4 tips for first-timers

14 JULY 2018

First-timers! By now, if you've been paying attention to Comic-Con exclusives announcements, overlapping events, the shuttle map, the programming, the film festival, the various "when to get in line" tips - you're realizing how chaotic SDCC can be.

So in the interest of helping you simplify your impending Comic-Con - here are 4 practices that can save you time and make sure you come away satisfied.

1. Make of a list of 3-5 priorities.

These should be your absolute can't-miss events, exclusives, panels, signings, photo shoots, etc. Have them on your phone, have them written down, and schedule your Con around them.

Let everything else go. You should still keep a B-list, where if you do have the free time or opportunity, you can check those off your list. But if you show up with 22 priorities, you're setting yourself up for failure. There's just too much competition from other people who want what you want, too many long lines, and too many surprises. You'll wind up spending your time and energy on stuff that doesn't matter. Narrow your focus and you're more likely to get what you really want and come home happy.

2. Document your plan.

If you used CCI's app, your panels and programming should be mapped out. That's a start but you'll want to make sure you have everything else documented as well - contact information for the person who said they'd hold your spot in a panel line, booth numbers for specific items, back-up plans in case you don't get your first choice, all the items you're supposed to pick up for friends, etc. Once you're there, you'll be so distracted on so many levels you'll forget even things that previously seemed urgent. Have some kind of daily dashboard so you don't miss any of the offsites, people, booths and events that matter to you.

3. Make strategic restaurant choices.

An incredible number of people will gravitate toward the most crowded Gaslamp spots, meaning they'll waste 2+ hours on one meal waiting for a table and then waiting for the food and walking back. Remember there are other spots. The Fox Sports Grill at Hilton Bayfront can usually get you in and out without a super long wait; in the other direction, on the other side of the Hyatt, you have the Headquarters which has the always-crowded Cheesecake Factory but also Seasons 52 and Puesto which can usually seat you quickly. Little Italy is not that far away. And if you do go into the Gaslamp, the more expensive restaurants are usually quieter and faster.

4. Read Comic-Con coverage during the Con.

I know - you're there, you're experiencing it, why do you need to read about it? Because you'll find out a lot of things that may elude you in the moment. Lots of nerd sites will run features on the best comics/toys/whatever on the floor or announce "secret" shows or explain how to get into an event you assumed was off limits. It's amazing how often media coverage seems to portray an event completely different from the one you're attending - so check in just to make sure you're not missing out.

I also have some warnings to share about your line strategies, but I'll do a separate post on that.

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