1. Take precautions to avoid “Con Crud.” We wrote a whole article about this, but basically, if you haven’t started taking Emergen-C Immune+ yet, start taking it now, and every day of SDCC. Also use anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently, and try to get as much sleep as possible.
2. Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. As you can see below, it’s going to be on the cooler side, and there’s a slight chance of rain every day, so make sure you pack a hoodie, and possibly a rain poncho. Plus, inside the panel rooms can be cold, and if you’re camping out for Hall H, it can be quite cold by the water, so I always bring a hoodie anyway. Even though it might be a little overcast, don’t forget sunscreen!
3. Wear comfortable shoes. It’s a little too late to start getting in shape now for SDCC, but since you will be doing a ton of walking (the Exhibit Hall floor alone is pretty massive as you can see below), you should at least wear some comfortable, broken in walking shoes. Do NOT try to wear a brand new pair of shoes to SDCC. Your feet will regret it. Insoles are also a good idea.
4. Print out the barcode for your badge and pre-order T-shirt. Although you might be able to show the barcode from your phone, it’s always a good idea to have a print out, just in case. You never know when your phone will have spotty service. If you bought your badge during General Registration, check your email on February 21, or around there. If you bought it during Pre-Registration, check your email from on or around November 10, 2014. If you pre-ordered a Comic-Con T-shirt, that email will be found in June sometime. If you bought tickets for any other event, go ahead and print those out as well.
5. Be aware of the pickup times and locations. The time and location of badge pickup varies based on what type of badge you have. If you have a 4 Day badge without Preview Night, or a single day Thursday badge, and want to pick them up on Wednesday, you’ll need to go to Town & Country Hotel out in Hotel Circle. You can also wait until Thursday morning to pick them up at the Convention Center, but we would recommend having your badge ahead of time if you can get it, so that’s one less thing to worry about standing in line for. All other badges can only be picked up at the Convention Center. Note that if you have multiple single day badges, such as Thursday and Sunday, for example, you can pick them up all at once, rather than having to go back each separate day. As for T-shirt pickup, that’s over at the Marriott in Marina Ballroom D, on the 3rd Level of the South Tower. You can pick up your T-shirts as early as 12pm-5pm on Wednesday, just make sure you either have your badge or barcode with you. Don’t forget your ID! You’ll need it for both badge pickup and T-shirt pickup. Note that you MUST pick up your T-shirt before 3:00pm on Sunday!
6. Bring cash and credit/debit cards; let credit card company know you are out of town. Some vendors only take cash, some only take credit/debit cards, so make sure you have both ahead of time. The line for the ATM can get long, plus you have to pay the ATM fee. If you’re coming in from out of town, and/or planning on making big purchases with your credit card, let your credit card company know ahead of time about your plans. You don’t want your card to be flagged for fraudulent use when you’re trying to buy those exclusives!
7. Charge electronic devices and batteries now. Get those external batteries, laptops, phones, extra phone batteries, and extra camera batteries charged up ahead of time. If you don’t have a portable external battery, you NEED to get one! Also, read our article “Keep Your Devices Powered Up” for more tips on this subject.
8. Bring your own snacks and water. You may find yourself stuck in panels all day. You don’t want to have to buy Convention Center food, because it’s expensive and not very good. Make sure to pack your own snacks, such as protein bars, apples, bananas, peanuts, almonds, wheat thins, granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, and beef jerky to help you make it through the day. Bring your own bottled water so you don’t have to buy the Convention Center’s overpriced drinks. Better yet, bring a sports water bottle with a filter that you can keep filling up at the water fountains.
9. Parking and Transportation. If you’re driving in to SDCC and plan on parking downtown, you should have already bought a pre-paid parking pass from Ace Parking. Unfortunately, they are no longer selling pre-paid parking passes for Comic-Con, so it might be a little tough finding parking. We would recommend getting to downtown early, because parking lots do fill up, and you don’t want to find yourself wasting hours driving around looking for parking. One option, although 5 blocks away, is Horton Plaza. Although this lot “sold out” during the Ace Parking sale, they are a large parking structure located next to a mall, and unlike other lots in the Ace Parking sale, you don’t need a parking pass to enter the lot, as I am pretty sure Ace Parking undersells this lot. You won’t get the Ace Parking discount rate, and will have to pay their normal rates of $8 per hour or $2 for every 15-minute increment (or a fraction thereof), Daily Maximum $48, but at least it is an option. Plus, since it is a 24/7 parking garage, you can park there overnight.
Another option is to park at one of the further out trolley stops and take the trolley in. A third option is to take the free shuttles that CCI is providing. Click here for the shuttle routes and schedule.
10. Camping. If you’re going to camp out overnight, be aware that there are rules about what you can and can’t bring with you. Basically, you can only bring things that take up the sleeping space of one person. We recommend a sleeping bag, sleeping pad to put underneath it (that concrete is hard!), tarp (if you’re on the grass, it tends to be wet), pillow, earplugs (it can be loud!), eyemask (if you’re not under the tents, it can be bright), and a small portable fold up chair.
11. Hall H. If you’re planning on trying to get into Hall H, make sure to review the new wristband policy. This year, if you have a wristband, you don’t have to camp out, as long as you’re back before 7:30am. You’ll want to be aware of the wristband distribution times and location each day. What’s the NDL? It’s the Next Day Line, located behind the Convention Center, next to the marina.
12. Seating capacity; backup plans. You’ll also want to be aware of the seating capacity for each room. We put together an article listing how many seats each panel room has, as well as tips on how to judge a panel’s popularity using the MySched feature, and looking to see how popular other panels are in the room your desired panel is. Remember, Comic-Con does NOT clear rooms between panels! Always have a backup plan. And a backup plan to your backup plan.
13. Have fun! We know it can be stressful at times attending a crowded convention, but remember why you’re there — to have fun! Just make sure to go in knowing that you won’t get to do everything that you want to do — it’s impossible! Even if you don’t get into your first choice panel (or second choice), there’s always something going on at SDCC, with a wide variety of panels to choose from, and you can always explore the Exhibit Hall, or attend an offsite event!
Is this your first time attending San Diego Comic-Con? Do you have any questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments below!