Are you ready for the Hall H Survival of the Fittest?

 8 JULY 2024

If any aspect of San Diego Comic-Con has attained mythical status, it's the Hall H line. Farflung fan boys and girls have heard of it; other Con managers have tried to sell me on their not-San-Diego Con by saying, "And we have <celebrity> and <attraction> - so you don't need to camp in the Hall H line!"

Here's what they don't get: camping in the Hall H line is part of the fun.

It's also forbidden, according to the careful wording of CCI's latest blog post. "Camping is not allowed," they say firmly and go on to ban tents, canopies, cots, inflatable, space heaters, large umbrellas, open flames, etc. What you are permitted: one chair of "relatively normal size" and a banket or sleeping bag.  Isn't camping built into the definition of a sleeping bag? I guess the other option is "slumber party" so maybe we'll go with that: the Hall H line is the biggest slumber party on the West Coast.

How the Hall H line mutated into an ungodly monstrosity

In a word: us. We did this. 

When I was a wee Comic-Con kitten, I casually strolled into Hall H in the middle of a Neil Gaiman panel. (Ahem). A few years down the road and I was groaning about the terribly unreasonable 2-hour wait for a LOST panel. Shortly after that, I looked out of my room at the Hilton Bayfront and saw a shanty town with tents and blankets and tiny grills: the Twilight fans.

Sometime after that, I said, "I'm done with Hall H."

There are just too many people who carry Hall H in their hearts. They are willing to sleep outside for multiple nights, deceive and scam, sacrifice all other aspects of the Con. It takes a skilled and collaborative group to successfully obtain good seats and still enjoy the rest of Comic-Con. 

I've only endured it once in recent years. But I do understand its magnetic powers and it's not just the panels themselves that attract people; some people really enjoy the line itself. Organizing line shifts with color-coded spreadsheets; enjoying the shivery San Diego nights as you congratulate yourself on being the Con version of punk as fuck; getting deep into 3 a.m. conversations with the people in front of you and exchanging numbers though you'll never talk to them again: it can be a deeply memorable, soul-stirring experience.

But it can also be sheer hell. Fake wristbands, line cutters, discovering that you are now 1100 people back even though you were in the first 300 a few hours ago; the Hall H line can turn you into one of those people screaming online that the Con is dead and you are never going back!

Should you and if so, how so?

Look, thousands of you are convinced you will beat the Hall H line with your superior cunning and massive network. And a lot of you are probably right. But if you're not a Hall H ninja, you should know...

Sometimes Hall H is quite accessible. Certain days will be crazy. Once Friday was the best day IMO but generally speaking, Thursday-Saturday will have a line. Even so, sometimes you can show up later in the day and walk in. So don't write off the entire room. If you don't want to put in the time for a wristband, you'll need to monitor the situation online and see what people are reporting.

You actually can camp, in the sense of sleeping outside overnight. The bathrooms in Lobby G will be open overnight for when nature calls. Bundle up as the nights get cool and bring a sleeping bag or blanket and camping pad.
Wristbands are handed out the night before at 7:30 pm for Thursday and Friday and at 8:00 pm for Saturday. You must be there in the Next Day Line in person; your friend can't pick up an extra for you. CCI assures you can go home and get "a good night's rest" but if you are maniacal about getting a top-notch seat in the first panel, you'll probably stay. And if you don't care about the first panel? Go ahead and snooze in the back sections, then work your way to the front for ensuing panels. Just be warned that everyone will be doing this. Your best bet is to work in groups and designate an overnighter to hold your spot.

Once you're in Hall H, you'll have access to drinks, snacks, and restrooms without leaving - so you can comfortably make it an all-day event.

Once panels are announced this week, we'll have a reasonable idea of the "best" days and most competitive lines. This is easy for me to say but that doesn't make it untrue: maintain a healthy detachment over Hall H. It's caused sorrow in the past: one attendee stabbed another with a pen over a saved seat, a fan was hit by a car and killed running across the street because she saw the line moving. Bitter fights over line management practices and groups accused of cheating are rife.

I've not yet seen an easy and perfect solution that will satisfy everyone. People are doing their best to impose some kind of order and fairness on a situation that's been rife with line-cutting, rage, and many wasted hours for many attendees. Once the panels come out, figure out now how much blood you want to spill on this and then make peace with your decision. Because even if Hall H is a deeply meaningful experience, Comic-Con offers other memorable experiences too.

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