Dave Rogers flew his family all the way from Detroit just for the taste of human flesh.
OK, that’s not entirely true. The East Lansing, Mich., resident really just wanted to get a few days of Comic-Con with his wife and daughter. They are also fans of “The Walking Dead,” so the allure of participating in the “Walking Dead Escape” at Petco Park was just too much to resist. Next thing they knew, they were signed up as “walkers” for the participatory exhibition.
“My understanding is we’re going to go kill some survivors,” he said minutes before the event’s start on Friday night. “We’re not really sure what we’re doing, though.”
It’s a welcome diversion for the family, who were only able to get Comic-Con passes on Thursday and Sunday. The rest of the time, they have been walking – not that walking – around the Gaslamp District.
They’re not alone. With only so many passes to go around, you most likely have to know a guy who knows a guy in order to get into the actual Comic-Con. But there is plenty to do even if you don’t have a coveted badge.
Norma Torres and her daughter, Amy, came all the way from Monterey County for the weekend.
They spent one day in the convention center, but all day Friday exploring the grounds. That included a trip on the 200-foot Gotham Interactive Fan Zone zip-line behind the convention center, the same one Mayor Faulconer rode on Thursday.
“I’m afraid of heights and speed,” Norma said after her ride, hands still shaking. “So I conquered a lot of fears today.”
She said she was happy to wait three hours for the seconds-long ride.
“It’s so expensive everywhere else to do it, so to get to go for free is great,” she said.
Just down from the Gotham zip-line is the popular Homer Dome, featuring games and giveaways from The Simpsons.
Thousands of other fans packed the concourse at Petco for Nerd HQ, which featured retro video games, panels and other fan interactions.
San Marcos resident Chris Freeman waited with his friends for nearly an hour to play a live Alien: Isolation simulation. He said people who completed the exhibit – which was supposed to be two levels from the popular video game – would get free T-shirts.
“I don’t see anyone walking out with T-shirts,” he said. “I like my chances.”
In the Petco parking lot, interactive booths entertained more fans. A Hello Kitty house helped keep the kids’ attention, while others flew drone aircrafts in the “24” tent and bounced around in the Adult Swim funhouse.
Just across the street from the convention, fans lined up for the Assassin’s Creed obstacle course. Nicholas Siegle, fresh from clearing the course that included a 20-foot jump at the end, said it was a welcome respite from the usual convention events.
“We spent half the day just walking around outside,” he said. “It’s nice to get some fresh air.”
For those who want to avoid some of the madness while still getting the Comic-Con experience, the place to be is Jolt’n Joe’s, which is taken over by Geek & Sundry for the third year. The two-level bar offers celebrity speakers and fan gatherings without the need for a badge. Geek & Sundry spokesperson Jennie Kong said they were focusing on table games and video games this year.
“We have a good number of panels and exclusives,” she said as groups played card games like Magic: The Gathering at tables in the bar. “Everything is really geared toward the fans.”
Just down the street, Werewolf American Pub is putting on some parties of its own. Friday night, the bar is decked out in Ghostbusters garb as the original Ecto-1 car from the movie will be on display, as well as an appearance by “Ghostbusters” comic strip writer Tom Waltz. The bar is offering a number of “Ghostbusters”-related drinks, like a Slimerita – a margarita with kiwi puree.
Saturday night will be Star Wars night, complete with a costume contest.
Werewolf manager Stacy Simmons, decked out as Zuul – the demon who possessed Sigourney Weaver’s character in the first movie – said the whole place has been getting into the Comic-Con vibe.
“It’s turned me really nerdy,” she said, “and I love it!”