Since the release of the Comic-Con schedule, you all seem to be tweeting, commenting, and asking the most about my recent posts- When to line up for a panel and Hall H camping, Regardless of how you feel about it, programming is now the name of the game for a successful Comic-Con experience. The showroom floor and the Gaslamp events are very awesome, but you have to make into at least a one of your favorite panels to say you’ve had the full Comic-Con experience. If you are new to Comic-Con, I will attempt to breakdown the process even further of the best practices getting into a panel.
No doubt there are too many panels and not enough time to see everything that you want. The wider your interest and the longer you have been a nerd, the hard time you will have selecting your final few. The biggest thing here is to manage your expectations. You won’t be able to see everything on your list so it’s best to accept that fact before you head to the Con. My advice, set one panel as your daily goal. Design your day’s strategy around that one. This helps alleviate the overwhelming feeling of having to see it all. You may have to say no to some other awesome panels but this is the acceptable rate of loss to get into your panel of choice.
Once you decided what you must see, decide if you can pair up in order to achieve your goal. Panel hopping in pairs is so much easier because someone can sit in line while another can explore the options. Two can wait in two different lines then decide who has the better chance of getting in as you approach the start time. Plus, it’s much easier to make food runs with a partner. I know there is a lot of people going solo out there but partner up if you can. If you can’t partner up, then I would suggest you take a more conservative approach and stay in a room instead of attempting to panel hop.
It’s Larger on the Inside
Room capacities play a big part in the feasibility of getting into a room. Back in 2006, you were able to walk into most of the smaller rooms- that is no longer the case. Every room is now pretty much filled to capacity hours to minutes before start time. Here are approximate numbers I pulled from other websites and from the Convention Center publications:
- Hall H: 6,500
- Ballroom 20: 4,500
- Indigo Ballroom: 2,600
- Room 6BCF: 2,100
- Room 6A: 1,000
- Room 6DE: 850
- Room 11AB: 500
- Room 5AB: 500
- Room 25ABC: 475
- Room 7AB: 475
- Room 24ABC: 420
- Room 23ABC: 400
- Room 32AB: 350
- Room 26AB: 350
- Room 8: 350
- Room 2: 350
- Lyceum (Horton Plaza): 300
- Room 9: 280
- Room 4: 280
Comic-Con, in theory, puts the panels that they expect smaller crowds in smaller rooms. While these smaller panels may be more niche, often times they are still just as interesting and entertaining. Typically the bigger rooms will yield the longest wait times like the legendary Hall H. If the panel you want to get into is in a smaller room, you may want to check in 1-2 hours before (or have your partner). Arriving at any panel at near start time is pretty risky so always air on the early side. Note: The newly included Lyceum Theater in the Horton Plaza are ticketed (free) panels- presumably because they can’t manage large crowds on site.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Even with the growth of the camping crowd, it still seems the need to camp is still over-rated. Fans are still getting into Hall H and B20 by just arriving early in the morning instead of trying to endure the night. It seems that 6:00 is the breaking point for the casual fans. Arriving before 6:00 seems to give you a competitive advantage than arriving after. Watch the crowds from 6:00 to 6:20 and it will seem the line grows quite a bit. So if you know you can’t camp, can you make it out before 6:00? If you can’t then I would move onto a less stressful panel room.
Looking hot in cosplay is one thing, being hot is another. Which panels you should attend might be affected by if you are going in cosplay or not. A lot of Hall H waiting is not conducive to cosplay. If it’s a particularly hot Comic-Con, Hall H can cook you faster than Kal-El’s heat vision. There’s nothing worst than a Wookie with heatstroke. So if you say yes to insulated cosplay, so no to Hall H.
Show me the money!
If you have never been to Comic-Con, it’s hard to know how much time to set aside for the showroom floor- hence affecting how much time to dedicate to panels. At about 3 football fields in length, if you are fairly dedicated to seeing and experiencing every booth on the floor, then it would take you a full day. So imagine having about 8 hours for the floor- that doesn’t include lining up for Exclusives or autographs. So however you design your panels for the week, make sure to include around 8 hours of the showroom floor. I would also argue you need half a day to experience the Gaslamp events during the days as well.
The Alphabet Plan
Probably one of the most important parts of panel planning is having an effective Plan B, C, D, and so on. In fact, it might be more important than Plan A. As soon as you figure out Plan A is not happening, it’s important to initiate Plan B right away. If you wait to look up the options and calculate wait times then it will probably be too late. Take the time to map out all the alternates right down to the smaller panel rooms. I have done days where I found myself in my Plan F and G rooms. I know this sounds excessive, but you have to imagine thousands of other fans experiencing your same dilemma. Hesitating means you end up in the back of the line.
When you are in the larger rooms like Hall H or Ballroom 20, you can leave the room to go to the bathroom. You will be given a temporary pass that is only good for during your current panel. While you don’t want to miss much of the panel you are in, it is a good opportunity to peak at lines from the rooms of the 20s and 30s. The closest panel room to Hall H is Indigo which is probably too far to hike during a bathroom break.
If you are by yourself, you might try to find a helpful person in line that would be willing to collaborate with you. Perhaps they can text you when the line grows to a certain point or starts to move. You don’t want to hassle a stranger but maybe bribing them with a soda or a candy bar will help. Fans are typically helpful as long as you are not too demanding.
Another way to get an idea of what’s going on with lines is searching Twitter hashtags #HallH and #B20 or #Ballroom20. During Comic-Con, these hashtags will be pouring in and might end up looking like Matrix code. Mining them for info will be tough for the inexperienced so get used to it now by searching #SDCC and #ComicCon. Another challenge is that the network is over burdened so finding a signal to use Twitter will be spotty at best.
The Kobayashi Maru
Like Captain Kirk, you may find yourself in the ’no win scenario’. Unless you pull off some Kirk magic, you may have to accept defeat. Like the Kobayashi Maru test, you can’t let defeat ruin your day. Everyone at Comic-Con is having to compromise at some level- besides, Comic-Con is less about the end goal and more about the journey. Don’t take any of this too seriously and always have fun. I am a firm believer that generosity, kindness, and good will doesn’t return void in the Comic-Con universe (and in life). Keep up the good attitude even in disappointment and good things will happen later on. Trust me.
In conclusion, I know this is all kinda crazy talk. The fact that we have to obsess over all this is pretty ridiculous- but welcome to Comic-Con! You want to know what all the fuss is about, well here it is. There is truly nothing like it in the world, so even in the madness, I hope you can appreciate this unique opportunity. Hope this helps and please leave your comments and questions below!
Check out my past Tip of the Day posts.