SDCC 2018: “The Official Comic-Con Survival Guide”

SDCC 2016: Star Wars Group Cosplay (Tara Clark-Schulte)
Credit: Tara Clark-Schulte

San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) is right around the corner. Only a few days left until a fun weekend of panels, merch, cosplay, and comics! This means there isn’t a lot of time to get ready. SDCC can be intimidating as a newcomer. 

These are things I wish someone told me before I went to my first Comic-Con.

Hall H = Hall “Hell”

People wait in line for Hall H
People wait in line for Hall H. (John Gibbins of PACIFIC San Diego)

Hall H at SDCC is where the most popular panels are held. Anywhere from Marvel, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, and everything in between can be found here. As you can imagine, the line to this hall is actual hell. People start lining up the day before just to get wristbands for the next day. This means you will be wasting a whole day of Comic-Con, but a wristband does guarantee you access into the hall the following day.

If you don’t get a wristband the day before, you will have to wait in line the day of the panel. Plan on getting there very early if you want a chance at getting into Hall H. The Hall holds about 6,500 people. As long as you arrive early, there is a pretty good chance you will get in. But early means around 6am. By 8am, there will be thousands already waiting in line for Hall H.

If you are not a fan of waiting in lines for hours, I would suggest not seeing Hall H panels.

Leave Time For The Exhibit Hall

The exhibit hall is easily where hours and hours can be lost at Comic-Con. It is also where tons of money can be spent (so watch out!) If you are one to buy merch and souvenirs, leave plenty of time to explore the exhibit hall.

Even if you don’t buy anything, this hall is huge and amazing to walk around. An awesome perk to walking around this hall is free merch. Some vendors have free things that they give out. Sometimes it’s stickers, books, comics, and other little trinkets. The exhibit hall also caters to up and coming artist and authors — there are many books to buy there.

A majority of the time the author is there and will sign the book upon request. If it looks interesting, don’t hesitate to support the arts!

Cosplay!

Group of Superheroes. (Tara Clark-Schulte)

Cosplaying can be one of the most exciting aspects of SDCC — it adds to the fandom experience. If you decide you want to cosplay your favorite character, you are not alone. There will be tons of people alongside you. Some people go to big conventions like Comic-Con just to showcase a cosplay they have worked hard on.

Finding people of your fandom can lead to the best cosplay pictures! If you are a beginner, here are some tips to get you started. Even if you aren’t interested in cosplaying, it’s a lot of fun seeing the hard work showcased. If you ask, many cosplayers will take pictures with you!

Schedule Your Day Ahead Of Time

One of the most important things you can do to ensure the best day possible at SDCC is to plan your day. Once at Comic-Con, you will receive a booklet that tells you every event that is happening each day, where it is happening, and what time it is at.

Comic-Con even has an app that you can download that has the schedule on it. The app allows you to make an easy-to-read schedule for yourself. You can also add panels and activities to your “favorites” list. This is great for planning backups just in case the original panel you wanted to go to is full. Unfortunately, it happens, so plan for this ahead of time!

SDCC’s New System For Signings

SDCC 2017: Sailor Moon Signing (Tara Clark-Schulte)

SDCC changed things up this year in regards to executives and signings. In the past, in order to get a ticket for a signing of a big name celebrity, you had to wait in line the day before. This wasted the time you had at Comic-Con. Now they have revamped their system.

The new system started weeks before con. Comic-Con sent everyone an email telling them to pick which signing or exclusive merch they would like. July 12th was the last day to enter your name. Then they randomly draw people for the signing or exclusive merch. Comic-Con attendees will be emailed more information if they happen to be randomly picked.

Although it may be hard to get an autograph from a big name celebrity, there is a good chance you may get an autograph from other famous people at the con. After panels, there are sometimes meet and greets including the people from the panel.

If you see someone you’d really like an autograph from, go up and ask them respectfully. There is a good chance that they will sign something for you!

Must-Haves For Your Bag

The last bit of advice I would like to leave with you is must-haves for your bag. There are certain items you need with you at the con. These are my Comic-Con survival favorites!

1. Reusable Water Bottle

Buying water bottles at SDCC can get expensive. The water fountains are free. Bring reusable water bottles to have more money for awesome merch! It also keeps you hydrated. It is super easy to forget to drink water with the excitement of Con.

2. Portable Charger and Battery

With all the pictures and videos you will be taking, please invest in a portable battery. It will save your life at any convention, but especially SDCC. It is almost a guarantee you will be constantly taking pictures of cosplays, taking videos of panels, and checking your schedule. Don’t let your battery run out!

3. Fashion Tape & Safety Pins 

This goes out to all the cosplayers. Fashion tape is a necessity just in case you have a cosplay malfunction. The more you cosplay, the more you realize sh*t happens. Although it’s not a permanent solution, it can at least help you get through the rest of the day.

4. Comfortable Shoes

There are few areas to sit at SDCC. Sometimes you can find an area to sit on the ground in front of the exhibit hall or upstairs where panels are held. You can also go into smaller panels to get a quick rest for your feet if you have been standing a lot. Comfortable shoes will help with how much walking and standing you will be doing.

5. Sharpie & Autograph Book

Lastly, don’t forget to bring something to get autographs with. Many times, you can get autographs and things signed if you ask. Many of the “reachable” celebrities at Comic-Con are very nice and understanding of their fans. However, they may not always be carrying a pen or sharpie. Carrying a sharpie can be all the difference when it comes to getting an autograph.

Also, make sure to have something to autograph with!

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