If you're an attendee from last year who was in the Pre-registration mix in February, you can skip all this. Everyone else, this is how Open Registration works this year. In the venerable Comic-Con tradition, it's changed from other years. (I know you're shocked.)
Mostly likely Open Registration will fall on a Saturday morning in March - the 15th, 22nd or 29th. I can't imagine they'll push it to April when we still have to get through Hotel Day.
You'll get an email at least 24-48 hours in advance of the sale that contains your own personal registration code and link. That code will also be in your Member ID account, so if you see the date announced on social media, but didn't get an email, check your account. The purpose of the code: banishing all the bots and ineligible people who supposedly caused all sorts of previous mayhem and crashes.
Sometime between 7 am -9 am PST, you'll stroll into the waiting room at your leisure. You'll do this on a laptop and not a mobile device by hitting the link in your email and typing/pasting the registration code. Then you'll get up and distract yourself until 9 am, because if you just sit there and stare at the screen and keep checking Twitter to see what everyone else is saying, you will drive yourself nuts before the starting gun is fired.
At 9 am PST, that gun will be fired and the sale will go live. It won't feel like the clawing, scrambling, cursing chaos of previous years. Instead there will be a looong period (10-15 minutes) in which you and a jillion other people are sorted into a random order. This order will not be connected to when you joined the waiting room. Unless, that is, you enter after the 9 am time. Then you'll go to the back of the line.
Then you'll just wait. Silently. Anxiously. There will be patronizing messages in a yellow box broadcast along the lines of "Please wait while other, luckier nerds get to buy the Comic Con badge you were hoping for." There will also be a weirdly hypnotic blue circle that keeps turning to let you know your "session is active."
(At least this is how Pre-reg went. I can't imagine Open Reg will be too different. It'd be glorious if they assigned numbers to let you know where you fell in line, but I doubt they could have made that change that quickly. And possibly they wouldn't even if they could, because it would come close to answering that eternal question of, just how many people are we competing with?)
Once you're selected, you enter the number of people you're buying for (up to 3) and their last names and Member IDs. Here's the thing: you don't have to be one of them. If your friend got up to bat first and bought your badge for you, you can now buy for 3 other people. This obviously throws the advantage to people traveling in a large group (or people who just see an opportunity to charge a fat markup to 3 strangers.)
Once you get in, you have 15 minutes. Don’t worry about those badges going extinct; if you can see them once you’re in, they’re yours within that 15 minute timeframe. It'll look like this:
Click Preview Night and every day is clicked for you. Assuming that option won't be available for most of you, you'll select the remaining days you want or can get. Then you'll pay for all of it on a Visa, Mastercard or American Express and screenshot your confirmation page, just because you're cautious like that.
That's how Open Registration will most likely go. Here's what you can't do:
Use your Member ID and reg code on multiple devices. One person, one device.
Refresh. Do it during the sale and you'll go to the back of the line.
Use a mobile device. No phones, no tablets. Just don't.
Use a browser other than IE, Chrome, Safari or Firefox.
And here's what you shouldn't do: give up, because an hour has passed, or because people are already saying Saturday is gone. Just see it through. Twitter is an unreliable narrator. And if, god forbid, you get caught in some nefarious tech issue? Document it carefully and thoroughly and call/email CCI pronto to let them know. Last year they came through for registration victims; there's always the chance they might again.