So you got a Comic-Con badge - now what?

15 MARCH 2014 

So you got a Comic-Con badge. Maybe it's your first time; maybe you're a grizzled veteran who's watched the show mutate from a laidback comic book expo into the behemoth it is today. Either way, I bet you're still flush with excitement from today's sale and ready to claim your next trophy.

So while I hate to rub salt in the wounds of those who crashed and burned today, let's move on to the pressing matter of hotels.You have two options for booking a hotel room.

Early Bird Sale:  happening now. You must pay up front and you won't get your money back if you somehow need to cancel your Comic-Con trip. But you do get to pick your own hotel and avoid the horror of Hotel Day. If you had enough anxiety today, that alone can seem worth skipping downtown hotels.

This year's early bird crop are in Mission Valley and by the airport mostly. The Sheraton on Harbor Drive isn't a bad choice at all. And while those hotels may not jibe with your dreams of riding an elevator at the Marriott Marquis with Nic Pizzolato, the reality is that Hotel Day could land you somewhere better, but could also land you somewhere worse.

Finally - as I've said before - staying away from the Con can be an unexpected blessing. You'll get more rest, save money and get your sanity back each night. Staying right next to the Con is kind of like going to Vegas and never leaving the casino.

Hotel Day: happening 8 April. That's a Tuesday, so clear your calendar now. I don't have details yet but last year Hotel Day was a matter of picking your 6 top choices and hoping for the best. If you haven't gone to Comic-Con in a few years, the days of logging into the system, picking a hotel and viewing availability by the night are long gone. Last year you got an email within a few days telling you which hotel you were assigned to, and supposedly it was all based on time stamps. Will they randomize it this year? No idea.

If that's how it goes, I'd suggest tempering your choices with a mix of top-tier and eh-tier hotels. If we all pick the same six, your odds increase at getting none of them, and winding up assigned to Humphrey's Half-Moon Inn.

What not to do: panic and pay some ungodly nonrefundable sum for another hotel "just to be safe." You are safe. You have a badge. The safest thing you can do is go through the Early Bird Sale, and it'll be economical too. Unless you're a jillionaire and don't care about throwing your money around, in which case, go ahead and fund San Diego's economy.

If you've never been to Comic-Con before, I'd suggest reading my FAQ page and following my 2014 page, which will stay updated with news, exclusives, announcements and events as we draw closer to July. I'll also be posting an ongoing countdown of ways to prepare, starting next week.


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