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 opens to the public on Monday, June 8. 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 Visual Guide to this year’s parking 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 only one of the Ace Parking lots allows overnight parking, which is 707 Broadway, and that’s only on Saturday and Sunday, which are also the only full days that lot is open. According to Ace Parking’s Comic-Con 2015 FAQ site, all of the other lots are open 5am-2am, except for 707 Broadway on Friday, which is open 4pm Friday until 6am on Saturday. Any cars on the lots 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.
For the first time this year, Ace Parking moved to a lottery based system, in which you had to send an email to Ace Parking by April 12, and that email counted as an entry in the lottery. Then on April 15, if you “won” the lottery, you were notified if you were placed in one of the 6 Groups of 500 people that would each have 5 days to log in and purchase a parking pass. Group 1 would be able to log in starting April 27, then Group 2 starting May 4, and so on. At the end of Group 6 sales, only Convention Center parking was sold out, as seen pictured to the right.
If you’re not interested in overnight parking, and don’t plan on parking before 5 am, then the obvious best choice would have been 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. Unfortunately, that already sold out during the lottery sale.
The next closest 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. This will be the first to go during the public sale. 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 $32.00/night (self-parking) or $47.00/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.
If you aren’t successful in purchasing Hilton Bayfront parking before it sells out, the next best options are the lots right next to Petco Park, which include Tailgate Park and MTS Lot. 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 $30-40/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 through 2014, 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 the Hours for Horton Plaza are 5am-2am, but in 2012 through 2014, we parked around 10-11pm 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 and 2014, 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 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. But you can park anywhere in the structure, it doesn’t have to be in the Comic-Con reserved parking, and if you’re parking overnight, it’s probably best not to park in the Comic-Con reserved parking anyway, just in case.
Your last resort, unless you want guaranteed overnight parking on Saturday and Sunday only, should be the 707 Broadway lot, as it is the furthest away (about 10 blocks), and only available on Saturday and Sunday at $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 Monday morning to make sure you get Hilton Bayfront 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 or 707 Broadway. However, don’t wait too long, because it will eventually sell out.
Here is the link to Ace Parking’s Comic-Con Parking Sale, which will go live on Monday, June 8: https://space.aceparking.com/events/Comic-Con-2015/ The exact time that the sale will go live has not been announced. Last year it was 9am PT, but each of the lottery group sales started at 10am PT. So you should probably be ready by 9am PT to be on the safe side.
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 at Horton Plaza without being charged extra, towed, fined, or all of the above. Proceed at your own risk.