-By Olivia Abundis
Having attended a number of local comic conventions in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was ecstatic to learn that I qualified for a professional badge for this year’s San Diego Comic Con. My badge arrived alongside a map of the convention space and a booklet of “tips and tricks” for attending the Con. These included wearing comfortable shoes (for an insane amount of walking), bringing water and snacks (to stay hydrated and energized), and planning plenty of extra time for waiting in line for panels (adding at least another 2 hours to estimated wait time). Since it was my first time attending the Con, I tried to follow these official tips as closely as possible. I arrived in San Diego a day early to get settled in and prepacked my backpack so that I would be ready to go in the morning!
Luckily, the hotel I stayed at offered a free shuttle service that dropped you off at the convention center. Upon exiting the shuttle, I was overwhelmed by both the San Diego heat and all the events happening in and outside the convention center. Most of the downtown area was shut down for the massive crowds walking through the streets, and the surrounding hotels and parks all played host to huge exhibits and panels. The whole outside of the convention center was lined with tents and sleeping bags as people camped out, waiting for entry into a specific panel or event.
Once inside the exhibit hall, I was overwhelmed again by the sheer size of the space. At just under half a mile long, the floor was filled with a ton of booths and exhibits, from professional artists to movie studios to interactive booths. One of my favorite exhibits was The Walking Dead booth that allowed people to interact with “real” Walkers as well as scenes from the show. A Star Wars booth displayed props and costumes from both the older and newer movies, and video game companies hosted booths with playable demos of new and yet-to-be-released games. I loved the fact that both the professional exhibits and the fans (through fan art and amazing cosplay) represented all forms of different creative media, from comics to movies to games and beyond.
Overall, the creative energy and the life that radiated from the event made you really feel like attending San Diego Comic Con is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You could always tell where a celebrity was by the collective screams and amount of people crowded in one space. It was almost impossible to get close enough to celebrities at booths for a decent photo, but getting to see celebrities like Steven Spielberg, Stan Lee, and Gal Gadot (along with the entire cast of Justice League) from afar was still one of the highlights of my trip.
My advice for anyone looking to attend the Con is to plan accordingly when walking the Con floor. It’s easy to get lost in the crowds of people and things on display, but luckily the official Comic Con app has a map, as well as panel schedules to keep you focused and going in the right direction. I’d recommend you plan your schedule around spending lots of time waiting in lines, and bring your own snacks and water (they are expensive out there) to stay nourished and hydrated as you wait in line and walk around. Also be sure to buy any “Con exclusive” items the first day as those sell out almost immediately. Most importantly, have fun and don’t be afraid to wear t-shirts or costumes that show love to your favorite series. It’s a great opportunity to meet other people that are as passionate about the same “fandom” as you!