Every year in July we see countless news stories and photos coming out of San Diego Comic-Con. Looking at them all, you'd get the impression attendees at SDCC enjoy an endless parade of celebrities and rare merchandise. But what's it really like for those who shell out $250 for admission and pay $400/night for a hotel?
To start, when you get to the exhibit floor, it's immediately madness. There are booths everywhere, each with its own system for handing giveaways and merchandise. Some ask you to form lines, others have random lotteries, while still others have already sold everything on their websites before the con even opened.
As a result, everybody is in a rush to get somewhere, but few actually know what they're going to do once they get there. Just keep your elbows out and push through.
If the convention floor is a little too intense for you and you want a respite from the madness, well, don't try going outside. There, it's even crazier. You see, even though San Diego Comic-Con sells over 160,000 badges a year, there are tens of thousands more people who make the trip without one. Those folks roam around the pop-up shops that networks and studios open outside the convention center. So, just imagine dealing with this crowd in the middle of 90-degree heat and you've got a good idea.
4. You're Constantly Asking, "Crazy Person Or Viral Marketer?"
With so many people here, companies have to fight for your attention. Lots of times, they do it with immersive alternate-reality ad campaigns. The downside to this, though, is that you may find yourself watching a suspected "viral marketer" on the street for way too long before realizing he's actually just a local ranting lunatic.
5. You Want To Buy Anything? Be Prepared To Wait In Line
OK, let's say you got to the convention center right when it opened and you ran directly to your desired booth. If you're lucky, the line by that point will only be a half-hour long. More likely, though, it'll be "capped," which means they're not allowing any more people to queue up until it gets shorter. In that case, since nobody is allowed to stand around and block the walkway, you'll find yourself aimlessly walking in circles, hoping you're close enough to jump in when they open it back up.
Basically, you remember what it was like playing musical chairs in first grade? Imagine that times 50.
Everybody loves seeing all the cosplayers from SDCC. Thing is, though, if you make the commitment to wear one of those suits, you have to spend all day in it. That crazy makeup or sweet pair of stilts begin to lose their charm by about 3 p.m., when all you want to do is sit on the floor and eat a hot dog.
We enjoy seeing clips of the celebrity panels that happen at Comic-Con. Things always look so fun and exclusive!
However, unless you've camped out for half the day in order to get a great seat, the photo above is a better approximation of the type of view you should expect. And, since everything shown at these makes its way onto YouTube seconds later anyway, you might be better off just sitting it out.
9. That Thing You Wanted To Buy? It's Already Sold Out
In the weeks leading up to the convention, there's nothing more exciting than mapping out all the Comic-Con exclusive merchandise you're going to buy. Unfortunately, when it comes to the really cool stuff, booths sell out crazy fast. Like, often within minutes of the doors opening. So, don't clear the space on your shelf just yet.
10. But Don't Worry, You Can Buy It On eBay At 1000% Markup!
The reason why everything is so hard to obtain is a tough pill to swallow: Thousands of other people are more dedicated than you are. Want to buy that Conan Funko figurine when the floor opens at 9:30? Then you'd be wise to get in line outside the convention center at 6. Want to make it into the 3 p.m. Walking Dead panel in Hall H? Better start camping out at 11 the night before.
But hey, maybe we just value sleep more than most other folks.
12. There's A Secret Lounge Just For Professionals
For whatever reason, San Diego Comic-Con has something against people sitting down while eating. That's the only explanation we can come up with for why their food area has so few tables. I mean, just look at this photo. There's so much unused space in there! Get some of those long tables like my elementary school used to use. Maximize the space a little, guys!
15. You Won't See Any Celebrities, But You Will See Plenty Of Phones!
But even among all this madness, confusion and chaos, the one true constant of the San Diego Comic-Con is the fact that the local police force handles it all staggeringly well...and with a good sense of humor, to boot.
Heck, this officer photographed above even let Harley Quinn give him a hug, even if he did mutter, "Ah man, now I'm gonna get in trouble..." when he heard our camera's shutter click.