight for bracelets in the “correct” general line only to find out they were allowing people in before doors open somewhere else. No one that worked there were on the same page. I’d love to try again this year but I’m afraid of the same outcome as last year. 🙁 Your idea is by far the best i have heard! I know friends of mine tried emailing suggestions last year. Hopefully you submitted yours!

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  • Diane S

    I would really like the ticket drawing to be online. You could put the ones you are interested in and do a random drawing and let us know if we will get to do it. I can’t get there so early if I wanted to and feel that being disabled I can’t stand in line that long anyway. We can’t leave the house til later and have no freedom as we can not leave until respite care arrives at 8am to care for our autistic child.Please stop the lines, stop the camping out.Give us a chance at one of the signing or panels for a change