WonderCon, which takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center, is this weekend, Friday, April 18, through Sunday, April 20! Are you ready? Violet has broken down some tips and tricks to survive the weekend if it is your first time. From locating your confirmation email to parking strategies, you will find some valuable information here! Read on for all the info!
1. Buy your badges now if you haven’t already done so. 3-Day badges and Saturday badges are already sold out, but if you want to go on Friday and/or Sunday, badges will not be sold on site, so you must buy them online ahead of time!
2. Locate your confirmation email. The email contains a barcode which you will need in order to pick up your badge. Last year they were saying that you had to print out your email, but I saw people using their phone, so you should be fine if you just bring up the email on your smartphone.
3. Pick up your badge on Thursday if you can. If you have a 3-Day badge or a Friday single day badge, you will be able to pick up your badge on Thursday between 12:00pm – 7:00pm. This will save you the hassle of waiting in line to pick up your badge Friday morning, when things will be a little chaotic. Below is a picture of how WonderCon looked when I showed up at 11:15am on Friday morning last year. Note that this year badge pickup is in Hall A, whereas it was in Hall E last year, which is on the opposite side of the Anaheim Convention Center. If you’re facing the front entrance of the convention center, Hall A is all the way to your right. If you cannot pick up your badge on Thursday, here are the remaining badge pickup hours: Friday 10:30am – 7:00pm, Saturday 8:30am – 7:00pm, and Sunday 9:30am – 5:00pm.
However, upon looking at my WonderCon Friday Report from last year, despite how crazy the lines look in the picture above, I was only in the badge pickup line for about 10 minutes, and the line to get in about 20 minutes. Be on the lookout for people holding “End of Line” signs, and ask what line you’re getting into. You don’t want to waste time standing in the line to get in when you were trying to stand in line to get your badge, or vice versa!
4. Know where to park. Like last year, it looks like this year WonderCon is the only event at the convention center (according to the calendar on the convention center’s website), so parking shouldn’t be as horrible as it was in 2012. You may access a map of the Anaheim Convention Center parking here. If on site parking, which is $12, does fill up (or if you’re a Disneyland Annual Pass holder with free parking and want to save money), you can park at the Disneyland Toy Story Lot located at Harbor Blvd and Convention Way, just South of Katella Ave. The price is normally $16, but according to a tweet from the SDCC Unofficial Blog, you may be able to park there for $12 if you show your WonderCon badge.
@jengirl1182 We were just told last year if you showed your WC badge, you could park for $12. We assume it’s the same this year.
— SDCC Unofficial Blog (@SD_Comic_Con) April 14, 2014
A third option if those lots are full is the parking garage at Gardenwalk, located on Disney Way, just off of Harbor Blvd. Try to park as close to Katella as possible so that you can minimize your walk to the convention center.
5. Make a plan. Then make a Plan B. Considering the sell out crowds and huge panels this year, it is entirely possible that you may not make it into your first choice of panels. Just in case, you should always have a back up plan. Check out the WonderCon programming schedule here, or you can also access the Quick Guide here, which contains the schedule grid, as wells as maps, exhibitor lists, and more.
6. Get there early. This is how to make sure that you do get into your first choice of panels. Be aware that they do not clear out rooms between panels, and many people sit through panels that they do not care about just so that they can ensure that they make it into the panel that they do care about. The question then becomes, how early should you get in line? That depends, and there is no clear answer. Last year, when 3-Day and Saturday badges were also sold out, our group of 4 got in line about 3 hours early for the Arena panels on Saturday and Sunday, and were able to get seats together on the Arena floor, rather than in the stands, but we weren’t very close. We would recommend getting in line at least 2-3 hours early for the more popular panels to ensure that you at least make it in. However, we cannot guarantee that getting in line 2-3 hours early will get you into your panel of choice. It’s up to your own discretion how much time you want to spend in line to make sure you get to see that panel. You can use our handy seating capacity guide and the MySched popularity feature to help you decide.
7. Bring your own snacks and drinks. Convention center food is expensive! Yes, there are other options, such as the Hilton food court right next to the convention center, or the food trucks that’ll be on the front plaza, but you might get stuck in back-to-back panels all day and not have time to go out and buy any food. The convention center staff doesn’t check your bags, so they don’t care, or at least won’t know, how much food you bring in. We recommend protein bars, apples, bananas, peanuts, almonds, wheat thins, granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, and Gatorade or a water bottle, which you can refill at the water fountains inside.
8. Dress comfortably! The weather will be warm during the day, and cool in the morning and evenings, so dress in layers. Also, sometimes the convention center panel rooms can be on the cold side, so if you get cold easily, make sure to bring a light jacket or hoodie. Additionally, be sure to wear comfortable shoes! You will be walking around A LOT, so the last thing you want is for your feet to be hurting all weekend!
9. Fully charge your phone and camera. You’ll be using your phone and camera all day long, so your battery power will drain fast. Remember to charge your electronics the night before, and even the morning of, or if they have removable batteries, make sure you have fresh batteries installed, and have backup batteries on hand. Another thing that will come in handy is a portable charger. We bought one of those for San Diego Comic-Con last year, and it was put to good use daily!
10. Have fun! We know it can be stressful at times attending a crowded convention, but remember why you’re there — to have fun! Even if you don’t get into your first choice panel, there’s always something going on at WonderCon, with a wide variety of panels to choose from, and you can always explore the Exhibit Hall.
Need more tips? You can access Comic-Con International’s Toucan Blog tips by clicking here. Our friends over at the Futon Alliance have put together their own list of tips as well, plus Crazy4ComicCon has a list of his Top 10 Keys to a Wonderful Wondercon. For a visual guide, check out this video from Shawn Marshall (@The_Con_Fluence) over on the SDCC Unofficial Blog.
Is this your first time going to WonderCon? Do you have any questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments below!