Now that you survived what will be remembered as “the ticket fiasco of 2011”, the countdown to Comic Con begins. With just 5 months away, it’s not too early to start planning. Planning is essential to maximize your quick few days in San Diego. I had a great time at my first SDCC but realized the following year how much I missed out and that I should have planned ahead. So with 22 weeks left, this is what you should be thinking about:
- Passes: If you don’t have tickets yet then your options are very limited. Check out my earlier post that may give you some ideas on what to do. If you are really desperate, Comic Con, will sell 4 day tickets and hotel packages at a premium price in the last couple of months. The hotels are usually farther out but are pretty nice.
- Hotels: If you managed to snag a multi-day pass, the next priority on the list is finding a hotel. If you have called around, you may have gotten frustrated with how many hotels are already booked up for the Con. Don’t worry, 100k people didn’t beat you to reservations. SDCC blocks off a large chunk of rooms just to sell to attendees. Last year there were 30+ hotels all around the convention center just waiting to release rooms to you. That’s how all those people got rooms at the neighboring Hilton, W, Hard Rock, etc. Last year, hotels went on sale in March but with all the recent ticketing mess, who knows what they will do. Good news is that the hotel prices are cheaper ($200-300) than going through normal reservations ($300-450). Bad news is that it’s another high traffic challenge which turns into long waits and a confusing process. It’s a gamble- especially since tickets sold out in one day, hotels will probably do the same. I reserved a ‘back up’ hotel (that is farther out) that is along the tram and has a good cancellation policy. Other options are to rent a larger condo/timeshare/house with a few of your friends if you have a big group. It will be cheaper and might be in less demand. Fortunately, the public transportation is fantastic in SD. The trolleys stop right in front of the convention center so try to find a hotel along the SDMTS trolley route.
- Getting here: Flights are self-explanatory and I am sure you know the cost with peak season travel. My only suggestion here is that if you get into a bind and can’t find a flight, fly into John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Irvine. You can then take the commuter Amtrak train (about 1 hour) down to San Diego. It’s inexpensive, clean, and easy.
- Show me the money: Budgeting for Comic Con can range on what your priorities are. If you are on a budget, then once you get your passes and hotel, everything else is up to you. I am not a huge collector anymore so I usually budget about $100 for gifts, snacks, and maybe one SDCC exclusive items (like the above 2010 collectible). You can eat cheaply if you want so it’s all based on your culinary tastes. I will eventually write a post in the next few months about making restaurant choices while at the Con.
- What to wear??? Besides basic comfort, Comic Con is a chance to express your fandom and to identify with your tribe. Nerd shirts are a must and fortunately are cheap. While demand is low, I would start thinking about what shirts you want to bring. Look ahead at what is going to be hot in 5 months, like Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, etc. Invest in some great sneakers since you will be doing a lot of standing and walking. Start thinking of if you are going to use a messenger bag, backpack, or go with the SDCC oversized bag (pictured above) that is supplied when you pick up your pass.
- To cosplay or not to cosplay?: ‘Cosplayers’ (costume playing) is what makes Comic Con so special. If you are a veteran, then you know the hassle, time, and the expense of making your own costume. Buying a pre-made costume is considered pretty amateur (except high-end products) so unless you have some crafting skillzes then you might leave it to others. If you are new to cosplay then check out my “5 tips to Cosplay” video.
- Dude, where’s my car?: If you are coming in for just the day and not parking at a hotel, you will need to find parking. One thing SDCC starting doing last year was offering assigned parking. Starting a couple of months out, you can buy a parking spot for about $15-25 for the day at or around the convention center. No more driving around frantically trying to find parking. Spots are limited, especially at the con center, so buy it up when it goes on sale.
- Panels and events: It’s way to early to plan since information won’t post till a couple of weeks out. The Comic Con website hosts a great program application to help you organize your panels so plan on using that when it’s available in the final month. If you are coming for a single day, like Saturday, then you will have to start thinking how much time you will want to spend standing in line versus hitting the Con floor.
- Social Media is your friend: Get on Twitter to find out the latest from great resources like @SD_Comic_Con, @DarkStitch, and of course the official @Comic_Con. Comic Con doesn’t post often but when they do it’s usually important. If you are a fan of a certain show, start hunting or suggesting a ‘tweet up’. These are gatherings of like-minded fans at a local bars or restaurants. I went to a CHUCK tweet up and the cast made a surprise visit! I met Zachary Levi and it was one of the highlights of last year. So if you are not on Twitter then you are missing out!
- Keep up to date with some helpful blog sites like When Nerds Attack and The Unoffical SDCC Blog.
Whew, that’s all I got for now. I will do more similar post as the time gets closer of what to plan 2 months out and 2 weeks out. Thanks and I hope to see you in SD!