OpinionSDCC '17

The Do’s and Don’ts of SDCC: A How To Guide from a First-Time Attendee

Madison Gallup ’17 / Emertainment Monthly TV Section Editor

SDCC Convention Center. PC: Nora Dominick

When you are in the midst of all the commotion on the exhibition floor at San Diego Comic Con, it feels as if everyone who could possibly want to be at the massive convention surely made it there. In reality, there are an even greater number of fans who are eagerly checking their Twitter and Tumblr notifications for updates, having either never attended the con before or having had to sit it out this year. For this writer, it was the first SDCC after years of being on the outside watching footage of the panels and thinking how wonderful it would be to have a seat in that room. Before Emertainment Monthly dives into some of the specific happenings of SDCC 2017, we want to pass on advice to any future Comic-Con attendees about how to navigate the event.

DO: Check out the schedule and details on the panels which most interest you before arriving in San Diego. Many sites post full lists of which shows and movies will be represented at the Con, and there is an official SDCC app with more specific information about almost everything going on in the convention center.

DON’T: Judge every panel just by their name. Brave New Warriors might not mean anything to you at face value, but check to see who the panel consists of. Chances are you will be pleasantly surprised to see some of your favorite talents pop up in multiple panels during the convention.

Brave New Warriors Panel at SDCC 2017. PC: Madison Gallup

DO: Favorite, highlight, or star everything and anything you are interested in. Make a mental or physical list prioritizing a few main events.

DON’T: Expect to get to everything you want to see. Particularly if a panel is in Hall H on Saturday. We would have all loved to see what Warner Brothers, Stranger Things, Westworld, Ready Player One, and Marvel had prepared, and that’s precisely why it is almost mandatory to spend two nights waiting in line to have actually ensured a spot for any single one of those panels. Oh, and if you did manage to snag that spot in line…

DO: Bring snacks with you because you aren’t going anywhere. You definitely need to sit through every panel to save that seat for Marvel at the end of the day. Remember what the sun looks like?

DON’T: Overlook the many off-site installations and presentations. Two of this year’s highlights were the very popular and immersive Westworld Experience and the museum/shop dedicated to Laika, which provided a detailed tour through the models used to make CoralineParanormanThe Boxtrolls, and Kubo and the Two Strings.

‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ at the ‘Laika Experience.’ PC: Madison Gallup

DO: Have back-up plans and a go with the flow attitude. So much of SDCC can become frustrating because you get shut out of panels, signings, and shops. If you’re turned away or simply do not feel like spending hours in line, trust that there are dozens of opportunities to see or do something you will also enjoy.

DON’T: Avoid waiting in lines on principle. SDCC is an exercise in patience, and there are rewards for committing your time. Some lines move much quicker than they appear to at first glance. Some stay at a standstill until just before the panel starts, at which point everyone is ushered in to find a seat. And, of course, sometimes you simply have to commit several hours of your time to make it into a panel (or even two days if you cannot stand the thought of not being in Hall H on Saturday… in which case DO: only get a pass for Saturday or have a large group to take shifts waiting in line).  Occasionally major stars will make the wait in line worth it by stopping by to bring food to, play games with, or talk to the fans.

DO: Attend SDCC with a person or a group of people who entertain you and share at least some of your interests. They’ll make all the waiting and walking through crowds far more tolerable.

DON’T: Shut yourself off from meeting new people. Whether you attend SDCC alone or not, keep an eye and an ear out for people to strike up a conversation with. Chances are, if you’re waiting in a line together, you have at least one common interest.

Emertainment Monthly at the ‘Legion’ instillation at SDCC 2017. PC: Madison Gallup

DO: Compliment people’s cosplay and ask for pictures of them or with them.

DON’T: Make anyone uncomfortable by insisting on a photo or making disparaging comments.

DO: Follow Twitter accounts to find updated information regarding lines and events happening around the area. The SDCC Unofficial Blog (@SD_Comic_Con) is particularly useful. Should you want specific information on the two biggest venues at SDCC, @HallHLine and @Ballroom20Line may give some serious anxiety but will be the best way to know what to expect when you arrive.

DON’T: Get upset at volunteers when they aren’t giving you all the information you need or they seem to be mismanaging a line. Remember that anyone can be a volunteer and this con is so huge that there is plenty of miscommunication and overwhelmed people trying to make the experience positive for everyone.

DO: Turn to volunteers and security with any concerns or questions you may have. Nobody will have all the answers or authority, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask or notify them at all.

DON’T: Constantly snapchat or tweet about every single thing you see. First of all, the service is not great and this activity will drain your battery (DO: Bring a portable charger if you can). More importantly, these panels are taped and posted online. When you tell family and friends you were there, you want to have really been present in the moment rather than ensuring you have your own photos and videos to prove what you saw.

DO: Find something to enjoy about everything you do at SDCC.

A costume contest at the Avatar the Legacy Panel. PC: Madison Gallup.

While lines will grow tiresome and panels may disappoint, understand that there are so many people who would love to be in your place. Have fun being in this mecca of fandom and be ready to share some wonderful stories when you get back home. Look for some of those stories in the upcoming week from Emertainment Monthly writers Nora Dominick, Ben Zacuto and me, Madison Gallup.


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