Tip of the Day #29: Hall H and the Wristband System

Wonder WomanWith the official return of the Wristband System for Hall H announced yesterday, attendees have been planning and plotting how to ensure their entrance into Hall H. Probably one of the most common questions that I am getting inundated with is how to guarantee getting into this room! By now you should have been able to go over the procedure of the wristband distribution as stated on the CCI Toucan Blog. If you were here last year, the wristband system was quite the change to the normal ‘running of the bulls’ associated with lining up (and camping out) for Hall H. Overall, I think the additions made to this system are good. I haven’t heard nearly as much groaning as last year and I think fans are pleased the the process is getting more streamlined. However, with any system there comes challenges or more questions. Here are some of my suggestions to think about when planning your approach to Hall H.

  • The biggest issue from last year was not the wristbands themselves but the lining up of unofficial lines before the last panel of the day. Crowds were ‘hanging out’ all afternoon even with the discouragement from the line staff. This was probably the biggest ‘controversy’ to come out of the 2014 show. Overall, the wristband system was a success last year but as expected, there was a lot to learn. The great unknown is how this will be handled this year. As the Toucan Blog stated, lines are not to form until after the last panel and wait for the official NDL (Next Day Line) to start. I would highly discourage lining up any earlier in the day- and I have to believe that the CCI staff will enforce this, especially after last year. Otherwise, the escalation from fans will spin out of control causing ‘milling about’ thus wasting an entire day. Then the whole ‘official vs unofficial’ line issue will blow up again this year. Crowds will inevitably form as it gets later in the day but hopefully it will be clear from the staff how and when this will be handled. I know it’s too idealistic to ask all attendees to act for the greater good of the show, but keep in mind that we play a huge part in this madness. By cooperating and staying within what is requested, the system will improve and the experience will get better from year to year.
  • In 2014, they gave out for 4 groups A-D that indicated the overall capacity of the room. ‘A’ was first let in then the rest followed. I’m guessing it will be the same lettering/color system.
  • As stated on the site, as long as you get a wristband you will be able to get into the Hall H lineHall as long as you return in line before 7:30a. This is a gift that I highly suggest you take advantage of. If you’ve never been to Hall H before, it is a mammoth space. Most of the time, regardless of where you are, you are viewing one of many amazing HD screens. It almost doesn’t matter where you are in the room. So returning before 7:30a to get into the back of the entire wristband line would be fine. Personally, if it meant sleeping in my own bed but being in the back of the wristband section- Ill take it. Camping all night to be 200 ft closer is not worth it. Some will have a different view point, but after years of being in Hall H, just being in the room is enough. If you are an individual, you will have a much easier time finding an empty seat up front. The best way is to work in pairs where one sits down while your partner seeks out a better pair of seats.
  • toucan_cci2015_hallh_ndlRemember, when in the NDL, you will need your Comic-Con 2015 badge or your barcode confirmation to receive a wristband. Note that IDs will be checked and the name on your photo ID must match the barcode confirmation. Note the location of the NDL and the distribution times on the Toucan post.
  • They will probably under distribute wristbands since they can’t risk being at capacity with wristband holders outside. So if you are within a few hundred of the last wristband holders, I am guessing you will have a chance to get in.
  • Hall HThankfully they are allowing for spots to be ‘saved’ as long as one member of your party is present all night long (thus the camping). I want to strongly encourage two points here. First, take advantage of this. Camping is fun for the first part of the evening but not for the latter half. Put in your time for your group, rotate, and be fair. Second, please use good sense when saving spots for an appropriately sized group. Saving for 2-4 people is one thing, saving for 20+ and inviting others to join you is NOT (even if they all have wristbands). It’s always good etiquette to let those around you know right away how many are rejoining you in line.
  • Please do not buy, sell, trade, offer your own organs for a wristband. There is no perfect system but we can make a system perfect by working it together. Bypassing the system just hurts us all.
  • Lastly, I encourage you to stay positive. Inevitably there will be some frustrations that arise. Venting IRL or online doesn’t help anyone. If there are problems, notify staff or e-mail feedback to the show afterwards.

I would highly encourage you to stay on top of Twitter for line updates AND when/how much of the room flushes out. You will be amazed with the small pockets of opportunity to just walk-in. I’m sure there are plenty more questions- so leave them as comments and I will do my best to help! Also please leave your thoughts of the system in general and the updates made.

24 thoughts on “Tip of the Day #29: Hall H and the Wristband System

  1. I like the idea of leaving the line and coming back before 7:30am and just going to the back of the line BUT I doubt we will still even try. I actually still have to review all the schedules so until then who knows where we will end up. Sigh

    • If it’s relatively easy to get a wristband then it’s totally worth it. But not if you have to wait all day in another crazy line to get one. This will be interesting for sure!

  2. Just to be clear… We cannot get into the NDL until the last Hall H panel ends? Or can we go into the NDL as early as we want?

    • There in lays the tension. You should not be able to until the last panel. So it all depends on how this is enforced and monitored. Otherwise the NDL will get out of hand real quick.

  3. Tony does SDCC have the times listed some where that the NDL lines will be allowed to form each day? That sure would help. And let’s say you get a B wristband and everyone in your party leaves. Will there be a B line come 7am to re-enter or will you have to mix with C and D people. Seems like this is what people are saying you will have to do, but that’s hard to believe because why even bother with wristbands if you still have to take turns all night staying in line? Very confusing.

  4. Distribution Dates/Times

    • Wednesday, July 8: Wristband distribution for Thursday panels in Hall H will begin at 10:00 PM in the general Hall H line in Plaza Park.

    • Thursday, July 9: Wristband distribution for Friday panels in Hall H will begin at 8:30 PM at the front of the NDL.

    • Friday, July 10: Wristband distribution for Saturday panels in Hall H will begin at 9:45 PM at the front of the NDL.

    • Saturday, July 11: Wristband distribution for Sunday panels in Hall H will begin at 11:00 PM at the front of the NDL.
    – See more at: http://www.comic-con.org/toucan/23-return-of-hall-h-toucan-tracker-wristbands#sthash.rAMfSRVo.dpuf

    • Thanks for this- we are aware of the distribution times but the million dollar question is when will they allow for the NDL lines the form for each of these days.

  5. They have not clarified when NDL (next day’s line) can form and having a specific spot for NDL separate from the regular today’s line implies to me that NDL will and can form before the current day’s line ends – that’s whole reason to have it separated off IMHO. I’m hoping they will clarify before the convention starts to avoid any drama, but I doubt they will enforce no early line when they specifically created a spot for it.

    I do think it’s good to discourage people from lining up and there’s no reason to panic about it, but there will always be a group of crazy dedicated fans who will line up early. I remember when Twilight first came out, their panel was on Thursday and the fans started camping out on Tuesday. It was on the news. I want to emphasize that this was not for getting in, but getting in the front section of the room or better yet front row. If you want to just get in the room and don’t care how far back you sit, that’s a whole different enchilada. I think you will be able to get in the room no problem showing up a little before wristbands are being handed out, but I think the actual handing out of bracelets will take some time.

    So if they start wristbands at 10pm at the beginning of the line, it will take HOURS for them to get through what maybe thousands of people. So if you get in line at 9pm and are far back, you may not get a wristband until midnight. I think some people can attest to this happening last year. In the past (before wristband days), I’ve shown up at 6am and had the Hall H line be backed up into Seaport Village and I still got in. The hall does hold 6000 people. Maybe someone who was one of the last people to get in last year could comment on when they got in line. But you don’t have to be first to get in. So just because a line starts forming early doesn’t mean you have to be in it if you don’t care where you sit.

    • All great points. Yes, there is a lot of unnecessary escalation that occurs. Not sure how to avoid it- if they set up exact times the lines will form SOMEWHERE early. It’s just crazy! I do like that they are letting people leave line and get back at the end of the Wristband section. I think that is huge!

  6. To be honest, I think CCI should discourage/ban any lines that form before 7 pm. People should be able to enjoy the days that they paid for and you don’t really get to do that if you are stressing over how long the line is. If you line up at 12:30 pm just to get a good spot for a panel the next day, you miss all the amazing stuff going on on the floor or that days awesome panels. This happened to my sisters and I last year when CCI was pressured into accepting an unofficial line. For us, it kind of ruined being able to experience other events at SDCC because of stressing over a line.


    • That is the million dollar question. As I mentioned in my post, no one knows when they will start the NDL line. Many fans will try but it’s up to the Line Control team to decide.

  8. Tony, I’ve got a question! I only have a Friday single day badge, and I would like to get a wristband on Thursday night for Friday’s Hall H panels. And let’s say I do get a wristband on Thursday night and I camp out in front of Hall H. BUT the problem is it says you have to be back before 7:30am if you have a wristband, but they don’t give out Friday badges until 8:30am. So even if I DO get my wristband the night before, how am I supposed to get into the hall if I can’t get my badge until 8:30am?? I hope you can help me out here. Thanks! (And you can get wristbands as long as you have your barcode (no badge), am I correct?)

    • Thanks for your question. This part is tricky but fortunately, there are a lot of people that are in the same boat. There will be a number of people that will have to leave the line at 8:30 to get their badge. In the past, Hall H has been accommodating to allow re-entry for those getting their badge- but not sure if this has changed. Perhaps they will somehow track those that have their barcode sheet. They start loading the room about an hour before the first panel- so on Friday, that should be about 9a. The badge line moves quickly but that doesn’t give you much time. Yes, you just need your Barcode sheet to get your wristband. If I were to guess, I think you will be ok since there will be a lot of fans that will have to do the same at around 8-8:15.

  9. Tony-I’ve really enjoyed your tips leading up to Con this year. I’ve taken your advice on several issues and I feel more prepared than I ever have before. This year, as a huge Doctor Who fan, I plan on facing and conquering Hall H. Can you suggest what time I should get in line on Weds for the Thurs panels? Weds night doesn’t seem to get addressed much and may end up needing a different strategy than the other nights. Thanks!

    • Glad your coming to the con this year- if you are a Whovian, this is the place to be! Like I said in the post, it all comes down to how early they will allow for the official NDL to form. I’m sure there will be a small group that will start camping on Tuesday so it just depends on how the Line Control staff handles this. With that said, if they allow for it, I would get there around noon. I know, it sounds crazy but believe me, you won’t be alone. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

  10. Hey Tony, thanks for giving me advice about my last question (about getting Friday badges at 8:30am when you have to be in Hall H line at 7:30am). I’ve decided I’m gonna try getting a wristband anyways!

    I want to get a Friday wristband for GoT and Star Wars…so its probably gonna be one of the most sought after wristbands. What time do you honestly recommend I start lining up for the wristbands? I know that theres no official time, but Ive never been to Comic Con before so I just need to get a time interval in mind. If they start distributing wristbands at 8:30pm, is 3 hours earlier like 5:30pm or 5pm on Thursday good enough? Or is that like way too late? Just give me a time interval! (Gotta buy a train ticket soon so I need to know) Thank you so much! 😀

    • Honestly, if they allow for it, 5:30 will be too late. With both Hunger Games and Doctor Who on Thur, that line will be crazy. I would try early as you possibly can.

  11. What is a good time to line up in the badge line so that I can get in get in line immediately for Hall H and hopefully make it by the second panel? Is 6 too late for 8:30 badge distribution?

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