2013 Comic-Con Tip #4: Hall H Camping

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To camp or not to camp, that is the question. A recent e-mail from a ‘first timer’ spawned this post- so I hope you find it helpful.

Within the past couple of years, a new facet has emerged in this multi-faceted convention- camping at Hall H. If you are new to Comic-Con, Hall H is the Mount Everest of panel rooms and yields the longest wait times. Hollywood has created some truly magical moments within the massive hall that can not be reproduced anywhere. Whether it’s exclusive SDCC footage or surprise guests, Hall H tends to be the epicenter of the Comic-Con buzz and what fans remember for years after. The surprise assembly of the entire Avengers cast in 2010 stands out as one of the most notable to date. My ears are still ringing from the pandemonium :).

Consequently, the wait for the 6,500 seat room has grown from a couple of hours to now overnight. Is a little ridiculous? Yes it is. Even though the number of attendees hasn’t changed in the past 4-5 years, the tremors of sold out tickets has created a ‘scarcity mentality’ among the fans. What was once simple to achieve now takes monumental effort- and a sleeping bag. The dreaded thought of sleeping outside on the grassy H-knoll is crossing everyone’s mind so here are my thoughts:

Hall-H-432x300If you are attending Comic-Con for the first time, you should experience Hall H at least one time during the week. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to camp, but it will mean that 3-5 hours of your valuable day will be spent waiting to get into a later panel. For some, camping is a badge of honor but it’s not always necessary. For instance, to fill Hall H in the morning, it takes the entire grassy knoll (pictured to the right) plus the line along the bay. So as long as you are on the green, you will get into the hall. Hardcore fans will get into line the night before while casual fans will get there at 5 AM and still make it into the Hall. It all depends on what is the first panel of each day. General rule of thumb, plan on waiting no less than 4-5 hours for any panel in Hall H. If it’s a Marvel or Warner Bros, then plan to camp. If you know that a night under the stars is inevitable, than here is an idea of what to expect- these guidelines were listed on the CCI website last year (but subject to change):

  • No tents, canopies, inflatables, cots, beds, furniture, large coolers, heaters, large fans, large umbrellas, chaise lounges, open flames, or anything of similar size of any kind as determined by the Convention Center.
  • You are allowed to have one chair per person of relatively normal size. You may use a sleeping bag or blanket as well, provided it is only taking up the space of one person.
  • No facilities or services will be available in the Park, so plan accordingly.
  • Restroom access will be available in Lobby G of the Convention Center from 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM each night starting Tuesday, July 10. No other access to facilities will be available.
  • Please respect the grounds and dispose of trash in trash receptacles. Please do not leave any trash or waste behind.
  • No “saving” a spot in line unless it is only temporary, such as a restroom break.

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 8.27.18 AMWhat has no doubt contributed to the buzz around overnight camping at Hall H has been the surprise celeb visits. Completely unplanned and unscheduled, celebs are known to visit their fans as a ‘thank you’ in the middle of the night. Ian McKellen and Joss Whedon are among a couple of the overnight guests to grace the crowds. Of course, this is not guaranteed but it has certainly made it worth the wait for a few faithful fans. Another bonus of experiencing ‘Nerdstock’ is your chance to make some great new friends. Nothing accelerates a new friendship than enduring a chilly night of card games and nerd talk.

This will be my first year to experience this camping phenomenon since I was on staff for the past couple of Comic-Cons. However, over the years I have accumulated many hours at Camp H. I don’t think I will do the full overnight camp but will probably get there early in the wee hours. Either way, I am excited to hang out with some of you and share some memories. If you have favorite stories or camping advice, please leave a comment below.

Check out more Tip of the Day posts!

35 thoughts on “2013 Comic-Con Tip #4: Hall H Camping

  1. We didn’t really camp last year, but did get in line before 5am for the big panels. That got us in and we were up fairly close.
    Sadly, this trend will probably just get worse and anyone who wants in will have to be out there at midnight the night before. I don’t think there is an easy solution out there, other than to roll with it.
    On the plus side, there are some great people in line and hopefully you can get your group together and have some fun with it. I made some great friends in those lines last year. Just load up your SDCC survival bag and get out there.

    • Wise words. If you embrace the pain, then it won’t be that bad. Going to Hall H is like going to the beach- Even in bad weather or sand in your shorts, it is still the freakin beach. Hall H is not easy to navigate but once you are inside it is worth every minute. Thanks for commenting.

  2. It certainly depends. For most of my Hall H days getting there around 5-6am will do. Last year I really wanted to get into the Fringe panel since it was the last one. I didn’t really look at the schedule past Fringe. The panel after was Dr Who. Got there at 4am and barely got into Hall H. Totally worth it though. The panel was amazing. Don’t think I would spend the night there though. It get very cold. I have a blanket that has a plastic bottom that is perfect for the lawn.

  3. Luckily, the Sons of Anarchy panel was the last panel on Sunday in Hall H, last year. I went to a SOA signing that day as well. As soon as I was done with signing, headed straight to Hall H and got in right away and was able to catch the whole panel :)

    • Yea, typically Sunday hall H is not that bad. After the first panel, there is usually room to walk into the later panels. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Something important to point out is that the line condenses at around 8-9am, when the volunteers and staff make everyone who has stretched out to sleep/play games close the gaps. Last year when I got in line at 3am for Doctor Who, I was down by the marina (a good, what, half a mile back?) until they condensed the line – then I made it all the way up to the second tent in the grass! So don’t get discouraged if you see a miles long line in the middle of the night before it has been condensed. 6500 is A LOT of people.

  5. Great article! I’ve never camped out per say myself, but for the last Lost panel a few years ago my friends did (while I attended a Mighty Boosh show and slept, haha) and had no problems joining them in line the next morning, bearing breakfast. I think if you bring some goodies for the people around your people in line, they’re less likely to hate you when you cut in. It seems like that isn’t allowed anymore, though. Shucks.

  6. Thank you SO MUCH for this post! I wasn’t sure if camping out was only for the early morning ones or only for a specific room. I’ll be volunteering 2 hrs a day, so hopefully I can figure out a way to wait in line and catch my favorite panels! If the panel is being held outside of Hall H or Ballroom 20 will that mean less waiting in line, or make it harder to get in because space is at a premium?

    • The only two rooms that build overnight crowds are Hall H and B20. The rest you can rush to get to first thing in the morning. For smaller rooms, wait times will vary from 1-3 hours. H and 20 you can plan on 6+ hours at least whether day or night. General rule of thumb is try to get into a room a panel or two before your desired one to ensure you get in. It’s part science and art- so keep asking experienced con-goers. Thanks for your question and good luck!

  7. For the WB panels last year, I got in line at 10pm and waited all night. When I got in line, I was about 50th in line, if not less. By the time the hall opened the next morning, there were 250+ in front of me. Gotta say, coming with goodies or not, its not cool at all.

  8. I got in the Hall H line last year on Friday morning at around 6:45 and wound up being about halfway back inside the hall. For Saturday, I got in line with a friend who arrived at about 6:45 while I got there at 6:55. I was about 3/4 of the way back. I doubt I’ll be so eager to spend all day in Hall H again since I’ve seen just about every panel that interests me over the past 7 years. I may try a bit more Gaslamp partying into the wee hours or hitting the smaller panels. What concerns me this year is that Epic is doing onsite registration again. I’ll have to find out as soon as I get there on Wednesday when and where that will happen. If you’re arriving at an earlier date can you keep us posted of this info?
    Thanks!

  9. The rules for Hall H just went online today, and New Rule # 1 is “no camping”
    I’m sure this has something to do with the woman who died in the Hall H line last year

    • The ‘no camping’ rule is the same from last year. They just mean no tents, cots, heaters, etc. a single chair and sleeping bag is still permitted like last year.

    • If you are Hall H line, then when attendee registration opens, ask someone to hold your place in line. This is not ideal but it’s your only choice. Reg goes pretty quick. Just make sure to build trust with someone. Thx and good luck!

  10. This is only my third year going to SDCC. Year one my friends and I got in line early morning and it was no problem. Last year we ended up having to camp out starting Thursday night for the Firefly panel and then did the same Friday night for WB/Legendary/Marvel. It was long nights and pretty cold but worth it in the end for interactions with Joss and Ian. This year my friends and I are bringing sleeping bags, camping out for Hall H, and using our room purely for naps, shower, food storage and swag repository. It’s exhausting but the greatest 4 days of the year!

  11. This will be my second year at Comic-Con and my first attempt to camp Hall H. I camped for Ballroom 20 last year and got a pretty good seat for the fox animation domination panel. I am hoping to see the Game of Thrones panel and Metallica this year. How soon should I plan to get in line to guarantee myself a seat close enough to the stage to take good pictures?? Assuming they allow pics at these events.

    • If you want to be guaranteed in the front, then line up right after the last panel the night previous. Otherwise, get in line sometime during the night. Anything under the tents will get you near the very front. Good luck!

  12. Sunday’s Hall H line is super crazy because BR20 and Indigo are both closed, so all of the major panel traffic goes through Hall H. Plus, like Tony says, that’s Doctor Who day (not to mention Supernatural, Breaking Bad and Community day). Anyone is welcome to correct me here, but I think the lightest day for Hall H this year will be Thursday. It’ll still take hours in line – just slightly less hours than the other three days.

    • Be sensitive and polite about it. Warn line mates she joining you early. There might be some grumbling about it though. Best of luck.

  13. Hey I was hoping to be able to go to a panel at 10 AM in room 6DE and then whate in line after for hall H for riddick and game of throwns but after reading this artical I don’t see it working out what do you think is it possible?

  14. Does anyone know what time the underground Convention Center parking opens on Saturday AM? I was planning to get there around 4 AM in order to get in line for Hall H. What does everyone do about parking when they get there that early?

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