Comic Con 2012 is only three weeks away! Are you ready?! You better be or else you are going to be screwed; and I mean that in the nicest way, after all I am part of the staff over at NiceGirlsTV, and we pride ourselves on being nice.
With that thought in mind, I wanted to create my very own guide to surviving Comic Con 2012 for those readers who visit my site whether you have attended in years past or are a newbie. The following will give you a rundown on what to expect from THE largest pop culture convention on the planet.
Comic Con 2012 will be held from Wednesday, July 11 to Sunday, July 15 this year at the massively large San Diego Convention Center.
By now you better have your 4-day pass if you want to be there for the entire “weekend” and the Wednesday night Preview Night or have your daily passes; otherwise, you are virtually screwed because this event sells out early (at least that has been the case over the last few years).
Besides having your tickets, you better have made a hotel reservation earlier this year or, once again, you are going to be screwed. Hotel rooms are at a premium even through the official Comic Con International website; and if you don’t have a reservation by now, you simply will NOT find one. If (and that is a BIG if) there are any rooms available, which is doubtful, those rooms will be way out in Mission Valley – at least 5 miles away from the convention center; and, more likely than not, those hotels will not be on the free shuttle service provided by many of the hotels in the San Diego area.
So, for those of you still with me – you’ve got your passes and your hotel room. Now, you need to know what to expect from this crazy thing called Comic Con 2012.
Well, read on for tips, recommendations and insight from an over 10-year veteran of the event. Yes, I mean me…
GETTING TO THE CONVENTION/NAVIGATING SAN DIEGO
Depending on what day you are leaving for the event and your selected mode of transportation, make sure to give yourself time to not only get to San Diego but also to navigate around the city, find your hotel and get checked in at your hotel. Everyone else is going to be on the road, on the train, on the bus, in the plane or figuring out their own way to San Diego. Traffic is going to be heavy; and once you get there, the foot traffic is going to be even heavier. Allow plenty of time to arrive in San Diego, time to check in and get settled. Then learn the “lay of the land”: where your shuttle pick-up is located outside or near your hotel, are you even on a shuttle route or will you have to get a cab or take the trolley, where the hotel restaurant is located, where the hotel pool is located (so you can relax in the hot tub after a long day at the con), where the local restaurants are located, how far are you from the convention center if you are within walking distance, et al.
This leads us to dealing with the foot traffic on each day of the convention. There are going to be hundreds of thousands of people in San Diego for Comic Con 2012. You are going to need to learn the best route to get from your hotel (or wherever you are staying) to the convention center and back. You are going to have to give yourself PLENTY of time to get there in the morning once you’ve gotten up out of bed, showered, coiffed and ready for the day. If you are going by vehicle (bus, car or trolley), it could potentially take you 30 minutes to a couple hours to get where you need to go, depending on how bad the traffic turns out to be each day. BE PREPARED!!
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
DO NOT GO FOR THE CUTE!!! I cannot stress that enough. Unless you have a valid and very important reason to dress in costume, dress in comfortable shoes and clothes! Your feet and your body will thank you later! You will be walking the distance of THREE freaking football fields at the convention center. Up and down escalators and/or stairs (yes, there are elevators, but they are crowded with those who cannot use the escalators and stairs), back and forth from one side of the convention center to the other or standing and slowly moving (if you are moving at all) in the lines to get into the panel rooms; especially if you are trying to get into Hall H, which seats 6,500 people or Ballroom 20, which seats around 4,000 people. The small rooms aren’t always much better especially if a show is programmed in one of those rooms that the organizers didn’t think would garner enough people and the room gets maxed out. BE PREPARED!!! [
These two words will be an ongoing theme. Consider it your mantra for the convention.
Dress in layers. It may sound like a crazy idea, but if you plan on getting to the convention center early in the morning to stand in the extremely LONG line just to get inside – you might get rained on or the mist over the city will land all over you and saturate your clothes. Or, if you are waiting outside for Hall H or one of the panels in one of the nearby hotels, you could end up with a nasty sunburn if you don’t have a hoodie, hat or sun umbrella – not to mention lathered over with sunscreen. Wear long pants – your legs will thank you for it later (trust me!). Make sure you have plenty to wear or cover your exposed skin when you are inside too because, believe it or not, those panel rooms are downright FRIGID! After even a short amount of time you will feel like you are in a meat locker, you might even lose the feeling to your extremities if you aren’t careful – what’s the mantra? – oh, right – BE PREPARED!
CAN I JUST CARRY A SMALL BAG OR JUST HAVE MY WALLET?
Are you crazy? You are at Comic Con 2012! You need to have a good, strong, sturdy large bag, tote bag or back pack.
NOTE: DO NOT BRING WHEELED CARTS, LUGGAGE OR BAGS OR BOXES THAT REQUIRE MORE THAN ONE PERSON TO CARRY OR HOLD!!
Your shoulders and arms will be screaming before you have even gotten through half of one day at the convention if you do not bring the right kind of bag; other people are going to bitch at you if you have something too large and security will even give you a hard time.
NOTE ON SECURITY: If you are nice to them, they will be nice to you. Security is a thankless job and they are routinely not informed enough about what is going on. Cut the security guards a break; they are JUST doing their job as best they can.
ANOTHER NOTE: Do NOT lose your Comic Con ID pass once you get it from registration. You will be out of luck if it is lost! Keep your ID handy too as the folks at Comic Con International will be checking ID (at least that is the new policy) even more stringently upon entrance to the Exhibition Hall and possibly other locations inside the convention center. BE PREPARED!
WHAT SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?
Well, besides a hat, sun umbrella and sunscreen for protection from the sun, a hoodie or raincoat to protect from any possible rain or the heavy morning mist, you are going to need survival gear to get you through the long-ass days during the convention. It will be vitally important to your well-being to have the following items in your bag:
• Snacks and Food (to get you through those long hours in the panel rooms when you can’t easily get away to grab food in the convention center)
• Bottled water (leave the soda/pop/other beverages for later as you will get dehydrated FAST)
• Handi-wipes/kleenix/napkins (do you really want sticky fingers when special gifts are given out in the rooms or tickets for free swag are given out or you want to take pictures?)
• Zip Lock Bags (for waste or just in case)
• Breath mints/certs/gum (those sitting next to you will thank you especially since getting to the bathroom to brush your teeth routinely is not going to be easy and do you really want to carry a toothbrush and toothpaste everywhere with you)
• Body spray/deodorant (again, your “neighbors” in line, in the Exhibition Hall and in the panel rooms will thank you and you if you start to smell you just might thank yourself for bringing them along)
NOTE: Food and beverages at the convention center tend to be overpriced and not that good so it’s a good idea to bring fruit, crackers, trail mix, chex mix, snack mix, candy, cookies, peanut butter sandwiches, energy bars, peanuts, chips and the like to sustain you. In other words, anything that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and is small enough to fit in your bag along with EVERYTHING ELSE!
• Camera (Charger, Extra Batteries, Memory Card)
• Laptop [if you can’t live without it] (power cord and extra battery)
• Cell Phone (Bluetooth, Charger, Extra Batteries)
• Cash (it’s best to have small bills to make it easier to get in and out of vendor booths, food lines, et al and keep your money in a safe place in your bag – you’ll thank yourself later for safeguarding your money)
• Paper/Pens (if you want to make notes, give your contact information to someone or just in case)
• Medicine for allergies, Maalox for upset stomachs, Tylenol/Aspirin or the like for aches and pains
• Sheet Protectors (for those of you who collect photos or if you get those all-important autographs – you don’t want your pictures ruined, bent or smeared)
• Band aids/small tube of 1st aid cream (cause you never know what might happen)
• Tiny flashlight (in case your cell phone runs down so you can navigate the dark panel rooms if need be)
HOW DO I FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO?
There are hundreds of panels scheduled over the course of the convention. Then there are all the autograph opportunities and all the stuff going on in the Exhibition Hall (and so much more). It is to your advantage to figure out what you want to do each day AHEAD OF TIME!! What’s the mantra – BE PREPARED!!
As the schedule is released at the Comic Con website [that normally happens about two weeks before the start of the big event!], print it out and highlight all the panels you are interested in attending. Then go back and double check the times and locations. Make your MAIN schedule; then make a SECONDARY schedule and then make a THIRD schedule. As much as you want to be in a specific panel to see your favorite celeb, artist, writer or creator, you may not be able to get in. Obviously, don’t give up on the first try to get in the room; but if there is absolutely no way you are getting in there then go to the secondary schedule, try to get in that one or move on to the third schedule. It’s all about choices and acceptance.
The same holds true for hitting the Exhibition Hall. You can learn ahead of time who will be down in the hall by checking out the Comic Con website or going through the Comic Con booklet that will be provided in your gift bag at registration. Learn where your favorite vendors are located and get to them early, especially if they have something specific for sale or that you desperately need for your collection. BE PREPARED for crowds inside the Exhibition Hall, lots of noise and chaos. It is like an unorganized (despite their best efforts) three-ring circus in there (in terms of navigating around all the people who will be in there) and it can get ABSOLUTELY crazy! Be forewarned that Saturday is typically the worst day, but in years past almost every day of the convention, including Preview Night, are simply INSANE!
WHAT SHOULD I WATCH OUT FOR?
There are going to be a LOT of people and not all of them can walk on their own two feet. Some people will be in wheelchairs, using canes, crutches or walkers; children will be in strollers with their parents. MANY people will be in costume and, in some cases, cannot see well out of the costumes. Pay attention and BE PREPARED!
But also be considerate of those who are using a walking device. They are people too! And, as one of those who use a walking device to navigate this thing called Comic Con 2012, I thank you for your common sense. Give room to those less fortunate than you!
And again, BE PREPARED!!
Please print out this post, using it as your guide and most of all enjoy Comic Con 2012!!
NOTE: Since my former colleague seems to be on a litigious tangent, I am citing that the source material for the above, comes from none other than The TVWatchtower at this link; but please note the title of this article starts out as “A NiceGirl’s Guide” and recall that I am a writer/columnist/reporter for NiceGirlsTV (which is where this article was originally published when The TVWatchtower was a former, regular guest columnist); and I have over 10 years of experience attending this convention. Therefore, much of what The TVWatchtower learned from her experiences at the convention is the SAME as my experiences since we attended the convention together. That is no longer the case; but I am “legally” bound to cite her source material.