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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

San Diego Comic Con Tips and Tricks: The Schedule


Comic Con Tips and Tricks

I’m going to do a multi-part series of posts on how to prepare and survive the San Diego Comic Con. I’m no expert. I’m just a nerdy who’s braved the wild waters of geekdom for for several years and would like to share what I’ve learned with anyone interested.

The Schedule
Some quick tips on how to avoid having a mental breakdown while figuring out the Comic Con schedule.

Prioritize
There are tons of options when it comes to panels. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. The most important thing you have to keep in mind while you browse the schedule is to think about what to you absolutely have to see. I’m talking the tv shows, movie, actors, creators you will cry over if you don’t get to see them in person. Those are the panels you need to put at the top of your list. Continue that list prioritize your top picks, second most important. So on and so forth. Color code, number them, whatever works for you.

Plan of Action
Once you’ve gotten your priorities set, it’s time to put together at least two plans for panels each day.

For example: This year on Friday I would like to check out a couple of panels in Ballroom 20, but I know that they’re popular and people will be lining up early so I’ve also laid out a plan B to attend panels in the Indigo ballroom at the same time if I can’t get into Ballroom 20. I also have a plan C and D, just to be sure I won’t be flipping through the schedule in a haze of sad fangirl tears outside of Ballroom 20.

Logistics
It’s important to keep travel time to and from different rooms in mind while laying out your plan.

Go to the official SDCC site and look at the Maps. Link here.*

You’ll also get a map in your convention booklet, but you can also download them in pdf format. This way you can access on your smartphone, or any electronic device you plan to carry on you for easy referencing, without needing an internet connection.

If you have a map app on your smartphone use it. This is helpful when walking around downtown too. It’ll make finding the nearest Starbucks way easier.

Social Media is your Friend.
Check the SDCC official Twitter to get up-to-the-minute updates on where the lines are forming, how long they are and if they’re moving. Later I’ll give a list of Twitter accounts to follow for these kinds of updates too. Hashtags are you friends. People will use line specific ones, Like #B20 and #HallH, to share the status of lines.

*Note at the bottom of the page are details about how lines form outside of of panel rooms. This will help keep you from looking like a lost newbie.

Camping out
Here are some basic things to know about early line up.
  • Pitch a Tent. Camping out before the start of the Convention doesn’t officially start until the officials erect the tent/canopies outside of the convention center. That usually happens on the Tuesday prior to the start of the Con.
  • Bring Your Own Everything. When it comes to early line-up and camping out you can bring all the camping shiz you’d need in the wild. Tents, camping chairs, coolers with food, etc.
  • The Need to Pee. Don’t worry about bathroom breaks. Convention security will allow people to use the bathrooms in the convention center one at a time. That last bit is important cause if you can’t hold it go early and go often or find a friend with a hotel room nearby who doesn’t mind you using their bathroom.
  • Make friends. The more people you know in line the easier you’ll hear about changes, bathroom breaks and even celebrity visits. Word travels fast. So it doesn’t hurt to have all the connections you can find to get you in the know.
  • Time to pack up. The formal lining up happens a few hours before the official opening of the con on the first day (Thursday, not preview night). Security will usually give line campers notice. When this happens you are excepted to pack up all your gear and take it back to your car. If you don’t have friends with your group this is where the making friends thing comes in handy. They can hold your place in line while to take you sleeping bag, tent, seats, and shiz back to your car/hotel room/etc.

Line etiquette
  • Line up early.
  • Make sure you are in the correct line. Ask people in the line to be sure, and check with a convention employee to be double sure.
  • Don’t cut and don’t let your friends cut. People at the con a generally cool, but even the most docile con mom will cut you like you’re a prison bitch if you try to let a bunch of your friends cut in line when she’s been waiting for 7 hours to see Hugh Jackman. Likewise if you see people being dicks in line call them on their shit and be loud about it. Other people will get your back whether they know you or not.
  • Pay attention. Things can change suddenly, so don’t get too wrapped up in checking Twitter or reading a book while in line or you’ll miss it moving.
  • Make friends. It’s true no matter where you are in the con, making friends and being nice to other people not only makes everyone’s experiance better, but it can really help you out. Like getting to know the people in line with you so they will save your place if you have to run to pee.
Keeping Track

A hardcopy of the schedule will come in your con book when you pick up your badge and free con bag. You can find an electronic version of the The Official SDCC Schedule on the website. I suggest signing up for sched.org's service (all you need is your email address). This will allow you to star/select specific panels so you can just see the events you want to see. There is an option to upload a copy of the entire schedule or only your schedule to your smart phone (click the phone icon on the right side of the screen) and even google calendar. You can also share your schedule with friends via various social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc).

Additional Bits:
Here are some Twitter Lists I created to help me follow current happenings at the Con.
Comic Con: All the official San Diego Comic Con Twitter accounts.
Comic Con Reports: A list of blogs that do a heavy reporting on con events.

Other links
The Official SDCC Schedule
Convention Maps

Stay tuned. More Comic Con posts to come.