Sunday, October 31, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010: Episode VII

Day four is when Comic Con really started heating up. The anticipation was palpable! People began pouring into the city and our hotel was brimming to capacity with nerds. This was to be a lazy day as the next four would be packed with pop culture excitement! For this day, we planned to pick up our four-day passes and to take a slow walk around the convention center to figure out where everything was, including where to go for entering the convention the next morning.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System is great. It is reasonably priced and runs frequently. You can either buy a ticket pass /booklet at one of the Transit stores (one was located next to The Sofia) or pay at the platform; we opted for paying at the platform. The ticket pick-up for four-day ticket holders was located at a hotel that was a fair distance away from downtown but conveniently next to one of the train stations. This was also a hotel listed on the Con website, which I would not recommend staying at since you would need to take the train downtown, but it does not run early enough to get a good place in the morning line-ups. Regardless, we walked over to the hotel and picked up passes. Upon arriving there we saw a few hundred people forming a line into the hotel. At first thought it appeared it would take a long time to obtain our passes, but in fact it took maybe 30 minutes! Further, Comic Con said the tickets would not be available till around 1 pm, but this was not to be the case. Instead, they opened much earlier and by the time we arrived at around 11 am, they were already handing out the passes.

Comic Con badge with
free swag buttons!
Comic Con is incredibly organized. They need to be due to the sheer volume of people they are taking care of, but nonetheless do an outstanding job. The line for picking up 4-day passes moved incredibly fast and there were three areas you went through: first area to line people up and make sure that there is not too many people in the main areas picking up their passes, a second area to give them your information and they provided you with a badge, and a third area to obtain your free Comic Con bag, books, and free swag! This was great and I highly recommend this procedure to be adopted by any large comic convention. 

Once we had our passes in hand I could not stop grinning. I truly could not believe this was actually happening! We boarded the train to head back to the downtown area, along with a handful of other equally large-grinned individuals who clutched their free Comic Con bag and badge. We rode the train to the convention center and saw thousands of people breaking like a wave against the convention center. People were lining up for events happening the next day, and some were entering the building to take advantage of the Preview Night. If I have not mentioned it yet, you MUST take advantage of this. Do not wait to purchase your tickets and instead buy them as soon as possible with the Preview Night. As we found out later, there is not that much happening on that night but it offers you a chance to walk around the convention floor when there are not as many people and you do not feel torn about missing a panel. If this is your first time attending, the Preview Night also allows you to get your bearings. You can walk around the floor and see what there is and then know where you would like to go later on during the next four days; trust me, the main hall floor is massive and many of the booths offer different events each day, sometimes each hour! We instead spent a lot of time walking around the crowded floor wondering where everything was and what we should be doing; all of which can be avoided. It is also important to spend your time wisely. Yes, four days may sound long, but as there is so much to do it goes by very quickly. If you can figure out what you want to do, when and where it is, then you will definitely have a much more enjoyable time and be able to do more things as you won’t be wasting time trying to figure out which of the awesome events you want to partake in.

Train signs in Klingon!
Moving on. From the convention center we walked into the downtown area. The city was alive and vibrant. The street signs on the train platforms were written in Klingon and there were massive banners that advertised TV shows and movies adorning the faces of the largest offices and hotels. The street was filled with people dressed up, wearing Comic Con bags, and other people handing out free swag and promoting their upcoming panels for TV shows and movies. As the movie Green Hornet was in production then, the car from the movie set was brought in and people could take their photo next to it. The place was electric!

Aaron Douglas
After taking the scene in, we decided we needed food and a drink. We decided on a fish place, called The Tin Fish, that was across the street from the convention center and in the middle of the horde of nerds. The food was excellent, cheap, and fast! We sat on the patio and ate while watching the comings and goings of those around us. Furthermore, while standing in line to order the food I realized that none other than Aaron Douglas, the Canadian actor who played Chief Galen Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica was standing right in front of me. While I did not say hi, it was a very cool moment. It reinforced the fact that YES I am at Comic Con!

With our bellies full we slowly strolled through the Gaslamp District, heading towards our hotel and quickly going to bed as we would be waking early the next day. The District is where all the ‘extra’ events occur for Comic Con. It is also where most of the celebrities and visitors go. The stores and restaurants stay open later during the convention and it is truly worthwhile to walk along the downtown streets taking in the crowds and events. While you may not have access to all the events (many are by admittance through receiving special tickets during Comic Con, handed out at various locations and times), it is nonetheless fun to walk around and see what is happening from the outside. For instance Flynn’s Arcade was a place promoting the upcoming Tron movie. While we did not have passes, it was still great to see the neon sign and what they had done to the building to promote the movie. 

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