San Diego Comic-Con International -Tips for Attendees

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It’s that time of year again where fans of every genre under the sun and from every continent flock to San Diego to enjoy a little bit of Hollywood and more!

I’ve been an attendee for years now and to make the Comic-Con experience as positive and rewarding as possible, I offer these top ten tips (in no particular order):

10) Understand that people from all over the world are traveling to this epic event. They spend tons of money on flight, hotel, food, and souvenirs (which is great for San Diego’s economy!) all to see their favorite celebrity, find that exclusive collectible, or meet others with similar interests (tv, film, comics, anime, anything pop culture). Being friendly and positive to our visiting tourists goes a long way. So help them out whenever possible.

9) Comic-Con is an event that will be incredibly crowded. So patience and flexibility are virtues. I try to plan events or meet celebrities that I’d like to meet in advance. The Comic-Con website will have info on programming leading up to the events of your interests. Your event that you’re looking forward to may not happen (due to long lines or cancellation) so it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan. If I get that one celeb photo opportunity or autograph, I’m a happy camper!

Attendees enjoying SDCC!
Attendees enjoying SDCC!

8) In this era of technology, social media, using smartphones and tablets, be sure to bring an external battery. Getting in line for a TV or movie panel means you ought to get here early. This means you will be here for awhile. If you’re using your smartphone or tablet for pics of celebrity sightings and forward texting, you can’t do so with a dead battery. The outlets at the convention center are hit or miss. Also, bring a camera.

7) The volunteers who try to help with crowd control or work at the booths throughout the convention are probably doing so just to experience Comic-Con with limited means. However, they may have inside info on signings, parties, and swag. So treat them with respect and they’ll reciprocate. Then you’ll get that autograph or photo op that you’ve traveled so far for!

6) Hydrate! Bring a water bottle. Throughout the convention center there are water coolers and water fountains. Bring snacks. The food inside the convention center are expensive and not that great. Or if you’re so inclined and have time to kill, eat at one of San Diego’s finest restaurants in the Gaslamp! But plan accordingly. You don’t want to miss that celebrity sighting, signing, or panel.

5) Take the time to visit a booth that you may not be familiar with. Whether its visiting a comic book artist or talking with a young adult author, you may meet someone who’ll end up being the next big thing. As this is Comic-con, buy a Comic Book!

4) When attending a TV, movie, industry or how-to panel, there are opportunities to ask questions of featured guests and celebrities. I asked Jim Parsons of the Big Bang Theory where he would put his Emmy Award were he to win. The audience went wild with glee and lo and behold, Jim has won two Emmy awards since. A memory forever captured on YouTube!

I got to meet and greet with the cast of the Legend of Korra
I got to meet and greet with the cast of the Legend of Korra

3) There’s the Swag. The pop culture industries (Hollywood or otherwise) want to promote their business (new tv show, upcoming blockbuster movies, etc.) Posters, buttons, lanyards, bags, pens, autographed photos, magazines, toys, cinch bags, books are free! And people like free stuff. They make excellent stocking stuffers for Christmas, birthday goodies, or souvenir gifts for your friends and family. They also make great keepsakes of fond memories at Comic-Con! I got a Wonder Woman iPhone 5 Case case for my iPhone and an Angry Birds Plush toy! For free!

2) Comic Con is a five day event including a Wednesday preview night that runs through Sunday in July. People love to get dressed up as their favorite hero, villain, or pop culture figure. Some are risqué while others are creative and fun. Children get in on the act too! There’s nothing cuter than a 5 year-old dressed as Spider-man. Yes, it’s Halloween (also known as Cosplay) for the kid in all of us. Also, there are events surrounding the Gaslamp area for kids and adults who can’t get into the convention center. Be sure to check those as well!

Cosplayers from the Batman Universe
Cosplayers from the Batman Universe

1) Most importantly, have fun! Take the Comic-Con experience in. The massive crowd can be difficult to navigate at times but a positive and friendly attitude makes a huge difference in enriching your time at Comic-Con. This is the only time Hollywood comes to San Diego. People from all over the world come to vacation in America’s finest city. So enjoy! You never know who you’ll meet or what might happen. And that can be just as exciting!

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I’m an avid runner, elementary school teacher and curriculum author, and a pop culture/technology enthusiast. Follow me on twitter @MikeyCruz for updates on all things Comic Con July 20-24, 2016!

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