Now that San Diego Comic-con 2011 is over and I survived another four days of the mayhem, I’m here to impart some wisdom for next year.
In this TechTip, I will cover my TOP 5 Comic-con survival tips.
Arrive Early - DUH!
With the sheer mass of attendees at the convention, getting in to see the panels put on by your favorite people can be a tough task to accomplish if you do not plan ahead. I recommend always arriving to the room where the panel will be held at least two hours before it begins. Once you’re in, stay in, the rooms are not cleared between panels and you might be able to snag a prime seat. Doing this will also introduce you to new things you might not otherwise have known.
Forget driving in to downtown San Diego. During the convention, finding a place to park downtown can be a maddening experience. If you do manage to find a place, be prepared to pay a high price for the privilege. Everyone’s best bet is to park somewhere else in San Diego, often for free, and ride the buses and trolleys provided. Either of the two will be cheaper and easier than trying to find a place to park after 10 am.
Arm Yourself with Gadgets
You know there’s going to be a lot of waiting in lines, so be sure to bring your favorite computer gadget for entertainment purposes. With my handy iPhone, I was able to use the official Comic-con app (free for iOS) to browse upcoming events in the room I was in, not to mention play games, snap pictures, and listen to podcasts between panels. Another thing I saw a lot of this year were QR codes. A QR code (which stands for Quick Response) lets you quickly and easily view websites, sign up for promotions, or get other information with just a glance through your smartphone’s camera. If you don’t do the smartphone thing, there were many places to gather with other attendees to play mobile games like Nintendo DS/3DS or Sony PSP.
Chances are you’re going to be sitting through more than one panel at a time and during extended sitting sessions, you’re going to get hungry and thirsty. Before you head out for the day, pack some snacks and drinks for yourself. This year the convention offered more food and drink vendors than in years past, but unless you have a penchant for mediocre, high-priced hot dogs, pizza, and nachos, you’ll be much happier with your own food.
Just a little bit farther!
As the sun begins to set on each day of the convention, the show floor closes and the bulk of the crowd filters into San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter - a few square blocks of great restaurants, bars, clubs, and other businesses. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that few people venture very far into the Gaslamp, opting instead to cram themselves into the few restaurants that are close to the Convention Center. Little do they know, by walking just a few blocks further, they can find even more great restaurants and bars in which to refuel or relax after a long day. When you have been waiting in lines all day, the last thing you want to do is wait in more lines.
Since demand to be at San Diego Comic-con is so high and the supply is limited, it’s still going to be a battle to get in to see and do everything you want, but if you like to geek out about just anything, there is no substitute for it. Showing your appreciation for the endeavors of your favorite artists or performers with thousands of other fans is a wonderful experience.
Good luck getting your tickets for next year, and if you do, I’ll see you there!