Why I’m Never Going to Hall H Again. Until Next Year. Maybe.

Last year I was telling everyone that I was done with Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. Overnight wait? Long lines? Mad rush (not running though) for a prime seat? Sitting for 10 hours or more? Missing everything else? Nope. I didn’t want to do that any more.

And then came Star Wars.

GeekShot Exclusive Series Vol 2 Week 26 - Star Wars The Force Awakens 2015 Hall H Ford Fisher Hamill

There was no way I was going to miss the Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel at Comic-Con this year. I don’t care how long I had to wait or how long the line was going to be, I would be there. And I was. And it was glorious.

But in the end it just reinforced my desire to quit Hall H.

I missed all but two hours of the con on Thursday to be in line for Friday. Despite having a good time in all the other panels leading up to Star Wars, I would have rather gone to see other panels or walked the floor. There is so much to see and do at and outside the convention, it feels like too much is given up to take two complete days out of the running just to see one panel.

So what makes getting into Hall H such a huge ordeal? Let’s look at the timeline and some general information about those who waited it out for Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and everything else happening on Friday:

  • The line for Friday Hall H started between 8 and 9 PM on Wednesday.
  • Wristbands didn’t start getting handed out until 24 hours later, about 8:45 PM Thursday (15 minutes later than the posted time).
  • Wristbands didn’t finish getting handed out until almost 1 AM, four hours later.
  • Line saving before wristbands was abused (CCI posted 5 person limit the next day).
  • Getting in line after the floor closed meant no chance to get in Friday Hall H.
  • Sleeping outside for those who hold places.

But let’s back up here. Didn’t I say that Star Wars was glorious? If so, then why would I quit Hall H going forward?

The answer is simple. There is nothing that will get me back into Hall H on the “big day” except a similar event panel. WB and Marvel are bringing their latest movies? I’ve seen that before. Legendary, Universal, Paramount, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and so on? Done with them when it’s just the latest crop of movies/seasons.

I’ve been feeling run down by doing Hall H the last six years and this is why. While the movies change, the feeling that I’m spending too much time for essentially the same panel keeps growing. After 22 years of going to Comic-Con, it feels like I need to shake things up. It seems I do this about every five years, so it’s time to make a change.

While I won’t be waiting in long lines/overnight, I will pay attention to social media (the blog’s Twitter is the best place to start). This year if you played it smart you could do Hall H on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday with almost no wait in most cases – and social media was a great way to keep track of the wristband distribution and how full Hall H and the tents were at any given moment. Only Saturday was also busy enough to cause long lines, but many still got in with a two hour wait or less. Some even got in by getting in line at 8AM Saturday morning. You may not be near the front, but you still get to experience the panels in person. This sounds like a lot better use of time for me going forward.

However, there’s still always going to be one “big day” in Hall H. Next year it will probably be back on Saturday if Marvel returns and WB continues as usual. That means there’s going to be a seat opening up in Hall H next year. Because my butt won’t be in it.

Unless Star Wars comes back. Or a new Indiana Jones is announced. Or…

Dammit!

About James Riley

Photographer, Browncoat, Geek, Nerd.

  • I did a Hall H-less Comic-Con this year for the first time in ten years. And it was worth it. While my friends were wasting a day in line, I was seeing great panels around comic books and TV shows and NASA (!) that were enjoyable and less purely about marketing than your typical Hall H fare. I did Hall H in the past when I could join friends in line in the morning with a promise of breakfast, etc. Now that they have the wristband system, there’s no way it’s worth it to spend all that time in line at the expense of other stuff at the show.

  • Lomara

    I can’t remember the last time I stood in a hall H line, it was so long ago. I tell everyone “I don’t do LineCon”. There is so much else to experience during SDCC, particularly offsite, it makes zero sense to waste any of it in a line, no matter what the panel is. And every big panel ends up on YouTube by the next day, so you aren’t missing anything.

  • Morgueanna

    SDCC is the worst con simply because it’s the only one I attend that doesn’t do what EVERY SINGLE OTHER CON DOES: clear the panel room between panels. The fact that SDCC not only ignores this courtesy but actively encourages people to camp out in a sad attempt to make their con look more exclusive really angers me. Every other con I go to clears the rooms AND usually has a policy about what time you can line up for a panel, usually 2-3 hours before it starts. This discourages line campers and really means that no one is giving up their time and all the other things to do at a con.

  • Zack Fox

    Completely agree with this…

    I give up my Thursday at the Con just to be in line for Star Wars on Friday. So it took me two full days for it… But yes, Star Wars was worth every second.

    My worst experience was after the star wars concert i got in hall-h line at 8:50ish… and didn’t get my wristband until 2am… but then the next morning i returned to the line at 6:30 and they… still…. had… wrist bands.

    I really wish comic con would go back to the old way for hall-h line. I respect what they’re trying to do but it’s not working at all.

  • Investigatind Detective

    I did Hall H on 1 day only this year (Saturday) and it was very refreshing. I will say too that with the exception of Friday (Star Wars) you could easily get into Hall for the first panel if you got in line before 8am. Actually if you really wanted to be in on Friday they still had wristbands at around 7am or so.

    I really wish people would stop reinforcing that people need to line up 2 days ahead of a panel just to get in. If you want to sit at the very front sure, but apart from that there’s no reason. Every night I looked over the H line and it ran for over a mile. In the morning (once the line was condensed) a ton of people who didn’t camp still got in. the room holds 6500 people and takes forever to fill. If CCI can’t get a hold of this it will only get worse. It’s frustrating to watch people sacrifice literally days of their lives for a 40 min panel (where the footage is released within a few minutes).

  • Investigatind Detective

    Exactly. Every single day this year was still available by morning. So unless you were trying desperately (in vain most likely) to sit in the front. You could easily get into most of the panels this year.

  • Investigatind Detective

    You cannot clear Hall H between panels. It’s not that the idea is bad, it’s just simply not practical for that room. It takes almost an hour to fill and exiting after the last panel of the day takes almost as long. They would only be able to hold 3-4 panels per day if they clear the room.

  • Morgueanna

    Hall H seats just a hair over 6,000 people. I attend conventions with similar size rooms that manage to clear them in just around 15 minutes- you forget that half of the issue with filling hall H is people choosing seats, shifting around to make room for friends, filling holes in the rows, etc. There are multiple exits that can be utilized to empty the room that they do not use. When people are entering the hall those pathways are closed, making it take a lot longer to fill than it would be to exit. You simply use colored tape that leads from the rows to the accompanying exit door and instruct people to exit following the color code. Stragglers are herded by staff just like in the exhibit hall.

    It’s not that complicated and conventions that have halls just as large do it.

  • Brent Manuel

    The one thing that really bothered me were the people jumping line. I know that at midnight when we were getting our wristbands that a girl tried getting in front of us and my sister called her out. She left the line. Is there anything SDCC can do to limit the number of people jumping in. I know you have to take social media with a grain of salt, but there was a buzz trending about this issue on Thursday.

  • perc2100

    I was in Hall H Friday & Saturday with little problems. Line buddies are THE way to go & while the situation is in no way ideal (this was Comic-Con #16 for me, so I predate Preview Night, Hall H, camping overnight, etc) there are ways to work around it to still have a great time. I saw more than enough around Comic-Con thought the week, as well as some epic panels Friday & Saturday. You just have to know how to be social with strangers & you can avoid a bit of waiting & sleeping outside.

  • Ron

    In all my years of going to con’s, I’ve never seen a room clear. Which con’s do this?

  • Anthony DeRouen

    Source of these other cons that clear after every panel? I’ve hit every convention from Sacramento to San Diego and this isn’t the case.

  • Anthony DeRouen

    My first time going for Hall H on a “dig day” and it was relatively painless. Got in line at 10:30 Wed for Friday’s panels. I can see the drain after doing Hall H a few years consecutively.

  • Anthony DeRouen

    Except for actually being there when Harrison Ford steps on the stage. You can’t duplicate that kind of magic on Youtube.

  • Anthony DeRouen

    There was a major problem leading up to the wristbands for Friday. A massive swell of freeloaders decided they would meander towards the front of the line. Many of the people waiting in line called them out – and more importantly – notified security and SDCC staff. I found security to be a complete joke, but the SDCC staff weeded out the losers.

  • Lomara

    DragonCon, the big con in Atlanta, clears rooms between panels.

  • Sue B Hooven

    LOL the last line…. that’s EXACTLY how I feel and made me laugh big time. Good writing. Yep, I had tickets to Kiss signing at 4PM and hadn’t eaten for over 12 hours. We wanted to eat, shower and sleep a couple hours then come back for wristbands for Hall H. But the autographs were at 4 (started late too and didn’t get out of there till 5:20 or so). I went outside the the line was wrapped all the way up the marina…. people said if you run, you can POSSIBLY get in or on the wait list? I was like no way I’m running another mile… and by the time I get there, I’m sure it’ll be full. Plus, I would not be able to eat and had been up already about 36 hours from sleeping out the night before! WHEN would I sleep? Shower? No, I skipped even trying for Hall H at that point. Instead I went to Ballroom 20 and saw I think other panels… and it was ok. Though SW was my first love. I did try for dead graphs but they gave them out the day before. LIARS and uninformed workers for sure there…

    Anyway, cute report. Enjoyed reading it.

  • AlTheKiller

    Hall H was so much more manageable this year than previous years (Except for Friday). On Thursday, I got in for the Open Road and Mockingjay panels and I got there at 9:30am. Then I left and went back in right before Doctor Who, then left again and went back in for Con Man. And on Saturday I got in for Joss and 20th Century Fox, granted I had to wait 3.5 hours. Then on Sunday, I got in for Supernatural and Heroes without waiting.

  • AlTheKiller

    I walked right into the Ender’s Game panel a few years ago with plenty of empty seats in the Hall and got to see him. So…

  • Benjamin Gonzalez

    Not just HF but the big 3. Sure there was an Ender’s Game panel with HF way before but the room wasn’t filled with Star Wars fans exuding all that positive energy while exuberantly clamoring for the timeless classic we all fell in love with. It was almost a rush to be there in-person.

  • San Diego Cinerama

    Star Wars will be back. And Marvel.

    There’s no D23 to suck off attention, and while I think there’s another Star Wars Celebration scheduled, I think it’s far away.

    Star Wars has to show up because they’ve got ROGUE 1 sometime in 2016, and then Episode 8 in May 2017.

    So yeah, they’ll be a Star Wars panel.

  • punkysdilemma

    After two years of getting in the Hall H line around 7 AM (we’re too damn old to sleep out) and not getting in for panels that happened six to eight hours later (the last time was *with* a wristband…ugh), we said Hell No to Hall H this year and had a much better, way more relaxed con experience. Line fail just ruins your day.

    I do wish that after the schedule comes out, you could put your name in for a free shot at a reserved seat in *one* Hall H or B20 panel of your choice. If you win, get an email to come pick up your special pass at the Sails Pavilion, which entitles you to a seat in a special area in the room. OK, I’m sure some people would try to scalp them, but the initial pass would be free, and the odds would be tiny, and actually getting one would kick off a fantastic fan experience, which suits the spirit of SDCC well. That’s the only way I see myself ever getting into some of the special stuff ’cause, yeah, too damn old for the tent city thing that’s been happening the last few years.

  • MediaSavant

    I don’t go to Hall H on “big days” and never regret it. I saw some great stuff on Friday and never had to wait to get into anything. I went to Hall H on Thursday and Sunday with little or not wait. Thursday was a walk in.

  • epic_skyline

    Yeah, my friend got in the back of the line at 8am on Friday and was in every panel in Hall H that day. I think it’s a combination of people wanting good seats, enjoying camping, being scared by the size of the line, and feeling the paranoia of people saying beforehand how crazy it’s going to be. This leads to people getting there early and, on the other end, people who don’t want to devote that much time to it, giving up and leaving those last couple hundred spots to lucky attendees who just took a shot at the line in the morning.

  • Kerry Vanderberg

    This was my first time going to Comic Con, and the Hall H lines were pretty brutal. My cousin and I waited in line twice – TWICE – for Friday’s and Saturday’s panels. Our group of four are all big Walking Dead fans, so we wanted to see that. My number one thing that I wanted to see the most was the BATMANvSUPERMAN panel, because I wanted to see that footage and those actors. and WB put on one heck of a show! I ducked out of Hall H soon after the GAME OF THRONES panel started, so I could get back in line for Saturday, so I missed the STAR WARS panel. But I don’t regret it for one moment, as I’m much more of a superhero fan than SW fan these days. So the WB panel with DC films was my highlight, followed closely by Fox movies with X-MEN: APOCALYPSE and DEADPOOL. Those were great.

    But yes, SDCC needs to figure out a better way to distribute the wristbands. Security for managing the line was really poor, and only having 3 or 4 people passing out wristbands made it a VERY long wait. Both times I was on the Island past the marina – officially called Hall H Island now! I just can’t fathom why it took so long for them to get to us.

    In any case, I plan on going back to Hall H next year for Satuday’s panels at the least, assuming WB will be there with more of their DC films, and also assuming Marvel comes back!

    Despite how rough the Hall H line and wristband situation was, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself at Comic Con and definitely look forward to next year!

  • Michael Cucka

    Seems to me there must be a better way to avoid the lining-up for Hall H. Everything else has turned to a lottery system – from badges to hotels, Conan and parking – it would make sense for Hall H to go the same route. Do it based on badge numbers on a daily basis to minimize scalping – like they send you your schedule on a daily basis if you subscribe to updates, you get a text or email notifying you of being selected.
    As an alternative if they persist with the wristbands, the NDL location should be a last minute announcement – no one can line up before the location is announced, via text/tweet/etc. No reason for anyone to have to choose between giving up a day at the Con to sit in line for Hall H.

  • Diane S

    I find SDCC to be wonderful and horrible at the same time. Now that tickets are done in the fashion of all being in the epic waiting room 10 mins before sale and random placed in line at 9am. No first come holding places and all that. They have all our info on the area for badges. How hard would it be to do random pull for the first panel each day of the major rooms? pick up your badge and your wrist bands at the same time. They can even ask what day you want most? The rooms tend not to empty and few get in the very back. Walking the floor is tons of fun as well. Lines cap quickly and standing all day is very hard on most people. I can’t camp out or even get to the con before 9am. I have a handicapped child that needs full time support. I wait til the respite care comes so we can go. Stop the camping out and let all have a shot. Please?

  • david

    I totally agree James. I did Hall H limited hours this year. Some years I wanted to be there every day except Sunday. It was my 7th year going to Hall H. To kick it off I was able to walk in to Hall H on Thursday right before Hunger Games Mockingjay 2 panel started with no waiting at all. At this point I knew that the line gods were ever in my favor. I also got into Star Wars on Friday but only because I sacrificed my Thursday late afternoon. Silly people started lining up too early. But Star Wars was worth it. (plus we got free lightsabers) And 6000 fans waving their light sabers in the air while John Williams’ Throne Room song is being played by a live orchestra plus a big fireworks show going on right in front of you? #priceless and pretty amazing for a star wars nerd. Looking back on it, there will not be another experience to top this in Hall H. That is also why I should probably call it quits for Hall H, best to go out on a high note. There’s just more exciting things to see and do at Comic-con.

  • david

    Hearing they still had wristbands on Saturday morning at 8am was kinda funny, but I still didn’t want to spend my day inside when there were off-sites. No way I was gonna miss the Square Enix offsite for Just Cause.

  • hapacalgirl

    But what do you say to the people that are actually there for multiple panels, I mean many of the people in that room for Star Wars were also fans of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead so I don’t think it would be fair to force them to leave after one panel especially if there are other panels that day that they wanted to attend in the room. For example there was one year where I was a fan of every panel in hall h on a friday, I would be pretty irritated to be forced to leave after just one. Also like other people mentioned, hall h fits 6500 people, it would be impractical and a waste of time to empty it out between panels. Even the smaller rooms don’t do that so I don’t see why it needs to be done in hall h.

  • hapacalgirl

    Hall H wasn’t that bad this year except for Friday which made sense since it was the first lucasfilms panel in a decade and lucasfilms has a long storied history with san diego comic con . I was able to just walk in 10mins before Mockingjay on Thursday and I got in line at 1pm on Thursday and was group C for hall h on friday. I only go to fridays hall h each year since I am a fan of Game of Thrones so it doesn’t seem that bad to me. They do need more security and more people doing the wristbands though. Waiting till 10:30pm for a wristband is not fun.

  • hapacalgirl

    Exactly, being there to see Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford come on Stage (it also being Harrison’s first public appearance since his accident) is not something that can be immitated on Youtube. Also being guided to a surprise concert by stormtroopers and seeing the cast again at that concert, these are memories that can’t be imitated in pictures and videos.

  • Morgueanna

    I say make a choice, just like everyone else at every other convention. Being able to see EVERY SINGLE PANEL simply because you camped out for two days is ridiculous. It limits the con experience for everyone else and you’re being selfish.

  • Morgueanna

    Steel City, Dragoncon, New York (as of five years ago when I attended), Heroescon, Wondercon, Long Beach comic Expo, Star Wars Celebration…those are the biggest names but there are a bunch of others
    that are smaller.

  • Glen

    No.

  • Glen

    WonderCon does not clear the room.

  • Glen

    No.

  • rustacus

    the line mania is just stupid people being stupid you get in line that morning you can get in some times you gotta try to spend a day on one thing but that is a fault of the idiots that line up way to early

  • Kotohiki

    They have all the infrastructure they need to get rid of the Hall H lines. After all, they got rid of the pre-registration ticket line at end of Comic Con and put it all online. They can probably do the same for Hall H. They should even do the Autograph Signings line which is just pointless because it’s a random drawing anyway.

  • Kotohiki

    Yeah line jumpers for the Friday panels were out of control. The places were the line broke up was an especially weak point. You could watch one part of the line just swell over time as more and more random people would jump in. I don’t know how accurate this is but apparently one person on Twitter said that her group saved spots for 150 people near the front of the line.

  • Glen

    Yeah because online registration has been such a success.

  • zonkttc

    i was able to get into hall h(ell) about 45 mins before the star wars panel no problem!

  • zakin

    Glen is right, WonderCon does not clear the room.
    Emerald City Comicon in Seattle doesn’t clear them either, as of 2015. Not sure what will happen next year, as ReedPop owns them now and has been clearing the panels at some of their major conventions (NYCC, Star Wars Celebration.)

  • zakin

    Yes.

  • NYAvsFan

    Maybe I’m part of “the problem” but I just work with a group of friends and take shifts in line. This year we adjusted and did it for current day and next day. I honestly have zero problem with one person holding place for their friends; it’s not the end of the world and if someone wants to do it so that their friends can do stuff then who cares? It just takes being properly organized. I spent all day Thursday on the floor and all day Friday and Saturday in Hall H. There is zero reason you can’t too.