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Comic-Con 2013 Survival Guide

You don't need superhero strength to enjoy San Diego's biggest convention

By Jerry McCormick
|  Thursday, Jul 18, 2013  |  Updated 6:18 AM PDT
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Babes of Comic-Con

Getty Images for Lionsgate

These are the kinds of crowds to expect at Comic-Con.

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If you’re planning on attending Comic-Con 2013, you’ll probably need nerves of steel to tolerate the over 100,000 people trying to all get into the same panels, get the same autographs, buy the same collectors items and see celebrities as you.

And if you know that going in, you’ll no doubt have a blast.

But one thing you need to know right now is this: preparation is the key to enjoying this event. The more prepared you are, the more you’ll enjoy it. The Comic-Con staff has put a lot of time and effort for you to enjoy the show, but you’ll have to do your part by making sure you’re ready.

So here are some quick tips for you to have the best time possible.

The biggest tip I have for you is this: Dress in layers. You’re going to be going into several temperatures. Freezing (if you make it into Hall H), Cold (if you’re up before dawn waiting in the lines to get into Hall H or Ballroom 20), Warm (When the sun comes up and it’s not quite entry time) Hot, if you’re unlucky not to make into Hall H on the first go-round and have to wait in line for people to leave so you can get in. And stuffy, especially in Ballroom 20 where the circulation isn’t always the best.

Next, your shoes are important. Those strappy sandals may look cute with your costume but if you’re going to be standing for hours, it may not be the best choice. Neither are those flip flops because you’ll be walking a LOT and hopefully going from panel to panel. Plus, your feet WILL be stepped on while you’re walking the convention floor, so it’s best to stick with sneakers, flats or any other covered shoe you deem comfortable.

Third: pack snacks. It’s no secret that the food at the convention center is pricey. And it you’re going to be sitting in Hall H from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. you may want to eat. Fruit, granola bars or any other snack that doesn’t smell is a great choice. You’ll be sitting beside some folks who will assault your senses with body odor and nachos, no need for you to contribute.

Water, water, water. I cannot tell you the number of people who have that glassy-eyed look because they are dehydrated. Buy water at the grocery store (there’s one a few blocks from the convention center) and pack it in your bag.

Plan ahead. Realistically you cannot be in two places at the same time. So look at the schedule and make decision about where you want to be when. And allow yourself time to walk to that place and be able to stand in line to get in. If you’re going to attempt to go into Hall H, be prepared to sacrifice sleep because each year the line to get in starts earlier and earlier. Last year, some people were in line DAYS ahead to get into a panel. If you’re anywhere around the convention center, you’ll probably get in, but if you’re in Seaport Village where lines stretched to last year, you can forget it.

Rest. Comic-Con is four days of nonstop panels, parties, costumes and fun. But to enjoy it all, you need to get a full eight hours of sleep. Decide on a bed time and stick to it. You don’t want to snooze off during a crucial moment.

Use social media. If you can’t make it to a panel, someone is probably Tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking or Vining about it. Let that help you enjoy the panels you can’t make it to.

Don’t forget your chargers. With social media now a huge part of this event, you’re going to go through power pretty quickly and there are very few unspoken chargers in the rooms, so you may want to make sure you’re fully charged and turn off any unneeded applications including Bluetooth and location services which drain batteries pretty quickly.

Go off the beaten path. Everybody will try to get into Hall H for the film panels, or Ballroom 20 for the TV stuff and some B-list movies. And the Convention floor will be super crowded on Preview Night and Saturday. So look at that schedule for other things you might enjoy that may not be as crowded or hard to get into.

Make friends with the people you’re standing in line with. People are fascinating and have fascinating stories to tell when you have hours to stand in a line. I made four new friends whom I’ve kept in touch with for the past year. And at some point, you’ll need a bathroom break and those people are usually kind enough to hold your seat or watch your stuff.

Finally, breathe. It can be overwhelming, but with the right choices, you’ll be able to look back at an experience to remember. 

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