Comic Con is only a few weeks away! So if you don’t plan, you are planning to fail. Never argue with a GI Joe- especially when Comic Con is on the line. In the years I have gone, I have learned there are many little decisions that can lead to you losing the Comic-Con battle. It’s easy to do if you are a rookie or if you are only there for just a day. Here is my top ten ways to ruining Comic-Con. Remember, knowing is half the battle!
1. Not accounting for traffic or parking: Whether you are commuting in all four days or just coming in on Saturday, account for traffic and parking. The first year I went I almost spent an hour in downtown trying to get through traffic and find parking. In haste, I ended up spending $25 and walking across town. I was frustrated and already tired, not a good way to start the day. Plan an extra hour for traffic and parking. Your smartest move is to buy pre-pay parking. Hurry, spots are limited.
2. Relying on the SWAG bag: To me, the swag bags that are given out are more of a hassle than helpful. They are more clumsy than a blaster and wear down your shoulders throughout the day. Instead, bring a backpack. Besides being more elegant, it’s much easier navigating the floor when your hands are free. It’s also more streamlined when sliding through crowds.
3. Not planning on replenishment: Speaking of backpacks, make sure to pack a bottle of water(s), some granola bars, Lunchable, or anything else to provide you protein throughout the long day. If you are a hobbit, plan on bringing ’second breakfast’. There is some concession type food available but you might not have time to stand in long lines between panels. Remember to replenish your supplies each day by mapping out where the convenient stores are along your route. Hydrate!
4. Not bringing the right gear: You never know what you will need so plan ahead. That means bringing a hat and sunscreen for the lines outside. Good walking shoes is a must, no flip-flops! The convention floor is like three Football fields long so you don’t want to hike it in sandals. Start your day with Ibuprofen or Aspirin to avoid early aches and pains. A compass and a fire extinguisher wouldn’t hurt either
5. Forgetting to prep your tech: Getting to know your line-mate is preferred but if you need some down time then make sure you load up your iPod/phone with quality material. I prefer movie reviews since it helps me stay in the ‘spirit’. If you are an avid Twitter or blogger like me, then make sure you fully charge your laptop or iPad. Although wi-fi is available indoors, I don’t rely on it and prefer a data card for instant access. Using the local wifi means your phone will take extra long to upload tweets and photos depleting your battery quicker. Check in on buying an external battery charger for about $50 bucks. Finally, don’t forget to charge your camera battery and clear the memory.
6. Not coordinating with friends: No you won’t. If you are fortunate to experience Comic Con with some comrades then most likely the day’s schedule will split you apart. Plan times and locations to reconnect and attend some of the same panels. I remember some Cons when I literally didn’t see my group till closing time at the end of the day- which was sad. Comic Con was meant to be experienced together so plan your meet ups. Pairs are the best way to travel. Besides being nimble, you can scout multiple places without sacrificing your place in line.
7. Not planning multiple panel options: Planning your schedule can be considered an art form. Even your best plans will get thwarted. The key is always have a ‘plan B’ panel if your first choice fills up. Standing there thumbing through your booklet wastes precious time and hundreds of fans will move ahead of you. Prioritize what is a must then schedule everything around that.
8. Seeing the exhibit floor first: The floor is massive with more nooks and crannies than Middle Earth. I think it takes about one FULL DAY to meticulously explore through all the booths with time to chat with vendors. If you are not intentional, the floor will attract you away from the real gems in the panels. Remember, the floor isn’t going anywhere so you might want to prioritize it last. It’s hard to do because of all the bright and shiny toys (and babes) but it is a real time sucker and might not be worth it (unless you are hunting for something specific). So the key, at the beginning of each day, go directly to a panel first. New attendees will gravitate towards the floor first giving you more opportunity to get into some of the coveted panels. Hit the show room later in the day once you accomplished some other goals.
Side note, I think 95% of the swag is crap and pointless. You will see crowds trying to get t-shirts and posters which will end up lost in the Narnia closet anyways. Save yourself the stress and just avoid it.
9. Trying to find a place to eat: Plan where you will want to eat dinner before the day begins, especially if you are with a large group. Nothing is worst than being tired, hot, hungry, and emotionally drained while kicking around ideas of places to eat. Remember that tens of thousands of people are doing the same. Your chances of finding a quick and easy solution in the Gaslamp Quarter is about as easy as making a trench run on the Death Star. So with the help of Google and Yelp, have a place decided (reservations would be nice) and get there right away before the dark side of the force sets in.
10. Over doing it after hours: Now that the dust has settled for the day, enjoy by having a relaxing drink with some new friends. However, get good rest because it all starts back up the next day. You WILL regret a night of downing Romulan Ale if you are not careful. I know this sounds like common sense but cutting your night short may give you the needed edge the next morning at the Con.