23 FEBRUARY 2015
If you got your confirmation barcode email, you'll see a weird little grid on there that tells you where you can pick up your badge. Let's break it down.
First of all, yes, you have to pick it up in person. If you're coming to SDCC from other Cons, I can see why you'd expect your badge to come in the mail, sparing you the hassle of waiting in some ungodly line thousands of people long. But this is SDCC and you do need to show your ID and barcode confirmation in person to get your badge. It may well involve waiting in line. Sorry. The good news is, badge pick-up lines aren't nearly as bad as they used to be.
As far as where, there are two locations doing badge pick-up: the convention center and the Town & Country hotel at 500 Hotel Circle North. Anyone can pick up their badge at the convention center but only some people can get their badges at Town & Country.
"Consolidated" Four Day Badges with Preview Night: You can't go to the Town & Country. And you don't need to, because you can get your badge at the convention center at any point in the Con, during normal Con hours, beginning at 3:00 pm on Wednesday. That's what they tell you, anyhow - in reality you can show up earlier in the day and get badged, no line. I usually wander in after lunch, around 1, and there are already several hundred people in the exclusives line. This is one of the greatest benefits of a Preview Night badge so take advantage of it. Show up early.
"Consolidated" Four Single Day Badges without Preview Night: You have two choices. What I recommend: picking yours up in advance on Wednesday at the Town & Country Hotel from 3 pm - 8:30 pm. (While I've never done the T&C thing, I've heard they also let people in well before 3.) You can also get your badge at the convention center at any point in the Con, during normal Con hours, beginning at 8:30 am on Thursday.
Thursday Single Day Badge: Same as above.
Friday Single Day Badge: You can pick these up at the convention center on Friday, beginning at 8:30 am.
Saturday Single Day Badge: You can pick these up at the convention center on Saturday, beginning at 8:30 am.
Sunday Single Day Badge: You can pick these up at the convention center on Sunday, beginning at 8:30 am.
Multiple Single Day Badges: Here's where it gets tricky.
You can pick up multiple single day badges at the convention center, beginning at 8:30 am, on your earliest badge day. You can pick all of your badges up at that time - but please note that this does not apply at the Town & Country. Only at the convention center.
Say you have Thursday, Friday and Sunday badges, like some of my friends. You can only pick up Thursday at the T&C. The others you'd have to get at the convention center. Your other option is to pick up all three Thursday morning at the convention center.
People have argued this point before but CCI has said it clearly: "The only badge holders available at the Town & Country Hotel are 4-day consolidated and Thursday holders. For all other daily badge holders, you will need to visit the Attendee Badge Holder Pick-up Desk."
Now I'm going to point out an inconvenient reality. As you may have heard, some panel lines are overnighters. That means that if you have a single day badge and need to get in line for it that day, you cannot join, say, the Hall H line in time unless you have an already-badged friend holding your spot. Just something to keep in mind when making your plans.
One item high on my SDCC wish list is for them to make badge pick-up available offsite (either at the Town and Country or some other closer hotel) in advance. Like if you had a Sunday badge, you could swing by some hotel ballroom on Saturday between 9 am and 9 pm and pick it up then so you could freely join all the Sunday lines. I would happily pay extra for this and I think a lot of attendees would as well. But CCI seems to favor cost savings over convenience, so I don't expect to see this anytime soon.
All of this is on my 2015 page and I'll go over it again right before the Con.