New York Comic Con to Clear Rooms Between Main Stage Panels; New Wristband System

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Crowd at New York Comic Con

Much like at San Diego Comic-Con this year, New York Comic Con seems to believe that there’s a problem (or potential problem) with queuing in line all day for some of the biggest panels. However, where Comic-Con International decided to implement a wristband system showing those waiting in line just what quarter of the room they’d likely to be in for the first panel of the day, assuming they were going to make it in at all, New York is attempting a very different tactic.

For the first time, New York Comic Con will be clearing the room between panels on their Main Stage, the New York version of Hall H that seats around 3,000 people (compared to Hall H’s 6,130 capacity). Additionally, in order to gain access to the room, attendees must line up to receive a wristband prior to the panel. With the wristband, attendees are guaranteed access to that panel – but once wristbands are gone, no one else can attend the panel. There will be no overflow or standby line.

Only the Main Stage will be cleared. All other panel rooms continue to run on a first-come, first-serve basis.

So how does this work?

According to the New York Comic Con page devoted to explaining these new rules, when attendees enter the “Queue Hall”, they will see a sign listing the five Main Stage panels for the day, and whether those panel lines have reached capacity yet or not. If the panel line is still open, attendees can head to the back of Queue Hall to join one of the five lines – each representing a different panel. Each line will be clearly labeled with the name of the panel.

Staff will hand out a panel-specific wristband, which includes the panel’s name, date, and time on it in a designated color, in one of two ways: either starting with the first panel of the day, or when a line reaches capacity. Once attendees have a wristband, they are free to either join a line that hasn’t reached capacity to attend another Main Stage panel, or go explore the rest of the convention. Once attendees have a wristband, they only need to return 35 minutes prior to their panel to get in.

This means that potentially, if on Friday the line for the panel of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at 5:45 PM reaches capacity before AMC’s Comic Book Men panel at 11 AM (the first panel of the day), someone in line for S.H.I.E.L.D. could either then go to Comic Book Men, or spend the rest of their afternoon shopping the floor and attending other panels.

It also means that someone who is very excited to see a panel that doesn’t fill up could spend the entire day in line without ever seeing anything else, as there is no guarantee when wristbands will be distributed for each panel.

According to New York Comic Con, their hope is that “this will allow more Fans to see the Panels they really want to see on the Main Stage.”

Depending on your own desires for the convention, this could be a great system, or a terrible one. For someone who wants to sit up front and be close to the stage, getting a wristband and leaving the line as New York Comic Con seems to hope will happen would mean potentially giving up that great spot, and isn’t likely to happen. That person could be overjoyed not to be fighting with fans of various other things for better seats, or they could be annoyed that instead of sitting through other panels, they’ll be in line all day.

For someone towards the back of the line who is just happy to make it in, knowing they have access and being able to spend the rest of the day enjoying the rest of the con could be a much better experience than sitting in line or through panels they don’t care about.

Basically, as with all things in life, New York Comic Con is never going to make everyone happy. But will this new system make more people happy?

We won’t know for sure how the system works until New York Comic Con starts on Thursday, but if you’re attending, we’d love to hear how the experience works for you.

What do you think of New York Comic Con’s new system? Is this something you’d like to see implemented at San Diego Comic-Con? Let us know in the comments.

About Kerry Dixon

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

  • NYAvsFan

    Hell no, please never bring that system to SDCC. The wristbands I like as it actually allowed my group to take turns, go out for the evening or even sleep in our hotel rooms for once. But implementing this would make an already chaotic situation a hundred times worse.

  • Guest

    Like the article says, it’s not going to make everyone happy. But this isn’t best way of doing it. At SDCC this year the wrist bands were pointless as they only gave them out at night and extended the line with people who were saving places (if you are the 100th person at 3pm, by the time the wristbands got to you at 9pm, you could essentially be the 300th or 400th person after all the people who cut in front of you). If a fan wants to wait all night/day in line to see ALL the panels, then let them, they waited. At least with the system at SDCC it gives you the chance to see other panels when some fans clear out. It also gives you the chance to change your seat. With this NYCC system the die hard fans would wait in line for wristbands, then have to wait in line again for the actual panel. This creates unwanted lines, eats up time clearing the hall, and limits fans to one or even two panels (that second maybe one they didn’t even want).

  • Investigatind Detective

    Terrible idea. Too many lines for each panel. And having to bounce from line to line just to get a wristband would be a pain. Additionally this would limit fans ability to see multiple panels. If someone were interested in the full schedule they now don’t have that option.

    I still feel at a certain point that they should just ticket panels. The overnight lines have gotten ridiculous and clearing out the room between panels is an awful idea. I’d rather deal with an online ticketing queue than the ridiculous maybe/maybe not lines.

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  • STL_ben

    I would love this. Too many seats being ate up by people who don’t even want to be in panels…they are just camping for the one they want to see 3 hours later. Plus lets those know there will be no seats instead of hoping for stand by (aka standing in line for hours and getting nothing!)

  • Bat_girl

    Terrible idea!!!! Especially for sdcc…things would go bad real fast in hall h, for the marvel panels…I like the idea my friends and I thought of…making a digital database for the panels and doing the lottery system to get tickets(wristbands) for the panel/s

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