So, you're going to San Diego Comic-Con International?
Give yourself a pat on the back for managing to get through that virtual waiting room months ago and coming out victorious. Millions of people are officially jealous of you (it's OK to feel proud).
The first thing you need to know about attending Comic-Con is that it's a lot like going to Disneyland on its most crowded day of the year.
Sure, you've managed to get into the park, but that doesn't mean that you're going to see everything you want or get on every single ride. It means you're going to spend a lot of time walking through massive crowds and standing in giant lines.
I wouldn't call myself a veteran, but let's just say I know a thing or two about surviving Comic-Con.
There are some major dos and don'ts of attending the mega convention and it's easy to get overwhelmed.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
Visit www.Comic-Con.org and read up on everything you can. Study those programming schedules and narrow down what panels are the most important for you to see. And when I say study, I mean really study that schedule.
Then once you've made your choices, make a backup plan. It's quite possible that things aren't going to pan out exactly as you hoped.
Also, if you're planning on making use of the free shuttle service or public transportation, make sure you know those schedules. All of that information can also be found on Comic-Con's official website.
One word: snacks.
OK, maybe several other words, but that one's the most important to me.
There are places around the convention center to grab a meal or drink, but there's not all that much in the convention center itself. And what is there is going to cost you a pretty penny, so do yourself a favor and pack yourself a bag complete with easy-to-eat snacks and water galore.
Besides making sure that you have some subsistence, pack something to sit on (after the first hour of standing in line, you're going to want to sit down — and that floor is dirty); something to entertain yourself with; tissue paper (the bathrooms often run out of toilet paper), hand sanitizer (did I mention it's dirty?) and don't forget your phone charger (there are some outlets here and there to juice up).
Oh, and don't forget your ID; they won't let you in without it.
Cash is also good to have on hand because there are a lot of really cool things to purchase and not everyone takes credit cards.
Leave everything else at home. Remember, you're going to have to carry everything you bring with you all day long.
You're in San Diego. It means the weather, for the most part, is pretty awesome.
That being said, there's a big chance you're going to be spending a lot of time outside in direct sunlight. Sunscreen is your friend.
It can get pretty hot standing in those lines, but the San Diego Convention Center is also right next to the ocean. This means that you're going to have some chilly breezes and that the mornings can be gloomy until the marine layer begins to burn off. So your best bet is to dress in layers. Even if you're inside all day, you'll be moving between air-conditioned rooms and masses of people. It's easy to get hot, then cold, then hot.
You know your body better than anyone; dress to make sure you're comfortable. Well... unless you're cosplaying, which is a whole different story.
Also, wear comfortable shoes. I can't stress that enough. That goes for you cosplayers, too. I don't care who you're dressing up as, make sure that your feet are protected. You are about to stand, walk and be on your feet for hours, upon hours, upon hours.
If you are cosplaying, be sure to familiarize yourself with Comic-Con's policies. Just how realistic and big do you need that sword anyway?
Hoping to get into that giant Marvel Studios panel? Or get a glimpse at Norman Reedus?
Prepare to camp out. Yes, I said camp.
Any time you're attempting to get into Hall H, you're tempting fate.
I've never managed to make it into Hall H. I try every year, and every year I fail. This is probably because I don't want to camp out in line with a bunch of strangers who will be just as smelly as me in the morning. (If you have the drive to do it, more power to you.)
But if you do brave the camp-out, make sure you're familiar with what you can and cannot bring with you.
Tent, no. Sleeping bag, yes. All that information can be found on Comic-Con's website.
Thursday through Saturday, once the final panel begins around 6 p.m., the Hall H line will be cleared (yes, there will still be people still hoping to get into the room) and you can begin lining up.
New this year will be wristband distribution to those first in line for Hall H. This will help measure how many people are in line and also cut back on all those pesky line cutter.
Wristbands will be distributed to those in line up to 1 a.m. and then again starting at 5 a.m. until they're gone. If you do not get a wristband, find something else to do. Your chances of making it into Hall H are slim to none once those beauties are gone.
Get in line as early as you can handle.
Pay attention to who is in front of and behind you. Sometimes the lines move without warning and there's not always a barrier showing where the line is. If you're alone, it's especially important to make yourself some line buddies. Eventually, you're going to have to use the restroom and those are the people that you're going to have to ask to help you hold your spot.
Also note, the rooms are not cleared between panels. This means that if you want to see something that's at 1 p.m., you should plan to be in line well before the first panel in that room at around 10 a.m.
You are allowed to leave the room while a panel is going on, but if you leave between panels, you'll be asked to go to the back of the line. If you must get up during a panel, follow the directions that will be projected on the screens.
Above all, be courteous.
Everyone around you paid just as much as you did to be there. If someone is doing something that annoys you, make a mental note to not repeat those mistakes.
Now, go — enjoy yourself!