As my first Comic-Con, I have a feeling many of these tips and “tricks” are ones the veterans already know, but this is what I have picked up by myself and I feel like they may help other newbies! It also helps me to jot down my own thoughts so I can think of new ones. -;)
First, sign up for a MySched account from Comic-Con’s official site. I have found this immensely helpful!
Second, browse the entire schedule from the first to the last day and add EVERYTHING of interest.
Third, on the right-hand side is a legend area that tells you what different colors represent for different events. There should be a square with a grey star in it labeled “Most Popular.” Click on that and scroll through — any events that are dark grey with a checkmark to the left of them are events from your personal list. This is what I did after compiling what I really wanted to do and see to weigh the odds out. For example, I have only watched the first couple episode of Game of Thrones. This panel is insanely popular. Do I really want to wait in line for a panel that I am only mildly interested in? Not really. On the other hand, two panels I have great interest in attending barely made the top 50. My odds of getting into these is a little bit higher but obviously it still seems to be a popular panel with 800+ people interested in each.
Fourth, slowly weed out your panels. Don’t weed out everything, simply weed out those that you really have no desire to wait in line for an extended period of time (my example would be Game of Thrones). Weigh it out, look at other events going on outside of panels, and see if you would rather spend 6 hours in line to possibly get into a panel you are kind of interested in or go visit several booths and vendors instead. Make sure to keep panels that you are interested in. I would say if you have enough interest to keep it through this “first cut,” then it is worthwhile.
Fifth, click on each of the individual panels that you would like to attend. Note the room, the guests, and the number interested on MySched.
- Room: If it is in Ballroom 20 or something of equal popularity, this panel will probably require some time in line. Keep that in mind.
- Guests: If this panel has large industry guests, such as Stan Lee or Todd McFarlane, this will also probably require some time in line.
- Number interested: While this is obviously not the number of people going to the panel, it is still a good indication of how many people might actually show up. For example, The Walking Dead when I last checked was the #1 most popular panel. The number of people interested was almost 3000. That is a LOT of people. Now, are all of these people going to go? Probably not. BUT — there are people who have not signed up on MySched that will go. So really, who knows the exact attendees? However, this still shows that it is a widely popular panel that people will be taking time out of their day to attend. On the flip side, one panel of interest to me has about 150 followers and is in what appears to be a rather small ballroom. I am unsure of how many people this ballroom actually holds, but that still does not seem like a lot of interest for the panel. My odds of getting into this will probably be high, especially because it is in the evening when other people are probably planning to go to dinner.
Sixth, have back-up panels! Preferably smaller panels of less interest than ones you would like to go to. Even if you think your panel does not have a lot of interest, it’s still good to have a back-up plan like visiting a booth or buying merchandise or just having some time to relax in your room if nothing else. One thing I have learned from all the wonderful SDCC blogs out there is you will not get to do everything you want to do!
So by this time you have a pretty good idea of what you really want to do, right? And you even have some back-up plans, right? Well, here’s the seventh: Check where your panels are in relation to one another. Yes, I went there. And you will be sad. I had three panels I was pretty interested in – the first had great interest, the second had “well if I can’t do anything else” interest, and the third was “hmm I’m pretty interested but not really committed” interest. The first and third panels are in the same room. The third panel is in another hotel. Dilemma, eh? I ended up deciding that the first panel I would wake up early for and wait in line and scrap the other two so I could have convention playtime!
For my final words, let me just say I am not really a panel person. Some people thrive for them, others could care less. For myself, I see that panels are a very central part of SDCC and would like to get a couple in to round out my experience. I honestly won’t be devastated if I don’t get to most of them. All the news and off-site events I have been reading about still keep me plenty booked throughout the weekend! I plan on visiting the WB booth, the Square Enix booth, and of course I must schedule time to pick up my order from Matty Collectables. There will be plenty of things I want to buy, plenty of people to take pictures of, and plenty of evenings with food, drink, and shenanigans with friends! My ultimate goal is not to stress too much, to make some new friends, and just enjoy my first time being there. Really, that’s what it’s all about, right?