SDCC 2013: Comic Con Compendium
July 14, 2013

It is coming…only a few days until The Madness begins.

San Diego Comic Con 2013. Tens of thousands are preparing to descend upon the convention center, so here are a few tips and tricks on how to have the best time at SDCC.  Some of this may even be outdated, as things change quickly, but I’ve also added links to other excellent resources, so take some time this weekend and review the information. The last time I was actually there in-person was in 2005, and things have only gotten crazier – the lines, the exclusives, the amount of people, all of it. 

One of the most important things for SDCC is to properly prepare.  I suggest printing out a list of all SDCC Exclusives, and also print a Floor Map as well. Yes, there are certainly digital resources to access through your mobile devices, but know that 100,000 other people will be attempting to do the same thing, so it never hurts to have a hard copy in your back pocket.

Below are some tips, tricks, and general information to help make your SDCC experience unforgettable (in a good way).  Further down, you will find links to other excellent resources as well. Enjoy!
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— The #1 Tip – use polite manners and common courtesy with everyone you meet.  SDCC has lot of people, with a lot of agendas, which causes a lot of stress. A little patience and kindness will go a long way.

— Hygiene. You’ve heard all the horror stories before, so use good, basic hygiene – and don’t forget the little things as well: breath mints, hand sanitizer, earplugs, eyedrops, and whatever helps a hangover.

— Baby powder on the nether-regions. Trust me. With lots of walking comes lots of sweating…you don’t want fire and brimstone down there.

— Start walking NOW. It may sound silly to “train” for SDCC, but Comic Con is a massive area and you are going to be walking A LOT.  Make sure you have the physical capability to walk long distances.

— PLAN!  Figure out your strategy and schedule now, and decide what areas and programs you want to focus on.  Having a plan helps you stay focused, and keeps you from wasting hours by wandering the floor aimlessly.

— Tech Prep: Don’t choose SDCC as the venue to try out your new piece of equipment. Decide what tech you are bringing, know how to use it, and make sure you have extended battery support or extra batteries.

— App Prep: don’t forget all the amazing Apps out there to help make your Con experience a little less stressful. A few great ones I’ve seen are Yelp, ProCam, San Diego Smart Travel Guide, San Diego Transit, and of course, Comic-Con International. Check another great list here.

— Follow the SDCC twitter hashtags to keep track of info and schedule changes: #SDCC, #SDCCTips, #HallH, #B20, #SDCCtips, #IheartSDCC

— Don’t stress…you cannot do it ALL. As much as you’d like to see all the booths, buy every exclusive, hit every panel, talk to every creator, meet every actress, ogle every cosplayer…you just can’t. There’s just too much. And that’s OK. Remember…you are here for fun. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!


— Print out ALL paperwork! SDCC Tickets, Vouchers, Programming Schedule, Hotel Info, Flight Info, Rental Car Info, Phone Numbers for Taxi Services, Trolley Schedules, etc.

— Check all Reservations. Badge, Flight, Rental Car, Hotel, everything. Check, double check, and triple check all your reservations and transactions.

— Comfortable Shoes!  This might be the most important one of all.  Cushioned/gel insoles and good socks are key, and don’t forget to trim those nasty toenails. You don’t want foot issues while walking literally miles on the Con floor.

— Dress for comfort. The Convention can be really cold inside.

— If you know you’ll buy shirts at the Con,  save space and don’t pack as many. Then you can wear your new shirts Sat-Mon.

— Don’t forget to bring Ibuprofin, Immodium, Pepto, Claritin, and other drugs of choice. And most importantly, pack your prescribed medications and emergency rescue meds like inhalers and epi-pins.

— There’s no better place than SDCC to make new friends and contacts. Bring business cards with your name, e-mail address, website, blog, gamertag, or whatever else you’d like to share. Vistaprint has some great deals on basic cards, while MOO puts out some nicer (but more expensive) cards.

— Consider bringing 2 thick poster tubes if you plan on getting any artwork or posters. Bring 1 with you each day and keep the other in your room to keep things organized.

— Make a budget!  It’s way too easy to spend way too much at SDCC. Make sure you plan for other things besides spending money – food, transportation, non-SDCC activities, tips for services, shipping your items back, etc.


— Try to get a shuttle hotel if you can. Forget the mornings, they’ll take forever unless you are WAY out there. Very nice in the evenings, though.

— Ditch a rental car; you won’t get close and will waste precious con time stick in traffic if you do, plus the parking fees at the Convention Center and the traffic involved are a nightmare. If you take a taxi, have them get you close enough, then bail (after you pay, of course) and walk the rest of the way.

— Skip the Petty Cabs!  I’ve heard numerous horror stories about hidden rates, unscrupulous drivers, and sketchy situations, so despite how fun and romantic it looks, stick with the regular taxis.


— It’s tempting, but don’t buy food inside the con – it’s overpriced junk food that at best will not help you through the day, and at worst, make you sick. And you won’t be able to find an open table anyway.

— Bring a backpack packed with fruit, energy bars, trail mix, jerky and other fairly-nutritious snacks.  A bag full of KitKats just isn’t gonna help you much, so plan your snacks wisely. And bottled water is KEY!  Make sure you stay hydrated. If you can, stock up your hotel room if possible, so you can take quick (and cheap) breaks throughout the long days and nights. So where to get these snacks?

Ralph’s! The SDCC-staple supermarket should be the first stop on your Comic Con journey right after you check into your hotel; stock up on snacks and water here. I guarantee you’ll see many Con-goers while you shop.

— For dinner (and if you can stand eating an early meal) leave the Con before 4pm to avoid the dinner rush…otherwise, prepare to wait. A LONG time.

— Vela at the HiltonBayfront is one of the least crowded & most relaxing dining spots near during SDCC.

— Eating at Gaslamp Strip Club is another SDCC must. Pricey, but it’s a unique & tasty culinary experience you won’t forget!

— For a refreshing break from crowds, grab a burger from the outside the Hilton Bayfront vendors & sit here


— Bring CASH, as the ATM machines often have lines and usually run out of money. I suggest keeping cash in multiple places, just in case.

— Don’t carry your wallet as you would normally in your back pocket. You cannot believe the crowds and you never know when there might be some ‘light fingers’ as you brush up against the crowd.

— Be prepared to wait in lines – long, long, lines, with lots and lots of people. Be patient, and most importantly, be polite to the staff working the various booths. I guarantee they are more stressed and tired than you.

— Be prepared for a mob scene in many areas. Be prepared to brush against a lot of sweaty strangers. Hand sanitizer is a MUST.

If you like supernerds and hot chicks in costumes, then definitely don’t forget a camera. A point and shoot is the best, since its small and fits in a pocket. A lot of booths don’t allow pictures, but they usually wont say anything if you are quick about it. Be careful though, as some places do get angry. But most people are happy to get their pic taken if you ask.

— If interested in an SDCC shirt, make sure to pick one up Thur or Fri. They do sell out early at times.

— If you want to buy stuff, the last two hours of the Con on Sunday are a GREAT time to make some deals as dealers don’t want lug back anymore than they have to.

— The festivities don’t stop at SDCC – Don’t forget to attend some of the amazing Offsite Events: Check some out HERE

— The final tip: ENJOY THE SHOW. It will be overwhelming at first, but a totally worthwhile adventure. Keep an open mind and be patient. Prepare for the unexpected and go with the flow. And…remember to have fun!


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Below are some great sites with other tips, tricks, and lists…some of the info may no longer be relevant, but these are definitely worth a look!

Essential SDCC Survival Tips and Checklist: Preparing for San Diego Comic-Con

Tom Spurgeon’s Tips for Attending SDCC Part 1

Tom Spurgeon’s Tips for Attending SDCC Part 2

SDCC 2013 Tips: Convention Prep Edition


6 Things You Must Do Before Comic Con

SDCC Tips: 4.0

SDCC 2013 Tips & Pointers – Attending Panels

SDCC 2013 Tips & Pointers – Exclusives and Signings

Top Ten Secrets of SDCC

My San Diego Comic Con Survival Tips

Comic Con Survival Guide

20 Tips for Every SDCC Attendee

San Diego Comic Con Tip Guide

Places to Check out Before, During, and After SDCC

10 Tips & Links To Help You Survive San Diego Comic-Con

Ryan "TheSuperfly" Prast
Current designer, future artist, eternal manchild, Ryan "The Superfly" Prast uses his toynerd acumen to delve deep into the profound nuances of life. With a penchant for tiny plastic men and nostalgia of times past, he also enjoys panelology, obscure cultural references, tomfoolery and/or shenanigans, conspiracy theories, and watching his Cubs flush another season down the toilet. And he always keeps his fork when there’s pie.
Read other articles by Ryan "TheSuperfly" Prast.




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