So you’re going to Comic-Con. You emerged victorious from the super stressful online badge sales, made your hotel reservations, and maybe even booked a flight. Now comes the next thing to worry about: parking! Prepaid parking through Ace Parking goes on sale Friday, April 19 at 9 am PT – that’s tomorrow! 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 posted a map here of the Ace Parking lots that will be available during the sale, along with additional useful information. Note that the Hilton Bayfront parking garage, located at E Harbor Drive and Park Blvd, is not depicted on the map, but it will be included in the sale. 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. 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 $10. The lot closes at 2 am, however, so keep that in mind if you’re planning on late nights.
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 usually around the same as that of the Convention Center. Unfortunately, according Ace Parking’s Facebook page, Hilton Bayfront parking does not open until 6 am, which could pose a significant disadvantage to those wanting to line up early, considering that the Convention Center parking (and all other Ace Parking lots) would have already been open for an hour by that time. 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. 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 typically quite a bit higher than the Convention Center and Hilton Bayfront, usually around $20-25. The hours will most likely be the same as the Convention Center, 5 am – 2 am.
So where do you go if you want to park overnight? Horton Plaza. That’s where we parked last year, and I believe it cost $25/day. Whereas 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 last year 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. We even parked in the reserved Comic-Con parking. I’m not sure if we just got lucky both nights, or if Horton Plaza doesn’t care since it’s normally a 24 hour lot anyway. 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 recommend 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 on Saturday night we were paranoid about the fact we were planning on coming back 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, as I said earlier, we left on Sunday without 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. Last year, 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 Petco Park parking for that day. So that gives you an idea of how popular or unpopular those lots are.
In summary, if you want close, cheap parking, and don’t care about overnight parking or arriving before 5 am, then you need to 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 your prepaid pass for Horton Plaza. However, don’t wait too long, because it will sell out.
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.