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:
If 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.
What 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.
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