Advance planning & strategic camping are the keys to having a satisfying experience at San Diego Comic-Con

Advance planning & strategic camping are the keys to having a satisfying experience at San Diego Comic-Con
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What with the introduction of the Toucan Tracker wristband system back in 2014 (which can virtually hold one’s place in line outside of Hall H. Which means that most Comic-Con attendees can now go back to their hotel rooms & get a good night’s sleep -- more importantly, bathe – prior to seeing one of those super-popular film panels inside of this 6500-seat venue), there just isn’t as much camping out in Plaza Park as there used to be.

Mind you, inside the San Diego Convention Center over the course of this 4 & ½ day-long pop culture celebration, the practice of camping is still alive & well. Not the pup-tent-and-sleeping-bag variety, of course. But – rather -- the practice of getting into a hall hours ahead of the panel that you actually want to attend, claiming a seat and then not moving from that spot until the presentation you came to see at Comic-Con is actually over.

So how exactly does this technique work? Well, let’s say that you’re a huge fan of “The Venture Brothers.” And you’d really like to be in Room 23ABC later today when author Ken Plume & show creator Jackson Publick preview that art-of / making-of book for this Adult Swim series which Dark Horse will be publishing later this year.

Adult Swim

Given that this particular function room at the San Diego Convention Center only seats 374 people … The only way to absolutely guarantee that you have a seat for this “Go Team Venture!” presentation (which gets underway at 11 a.m. PT today) is if you get into Room 23ABC for the panel that proceeds it. Which is “DC Icons: Blockbuster YA Authors Meet Iconic DC Superheroes.” Which gets underway in this exact same space at 10 a.m. PT.

The beauty of doing this is that Comic-Con (with very few exceptions) doesn’t clear rooms between presentations. So if you’ve got a seat for today’s “DC Icons” panel, you’re then permitted to stay in Room 23ABC AKA “camp” in order to catch Ken & Jackson’s “Go Team Venture!” presentation.

That said, in order to successfully camp at Comic-Con, you first have to carefully study each day’s schedule. And once you have that info in hand, you then have to do some advance planning. Make strategic decisions about how far in advance you should get in line in order to gain access to a particular panel.

Adult Swim

EX: Let’s pretend that you’re a big “Rick & Morty” fan. Which means that you really want to be inside of the Indigo Ballroom (which is this Comic-Con satellite facility that’s located right next door to the San Diego Convention Center at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront) starting at 12:15 p.m. PT tomorrow. Which is when show co-creators Dan Harmon & Justin Roiland will be paneling with voice talent Sarah Chalke and previewing the highly anticipated third season of this Adult Swim series.

So – in this particular case – should you try and get into the Indigo Ballroom ahead of time in order to secure a seat in advance for this “Ricky & Morty” presentation ? No.

“And why not?,” you ask. Because directly preceding the panel for this acclaimed Adult Swim show is one for “Steven Universe.” And given that this Rebecca-Sugar-created series is one of the more popular programs on Cartoon Network right now … Well, chances are that all 2600 seats in this function room at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront will be filled by 10 a.m. by “Steven Universe” fans. Who will happily sit through the very first presentation of the day (i.e., a preview of Cartoon Network’s newest series, “OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes !” Which officially premieres on that cable channel on August 1st) just so they can then be inside the Indigo Ballroom at 11 a.m. PT. Which is why when the “Steven Universe” panel is supposed to get underway.

Cartoon Network

So in this particular situation, the smarter play might be to get in line at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront just as Rebecca Sugar & Co. are taking the stage. Given that there is supposedly very little overlap between the “Steven Universe” & the “Ricky & Morty” fandoms … It stands to reason that – once this starting-at-11.-a.m. presentation wraps – hundreds of “Steven Universe” fans will come pouring out of this Comic-Con satellite facility so that they can then return to the main convention center. Which will then (in theory, anyway) free up plenty of seats inside of the Indigo Ballroom for “Ricky & Morty” fans.

In other insistences, though, just getting into a specific function room so that you then camp / claim a seat in advance for a particular panel is going to be hugely challenging. Take – for example – tomorrow’s “DuckTales” presentation, which is supposed to get underway in Room 6A at 3:30 p.m. PT.

Given that this very same 1040-seat venue will be home to a “My Little Pony” panel (which starts at 10:30 a.m. PT tomorrow), a “Hey, Arnold!” presentation (which is scheduled to get underway at 11:45 a.m. PT), a “Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” panel (this one has a 1 p.m. start time) as well as a Disney Television Animation two-fer (i.e., a celebration of Disney XD’s “Star vs. The Forces of Evil” and “Milo Murphy’s Law” begins at 2:15 p.m.) … All five of those programs have extremely passionate fan bases. Which means that hundreds of Comic-Con attendees are sure to be lining up hours ahead of time. All with the hope that they can then also claim a seat in advance inside of Room 6A.

Disney XD

So if you are in fact lucky enough to get into this 1040-seat function room out ahead of tomorrow’s “DuckTales” presentation, please be courteous. Take into consideration all of those poor people who are still waiting outside in the corridor, hoping to snag a seat to this panel. By that I mean:

  • · Please do not try & save seats for other members of your party who haven’t made it into the room yet.
  • · Please fill in all available seats.
  • · Don’t place your bags or other items on the seat next to you in an effort to create some sort of artificial barrier between yourself & other Comic-Con attendees.

Long story short: There are 135,000 people in San Diego right now for the exact same reasons as you. More to the point, many of these Comic-Con attendees are trying to get into the exact same panels & presentation as you are. So a little advance planning (Not to mention having a great deal of patience as well as the ability to make the best of what -- more-often-than-not -- can sometimes be a bad situation) will go an awfully long way towards you making sure that you have a satisfying experience at San Diego Comic-Con.

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