Advice on Lines

8 JULY 2013

If you've never been to Comic Con before, or haven't attended these last few years, it's impossible to convey how bad the lines are. By bad, I don’t mean a 2-3 hour wait. That was considered a bad line a few years ago – it seems like just yesterday that I got into a LOST panel in Hall H after only waiting 2 hours- but these days the big-name panels have overnight lines. Some have even had multi-day lines. 

I would say that the lines are easily the #1 source of Comic Con bitterness and complaints, and the primary reason people don't return. In theory, the Con offers a cornucopia of panels and events and options; in practice, the waiting time involved reduces your choices quite drastically.  

So, a few pointers.

  • As I've noted elsewhere, there are often multiple lines in the same vicinity - so when you join yours, ask the person ahead of you what line it is. I've seen people waste over an hour in the wrong line.
  • There is a line to pick up your badge. So if you have a single day badge for Friday, Saturday or Sunday, realize this: while standing in line to pick it up, you will have to forfeit standing in any long lines for popular panels you wanted to see that day - unless you have a pre-badged friend who'll hold your spot.
  • People with Thursday badges and four-day badges without Preview Night; it’s for the reason above that it behooves you to go to the Town and Country on Wednesday and get your badge then. You won’t have to waste time in the wee hours of Thursday in the badge line and can get a jump on your Thursday panel lines.
  • While you will see plenty of volunteers and staff afoot, they don't always know where to cut off a line once a room has reached capacity. Which means that literally thousands of people will sometimes wait overnight and STILL not get into the panel. 
  • And sometimes it goes the other way; you wait 3 hours in line and get into the panel only to see empty seats behind you.
  • The most common way people guarantee themselves a seat in their desired panels is to sit through the preceding panel in that room. Once that panel clears out, you can move to a seat in the front of the room. When it comes to Hall H and Ballroom 20, people will camp out there all day – however, Hall H has restrooms inside and Ballroom 20 does not.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Do NOT try to cut in line. Once a line gets moving, there's always someone who thinks they can subtly blend right in. People will notice and they will bounce your ass out.  
  • Think hard before you commit an entire day or night to a line. Some of the rooms are huge, and you can wind up sitting so far in the back you can barely see the stage; instead you watch the panelists on a screen. When you consider that the panels always wind up on YouTube anyhow, you have to be absolutely positive that attending in person is worth sacrificing all of the other activities going on.
There needs to be a cottage industry of San Diego locals who rent themselves out to hold your place in line. Maybe there already is?


  1. Two other things you may want to point out:

    First, you can get a re-entry ticket for a room (to use the bathroom, get food, etc.) as long as you return before the end of the panel.

    Second, they replay video from the Hall H panels (and maybe Ballroom 20, I'm not sure) later in the evening, which may be a better use of precious Con time than camping in line.

  2. Thanks for pointing out the re-entry ticket. It's definitely solid advice. I once asked about a ticket, was waved through the doors without getting one, and then had to practically prostrate myself before the security guard to get back in.

    The thing about the video replay is they don't show any footage, gag reels, trailers, etc. Otherwise, yes, it's a great alternative.