I am a published author who writes fantasy, sci-fi, and romance novels.
Preparing for Comic-Con
Once you've gone to Comic-Con a few years in a row, you get used to how things work there. It's easier to prepare for your trip and make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
In case you've never been before, though, I thought it might be nice to write an article to prepare you for what you need to know before going to Comic-Con. I've divided these items up into a list of ten things.
What You Need to Know About Attending Comic-Con
- The Food in the Cafeteria Is Awful
- There's Nowhere to Sit
- You May Have to Wait for Days to Get Into the Most Popular Panels
- If You Sell Your Badge, You Could Get Banned
- You Should Bring Lots of Physical Money
- You Need to Buy Your Badge and Book Your Hotel Room Way Ahead of Time
- Parking Costs a Lot
- Pedicab Prices Vary Drastically
- There Are Costume Repair Stations
- This Will Be Some of the Most Fun You'll Ever Have
1. The Food in the Cafeteria Is Awful
I tried to buy a hamburger and eat it there once. I don't have high standards. A lot of people joke that Taco Bell hamburger isn't real hamburger, but I think it's fine. The hamburger I had at Comic-Con, on the other hand, didn't seem like a real hamburger at all. It looked weird and tasted fake. It was also extremely expensive.
They have a few food stalls here and there that can get you by. They sell things like Starbucks or pretzels. Those are good, but if you want a real full meal and not a snack, you're going to have to leave Comic-Con temporarily in order to get a meal at a local restaurant.
In fact, restaurants and hotels in the area make most of their money for the year from people visiting their area because of Comic-Con.
2. There's Nowhere to Sit
Unless you are watching a panel, there is nowhere to sit. They have some chairs in the cafeteria area, but they're always full. I had to sit on the ground when I stopped for a rest. There aren't even chairs in the areas where you test out board games or video games; you have to stand the entire time you play.
This is done on purpose. They want people to walk around, spend money, and see everything. They don't allow you to sit anywhere because then you might get stuck in certain areas doing nothing. People also might hog chairs just because they’re tired and not allow other people to try out games. Comic-Con does whatever they can to encourage people to continue walking around:
Also, it's a large hall, but there are still so many people and so little space that if they allow large groups of people to gather anywhere, then it becomes a safety hazard if a fire happens or something. People wind up inevitably sitting on the floor and blocking areas off, which is why they have security guards going around telling people to stand up and keep moving.
Whenever I went to Comic-Con, my feet always ached afterwards, which is why it's beneficial to buy a four-day pass and stay at one of the hotels nearby. You can do everything you want in just a few hours each day and then rest after that in your hotel. But if you can’t do this, at the very least, make sure you are wearing shoes that you can comfortably walk around in for a long period of time.
3. You May Have to Wait for Days to Get Into the Most Popular Panels
Although I've been to Comic-Con several years in a row, I've never been to any of the celebrity panels or Marvel panels. There are a lot of normal panels that anyone can attend, where you only have to show up thirty minutes beforehand to get in. I've been to those, but the ones with actual Hollywood people are very difficult to get inside. People usually have to camp out for several days in a row in order to make it in.
So, you pretty much have to decide if you want to go to Comic-Con for the huge panel, camp outside, and feel too exhausted afterwards to do anything but go home, or if you want to see all the costumes and booths set up inside. If you push yourself and have a four-day pass, maybe you can do both, but this is unlikely.
4. If You Sell Your Badge, You Could Get Banned
There are warnings not to sell your badge all over the place, but people don't listen. They buy a four-day pass and decide they want to leave after only two days, so they try to sell their badge to someone.
Comic-Con knows people do this. They have multiple ways of tracking people and catching them doing this. It's not worth the risk. You will get no money, and you may be banned from the convention forever. Every year, many people get banned, and they wind up regretting it.
5. You Should Bring Lots of Physical Money
You can't leave Comic-Con without buying a few things. It's impossible. There are so many toys and other entertaining things that people always wind up purchasing something, especially since a lot of items can't be found anywhere else.
Everything is fairly expensive, too, and most vendors don't take cards, so expect to bring at least a few hundred dollars in cash to cover it all.
6. You Need to Buy Your Badge and Book Your Hotel Room Way Ahead of Time
In order to get a badge for the convention, you need to plan ahead. You have to find out the exact minute when badges go on sale and try to purchase one right at that moment. Even if you do this, there's no guarantee that you will be able to purchase the badge you want. If you don’t do this, you probably can’t get a badge at all.
Getting a hotel room is a similar situation. They all get fully booked months in advance, so the sooner you can book your room, the better.
7. Parking Costs a Lot
The good news is that when you go to Comic-Con, there is parking everywhere. You can park in hotel room parking areas, and there are lots of parking garages and even large, open parking lots. The problem is that all of them charge you money, with the prices getting higher as you get closer to the convention center. Even paying twenty dollars a day for a space might mean a bit of a walk to get inside.
Luckily, there are pedicabs—but see more about those below.
8. Pedicab Prices Vary Drastically
Comic-Con has nothing to do with the pedicab drivers. All of them work independently, so they're all different. If you ever go there and see them all parked, you will notice that some of them have advertisements and some don't. Some of them have roofs and others don't.
I've had some pedicab drivers tell me to pay them whatever I deemed fair or ask me for very little money—about five to ten dollars—and others demand that I pay eighty dollars plus tip for a one-minute ride. That last one made me very angry, since I had been happy with myself for not spending a lot on buying things inside the convention, only to basically get swindled by the pedicab driver.
Some of the pedicab drivers are mean and some are nice, too, so you have to kind of be prepared for anything—even prepared to negotiate on price or to have someone demand a certain amount and yell at you. I've had many different experiences with them.
9. There Are Costume Repair Stations
Comic-Con loves it when people dress up for their convention, so they support cosplayers in any way they possibly can. Wardrobe malfunctions happen, so they've created a special designated area for people to repair their costumes if the worst happens. Just ask about where these places are located when you get your badge.
10. This Will Be Some of the Most Fun You'll Ever Have
I know I gave a lot of warnings about the problems and downfalls of going to the convention, but that's only to minimize and prepare you for any hurdles that might get in the way of having fun. Overall, it's a surreal and magical experience, and that's why my husband and I attended it for multiple years.
There are so many things to see, so many gorgeous costumes to admire, so many cool things to try out, and a lot of things to buy. You will be in awe the entire time. I love seeing so many nerds in one place, so most of all, prepare to have a lot of fun!
How the Pandemic Has Affected Comic-Con
I haven't been to Comic-Con since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As of the writing of this article, I don't think San Diego has even had an official Comic-Con since then. One may be happening again, though, so there could be additional rules or changes that I am not aware of that you'll need to be prepared for. Always check the convention's website for the current policies.
Bring a mask and get vaccinated, if you haven't yet!