With a little less than 100 days left till the San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon is a wonderful comic convention to experience- especially if you are new to this world. My first WonderCon was in 2010, which was the last year it made it’s appearance in San Fran. Often described as the ‘little brother’ of Comic-Con, WonderCon has quickly grown up in it’s new home of Anaheim. With 3-Day and Saturday badges selling out weeks ago, I got a feeling it won’t be too long till WonderCon gives big brother a run for his money. Overall, WonderCon has the size and scope of Comic-Con with less of the hassle. However, with about 50k in attendance, it wouldn’t hurt to take some extra steps to plan and prepare. Here’s a few things you should know.
1. Badges: Remember, badges will ONLY be sold online. Like I already mentioned, Friday and Sunday badges are the only ones left so you better secure one ASAP. Go on the CCI site to make a purchase. Make sure you have your confirmation printed out and go early for badge pick up.
2. Show Hours and Badge Pick Up Hours: These are two different times so if you are picking up your badge, I would suggest getting their early so you don’t have to mess with lines. CCI is a well oiled machine when it comes to processing badges but if you want to maximize your visit, come early:
Friday: 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Badge Pick Up (Attendee Registration Area in Exhibit Hall A)
Thursday: 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM (3-Day and Friday badge pick-up only)
Friday: 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday: 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Sunday: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
3. Parking: If the parking at the convention center ($12) gets full then you will need to depend on alternative lots. This can be tricky since Anaheim traffic can get pretty hairy so the last thing you want to do is drive around in circles. Your closest parking will be the overflow parking/Toy Story lot on Harbor. Check the CCI site for a parking map for all the options. I would definitely recommend avoiding traffic to the center from 8-9a and 5-6p if you can help it. Another location to try is the Anaheim GardenWalk down the street. It’s an outdoor mall that’s about 10 minute walk (Katella Ave) from the convention center. Park there in the morning, eat there for lunch to get validated, and go see a movie there in the evening. In the past, they gave WonderCon attendees a discount on tickets. One time I saw Joss Whedon there!
4. Lining up for panels: While there is quality programming at WonderCon, it’s nothing like the craziness that comes with Comic-Con (not yet at least). Based on last year, fans were able to get into the rooms that they wanted. The largest room, the Arena, holds about 4000 and will host all the major studios and screenings. Last year, while I was in the room, I never saw it closed off but it did get close to capacity. If you want to make sure to get in, I would encourage you to line up for the panel before the one you hope to get into. There are about a dozen rooms total that vary from a little over 100 to just over 1,500. Be safe than sorry and show up early and get into your desired panel. Check the Comic-Con MySchedule page to see how many signed up for a specific panel. While a lot of people don’t use this page, it’s a clue to how popular a panel is. Plan on x2 showing up from what is indicated. The Twentieth Century Fox Panel in the Arena on Sat at 11:45 will definitely be a popular one. Show up way early for that one.
5. Food: One of the biggest parts of a successful convention experience is efficiently staying fed. The key is eat before you are hungry AND before everyone else is hungry. As soon as it hits 12:00, 50k+ fans will be lining up to eat making you wait forever. I would encourage you to go eat around 11:00 if you want to avoid the crowds. There are the typical vendors inside the convention center both inside and in the courtyard. However, WonderCon started bringing in food trucks parked in the main walkway out front. Both flanking hotels, the Marriott and the Hilton have a little food courts. Both get slammed at lunch time so go early. If you find yourself looking for lunch after 12, then you might walk down to the GardenWalk Center. There are a lot of options and it shouldn’t be too busy.
6. Coffee: Ok, lets get down to business. Not having good coffee can break even the strongest individual. Without it in the morning, I get very angry, and believe me that you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Good news is that there are Starbucks at both the Hilton and Marriott. The bad news is the lines are looooooong during WonderCon. So if you are particular and must have a non-fat, half-caf, trenta carmel machiato, then get in line EARLY- like before ‘God gets up’ early.
7. Cosplay: WonderCon is a GREAT cosplay convention. The convention center went through a recent remodeling creating a wonderful pavilion out front built around the main fountain. All weekend long, cosplayers of all genres will be gathering for all kinds of group shots. It really is pretty awesome. There are probably more cosplayers out front than on the showroom floor at any given time. Click on the picture that I took last year to get the general vibe. If you don’t have tickets but you have a costume, come hang out by the fountain.
8. Programming Highlights: Here are some expected suggested panels and some hidden jewels you might want to check out. Check out the full WonderCon Programming Schedule.
- Frozen: The Art of Story (Fri 2p, Rm 207)
- Sneak Peek Screening of Teen Titans Go, Revolution, and The 100 (Fri 2p, Arena)
- World Premiere of Son of Batman (Fri 6p, Arena)
- The Battle for Multicultural Heroes (Sat 10:30, Rm 208)
- Warner Bros Presentation with Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, and Into the Storm (Sat 11a, Arena)
- Twentieth Century Fox: X-Men Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Maze Runner (Sat 12:45, Arena)
- Psychology of Cult TV Shows (Sat 1p, 210A)
- Batman 75th Anniversary (Sat 4p, Rm 300AB)
- Psychology of Star Wars vs Star Trek Episode III (Sat 7:30p, Rm 213)
- The Nerdist Panel (Sun 12p, Arena)
9. Juice It Up: Any serious convention veteran will tell you that you need power to survive. Whether it’s for photo’s, tweets, or taking selfies, you will need power. Your juice will run out sooner than you think so make sure to take your extra battery changer with you. There are plugs located at both the Hilton and Marriott (Starbucks) but it’s better to just have extra power with you. Don’t leave home without it!
10. I Dare You… I want to encourage you to attend my Battle for Multicultural Heroes Panel on Saturday morning (10:30, Rm 208). Joining me will be an amazing group of panelist: The hilarious and geeky Andrea Meadows, aka: @BlackNerd. The insightful and brilliant Andrea Letamendi, aka: @ArkhamAsylumDoc. The fashion guru and Sith Lord Emily Ong aka: The Stylish Geek. And of course, I will be hosting this conversation. During this time together, we’ll be sharing from our own ethnic journeys, identifying stereotypes, and advocating for change in our current pop culture landscape. I’ve hosted this panel many times, all over the nation and they are lively, laugh-out-loud, and very poignant. I’ve had many attendees say that we were able to articulate deep feelings of attendees as well as make something negative into something of hope. You won’t want to miss it and everyone in attendance will be challenged. I hope to meet you and thanks for coming!
Thanks for reading, sharing, and RTing. Let me know what some of your suggestions are for WonderCon by commenting below and I’d love to hear of what you thought of the show afterwards!
As always, keep up with Comic-Con’s own Toucan Blog for more helpful tips for WonderCon and Comic-Con.