Sunday, July 14, 2013

Surviving & Getting Your Geek On at San Diego Comic-Con

So, I decided to tackle a "small" topic for my introductory Geek Girl Soup article -- the geek-tastic, droolworthy San Diego Comic-Con!! Yikes!
Whether you are attending this year or in the future, I am going to share a few helpful tips to get the most out of your trek to the amazing geek mecca.
1. Attend SDCC at least twice. I know you think I am crazy, after you were lucky enough to afford/ get a ticket this one time. However once you attend, you WILL want to go back. And so you will skimp and save every penny you can to plan a second trip -- perhaps a third, fourth and fifth. The reason I highly recommend attending at least twice is... The first time, you will be so overwhelmed by everything. The visual spectacle. The celebrities. The panels. The cosplay. The exclusive collectibles. And more. While you should plan some and make the most of your first SDCC experience, you will still be blown away. Plus, being amazed and in awe is part of the fun of SDCC. So, the first year you need to just somewhat "go with the flow". Immerse yourself and let your geek flag fly high and proud!
2. Pack the basics. And take certain basics with you to the Convention Center -- small, lightweight bag, cell phone charger (a MUST have), some cash, water, food (healthier snacks will sustain you - like nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, etc), cell or camera with good zoom, download the official SDCC app to your cell, hand sanitizer (use often to avoid getting sick), and wear comfortable shoes. If you are wearing a costume, make sure it is relatively breathable. Wear extra deodorant. It can be HOT on the convention floor and in the packed panels (especially if you are in costume). There is food at the Convention Center. However, it is expensive and you will have to wait in long lines. So, that's why I recommend some snacks. If you do buy food, the most affordable choices inside the Convention Center are probably the pizza slices and the gyros. 
3. Pick up your badge early and at Town & Country Hotel, if possible (map: 500 Hotel Circle North). There will be a line at either the Convention Center or T&C. But, if you arrive at T&C 90 min-2 hours before they start distributing, the line will be shorter at that location. Take a book to read. Be aware that T&C is not close to the Convention Center. It is miles away. So, you will need to take the SDCC Shuttle or a cab. Link for SDCC badge pick up times:  Link to the SDCC shuttle info: Random, geeky note: If you do not get the GIGANTIC SDCC bag with the character/ movie/ tv show you desire, ask people as you are walking to the shuttle bus if anyone would like to trade. You can almost always find someone who would prefer yours or who is indifferent.
4. Don’t be shy about photos. Trust me, you will love your photos and can relive the memories over and over again. Do not be shy about taking cosplayer pics. Be friendly and polite. Ask them to pose for you or with you (and ask a friend or another attendee to take a pic). Most cosplayers love posing for photos. Don't try to sneak a quick, possibly blurry photo. Just walk up and ask. Or even shout from a short distance, "Hey, I love your costume! Could I please get a pic?" They appreciate the attention and will usually stop to oblige unless rushing to a panel/ screening. Then of course you need to post those awesome pics online to make all your geeky friends jealous.
5. Plan times for the Exhibit Hall. Go on the first day. Then go back on Sunday afternoon, if you can. Some exhibitors will discount items on Sunday to get rid of inventory (usually the small to medium vendors). The Exhibit Hall is grouped into areas. On the far left by Lobby G is Artist Alley. If you love original art, take some cash and you can get REALLY NICE sketches for an affordable price. Then going left to right there are all the movie/ tv exhibitors, followed by collectibles, and big comic companies. Finally at the far right side from Lobby B1-A are comic book dealers, t-shirt companies and other vendors. A lot of the bigger exhibitors, such as Marvel, DC, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, etc, will give away free promotional items at random times. Sometimes they are comics, posters, or tote bags. Also, find out of any of your favorite exhibitor booths are doing any separate autograph signings. Last year, my friends and I lucked out by going by the AMC/The Walking Dead booth on the first day to buy a t-shirt and they were just giving out tickets for an autograph signing by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. Link to the Exhibitors list and map:
6. Prioritize your days around the programs/ panels/ screenings you really want to see. If you download the SDCC mobile app, then you can create an account and fill your calendar, by checking off which programs you want to attend. Hall H and Ballroom 20 will be insane. People line up for Hall H and Ballroom 20 up to 6-10 hours in advance. So, if you really want to see a program in either room, plan your entire day around that. Some people will arrive at 2 am the night before. But, if you get there about 6-7 am and get in the long line, you should be okay. No guarantees. Again, take a book or your tablet and headphones to entertain yourself. Basically if you want to see a panel in Hall H or Ballroom 20, plan to be in line about 6-7 am, and stay in that one room from when they open the doors until the one panel you want ends (even if that panel is at 3 pm and you have to sit through four other panels first). Hall H has bathrooms inside. For Ballroom 20, they give you a bathroom pass. HOWEVER... On the other end of the spectrum, check out the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. It is across the street from the Convention Center and easier to get into those panels. In 2012, Joss Whedon was in the Indigo Ballroom. I decided to see how crazy it would be. And it was not bad at all. I went into the Indigo Ballroom one panel slot before Joss' time slot, just to be certain. But, I only waited in line a few minutes and got a great seat. So, I highly recommend panels in Indigo. Plus, check out panels in other smaller rooms in the Convention Center. My friends and I saw a great screening of the Locke & Key tv pilot one year in a smaller Convention Center room. Link to Program Schedule:
7. You MUST check out events happening outside the Convention Center! I would argue that you could get a lot out of all the programs, film screenings and activities outside the Convention Center, even if you did not have a ticket to SDCC. Most of the Gaslamp District across from the Convention Center, plus most of Petco Park and other areas will be completely transformed during SDCC. In 2012, SyFy took over a restaurant and converted it to reflect the mood of their upcoming new series "Defiance". Also, DC Entertainment had an amazing art gallery exhibition in the Gaslamp area, promoting their We Can Be Heroes charity campaign. Last year, NBC had a huge "Grimm" behind the scenes event set up in the Gaslamp area and were giving out free posters, aluminum water bottles and more. At other locations outside the Convention Center, my friends and I saw advance screenings for "Captain America" (with Chris Evans in attendance), "Fright Night", "Attack the Block" and more. Check out and follow them on Facebook. Grab free tickets as soon as you can, as they will go fast. Often movie companies will have people walking around the Gaslamp area and periodically they will give out tickets. There will be tons of food trucks, usually at Petco Park. For lots of cool offsite info and Convention Center details, check out the SDCC Unofficial Blog ( and follow them on Facebook/ Twitter. 

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