As many of this year’s Hall H’ers are aware, Comic-Con decided that they wanted to try something new out this year, to hopefully make the line process a smoother one. The big question is, was it a positive or negative experience? I should preface this article: I appreciate Comic-Con trying to make the line experiences more manageable. It is a very difficult job to do, when you have thousands of diehard fans lining up insanely early to see panels that are two days away. This article is intended to shine some light on the positive and negative experiences this new policy had.
Explanation and Experiences for SDCC’s Hall H Line
So for those who were not a part of the Hall H lines, Comic-Con was going to have staff hand out wristbands to people in line, starting with wristbands labeled “A” going through to “D”. The idea was the line would be divided into quarters, with one quarter of the line being assigned a letter. People given those wristbands were supposed to get into the hall. An A wristband obviously would be a better situation than someone with a D. Comic-Con was sure to cover themselves with a “disclaimer” on the wristband stating, “wristband does not guarantee entry”. The wristbands would start being handed out the evening before the panel, then stop at 1:00am. Handing out would resume at 5:00am, until all wristbands were gone. Anyone who did not have a wristband would have a slim chance of getting into the hall, for the first panel at least.
I did not experience any day other than Saturday and Sunday for this new wristband policy. Violet however, did experience it for Thursday night/Friday. As I understand it, Thursday night was a bit hectic. People had crammed tightly into the tents, causing a lot of congestion in the tents, and people were unable to make their “camps” until the line was expanded. Also, the process for Thursday night took a very long, with “B” wristbands not being handed out until 12:30am. This meant no sleeping until you had your band!
Friday night/Saturday seemed to go a little smother, but it still had its hiccups. The wristbands were all handed out by midnight. When “D” wristbands were beginning to be handed out, I counted roughly how many people were in front of us, and estimated roughly 800 people in front of us. Considering the Hall holds 6,500 people, are chances seemed very good to receive a wristband. We did not, however, and they ran out about 70 people before us. Being concerned we might not make it in, we asked the staff who were finishing up handing out the wristbands how many they handed out, but they had no idea. That really put Violet, I and our group in a tough spot–we didn’t know how many wristbands were handed out, so we didn’t know whether we should stay in line or not. Wasn’t that the point of the wristbands, or am I missing something? Add to that the wristbands saying, “does not guarantee entry” puts even the people at the tail end of “D” in the same spot!
Pros for Wristbands for Hall H:
No Hall H Line Cutters
The best actual benefit to the wristbands was reducing the ability to cut in line. Without a wristband, it would seem impossible. Also, you do not have to worry about someone holding a spot for 25 people in front of you. That is certainly a big plus for the wristbands. Of course, cutting past people who don’t have wristbands would be possible, but since those people’s chances of getting in are slim, I guess it isn’t a big deal.
An “Okay” Indicator
As quoted from the Toucan Tracker Blog regarding wristbands: “Our goal is to help attendees get a better idea of the length of the line for Hall H…In order to help you manage your valuable time Comic-Con.” If a person had an “A” through “C” wristband, they were all but in the Hall. People with “D” wristbands on the other hand…
Ability to Leave Line
Since having a wristband allowed you to leave the line (given that at least someone in your group remained in line), groups could alternate people in and out to shower, grab food or do whatever else they needed to–as long as they already had their wristband.
Cons For Wristbands for Hall H:
The Cyclical-Panic Effect
This is my biggest issue with the wristbands. Comic-Con’s Hall H has already had this problem without the wristbands. Every year, it seems attendees get in line earlier and earlier. Why do they get in line earlier? Because they noticed the year before that people were in line earlier than them. Then the next year, people realized how early everyone else got in line, and they get in line earlier. This cycle seems almost never-ending. Then the wristbands are introduced, which seems to incentivize getting in line early. Not only did you have to get in line now, you had to get something while in line.
Being an “Okay” Indicator
Yes this was in the positives as well, but it is also a negative. Being only “okay” makes it hard for the people near the end of “D” and the people after “D” to know whether they should say or not. Unless you go through the line and accurately count how many people are in line, you still will not know if you are going to get in or not. That seems to kind of defeat the purpose of the wristbands.
Stranded in Hall H Line
Once you’re in line you have to wait for the wristband to be handed out. Until the wristband is on your wrist, you are chained to the line. That means not even going to the bathroom–for potentially hours. It also means no sleep until you have a wristband. If you get in line around 12:00am, you have to wait until the wristbands get around to you before you can sleep.
Final Thoughts on the Wristbands for Hall H:
Again, I appreciate Comic-Con trying to make the line experience a better one. I personally feel that the wristbands were probably an unnecessary addition. I do not think there are that many people allowing people to cut in line, and it really did not give a great indication as to how likely we were to get in. Veterans of Comic-Con have a better idea based on where you get in line at than what the wristbands indicated. If they decide to continue with the wristband policy next year, they should certainly look into tightening up the process in order to make it go much smoother.
Poll: What Did you Think of the Wristband Policy?
So, what did you think of the implementation of the wristband policy? Check out our poll below. I am very interested in seeing what other Comic-Con-ers think!