San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide – 2017 Edition

Part 1: Pre-Show Planning

You did it. You waited in the online queue for hours and were able to get the coveted 4-day badge with Preview Night. You found and reserved the perfect hotel adjacent to the convention center. All your travel arrangements are finished, and after years of waiting, you are finally attending San Diego Comic Con. The hard part is over, the rest is just smooth sailing and pop-culture bliss, right?

Well… no.

You may have attended other conventions in the past, but nothing can prepare you for SDCC. Where else can you catch an exclusive first glimpse at that new super-hero trailer, or chase that desired one-of-a-kind collectible that has eluded you for ages? Nowhere else in the world might you accidentally share an elevator with your favorite writer or the entire cast of your favorite space-opera on the same day.

However, there is a catch – you are not alone on this adventure. You are joined by thousands of fans, just as eager as you to watch that trailer or find that lost trinket. If you dive in unprepared, you may leave San Diego a tangled mess of regrets and missed opportunities.

Fear not, true believers! Sideshow is here with helpful tips and tricks to make the most of your journey.

What’s that you say? You aren’t afraid?

You will be. You will be.

Step 1 – Assess Your Priorities

First, you need to sit down and determine what is the most important thing you want to accomplish while at the convention. At SDCC the possibilities are nearly endless, but you need to narrow it down! Do you want an autograph from your favorite celebrity or do you want to attend one of the Hall H panels? It could be you just want to check out the Sideshow Collectibles booth and shop until your wallet implodes. If there is more than one big thing, you should list them out by how they rank as a priority for you.

If you need help with this, the SDCC website has all the information on what you can do while you are at the show.

Step 2 – Research, Research, Research

Once you have your list, you are going to have to find out when and where to do these things. The San Diego Comic Con website has been posting the schedule, with detailed times of the bigger events already listed. A map of the entire hall is currently available to show you the lay of the land.

If you aren’t sure if a favorite celebrity, game studio, or writer will be there, check their website or social media. Usually, it will be posted if they are attending, and where they will be located while there.

Step 3 – So Much To Do, So Little Time

Once you have your priorities down and your research finished, you can make a loose plan for the days you have in San Diego. Why a loose plan? Because you can’t really make a set in stone schedule and there will always be a degree of improvisation once you are at the show. Schedules change, guests cancel, and surprise lines will keep you far from the room where it happens. You may suddenly learn about something new you had no idea would be at the show, but now it’s your top priority.

Instead, make a schedule guideline for each day, and sync it to your calendar. You know you need to be at Booth 1929 for a signing at 3:00 pm on Friday, and then you need to be at a screening in the Ballroom 20 at 5:00 pm. This way you have everything a glance, and you won’t have to plan every minute of every day.

Another idea is to plan your days around sections of the convention hall. The various factions of pop-culture tend to be grouped together on the show floor. For example, most of the Comics Publishers are in the center of the hall, while the big Video Game companies are way to the right in Hall A, and Artist Alley is all the way to the left in Hall G. So you can typically knock out a whole niche of your fandom in one chunk of time if you plan accordingly and use your map.

Also, if you want to attend a Hall H panel on any day, beware. Some lines for Hall H can take hours of waiting with many people lining up the night or day before the event is scheduled. If you have other things you wanted to do those days, you may have to reassess your priorities on what is more important.

Step 4 – Plan Your Wardrobe

Southern California can get hot. Really hot. San Diego is usually a bit more temperate than other areas of the Golden State, but if you are standing in the sun for hours waiting for Hall H to open up, that long sleeve shirt is going to get pretty funky. The convention hall can also get uncomfortably warm at times, so unless you are doing some amazing cosplay, plan on wearing cool, comfortable clothes (and bring a few spares).

Also, a 4-plus day convention will wreck your feet, so make sure you bring the most comfortable pair of shoes you own. Closed-toe is a must if you want to protect your little piggies from getting trampled.

Step 5 – It’s Dangerous To Go Alone. Take These.

Below is a list of some items you can and should bring with you on your journey.

  • Water – Hydration is important. There are a few markets around downtown San Diego where you can buy large packs of water bottles for a few bucks. Do this on Tuesday or Wednesday to save time and money. Unless you want to spend $5.00 for one bottle during the show? Didn’t think so.
  • Snacks – While at the market, pick up some easy, handy snacks to carry with you during to the day. Granola bars, trail mix, whatever floats your boat. Again, this will save you time, money, and stave off the hangry feelings.
  • Large Backup Battery – Outlets and charging stations will be few and far between in the hall. So if your phone battery dies halfway through the day, you won’t miss that unexpected photo op with your favorite super-hero!
  • Cash – While many booths now take credit cards, cash is still king. Bring some green just in case.
  • Hand Sanitizer – You are going to be shaking lots of hands and bumping elbows with celebrities and fans all week. The best way to fight off the dreaded Con Plague is to wash and sanitize your hands often.

That concludes your pre-convention preparation pep talk, but we have only just scratched the surface on how to get you fully prepared for your SDCC quest. Check back soon for Part 2 with more tips and advice on what to do during the convention itself.

Have you been checking out Sideshow’s Online Comic Con? If not, you are missing out on all the cool new items and sneak peaks! Check it out right here!