Hey, all of you fantastic geeks, it’s that time of the year to start thinking about which Comic-Con you will be attending. There are many cons to consider, and perhaps a minor local con might be better than one a significant city will hold, or if you want to go all out, you can visit the holy grail of scams, San Diego. If this is your first time attending, we’ll help you pick which one to go to, where to stay, what to expect, and the dos and don’ts of con behavior. Here are our helpful tips and tricks for navigating your first Comic-Con experience.
1. WHAT DO YOU WANT OUT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Do you want to go to panels, get autographs from celebrities being showcased, meet writers or artists in Artist Alley, or are you on a mission for collectibles? Figure out what you or your group want to do. How do you make the most out of your experience? Veteran con-goer and author Daniel A. Willis recommends attending cons that match your interests and notes, “Many smaller cons are devoted to a specific genre, like Horror, Myths, and Magic, etc. These are also quite affordable to go to. They all have their groove, so you don’t know if [it’s] your tribe unless you check it out.”
2. MAKE A PLAN.
Winging it in such prominent places is less than ideal. Plan, plan, and plan unless you want to be a voyeur. If you are there to take in the sights and wonder, by all means, do it. If there are things you want to do, a little bit of preparedness goes a long way. If you are traveling for the first time to this city, having a layout of where you are from the convention and restaurants is vital. This information keeps you safe and helps you familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Before you get to the Con, you or your group should look at the daily itinerary. Making yourself a personal itinerary and having the floor plan handy is essential to navigating the convention floor efficiently and effectively. Also, figuring out who you want to see, estimating how long the lines will be, how worthwhile events will be to your experience, and how best to prepare for the day. It may seem like a lot to do, but once you are on the convention floor and have a plan, it might feel or seem less daunting being surrounded by so many people.
3. BUY ALL TICKETS IN ADVANCE AND USE APPS.
Make sure you have your flights and hotel planned well ahead of time. We recommend at least three months in advance. You can get a ton of help from travel sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia, or Cheap Tickets. Some of the best advice on where to find places to stay, eat, and how travel around town come from Con’s forums or Twitter community. People are usually beneficial in recommendations on where to stay, eat and play after the convention is done for the day. And downloading apps like Lyft, Foursquare, and the convention app are great resources to help you traverse the city. Willis offers this advice: “If the Con has a negotiated rate at a hotel, use it. It will almost always be the cheapest rate within walking distance of the convention.” While researching the Con that fits your personality, getting tickets, including exclusives or multi-day passes, is vital. Some cons sell out very fast.
4. BE PREPARED.
This means wearing comfortable shoes, a great backpack, and being aware of yourself (yeah, sometimes we need extra deodorant), among other things. You will get hot, sweaty, and cranky. Make sure you have an emergency survival kit along with your bag and include a refillable water bottle, cash, snacks, backpacks and boards, deodorant, hand sanitizer, and mini first aid basics. Not only does this make your life easier, but it’s also courteous to the other convention goers. Plus, having blisters from new shoes on the first day will damper your convention experience.
5. YOUR PHONE WILL DIE.
Do you have your power cord or extra charging packs? There are so many beautiful things to see and do, and capturing them in an image or video is only natural. If you are like many of us, you don’t know phone numbers off the top of your head. Keep your emergency contacts or the people you came with’s number handy, along with your charger. Some conventions will have beneficial charging stations. If the way doesn’t, come up with a plan for a meeting point. A plan B will be helpful to find your group if your phone dies and you peruse solo.
6. BE PREPARED FOR CROWDS, BE POLITE AND BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS.
Ask permission to take pictures, record panels, or touch people. People worry hardaboutn their cosplay, s e fragile or delicate, so ask first and respect their decision. From experience, they are having a child dressing in cosplay. Just because we took a picture with someone before you doesn’t mean we want to take every shot. Cosplayers get tired, have to use the facilities, or wish to have their own experiences without getting stopped. It’s best to remember cosplay is not consent.
7. HAVE FUN!
We are all in this together, and ensuring you have the best experience is critical. People feed off the energy of the crowd. If you are getting overwhelmed, take a break, recenter yourself, and remember it’s about making the most of your time from this event.
From Emerald City Comic-Con to Dragon Con, C2E2 to San Diego Comic-Con, many are out there to suit everyone’s sensibilities. Make sure you research which Con is best for you. Do you have any tips for people attending their first Con?