Being just a few days away from Comic-Con and with the schedule finally out, everyone is submerged in planning and strategizing on how to best spend their week. If you are new to the San Diego Comic-Con, this all can be a pretty overwhelming experience. It can be especially daunting if you only have a badge for one day. Believe me, it’s hard enough deciding when you have a full 4 days, let alone less. If you are wading through all of the info about the exhibitors, exclusives, panels, and offsite events and feeling lost- this post is for you. I will give you my recommendation on how to best spend one day at Comic-Con.
If you were only able to secure a badge for one day then don’t be sad! You still get a chance to experience the greatest show on Earth, even if it is only for a day. Doing a normal convention is pretty doable in one day, however Comic-Con is not your average con. Right now, much of the SDCC hype is surrounding the big panel news like HBO, Warner Bros, Marvel, BBC etc. However, if you are going for one day, big programming rooms are not your best option- especially if you want to make it into Hall H, Ballroom 20, 6BCF, or 6A. You will spend your entire day in line and will probably miss what you are wanting to see. So here are my alternate suggestions on how to spend one day at Comic-Con:
- Arrive early (pre-5a) to get into the ‘Eveything Else’ line that will be lined up in front of the convention center which is mainly for Ballroom 20 but also includes exclusives or autograph signing lottery (check the schedules). You may win or lose but at least you tried. This is only if you want an exclusive or a signing. If not, you can just go to the floor when it opens.
- After that early jump, then spend the first half of your day exploring the exhibit floor. Spanning several football fields long, there is more than enough to do. I would encourage you to study the map first and make a list of everywhere you want to visit. Be systematic in your approach covering enough ground but hitting the main highlights.
- Go to Artist Alley first and request a commission. To get a custom made work not only supports these great artists but is a fantastic memorabilia of your trip. Do your research on different artists so you can make your selection quick. You want to go early so they can work on it while you shop.
- If you are a reader, many of the book venders give out freebie books upon requests!
- Make sure to go to lunch early, no later than 11:30, or else you will get caught in long lines. Get out of the convention center and go left towards the Hilton Bayfront. Typically, they have walk up quick food stand out front of the Starbucks with ready to go burgers/chips.
- While you are in that area check out the outdoor offsite event Adult Swim on the Green, FXhibition, and Entertainment Weekly CON-X. You probably won’t have time to participate in them all but it will be fun to walk around and enjoy the show.
- After lunch, I would check out what is going on in the Indigo Ballroom in the Hilton Bayfront. Holding 2,600, its the ‘easiest’ big room to get into. Sometime you can just walk in without a wait. With programming from Geek & Sundry, Nerdist, Comedy Central, and more, you might be able to catch a couple of fun panels.
- On your way back to the convention, check on the status of Hall H. By mid afternoon, sometimes the room flushes so much that you are able to walk in (just maybe). It’s the most notable panel room in the world so if you can get in, go for it.
- There are many smaller panels that have amazing content and would only require an hour or two early line up. Check out the Program Guide and pick a couple to attend. Spend the rest of the afternoon finishing up exploring the exhibit floor and maybe checking out a couple of demos or photo ops (don’t forget to pick up your artwork). Line up for your autograph if you won which could take a couple of hours.
- Leave the showroom BEFORE it closes to avoid the mass exodus, then head over to the Tin Fish Restaurant, which is right in front of the convention center. It will be crowded but order take out at the bar- it’s much quicker. There is also a Subway around the corner that has sandwiches ready to go.
- Take dinner to the The Playback Room which will be showing the following panel presentations from either or both Hall H and Ballroom 20: Dreamworks Animation Theatrical, and Snowden. (Please note: these playbacks will include only the panel discussions. None of the film clips or footage shown at the live events will be shown here). Location: Marriott Grand Ballroom 5-6, Marriott Marquis & Marina
- Now that it is evening time, time to check out a couple of Offsite Events. Depending on your interests there are a wide range of ways to end your day. If you are into gaming, check out the Xbox (Nerd HQ) or Nintendo Gaming Lounges. If you want to dance and cut loose, go to either the Thursday or Saturday Fan parties at the Nerd HQ. And of course there is the Nerdist’ Camp CONival! There are also a number of individual hang out, meet ups, concerts, and lounges that might suit your interests- like my very own Game of Bloggers event on Preview Night. Just note which ones require tickets.
- By this time, it’s close to midnight and probably time to head home. Walk back in front of the convention center for one last view. Soak it in and pledge to return next year for all four days.
Well that’s it! full day and you saw a lot of cool stuff. Make sure to check out my SDCC Survival Guide web series I shot last year for more helpful info. If you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment below. If you are a Comic-Con vet, leave your suggestions on how to best spend one day at Comic-Con.