20 Tips for attending San Diego Comic Con 2014

San Diego Comic Con is one month away. To help get ready and celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite tips to keep things from getting too crazy while you’re there. Enjoy. Comment additional ones if you have ones we forgot to list.

SDCC-Tips

Comic Con Tip #1 – Hotels
If you haven’t got a hotel yet, you’ll likely have to find something a little further away. Last minute cancellations may open up, but you won’t be able to count on those. If you’re still looking, you may be able to find someone looking for a roommate from the friends of comic con forums:
http://friendsofcci.com/forum/index.php?topic=2277.0

Alternatively, you can always go the no hotel route. I’ve been tempted to try this one out. Drop the car off at the closest Wal-Mart and then backpack it and sleep out on in line every day. There’s even a 24-hour fitness nearby you could sign up for a 30 day membership and go there to shower. If you’re thinking about doing something like this, please fill out our contact us form, we would love to talk to you about your experience.

  • Use the roommate forums
  • Try camping out

Comic Con Tip #2 – Transportation/Parking
Be it a car and you’re parking somewhere, taking the local trains, or the SDCC shuttles you’re going to need to figure out how to get around. I have a few tips regarding transporation. If you’re staying downtown (and maybe if you’re not), plan on paying vallet fees each night to park at your hotel. When we stayed at the Gaslamp Hilton, we did not know it was going to cost an extra $40/night to park there. If you’re planning to use the free shuttles, be aware that they run limited hours on Wednesday. You may end up needing an alternative early or late in the day.

  • Most hotels will charge a fee to park each night
  • The free shuttle runs limited hours Wed. so you may need a backup plan (ie Taxi or Train)

Comic Con Tip #3 – Lines
SDCC-LinesPlan for lines. You’ll want a backpack you can tote gear around in. We’ll be posting an article in a few weeks for “What’s in my bag” to prep for SDCC. Just keep in mind that you’ll be in a lot of really REALLY long lines. Be ready by having snacks, water and other things to help make it more bearable.

It’s best if you have a buddy.. to hold your seat or spot in line while you go to the bathroom. If not, make friends in line. Do that anyway it’s way more fun.

Line camping. Yes you can line camp with limited gear. Don’t plan on getting much sleep though. They don’t just leave you be. They start compacting the line every 30 minutes or so starting at around 5am. Some fun things can happen when you line camp and watch Twitter though. Celebs will show up middle of the night sometimes. The Veronica Mars movie crew came around and did interviews at night. Fun things.

  • Brings supplies to make line camping bearable.
  • Bring a buddy if possible.

Comic Con Tip #4 – Off-Site Events
There is a lot of fun to be had nearby. Lots of studios will have outside venues setup.

  • Watch online to find ticket giveaways and have a blast outside too if you can!

Comic Con Tip #5 – Food
ralphsFood is challenging. There are concession stands all over, but they’re quite expensive. I plan to use them when I’m running about and need something fast and what I have isn’t working. Otherwise, food is a challenge. There IS a grocery store (Ralphs) about 15 minutes walk from Hall H if you want to get some fresh food once you arrive. It’s on G Street and 1st Ave. It’s NORTH facing, so don’t get discouraged when you don’t see it on Market Street.

  • Ralphs is a hidden gem if you want to buy fresh produce to pack around.
  • Try to not eat crap, you’ll feel better throughout the con.

Comic Con Tip #6 – Cosplay
If you’re a serious cosplayer, you may think about bringing a handler. There will be lots of crowds and lots of people wanting a photo with you. It would be nice so you don’t have to get out of character to tell people how photos with you work. It’s going to be really fun and really challenging, so come ready. There is a Masquerade Ball that I hear is awesome, but haven’t yet attended.

  • Bring a handler if your costume is difficult to maneuver in.
  • Bring stuff to repair damage that may happen.

Comic Con Tip #7 – Schedule
SDCC will release the day’s schedule a week before the event. That’s not a lot of prep time. Make a plan and make a backup plan. Then be ready to wing it when things get off course. You’ll want to keep track of it somewhere. There are so many off-site and other activities going on that using their app is somewhat helpful, but certainly not all-inclusive. Panel rooms do NOT clear out in between panels. This means if you HAVE to see something in the afternoon, you may want to get in line early that morning and stay in the room all day. In 2013 when the Firefly 10 year reunion happened, I can’t tell you how many Legend of Korra fans I saw in the hallway outside crying because they could not get into the Ballroom.

  • Make a spreadsheet to keep track of your official schedule AND off-site events without losing your mind trying to juggle it all.
  • Panel rooms do NOT clear out in between panels.
  • Plan time to walk.. some things are quite far apart.

Comic Con Tip #8 – Exclusives
Toy makers will have LOTs of coveted exclusives available. Do your best to be near the front of the line and ask lots of people about what’s going on to stay current. Each booth tends to act a little differently, so get in touch with your favorites first and then keep going.

  • Ask lots of questions so you are current on what’s happening here.

Comic Con Tip #9 – Weather
Weather in San Diego varies, but is generally tolerable. It will likely be nice, but could be hot and muggy. Not a lot of planning to be done here, but be ready for what the forecast says.

  • Watch the forecast to know what you’re getting into.

Comic Con Tip #10 – Starbucks
You’re going to get hot and tired. Hitting a Starbucks is going to get more and more tempting. I’m not going to lecture you on the cost, but the LINES for Starbucks can be staggering. I like to keep some Crystal Light with Caffeine on hand to help stave off the fatigue. If you’re a caffeine addict like most of us, know how you’re planning to get your caffeine fix in a pinch or you may end up getting a little cranky.

  • Use Crystal Light with Caffeine to help fight fatigue and stay hydrated.
  • (Help us out by buying it from Amazon using this affiliate link: http://amzn.to/1q2qsb8)

Comic Con Tip #11 – Comfortable Shoes
I wear Sonuks because they’re just like sandals and that’s what I like. Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes to be cute unless you absolutely have to for your cosplay.

  • Wear them.

Comic Con Tip #12 – Twitter
If you’re not on Twitter, get on it now. Twitter is the place you find out about the most current sdcc events. If a celebrity is doing a surprise pop in or if nerd hq tickets go on sale, all off that info is on Twitter. Here are some good starting people to follow to get fast info (including us):

There are lots more, they aren’t hard to find.

Comic Con Tip #13 – Bookmark
Your favorite pages relating to con on your phone before you go.. have a way to get back to them on the fly. You won’t have your PC to guide you when you’re walking around.

  • You’ll want bookmarks on your phone.

Comic Con Tip #14 – Q&A’s
QandAPanels normally have a Question and Answer session at the end. If you’re fast enough, you can get in line and ask your favorite celeb a question. Just bear in mind that the room is full of fans and you WILL know it if you’ve asked something dumb. Don’t ask for things from the celebs. The guys running the mics are pretty quick on the draw and will usually mute you if you start asking for an autograph. Every one of the 6500 fans in the room would also like an autograph, it’s not reasonable for you to get one. Also, it’s always an awkward 30 seconds while you’re muted and trying to ask for your favor and the celebrity can’t even hear you but trying to be as helpful as they can.

  • Don’t ask for celebs to give you something during Q&A sessions.

Comic Con Tip #15 – Those “special” moments
You’ll have amazing moments at SDCC and you’ll have some awful ones. Take it in stride and have a blast. Don’t be devastated if something doesn’t go your way. With 175,000 or so people in the vicinity, it’s likely something will happen to annoy you. Stay positive and friendly. Maybe you’ll run into a celeb randomly. Who knows what the Comic Con gods will bestow upon you. Most of my favorite comic con moments are NOT in the huge panels, but random happenstances that occured while walking around.

  • Stay positive and upbeat to keep the comic con karma ever in your favor.

Comic Con Tip #16 – Internet
It’s very spotty. Especially in panels. Don’t depend on entertainment like Netflix that requires a good internet connection. It also will burn the crap out of your battery to leave it connected on your phone. Go into airplane mode if you can to conserve battery. There aren’t a lot of outlets to camp at to charge up.

  • Internet will be very spotty, use airplane mode when you can.

Comic Con Tip #17 – Bag Check
SDCC provides a bag check. For a couple bucks you can stash your gear and roam relatively unencumbered. It’s a very nice feature, take advantage of it!

  • The bag check is a relatively and amazing newish feature to SDCC.

Comic Con Tip #18 – Be Polite
Here’s something that I never expected when I attended my first con. The people have inevitably been very kind and understanding. I would never have guessed that to be the case, but I’ve found it true pretty much every time I go. Don’t be the person that makes that change.

  • Do it.

Comic Con Tip #19 – Hygiene
DeodorantOk every time I read a website that mentions proper hygiene at conventions, I cringe. It can’t be that bad, and for the most part we’re all adults and let’s be reasonable here. That’s why I’ve never mentioned it. However, earlier this year I attended a con that was very fowl indeed. Not even BO, it smelled literally like poo. Everywhere I went. Please shower and take care of yourselves.

  • Please shower and take care of yourselves.

Comic Con Tip #20 – Leaving SDCC
If you’ve been at SDCC, you know that Sunday is a little different. It can be really fun, but as the fun winds down and you start to try and leave there will be monster crowds of people trying to get on the same shuttle as you, it’s going to take lots of extra time. If you can avoid leaving during the rush, it might be worthwhile or plan for extra delays.

  • Plan extra time for transport to the airport if you’re leaving Sunday.

Things to bring:

  • Batteries
  • Business Cards (to give your new friends)
  • Water Bottle
  • Crystal Light
  • Camera
  • Autograph supplies
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer

I’ve already spouted a lot of stuff you’re going to promptly forget. So here are some bullet points of other random things:

  • Don’t pack the monster SDCC bag around, stow it somehow.
  • Fox poster tubes may not be worth the huge effort they are to get and fill.
  • If you’re interested in collectibles then preview night is the place to be. If not, there we’ll be lots of time to walk the floor that isn’t as big of a frenzy. Try and relax. Maybe go see the tv show previews in Ballroom 20.
  • Nerd HQ is awesome and also provides a lot of scheduling conflict, but at least check it out, the panels are very fun.
  • Hall H and Ballroom 20 have monster lines, unless it’s Thursday, don’t expect to just be able to walk in at your leisure. Get there early lots of people will camp out..
Trevor Nielson
Writer & Photographer at ComicCon.tips
Trevor began his forray into nerdom as a kid peddling his bike all the way to the local bookstore to purchase comic books. The boring superhero comics weren’t good enough for Trevor, he wanted the real ones. The ones with ducks. Now who's laughing while he’s on his way to cash in all those valuable Ducktales comics. Soon he’ll have his own money bin full to the brim. These days, to fill the time before the money bin construction completes (and begins), Trevor fills his time with photography, movies, television and comic book conventions. You can find his cosplay Meet & Greet mini-shoot and articles on this site as well as prints of his photographs being sold by cosplayers throughout the land.

P.S. Trevor converted to Marvel & DC comics and movies later on, so no heartburn on that one, right?