Jun. 22nd, 2012

lazypadawan: (Default)
Congratulations! You've won the SDCC Lottery and scored a pass. Sure, it might be for one lousy day and your spouse is set to go on Thursday and Saturday while your kid got a pass for Friday, but it's better than nothing, right?

Here's some advice for those of you who have never been to the con or haven't been in a few years because Things Have Really Changed.

1. SDCC has advised there will be NO pre-sales for 2013 at the show. This is the first time they have eliminated pre-registration for the following year. The good news is you won't have to spend the entire con in line for the next con but the bad news is that frees up thousands of people to stand in line for stuff you want to see or do instead. And it will be tough to get tickets for next year since it's all going to be an online lottery.

2. The waterfront district and parts of downtown San Diego--i.e. the area near the convention center--are being torn up for renovations. Expect street closures, traffic, delays, and general chaos if you're driving.

3. Try to pick up your pass on Wednesday if you can. Re-read the confirmation e-mail to see if you are able to get yours on Wednesday afternoon/evening. SDCC now offers two locations to pick up your passes: the convention center and the Town And Country Convention Center in Fashion Valley. I've picked mine up at Town and Country the past few years. The line is long but it hasn't taken longer than a couple of hours to get through it. Then I'm ready to roll on Thursday morning while everyone else is staring at me balefully as they're stuck in a loooong line to pick up their passes at the beginning of the con.

4. Walk, take a cab, or take the trolley to the convention center. Parking downtown is at a premium during Comic Con, even without a baseball game at Petco Park and the convention center's lot fills up VERY early.

5. If you are planning to see any programming in Hall H or Ballroom 20, go get in line now. Seriously, it has become THAT bad though I think Ballroom 20 has taken The Devil's Convention Hall title from Hall H if only by that much. Hall H has a mix of (mostly) movies and (some) t.v., while Ballroom 20 tends to host t.v. panels. They don't clear the room in between presentations, so people camp out in their seats all day while lines snake around, hardly moving. I avoid panels in those rooms now at all costs.

6. Wear comfy shoes.

7. If you plan on buying convention exclusives, pre-order them! It is getting to be hellishly difficult to get these things and pre-ordering saves a lot of time and aggravation. If you can't pre-order the item, download the convention guide and find where the vendor is going to be located. Head there as early as you can and play it by ear. I've noticed Hasbro and Mattel now hold drawings for the privilege of buying exclusives and you have to be at a certain location to buy the item at a given time if your number's drawn. There's no guarantee you'll get the product until you hand them the money and they give the item to you.

8. Don't get lunch in the exhibit hall. It's crowded, the lines can be long, and there's nowhere to sit. Head to one of the upper level outdoor food vendors. There's hardly anyone around, plenty of places to sit, and there's a great view of the marina/bay. Failing that, there are plenty of restaurants in the Gaslamp (though you'll have to hoof it a distance to find fast food around Horton Plaza, or some grab 'n go fare at Ralph's supermarket). Jamba Juice usually hauls over some carts outside of the convention center and sells pre-made smoothies. The Hard Rock Hotel across from the convention center has a Pinkberry and a pricey sushi place. My favorite eats downtown? If you're on an expense account, I like Oceanaire and Donovan's Seafood. Near the federal courthouse and Horton Plaza is a place called Specialty's that features sandwiches, soups, baked goods, and salads. It's similar to Corner Bakery. And it has wifi! There's an Indian joint on the top floor of Horton Plaza with tasty chicken tandoori.

But last year there were a bunch of lunch trucks near the convention center. I wish I hadn't brought my lunch so I could have tried them out! This year, I think I'm going to check them out. You can check online to see which trucks will be at the convention center.

9. Bring cash. The nearest bank ATM is blocks away and you're stuck with the ones in the convention center or in the nearby hotels, which will charge a lot o' fees if they don't run out of money altogether.

10. Take some time to head out into the Gaslamp. You'll get freebies galore and you'll find some cool stores, restaurants, and bars. If any of you girls are into vintage/pinup style, drop by Bettie Page on 5th Avenue, a few blocks away.

11. Be prepared for crowds the likes of which you probably haven't experienced if you've never been to this con before. It's 150,000 of your closest friends practically bursting out of the convention center and nearby hotels. The only events I've been to with worse crowds are New Year's Eve in Las Vegas, Fourth of July on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and Calle Ocho in Miami.

12. Take advantage of the bag check booths if you can. Why lug heavy crap around all day if you don't have to? For a mere $2 a bag, take a load off. But beware...some booths filled up with stuff and closed early on last year.

13. Local weather can be best described as thus: possible cloud cover early in the morning, hot and sunny during the day and cool after the sun goes down. It's cold in Hall H, hot in the main exhibit hall. Dress accordingly.

14. Most of the autographs in the autograph hall are $20 or so. Most of the personalities there are renting out their own shingle and they make money off of photos, signatures, and other memorabilia. A few are sponsored by a network or company and sign for free. With some very popular guests, such as the cast of "MythBusters" or Elvira, you have to enter a drawing to get the chance to get an autograph. On the exhibit floor, guests may be signing for a company like Official Pix, they may be sponsored by a network, or they may be renting out their own booth. For example, I got Billy Dee Williams's autograph at Gentle Giant for $40. Gentle Giant let him sign there in order to draw more people, while Williams likely didn't have to pay more than a small cut to GG, cheaper than getting his own booth. The same day, I got a totally free autograph from Pauley Perrette of "NCIS," since her appearance was sponsored by CBS. Wait times for autographs can vary.

15. Don't miss Artists' Alley! It's usually the least crowded area of the exhibit floor plus you can meet illustrators, buy unique prints, and even get commissioned work done.

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