So you’re going to Comic-Con. You emerged victorious from the super stressful online badge sales, survived Hotelpocalypse, and maybe even booked a flight. Now comes the next thing to worry about: parking! Prepaid parking through Ace Parking goes on sale Tuesday, May 20 at 9 am PT. Read on for our advice on deciding which lot to park in…
There are several parking lots to choose from, or you may want to consider taking a shuttle or the trolley instead. The San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog has put together a comprehensive guide of your transportation options here, and they have also have a tour of Ace Parking’s new Comic-Con parking sales system. Go ahead and take a look at those links, then come back here for some advice on where to park. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
Oh, you’re back already? Okay. So one of the things you learned from those articles is that none of the Ace Parking lots allow overnight parking. According to Ace Parking’s Comic-Con 2014 FAQ page, the lots close at midnight and open at 6am, other than Convention Center parking, which opens at 5am. Any cars on the lot after 2am will be towed at the owner’s expense. However, based on past experience, that may not be entirely accurate. More on that later.
If you’re not interested in overnight parking, and don’t plan on parking before 5 am, then the obvious best choice is Convention Center parking. Not only is it the closest (right underneath the Convention Center), but historically is the lowest priced option of all of the lots at $15.
The next best option is the Hilton Bayfront parking garage, located just across the street from the Convention Center, and more importantly, right across the street from where the Hall H line begins. Additionally, its pricing is the same low price as Convention Center parking at $15. Not to worry if you are one of the lucky people who are staying at the Hilton Bayfront, however, as guests of the hotel can park overnight for $28.00/night (self-parking) or $40.00/night (valet).
Another disadvantage to consider when purchasing Convention Center or Hilton Bayfront parking is the traffic. Since these lots are located right in the heart of Comic-Con, not only do you have to worry about a surplus of vehicle traffic, but you also have to deal with the massive amount of pedestrian traffic. It may take you a lot of extra, frustrating time to get in and get out if you’re coming and going at prime times.
Convention Center and Hilton Bayfront parking are always the first to go, however, so if you aren’t successful in purchasing those before they sell out, the next best options are the lots right next to Petco Park, which include Tailgate Park, Campus Lot, MTS Lot, and Triangle Park. They look like they’re far, but it’s a quick, easy walk — only a couple of blocks, and then you get to cross a pedestrian bridge which ends right across the street from the Hall H line. However, the price is quite a bit higher than the Convention Center and Hilton Bayfront, ranging from $20-30/day depending on the lot and the day. Diamond View Towers is also in that area, but only available Saturday and Sunday, and there’s also Padres Parkade that’s a little further out.
So where do you go if you want to park overnight? Horton Plaza. That’s where we parked in 2012 and 2013, and it costs $20-25/day. Whereas most of the other parking lots are lots that actually open and close at a certain time, the Horton Plaza parking garage is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, it is the type of garage where you take a ticket when you enter, and show the ticket and pay when you leave. In this case, you would show your ticket and present your prepaid Ace Parking pass as payment. I know the rules for the Ace Parking prepaid pass say that NONE of the Ace Parking lots are overnight, but in 2012 we arrived and parked around 3 am on Saturday morning, and left around 7 pm with no problem. Then on Saturday night, we came back and parked around 11 pm, and left Sunday afternoon around 2 pm, again without any problems. In 2013, we parked around 11pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and upon exiting the next day each evening, we presented our pass for that day, and were able to leave without any problems each time.
However, you probably shouldn’t park your car there on Wednesday night and leave it there until Sunday afternoon, because I have a feeling that showing your Thursday-Sunday passes all at the same time might not work. I would suggest leaving and coming back in once per day, even if it’s just to circle around and get a new ticket with a new time and date stamp.
I must mention that in 2012, upon our first attempt at camping overnight for Hall H, Saturday night, we were paranoid about the fact we were planning on coming back around 11pm, when it was still Saturday night, and then using our Sunday prepaid pass upon our exit the next day. So on our way out on Saturday evening, we asked the parking attendant if that would be acceptable. He ended up calling his manager, who said that we would have to pay for the time we spent parked there on Saturday (even though it would be less than an hour), and that our Sunday pass would not cover the cost. However, we left on Sunday without any problems. In 2013, we didn’t even bother asking, and never ran into any problems. But, you have been warned. It may be more wise to leave before midnight, and then bring your car back after midnight if possible, so as to avoid any sticklers.
Unfortunately, Horton Plaza is one of the further lots, being about 5 blocks away, plus if you get unlucky, you have to wait for the trolley to pass, and/or wait for the traffic signal to change, which takes forever. Horton Plaza prepaid parking doesn’t sell out very fast, considering it is so expensive and so far away. The good news is that the Comic-Con reserved parking is located near the stairwell (or at least it was where we parked), so we were able to quickly and easily leave from the structure. In 2012, we found out about the Ace Parking sale way after the fact, and bought Horton Plaza parking for Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was sold out for Friday, however, so we bought Tailgate Park parking for that day. So that gives you an idea of how popular or unpopular those lots are. In 2013, we were on the ball, and immediately bought Horton Plaza parking for every day.
Gaslamp City Square also appears to be a 24 hour parking garage, and is priced at $20-25/day. It is also a couple of blocks closer than Horton Plaza. However, we have no experience with attempting to park there overnight, so we’re not sure if they care about enforcing Ace Parking’s no overnight parking rule for Comic-Con.
Your last resort should be the 707 Broadway lot, as it is the furthest away (about 10 blocks), and only available on Saturday and Sunday at $20-25.
In summary, if you want close, cheap parking, and don’t care about overnight parking or arriving before 5 am, then you need to create an Ace Parking account now, and be at your computer at 9 am PT tomorrow morning to make sure you get Convention Center parking. If you want overnight parking, and don’t mind paying a little more for it, you could probably get away with waiting a little while to buy a parking pass for Horton Plaza. However, don’t wait too long, because it will sell out.
Here is the link to Ace Parking’s Comic-Con Parking Sale, which will go live at 9am PT on Tuesday, May 20: https://space.aceparking.com/events/comic-con
Disclaimer: We offer this information based on our own past experience attending Comic-Con, and do not guarantee that you will succeed in parking overnight without being charged extra, towed, fined, or all of the above. Proceed at your own risk.