Planning Your SDCC Line Strategy

13 JULY 2022

If there's one consistent pre-SDCC vibe in the air, it's fervor. People are jumping on every ticket and event they can and creating radical strategies to ensure Hall H entry. It's obvious that (Special Edition not withstanding) the 3 years since our last SDCC have created a state of deprivation. Attendees are even more zealous than they used to be and that's saying something. 

Most of this comes down to lines, with everyone trying to estimate how bad they'll be this year, the best time to line up for which room, and how to outfox their fellow attendees. If you're an SDCC veteran, you know that line times went off the rails in the last decade and that while the wristbands help, it can still be gruesome. And with so much online chatter about Hall H this year, people are proposing some really crazy times to line up. Some of which won't actually do them any good.

Remember that a Con without Hall H (or Ballroom 20 or Indigo Ballroom) can still be an incredible Con. You can attend more panels and events because you're not spending hours in line. But if you are determined to get inside one of the big rooms, here are a few considerations.

On camping - If you last went to SDCC during the Twilight years, when people set up literal campsites on the grass for days at a time, it's not like that now. If you try to line up too early, before the flag officially goes down to form a line, you've just wasted a lot of time. It used to be that it would happen after the NDL line got wristbanded at night, but I think in 2019 the official line started in the morning the day before.

On the quality of the panel experience - Imagine a scenario where you get into Hall H but are sitting at the back at the room and have to watch it on the screen. And your favorite actor or director is on stage, but they barely speak, while an actor you dislike does most of the talking. Is it still worth it? 

On Playback Room - I don't do this but it's an option if you missed your favorite panel. If a recording of the panel is emotionally satisfying for you, do this.

On sacrifices - Before you spend 20 hours in a line, make a list of everything you will give up for those hours and the hours you're in Hall H. If your goal is to see a certain trailer, which is going to be on YouTube in 1 day anyhow, it might not be worth it.

On holding spaces for other people - The official rule is 1 person can hold a spot for 5 people. Anyone who's watched a line suddenly acquire hundreds of people 30 minutes before wristbands are passed out knows that many people ignore that. Which is poor form in my opinion, but it happens. My advice is to make friends with the people in front of and behind you and let them know you'll be joined by 4 friends later so no one gets testy about it.

On bullies, fake wristbands, mobbing, and other past devils - It's all still fresh in our memory, right? While I still think most attendees share a sense of honor and community, I (and others) have noticed a rising aggression and mercilessness at the most recent Cons. If that happens again, do what you can to let a staffer know but don't expect them to do much about it. I've long believed that CCI needs to enforce line order with trained and paid security (not volunteers) but I doubt that's happening anytime soon. 

On Covid - We last lined up for Marvel and GOT in a different world. Will CCI take measures to ensure we're all spaced appropriately as we wait? Again - I doubt it. 

On competition - Remember that good panels in other rooms will draw off some of the heat. Someone might decide thar the Indigo Ballroom Friday panels are too good to pass up, which means they can't do the Saturday Hall H line on Friday.

On confirmation - It's easy to get the wrong information from a volunteer or staffer. When is the NDL officially forming; where is the line going to wrap around; how will wristbanding work; you can get answers that have nothing to do with reality. Always confirm what someone tells you.

I say this every year and I'll say it again: always remember that this Comic-Con could be your last. Who would have thought back in 2019 that a global pandemic would cancel SDCC20202 and SDCC2021? You can never really guarantee you're getting a badge next year - so think carefully about how you spend your Comic-Con time. 

See you in line.

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