10 tips for an awesome SDCC experience

07 · 13 · 09

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by @geekgirls

My geekguy and I went to our first San Diego Comic-Con in 2007 and we were so not prepared. I mean, I knew that the convention center was big and there would be a lot of people attending, but I didn’t understand the scale of “big” and “a lot” until I was actually standing there. Although we caught on pretty quickly, we missed a lot.

In order to ensure you have the best comic-con experience possible, here is a list of lessons learned from my first trip. This list is also intended for the true fangirl, not for the quazi-fangirl-eye-candy-who-datas-geeks-and-thinks-she-knows-spiderman-because-she-watched-the-movie-girl. So in the spirit of @geekgirldiva’s An Open Letter to the L.A. Times from a Geek Girl  and @loquaciousmuse’s The Real Girl’s Guide to SDCC, here are my top 10 tips for the comic-con girl:

1. Set Your Alarm. Whatever time you think is super early for anything at SDCC, set your alarm an hour earlier. I’m not kidding. I missed the Heroes panel that year because I assumed that getting in line about 2 hours before the panel started was enough time to secure a seat.  It wasn’t until I asked the people in line ahead of me that I found out the line has started forming an hour earlier than I had arrived. The “short line” I thought I was waiting in was actually the tail end of a gigantic line that wrapped around the meeting room four times!

2. Bring Water & Snacks. It’s California. It’s hot. And when packed into a room of 140,000 people walking up and down the exhibitor hall, you can get drained very quickly. Bring a bottle of water and light snacks like granola bars. Trust me; by the time you realize that you need to eat, you’ll already be starving and most likely too far away from an eatery. Fruit roll-ups saved my life on a number of occasions.


3. Don’t Wear Your Cute Shoes.
I know this might seem a little obvious, but only wear your most comfortable pair of shoes. I have a bunch of super cute sneakers, but not all are designed for long distance walking….which is all I did for four days straight. At the end of the first day, my poor little toes had too many blisters to count. Although I smartened up the second day and wore my old-but-so-broken-in sneaks, the damage had already been done.

4. Plan Ahead. Between the exhibitor hall, panels and signings, there is just so much going on at the same time. Remember, you can’t do it all. Once you come to terms with that, make a plan on what you absolutely must see and fit everything else around that schedule. We read through our SDCC book immediately, made a plan of events we just couldn’t miss, and then spent the rest of the time running around like kids in a candy store.


 5. Always Ask. I tend to take what people say too literally, but that gets thrown out the window at comic-con.

Example: We had been waiting in line at the Hasbro booth to get the exclusive Transformers Alternators Ford GT Rodimus when a sign was posted stating: TRANSFORMERS SOLD OUT. I stayed in line anyway because I still needed to get the new My Little Pony. Once we got up to the counter, my geekguy asked about the sold out Transformers. The clerk advised that they only had Transformers in dented boxes…ah-ha! I collect but I don’t care about boxes personally, so we were able to get the Transformers we wanted. The sign wasn’t specific; all we had to do was ask.

6. Become a Ninja. Disclaimer: This may not work for everyone or for every situation. As I said earlier, we missed the Heroes panel because we were not early enough and decided to not make the same mistake again for The Family Guy panel. So we got to the panel room like 6 hours early and waited through 3 panel discussions by other people. (And I’m so glad we did because this is how I was introduced to the works of Laurell K. Hamilton) Every time a panel ended we stood up with everyone else and made it look like we were leaving. We would meandered around the room and wait until people started piling back in and then snagged a seat closer to the stage. At one point, I did leave the room for a quick bathroom break and almost blew our cover. By the time Seth and the crew arrived on stage we had been sitting in that room for hours, but got great seats up front!

7. Talk to Everyone.  I usually keep to myself and don’t typically engage in conversation with people I don’t know. But, even on the plane ride from NY to Cali, I instantly felt comfortable around all the fan-kids. So I talked to everyone that looked my way. This, if nothing else, served as my greatest tool for an amazing comic-con experience.


Example: I talked to this hilarious guy for 3 hours on the plane ride to San Diego, only to find out it was Dan Slott (from She-Hulk and Powdered Toast Man)! He was heading to SDCC to announce that he was going to be writing for the new Amazing Spiderman series. At the announcement the next day, he totally recognized us and gave us a shout out while being interviewed! So talk to everyone, because you never know who it might be!

 Another Example: I also asked where people acquired certain swag that I liked (i.e. comics, tee shirt, etc). On one occasion, I started a discussion about zombies and one person announced that Robert Kirkman was signing autographs around the corner. To my excitement, there was no line at the Image booth and I got to mumble out a few words of appreciation while Kirkman signed my hard cover, limited edition of The Walking Dead. W00T!

8. Ditch your Wheels. Yep, don’t need it, won’t be any good to you. I stayed a few miles out of town and thought I could just drive to the convention center, but parking is a joke! There are many means of transportation if you don’t stay in a hotel right down the street. Cabs are fairly inexpensive, especially if you’re really nice to the driver and cram a bunch of fan-kids into the same ride. Just make sure to get going early. Chances are most of the hotel attendees are trying to call a cab as well and the wait could be unbearable. Also, the trolleys run almost all day. Click Here for more info on transportation for SDCC.

9. Bring Your Gadgets & Chargers.  I think I checked our luggage like ten times before we left NY, making sure I had the cell phones, cameras, laptop and all the accessories to go with them. We took one set of gadgets and chargers to the conventions and left the other set in our room. We also left the doorknob sign to DO NOT DISTURB while our electronics were freshening up. I also carried a light backpack to not only store the gadgets accessories we took along with us into the convention, but also to store all the swag we gathered there. And oh boy is there a lot of swag!

10. Reach out to other FanGirls. I so regret not following this tip myself. I think I was just so overwhelmed with the surrounding stardomcostume_jedi_grls and the sheer number of people at SDCC that I just forgot to look for fellow geek girls. At one point, my geek guy and I were seated next to another couple, exchanging hilarious jokes back and forth during a panel discussion. I should have said “Hi, where are you guys staying or wanna get a bite to eat…” I wish I would have hung out with some of the actual fangirls and possible have gained some new friendship. There’s always next year.


Please feel free to leave comments of your best advice for the Real Fangirl experience at SDCC.


  1. LOL I love Point 6, Become a Ninja, even I have not thought of something so deviously clever! Thanks for that tip I’ll be using that trick in the future.
    Could be a problem if everyone cottoned on to it though, can you imagine!
    Judex Jones

  2. Forget about getting coffee at Starbucks (I’m from Seattle), pick up a cold Frappuccino at the grocery store down the road. Pack a lunch, if u have a cooler in ur room, that’s the best way to save cash which u could use towards bad a$$ action figure, comics, and other cool schtuff!

    • hey nerdrage42, i’m also a seattlite and thanks for the tip! i’m going for the first time and my excitement is overwhelming but i want to plan as much as i can for a great experience!

  3. love it! this will be my first con, and i cannot wait! been checking out tips, nice to see some from another real (not quazi-fangirl-eye-candy-who-dates-geeks-and-thinks-she-knows-spiderman-because-she-watched-the-movie)fangirl!!

    • i’ve been wondering how many ggntwk girls were gonna be there. it’s my first time too and i can’t wait. hope i do get to meet some cool fangirls. i’m @kcwebgirl on twitter. look me up if you want!

  4. Would love to meet more folks, I live in San Diego, and I’m organizing a Comic-Con Tweetup!

    WordPress Web Help

    San Diego, CA
    621 WordPress Site Owners

    Want help with your WordPress web site? Welcome to WordPress Webinar Help.I’m hoping to offer a friendly and easy way for folks to get help with their WordPress web site wher…

    Check out this Meetup Group →

    Check it out, and hope to somehow meet up with you and others next week!


  5. All really fantastic points! I’ve been going to Comic-Con for 10 years now (San Diego native) and I’d also suggest checking out off-site events (there are plenty of cool things going on outside of the Convention Center). Of course, wear the most comfy clothes humanly possible (sorry, cosplayers!) as it will be HOT.

    Also, try to think of lunchtime eats first thing in the morning, so you can get there efficiently and easily later in the day (or pack your lunch and eat on the backside of the Convention Center, facing the water. Gorgeous!). Just DON’T waste your money eating at the Convention Center. There are plenty of great eateries within walking distance of the Convention Center in the Gaslamp Quarter, and, trust me, you’ll want some time away eventually.

    And, if you have a four-day pass, make sure to hit up Preview Night. It’s a great time to get the lay of the land in the Exhibit Hall, buy any special edition toys you’re looking for, or meet up with people — it’s not as crowded as it will be later in the weekend and you can leisurely check things out for the most part.

    Anyway, if you’re not going to Preview Night, be sure to hit up the San Diego Tweetup that Downtown Rob mentions above — I’ll be there and it WILL be awesome, especially with some giveaways we have! 🙂

  6. 1. Last year there were people camped out overnight for the Heroes panel. I only got in because I was seeing eye person for a 90% blind friend.
    2. Also, water from water fountains in San Diego tastes too saline for me.
    3. One of my friends got seriously blistered and bought new shoes the second morning this year. And he’d gone to SDCC with us last year, so he should have known what shoes to wear.
    4. Even after planning ahead, compare plans you made based on online schedule against schedule changes. Otherwise I’d have missed the ass kicking women panel because it had swapped times with another panel.
    5. Nothing to add.
    6. Interesting trick. I’m trying to picture it.
    7. Enh, I don’t like everyone. Sure don’t want to talk to everyone. Talking to some people can interfer with opportunity to talk to someone cooler.
    8. And when taking cab, do NOT call for cab on phone. You’ll get one much faster by waiting at nearest shuttle stop, then take either cab or convention shuttle, whichever comes by first.
    9. If you’re carrying the gadgets all day, reconsider the big laptop. It’s a lot to keep up with.
    10. Yeah, why the hell did we meet up?

  7. I do know how to spell “interfere.”

  8. And it’s “Why the hell DIDN’T we meet up?”

    • Good Advice!!

      and we didn’t meet up because plane fair from NY to CA was insane this year 😦 so I’m gonna start saving now for SDCC ’10 🙂

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