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Guide to SDCC – Part 1 – Packing and Arriving

Description: With hundreds of Comic-Con tips floating around the web I’ve decided to mix ours up. It is divided into four parts (Packing + Arriving, Panels, Shopping + Exhibit Hall, and Outside the Convention) and one will be posted daily. In each part I won’t just list out some tips, I’ll also give a strategy of sorts to that part of the convention and provide commentary. Enjoy!

After months of scheduling, packing, and anticipating you finally get off the plane in San Diego and think “what now?” Do you rush out to get passes, relax in your hotel room? Eat? And what if you forgot something important? Let’s just relax and start at the beginning.

Packing For Your Trip:

Though it seems simple, this is one place where many attendees make mistakes. Even if you’re planning to attend SDCC for only one day, you are going to need a lot of stuff. Sure, people will remember their clothes and toothbrushes (hopefully), but what makes Comic-Con packing different? Well here are some essential packing items that many attendees might forget about:

  • Poster Tube – Many free and exclusive posters are given out during the con and unless you plan to purchase a tube there or risk having to fold your new posters, bringing one of these tubes is a must.
  • Deodorant – Sure, the stereotype of every attendee being  a stinky mess is over-exaggerated. When you’re packed in a room with thousands of sweaty attendees though, you’re not going to come out smelling like flowers.
  • Good Shoes – Walking from panel to panel, out to get food, and through the exhibit hall can get mighty tiring without proper footwear.
  • Money – Unless you’re super short on cash, there’s probably something that you’ll just have to have. Be prepared for it.
  • Back Up Batteries for Every Gadget You Bring – Heck, even books need batteries these days (Paperbacks? Pshh. Try a nook).
  • Food – Planning to snack on the convention food? Bring some Tums. Or you can just save yourself trouble and money by bringing your own snacks.
  • Headache Medicine – Even without the Twilight panel, Harry Potter fans will get mighty rowdy.
  • Sun-Screen – If you plan to walk around San Diego or wait in the Hall H line this is essential. People who plan to beat the heat and stay inside can probably skip it though.
  • Suitcase – I just listed a lot of stuff. Plus all the free swag you will probably get. Make it a big suitcase.

Arriving in San Diego for the First Time:

4-Day Attendees
I would suggest arriving Wednesday afternoon/morning. This makes it super easy to head over to your hotel (most have an airport shuttle) and just kick back. Unpacking, a swim in the hotel pool, or a nice meal are all awesome ways to prepare you for the madness that is about to begin. Though Preview Night won’t begin until 6 or 7ish (once the doors open it becomes a haze), it’s good to be there at least 20 minutes before you want to get in line just in case badge pickup takes a long time. People who want to get a lot of free stuff or purchase a very limited item during preview night usually arrive hours in advance but if you just want to stroll around and don’t mind coming out somewhat empty-handed, feel free to not arrive early.

1-Day Attendees
If you’re flying/driving to the con for only one day it is better to try and park somewhere not-too-close to the convention center and walk or take a taxi over. Unless you buy a parking pass in advance, the limited parking close the con is insane. Also, try to get to the convention as early as you can to pick up badges and get in line for panels. Since the 4-day’ers don’t have to pick-up passes they have a time advantage.

Arriving at the Con Each Day:

People looking to jump right into the lines for Hall H or Ballroom 20 should head straight over to them as early as they can. Unless you arrive at 2 AM there will already be people waiting to get in so don’t expect a spot in Hall H if you get there 15 minutes in advance. Ask security guards if you don’t know where these lines are and then head to the mass of people to sort out where the end is. I would suggest getting to Hall H or Ballroom 20 at least an hour in advance to get a seat, if not more. If you’re looking to head straight into the exhibit hall or one of the smaller rooms you can go to one of the main doors outside the convention center. The ones where security and large groups of people are forming is where you will probably find an entrance. Once the con starts all of the doors will open, but if you arrive early they usually open a select few first. Like I said earlier, just follow the crowds. Sometimes security will usher people into a large hallway to wait for the doors to open but it is pretty random and still best to get there early so you can figure out the opportune spot to get in based on what room you want to go to.

Come back tomorrow for the guide to panels!

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