With a week gone by since the most epic experience of my entire existence (aka San Diego Comic Con International), I have had time to reflect and meditate upon my life changing experience. Dramatic, I know, but with the mass sensory overload that is SDCC, it does take a while for Con goers to recover! That being said, Comic Con International really is the experience of a life time for any film, TV, gaming, or comic book fan. That being said, however, there are a few tips and tricks every prospective attendee to any comic con in the nation should keep in mind before diving into the never-ending flood of cosplaying fun!
Blessed with a sea of knowledge from my experiences at the Mother of all Cons, I shall now bestow upon you the secrets of the Con. The following survival guide has been lovingly created for all of my darling readers out there who plan to jump into the world of cons! Keep in mind, while the guide tips may come from my experiences at SDCC, it is meant for use at any convention, anytime and anywhere! Whether this is your first convention or your billionth, Cons can be adrenaline-filled adventures, so make sure to arrive prepared!
Before you arrive...
Make sure to always plan! Conventions, especially larger, more commercialized ones, have an unfortunate tendency of selling out quickly. Days after tickets go on sale, websites start to alert low numbers of tickets, especially weekend passes. Those of you looking to meet a guest celebrity should especially keep a wary eye on ticket release dates. Popular celebrities easily sell out the day they are made available, so hop onto that computer as soon as you can!
Remember your accommodations!
Conventions notoriously attract people from literally everywhere. Out of town, out of state, out of country, you name it, and you can probably find it at a comic con! Therefore, it probably comes as no surprise that the city's population grows exponentially for the weekend, which is good for hotel owners but not so good for you. Accommodations for the con weekend will likely skyrocket in price the closer the date gets and become scarce fairly quickly, so please don't forget to book early if you're coming from out of town.
Prepare a tentative schedule
Whether you are looking to go with the flow or hit up every single awesome event, every attendee should at least go into the convention with a tentative schedule in mind. Panels, screenings, performances, and contests occur throughout the day in various locations throughout the vicinity, so make sure to check the online schedule before hand so you don't every miss any of the good stuff!
Arrive either early or late on the day of the Con
This may sound strange, but bear with me. In my experience with cons, the most unpleasant technicality to deal with has always been the d*** parking! Like I said, the city is flooded with con goers, so the streets end up being clogged with them too. Everyone hopes to get as close to the convention center as possible, so parking lots and garages fill up fast. My suggestion to you is to arrive super early and avoid the traffic. You'll likely get a decent spot, and you can enjoy a stress-free stroll to the convention center. Have a weekend pass and don't feel like getting up early? Just arrive later in the evening! The bulk of attendees have either left or are in the process of departing, leaving you and your car a nice little spot to park.
Enjoy the perimeter of the Con
Not all of the fun is necessarily stuffed into the convention hall. After picking up your ticket, make sure to stick around in the lobby area for a while before heading on inside. Because the hall is often fairly cramped and crowded, a lot of times the best cosplays can actually be found in the more spacious lobby area. Here, press and fans can easily take pictures with their favorite characters. Take your time, and make a cosplayer smile with pride and snap a few pictures!
I repeat, bring cash! The entire exhibit hall will be jammed packed with hundreds to possibly thousands of nerd vendors. Essentially, you'll be entering a massive fandom mall. Vendors will be selling everything from the most creative fan art to the most commercialized bobble head you could find on amazon. Posters, sculptures, paintings, action figures, and more will inevitably tempt your wallet, so have your cash ready (some booths may not accept card)!
Be very careful with said cash
Going off of the last point, PLEASE be careful with your money. One of the reason I suggest cash is that at least you can run out of it eventually and keep track of your spending. A card might get you all the nerdy treasures you may desire, but you might go home to an unwelcome negative number on your bank statement. Be wary of what you are buying, and don't let vendors try to hustle you out of your hard earned cash.
Invest in a portable charger
You might think you can survive the day on just one full charge, but I'm almost 100% certain you probably can't. Between checking the time, googling schedules, texting friends, snapchatting, facebooking, instagramming, and snapping cosplay pictures, your phone is going to be taking a pretty harsh energy hit. But, you also don't want to be the poor chap sitting against the wall charging his phone and missing all the fun! Invest in a portable charger! The little guy comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and can come with one full charge or more. It'll cost you $10 to $20, but it's well worth the investment.
Bring yummy snacks
You may not realize it, but attending a convention can be a lot of work! You're up on your feet all day either walking, standing, and sometimes possibly running! Make sure to keep your energy up by bringing a couple of snacks along in your bag. They will keep you alert and happy when you're chilling in your super long line, and they help you avoid the unspeakably overpriced pretzel and pizza slices being sold at the food court.
Choose your shoes carefully
This one decision might actually have the power to dictate how much you enjoy your time at the Con. You can easily end up on your feet for 8 hours straight, so unless your cosplay requires 8 inch heels, I suggest you think very careful about your footwear. One wrong move, and you'll have blisters all over your foot, and you'll be spending your time desperately looking for tylenol rather than enjoying the sights and sounds of comic con.
There you have it folks! I hope this quick reference guide for surviving comic-con helps you and your friends have a blast at your next nerd gathering!