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Tips/Advice for First Timers and Veterans

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Chris:
Tips/Advice for First Timers and Veterans

Hello everyone!    A few things to note:

  <-These are checkboxes so you can mark stuff off as you go.
  Edit a copy of this checklist and print was is relevant for you to help you remember things.

  Remember the most important things on this checklist are to be safe and have fun!!!

Please continue to add to the thread with you inputs to help others have a great time at Comic Con!

Thanks.

To see an archived list of the Rev 2 post, please go here:  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
To see an archived list of the Rev 1 post, please go here:  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
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General Etiquette:
    Be considerate: only buy tickets for the days you are planning to actually attend to allow others the opportunity to attend the show.
    Don’t poke people with poster tubes/Cosplay Props.
    Navigating the show:
               -Don’t stop dead in the middle of an aisle/traffic flow
               -Be aware of your stroller/overstuffed WB bag/rolling bag and that it might be in someone’s way
               -If in a group, walk single file not side by side (like Sand People to hide your numbers)
               -Turn your shoulders when walking thru a crowd
               -Move to the side out of traffic flow when you want to see something
               -Move to the side when distracted (lost, on cell phone, eating nachos, etc)
    Be polite to scantily clad girls (and guys) in cosplay.  No groping.  Keep oogling to a minimum.
    Be aware that your taking cosplay photos is holding up traffic, have camera ready, move to the side, and take pics quickly.
               -Ask them if the time is convenient to take their photo (not when they have mouthful of food.)
    Be gentle with vendor’s wares.   Comics, etc are easily damaged.
    Vendors:  Be polite to your customers.
    Do not assume vendor display products are free.  Ask first.
    Be respectful when asking a celebrity for an autograph/photo outside of the con.
    Please respect for each attendee's fandom preferences. Healthy debate is fine-but don’t be mean.
    Be patient with CCI/volunteer/security staff, they are just as overwhelmed as you.
    Be nice to the volunteers-most of them don't get any perks but free admission for the day they work.
    Don't place anything on a retailers table or boxes (swag, backpack, sword, etc): ask first. It causes damage to inventory and prevents shopper access to table.
    Do not duck down to the floor in front of booths to stuff swag into your bag (it makes you look as if you are stealing something).
    Photobombing.  Keep in mind that people travelled long distances and paid a lot of money to get pics of themselves at the show.  They might not want you hanging out in the background with a silly expression in their pic with Stan Lee. 
    Tell people if they dropped something and help them out-don't be tempted to take it for yourself.  Build some good Comic Con karma for yourself!
    Be polite.   Please, Thank You, You’re Welcome, Sorry About That, and watch the F-bombs:
SDCC is a family event.

What to bring:
    Comfortable clothes and shoes <- Absolute Must!!!  You will die of discomfort if you don’t do this.
               -Depending on how much you plan to be inside/outside and your body type (hot blooded/cold blooded), plan on your clothing layering/cosplay/blankets appropriately.
                              o  Some of the lines are outside and SD does get into the 80’s and 90’s in July.  Plan to stay cool/smelling good accordingly.
                              o  Temperature rules of thumb:
                                             -- Exhibit hall is very cold for the first hour.
                                             -- If temperatures are in the 70’s or lower outside, the exhibit hall will stay cool after first hour.
                                             -- If temperatures are in the 80’s or above outside, the exhibit hall will get very hot after first hour.
               -Bring enough clothes for however long you plan on being out. It may be nice and warm when you first get in line but if you plan on staying out til closing, it could be a lot cooler by then.
               -Sandals or open toed shoes will get your toes smashed in the big crowds.  Steel. Toed. Shoes.
               -Multiple pairs of shoes in case you want a fresh pair each day.
               -Wear clean underwear in case one is in an accident.
               -Bring extra underwear in case one has an accident.
               -Shady hat if you are going to be outside for a long time.
               -Extra clothes can be used for warmth or for line sitting padding.
    Backpack/Messenger Bag
               -Extra bags for purchases (light weight reusable type).
               -Bring extra suitcases to lug your Comic Con haul back home on the plane.  Store the small bags in the larger bags.
    Plastic zip bags to store your food/liquids in your backpack so that your purchases do not get damaged.
    Confirmation barcodes
    Multiple copies of to do list/purchase list
    Print out any directions that you might need to AND from locations
    Pens and Paper or Notepad
               -Mark favorite booth locations with a red pen which is easier to see on map in program guide
               -Bring multiple red pens as they get lost
               -Autograph pens.  Keep in mind that some pen inks fade over time
               -Sharpie on a string.
               -If you get caught without paper for autographs, ask them to sign your badge (the paper part, not the plastic.)
    Bring Cash
               -Avoid long ATM lines, ATM fees. 
               -Bring various denominations (change $1’s, $5’s, etc).  Everyone brings $20s and vendors run out of change.  This is for vendors and attendees:  Especially for the first day. 
               -Keep your money in order in your wallet, during all the excitement you don’t want to give someone a $20 when you meant to give them a $10 (I have been shortchanged before)
               -Keep a smaller amount of cash in your pocket and the remainder in a more secure place (money belt, bottom of backpack underneath everything, etc)
               -If you plan on carrying a lot of cash (probably not a good idea), but if you are:  use a money belt to keep it secure
    Cell phone and charger or battery packs
    Camera and charger (or film or memory cards)
               -Spare memory cards/batteries
    Charge all of your electronic devices overnight
    Turn your cell phone to airplane mode while at show to conserve the battery
    Turn your cell phone off to conserve the battery, but bring a watch
    Turn your cell phone screen brightness down when indoors to conserve battery life
    Watch with alarm
               -Set watch/cell phone alarms for meet ups/panels/etc-it is easy to get distracted and lose track of time
    Surge protector for your electronic devices You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
    Power strip for your electronic devices
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    Battery chargers
    Keychain flashlight (particularly for panels)
    Refillable water bottle with secure top so that it does not leak in your backpack
               -Water bottle with built in filter.
    Power bars and snacks/food
               -Pack cheap, light food to eat.  Even if you are from out of town (probably cheaper than SD)
               -Bring food to trade with others cafeteria style
               -Bring food that is quiet to unwrap and to eat (no peanut brittle wrapped in cellophane) during panels
               -Don’t bring just junk snack food, bring healthy food.
    Protective materials for purchases (comic bag and boards, poster tube with shoulder harness, etc)
    Deodorant/Anti-perspirant for your armpits AND feet You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
    Breath mints
    Desiccant for backpack (dehumidifier packets)
    Entertainment for waiting in line (comics, books, music, movies, court jesters, etc.)
    Daily doses of needed medications so that you do not lose the whole bottle
    Antacids
    Vitamin C Drops for cold prevention
    Cough drops so you are not hacking during panels
    Hand Sanitizer/Wet Wipes
    Aspirin (consult your doctor before beginning an aspirin regimen)
    Contact lens case and solution/spare glasses/glasses case for folks with corrective lenses
    Blister specific bandages if you are prone to them
    Toilet Paper
    Portable Mini Folding Chair
              -Base your chair selection on your weight/chair’s structural integrity.  These chairs are small, so they can be flimsy. Related thread:  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
    Sunscreen
    UV sunglasses
    Floss/Toothpicks.  Food.  Stuck in your teeth.  Annoying you.  All day.  Bad.
    Keep your confirmation barcodes with you throughout the Con in case you lose your badge.
    Print up labels with name, address, phone, email info to slap on entry forms. Always use a secondary e-mail for this, because you never know what type of list you are being added to.  Please keep in mind that you don’t want to lose these with all your vital information and be aware of who you are giving these to.
    Label your stuff or mark them with a unique sticker, ribbon accessory (let’s see if anyone gets that one), etc:  backpack, poster tube, etc.  Yes, write you name in your underwear too.
    Overpacking the backpack or not bringing the right stuff (food and water) can wear you out.   Don't load yourself up with a bunch of stuff you won't need.
    When buying something big/heavy, buy it early & put it in your car/hotel room/into the coat check ASAP.  Coat checks fill up by lunch time.
    A pack mule to carry all of this stuff   
    Patience
    A good sense of humor

Taking care of yourself/your belongings/your money:
    Get plenty of sleep.
    Remember to eat and hydrate (sounds silly, but you will forget to eat during the show).
    Take periodic breaks.
    Don’t party too hard in evenings.
    If you don’t exercise much, get a little in shape before the show.  Take walks in weeks before show.
    Stretch each day in the mornings, at your hotel, in line, etc.
    Wash your hands often-Comic Con funk is a very real thing.
    Be aware of thieves/pickpockets (especially your badge).
               -Carry your wallet in your front pocket to deter pickpockets
               -Free Hugs people might be pickpockets or pervs
    Hide your badge from others when outside of the convention center, people will rip them right off the lanyard.
               -Tape the paper portion of the badge to the plastic holder so that it does not slip out
               -Use more than one lanyard to secure your badge around your neck
               -Use the THICK, clear packing tape to reinforce the edges of your badge (if needed)
               -Do not be tempted to give or sell your badge away-you could get a lifetime ban
               -Bring your own lanyard that might be more secure You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login or use one like the kind used for keys
               -If you pick up multiple single day badges at once, put them at the bottom of your backpack/bag underneath your other stuff so they do not fall out or get pickpocketed.
    Protect your belongings at the show:
               -Make it a habit to make sure your backpack/bag is zipped up before you walk away after a purchase
               -Keep bag on your side rather than back
               -Keep backpack zippers all to one side for easy access
    Remember that San Diego is a nice place but it has the same crime problems as any city.
    Use RFID cases to protect your credit cards.  Or you can request non-RFID cards from your provider ahead of time.
    Be aware of scammers that intercept credit card info as they are transmitted wirelessly for purchases.
    Don’t wander too far away from the Gaslamp Quarter, there are some bad areas of downtown.
    Walk in groups or the buddy system while outside of the convention center.
    Be safe in travel:
               -Don’t drink and drive.  San Diego is a party city and SDPD is looking for drunk drivers-you WILL get a DUI. Be safe:  Take a cab!!!  (See bottom of this post for San Diego cab phone numbers)                
               -Don’t cross street in front of cars & trolleys
               -Don’t overstuff a trolley car
               -If you are used to traffic being on the left side of the road, be extra careful when crossing the street.
    Arrange for a “someone got lost place”/meeting/break place with your group (particularly for kids). 
               -Don’t rely solely on your cell phone
               -The cell towers can get overloaded = no signal
               -Texts might work better than cell calls
               -For kids, meet at end of current row meeting place in case they get separated from you
               -Don't make the mistake of thinking you'll be able to find someone easy at the show by just looking around.
   Have the contact info for everyone in your group preprogrammed.  And a paper copy couldn’t hurt.
   Unlock your twitter account so people can message you during the con
   For parents, have a clear, recent picture of your children in case they get lost.
    Park in the same spot each day to avoid getting turned around.
    If you drop off swag at your car, make sure it is covered up or in the trunk.
    Some vendors will sell your contact information (phone and email) when you let them scan your badge.
    No running in the convention center. People can get hurt.  Security will stop you and escort you out of the hall.
    After sitting down anywhere (in line, to take a break, in a panel, etc), make it a habit to check around you to make sure you are not leaving something behind.  Stuff WILL fall out of your bag and stuff WILL stay plugged into the walls if you do not check for them.
    If you lose your badge or its gets stolen, you can get a replacement, but they charge for it ($75 for 2012) and it takes away from Con time.  It’s better to just take care of your badge and make sure nothing happens to it.
    Write down the serial numbers for your electronic equipment and carry it with you so that you can identify it as yours in case it gets lost.
    If you see something that doesn't look right, tell convention center employees.
    Know where the exits are.
    Don’t Panic!

Travel:
    Notify your banks or credit card providers that you will be traveling so that they can flag your account so that your purchases won't trigger any suspicious activity blocks and leave you without access to funds.
    Bring your insurance cards with you.
    Leave your passport locked safely in your hotel room! No reason to carry it with you around and risk losing it. But do carry some form of ID.

Driving in San Diego:
    Californians drive fast.  If you are from out of town and not used to this, stay to the slower lanes on the freeways.
    California roads are not intuitive (i.e. turning east to get on the freeway west).  If you have time, do dry runs to your destinations to avoid confusion while en route.
    Southern Californians cannot drive in the rain.  If it starts raining, slow down and pay attention.

Dealing with Jet Lag:
   Start adjusting to the time zone change before you arrive.
   If you get sleepy during the day, try power naps in a safe place for you and your swag.
   Do calisthenics and simple exercises like jumping jacks to get the blood flowing.  And STRETCH!
   Try to come a day or two early (especially if you have a BIG time adjustment) so that you are adjusted before the Con begins.

Planning:
    Plan your Comic Con schedule days before you go.  Plan plan plan.
    You are not going to be able to see everything you want to.  Come up with a plan and execute it.  But stay flexible in case there are changes.
    Formulate a backup plan in case something falls through.
    Check daily updated panel schedule changes that are posted around the Convention Center.  There is a  newspaper/flyer printed each day with the updates in the main lobby and up in the Sails Pavilion.
    Allow for time to traverse the showroom floor to get where you need to-this can take a while.
    Google map where the downtown Ralph’s grocery store is ahead of time.  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
    Put your name, address, phone, email on anything important ahead of time.
    If you plan on waking up very early, lay out your clothes/pack your backpack/get fully prepared the night before each day of convention.  You are less likely to forget something when you are kind of awake at the end of the day than still asleep in the morning.
    Get prices for what you want to purchase ahead of time on the internet to estimate how much money to save up or bring.  Google is your friend with this.
    Google map the area around your hotel before you arrive to save recon work/walk time in foraging for food, etc.

Panels:
    For more popular panels (especially Hall H and Ballroom 20), plan to long waits (general rules:  over 3 hours for extremely popular panels (Big Bang Theory, etc), 3 hours for Hall H/Ballroom 20, 1 hour for regular panels).
    Keep in mind the size of the room and popularity of the panel as this will increase the wait time.
    If you’re dying to see a panel, spend as much time as it takes to get in.
    If you’re marginal on a panel, take a risk with 1 hour ahead of time, last minute, or even late.
    If you get to/leave a panel early, do so quietly.
    If you think you might leave a panel early, sit towards the outside rows so that you don’t disturb others.
    If you are waiting thru a panel to see the one after, please be respectful of the current panel even if you are not interested (no talking, cell phones, etc).
    If by yourself, make friends in line for place holding for restroom breaks, etc.
    If there are empty seats, use one.  The fire marshal needs accurate headcounts to let people in and people milling around the back of the room does not help.
    Please pick up after yourself after panel room campout.
    Bring food that is quiet to unwrap and to eat (no peanut brittle wrapped in cellophane) during panels. (Repeated)
    Bring padding for chairs (cushions, pillows) if you think you will need it.
    Smaller panels can fill up quickly due to smaller room sizes.
    Wait to make sure a panel 100% full before giving up.  Sometimes when they do a headcount again, spaces open up.
   Other than Hall H:  You can leave during a panel by getting a "coupon/ticket" that you can use to re-enter by skipping the line.  You cannot do this between panels. The tickets change for each panel and you have to return by a certain time.  You might lose your seat after you leave so be prepared to find another one.
   Hall H has a capacity of 6,700 and Ballroom 20 is at 4,000.  Factor in those numbers when figuring out what time to get in line and for which room.  It's nearly impossible to catch a panel in one room and then get in to the other room for the next panel.

Waiting in line:
    Make sure you are at the end of line and not at a break in the line before joining the line.
    The lines are long and nothing can prepare you for them-even veterans get flustered at the long lines. 
    Beware of being lured into a line by offers of freebies-unless it is something you really want.
    Make sure you are in the right line for the thing you want.
    People will line up when there isn’t supposed to be a line.  i.e. Lines form for no reason.  Don’t make that mistake.
    Make friends with new people while in line.
    Comic Con no longer allows you to save spots in lines for people to show up late.  Have your group together and on time for any panels you want to see together.

Things to Consider:
    Going to the show (Han) Solo style is not the end of the world.  It is fun going by yourself.
               -Things that can be made easier by going solo:
                              o  Finding panel seating.
                              o  Navigating exhibit hall.
                              o  You don’t have to do what “the group” wants to do.
               -Don't use up another ticket because you don't want to go alone and allow someone else to attend the show.  It's good karma.
               -You will not get lonely with over 100,000 people in a single building.
    Don’t be afraid for the group to break up and re-meet during the day.
               -You won’t have to suffer thru their stuff and vice versa and no arguments about what to see next.
               -Part of the fun is the “and then I saw this” conversations at the end of the day.
               -In the popular panels, it is easier to grab 1 seat closer to the stage than to get a whole row for all your buddies.
    Balance your time between the exhibit hall and panels.  Don’t get too lopsided until you know you want to be lopsided.
    Not everything has to be planned.  You will find the best stuff sometimes just walking the floor like Caine in Kung Fu.
    The large crowds might be overwhelming/scary/tiring for your small child.  Depending on your child’s disposition/personality/endurance, they might not enjoy the experience. Book some time with kiddy corp, they're flexible You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login  It's cheaper to book prior to the show.
    Consider taking an extra day off work the day after the show to rest.  The show is exhausting.
    Your legs will HURT from walking/standing for at least a day or two after the show.  Be mindful of post show activities this might impact.
    If you have never been to the show before, nothing can prepare you for the massive crowd.  Be prepared to be tired.
    Don’t try to find parking downtown the days of the show.  Take the trolley, but check trolley hours if you plan on late nights.
    If you plan on waking up early during the show, start getting used to it a few days beforehand.
    Be sure to check out the areas adjacent to the Convention Center, both comic con related and not.
    Panels are usually available for viewing on YouTube later the same day in case you are not able to get into one.
    You will probably be in a funk for a couple of days after the show.  Going back to the real world after Comic Con is no fun.
               -Stay in contact with the friends you made at the show to avoid the post-Con blues.
               -Support smaller shows in your area to help with post-Con withdrawals.
               -It is normal to feel a little deflated for a little while after the show is over.  If this is too intense or lasts too long, talk to someone to figure out how to fix the problem.

Cosplay:
    You might want to consider going in costume certain days but not all days.  When you are in costume, you will get stopped a lot by people who want to take your picture which makes it harder to see all the stuff that you want to. 
    Wear your costume before the show for a day around the house to make sure it is comfortable in all the right places.  You don’t want cosplay induced wedgies/blisters during the show.
    Do not wear costumes that have parts that can poke people. (Repeated)
    Bring materials to fix your costume in case something tears/breaks during the show.

Random:
    Sunday has best deals, but vendors could sell out by Sunday or earlier-decide how bad you want the purchase.  Buy what you are dying to have as soon as you can as it might be sold out Sunday.  Buy things you can do without Sunday as some vendors will put discounts on items so they don't have to lug it back home.
    Exclusives sell out quicker.  Non-exclusives do not run out as fast. 
    If you see a cool piece of swag someone is carrying around, politely ask where they got it so you know where to find it.
    Remember to haggle.  It is somewhat expected-just remember to do it respectfully.
    If you do not get the WB bag that you wanted, politely ask someone to trade.  People are surprisingly open to this.  Just make sure that both bags are 100% empty before you trade.

Rumor Dispelling:
    You will not die if you do not get a 4-day with preview night pass/4-day pass/etc.   Usually 3 days is when people start to be in a fog from being overly tired.
    You will not die if you don’t get a downtown parking spot.  The trolley is a wonderful way to get to the show.
    Your Comic Con experience will not be ruined if you do not get to see a panel, get an exclusive, meet a celebrity that you wanted to.  These are disappointing, yes, but remember to enjoy the experience of the show as a whole.  Even if you miss one of those things, you will still have a very good time.
    Having 4 single day passes is just as good as a 4 day pass.  CCI has taken steps to make multiple day badge pickup painless.
    For 2011, people camped out for days for the Twilight panel.  The panel was less than half full, so no camping was required.

Again, remember the most important things on this checklist are to be safe and have fun!!!  Hopefully, you found this list helpful!

Although our list is the best, here are some other tips lists:

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PLEASE DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE DURING YOUR TRIP TO COMIC CON!!!

It is easy to get swept up in things while attending comic con, but if you plan on partying or drinking, PLEASE TO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!!!  Have a plan AHEAD OF TIME:  designated driver/cab/walk/etc.  San Diego is a party town and police are actively looking for drunk drivers, so don’t get yourself a DUI. 

Also and more importantly, there are A LOT of people walking around downtown during the show and you do not want to hurt or kill anyone.  Program these into your phone ahead of time:

San Diego Cab:  619-226-8294
Orange Cab:  619-291-3333
Yellow Cab:   619-234-6161

Bookmark this page now:  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

Or check with your hotel for shuttle service.


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Hello?  Anyone still here/awake?  It's a badge of honor if you made it to the end.  :)

alyssa:
I am so very glad you kept this!

Friends of Comic Cons:
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The Gossamer:
Also do not forget that many vendors display their products (shirts, books etc..) and I have seen many people thinking most item are free swag and assume these are "free" and do not inquire beforehand. Be polite to the booth vendors and don't look greedy.
 
You may wish to bring a baseball cap if you intend to wait outside the center for a panel. During very sunny days your head can get a roasting when waiting between the shade tents.

In addition to keep your badge hidden when wandering the Gaslamp do not be tempted to sell or give your badge away to anyone. It is possible there could be undercover police looking for scalpers and when you give your badge away you are also giving away your identity. If CCI confiscates the badge your info will come up and questions will arise as to why someone else is using your badge.

Kay:
have to agree, watch out for the pickpockets.  With how crowded it is, I've noticed it's safest to keep bags that are not backpacks as comfortably near the front of you as possible and backpacks, keep all the zippers on one side... sounds silly but it makes it easy and fast to get things you need.
Fair warning from someone who's seen it happen; stay away from the Free Hugs people... most of them are pickpockets, some are just pervs or just doing it for fun but you can never tell so stay clear no matter how cute they are.

Kira Scurro:
You should also pick up one of those RFID cases for credit cards. Two weeks after Comic Con I had purchases on a credit card I didn't make, and the card was still in my possesion. I can't say for sure the theft of my numbers happened at CC, but it's the most likely place.

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