What’s that buzzing that keeps getting louder and louder every day coming from the West Coast? Ah of course it’s the energy being generated by the prospect of another Comic Con in San Diego, or official known as the Comic Con International: San Diego, CCI for short.
My pal Fred and I had a chance to go to the big convention for the first time last year. It was a blast, I still reflect on those days with a big grin. I live in the DC area on the East Coast so going out to San Diego every year is a little tough, which is why I’m missing it this year. However I still want to pass along the wisdom that I gathered from my time out there to those of you who are going for the first time.
- Get the 4-Day pass, even if you don’t think you’ll want to attend for all 4 days I’d still pick it up. There’s a chance you’ll want to go to an evening event even if you don’t go to the con during the day. And there is always so much going on that once your there, you might totally change your mind and you’ll kick yourself for not getting that extra day.
- Pack snacks. I know you aren’t supposed to bring food into the convention center. But no one checked my bag last year and I always bring snack with me to every other convention I go to. Convention Center food is over priced and leaves a lot to be desired.
If you have the time & money there are plenty of places to eat in the Gaslamp Quarter a couple blocks from the convention center. But honestly I was short on both when I went to the con. I didn’t stay in the city, I was bunking up at Fred’s house in the ‘burbs. If you are staying in the city, a lunch break would be a good way to dump off bags from the expo floor and freshen up.
- Plan Plan Plan as much as you can. Take a good look at that schedule of programs. It’s a fluid document that is always changing, but its a good idea to firm up your reasons for going to the con. With so much bombarding you from comic companies, artist, Hollywood, toy companies, gaming industry, television, it can be overwhelming. Look at the schedule and find some focus on what’s important to you.
- REMEMBER YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL. It’s just not going to happen. Repeat this mantra and you’ll find some peace, there’ll be other conventions and CCI happens every year. Just try to see the things important to you and enjoy yourself.
- Bring cash. Don’t count on the ATM machines at the convention center and don’t rely on the vendors accepting credit cards. Often some of the bigger vendor do take cards, but sometimes that network connection can be brutally slow for prcoessing things.
- Be prepared to wait in lines. At CCI there is a lot of waiting in lines. Sometimes you wait in a line to get a ticket to wait in another line. Lines form for autographs, exclusive toys, panel discussions, media programs, etc. So bring some inline entertainment. Bring a book, bring that Nintendo DS, your laptop, something.
- Go with a friend. Going to a con this big without a buddy would just suck. First off you are going to see so many weird and wonderful things at this convention you’ll want someone to share it with and talk about it all with. Second, having a friend to back you up and vice versa is good when you’re hands are full and you need to get to your wallet, or you want a photo with that dude in the Boba Fett armor. A friend comes in handy and makes the convention a lot more fun.
- Please bathe. There is going to be a lot of humanity in that expo floor. In some sections you are going to get really close up with people… If everyone’s clean it makes it a lot easier. Other guides impress upon this tip and I can’t agree with them more.
- Take a break from the convention, don’t spend this long weekend in San Diego entirely in the convention center. Get out of there, wander around the city some. Find a good restaurant, watch a ball game, just do something where you can get out and enjoy the area.
- If you aren’t staying in the city, use that trolley system. I’ve seen the parking garage of the convention center during a smaller convention and it got pretty full. Don’t count on finding much parking in town during this big convention. The trolley system is easy to use and quite a bargain, plus the parking is free at the stations, at least the ones I used.
I’m sure there are plenty of other tips, and anyone can add to the list in the comments area. These 10 are the ones that came to mind first for me. For all of you going this year, you’ll have a great time. Take plenty of photos and grab all the swag that you can.