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9 Tips for Surviving Your First San Diego Comic-Con

Updated: Apr 29

San Diego Comic-Con is one of the largest and most well-known comic conventions in the world. It is an annual event held in San Diego, typically in July. It starts on a Wednesday for a “preview night” and continues for an additional 4 days. Since moving to San Diego in 2019, I had the opportunity to attend this amazing event in July 2022.

There were a few things that I wish I had known before purchasing tickets and attending Comic-Con. In this post, I'll share some helpful tips to ensure your first-time experience at Comic-Con goes smoothly.

Inside the San Diego Convention Center during Comic Con
San Diego Convention Center

Before You Go

1. Create a Member ID

The first step before purchasing a badge for Comic-Con is creating a Member ID. The member ID is an online account where you can purchase badges to attend the event. You will also receive notifications to the email associated with your Member ID regarding important updates and badge sale information. It's best to create the Member ID far in advance, I suggest creating your account sometime before August the year before you want to attend the event.

2. Purchasing Badges (aka tickets)

Badge sales start in the Fall of the year before the event. For example, if Comic-Con is in July 2023, then sales will start in October 2022. The badge sales are in waves starting with returning attendees and then on a different day first-time attendees can purchase tickets. Before the online badge sales begin, you will receive an email notification announcing the badge sale dates. On the day of, you will receive instructions to access your Member ID account and then you are put in a virtual “waiting room”. The selection to purchase badges is random and once you are selected to register, there is no guarantee that badges will still be available for the days you want.

I recommend not scheduling anything the morning of the registration and making sure you are somewhere with an excellent internet connection. It can take some time before you are selected from the waiting room. If you can, try to purchase for Friday, Saturday, or both if you can. Those days have the best movie premiers, trailer releases, movie/TV stars, and discussion panels.

During the Event

1. How to Get There

One of the easiest ways to get the the convention center is to take the trolley. The trolley is San Diego’s public train system. There are several stops near the convention center and depending on where you stay, the train can be very convenient.

San Diego Trolley System
San Diego Trolley

2. Be Prepared to Wait in Line

Around 200,000 people attend Comic-Con each year, so there will be long lines to get into popular panels or premiers. When I went, several people brought mini folding chairs with them and would sit in them while waiting in line. The lines usually move pretty fast though.

3. Wear Comfortable Shoes

Comic-Con is held at the San Diego Convention Center and you will spend a lot of time walking. We walked about 6 miles each day. You will spend a lot of time walking through the exhibit halls, walking to panels and other areas.

4. What to Bring

  • Snacks- There is food available for purchase inside the convention center but it’s expensive. You can save a few dollars by bringing food with you. We packed a few sandwiches and snacks to keep us fueled throughout the day. If you want to purchase food there many restaurants in Gaslamp, but if you want to avoid some of the crowds walk down to Seaport Village.

  • Refillable water bottle- There are many water stations at the convention center where you can refill your bottle. Bringing your bottle will be convenient and will save you from having to purchase expensive drinks at the convention center.

  • A bag- Comic-Con usually provides a souvenir bag, but just in case for some reason, you are not able to get a souvenir bag, having your bag will help carry any items you purchase.

5. Hall H

If you haven't heard about Hall H, here is what you need to know. Hall H is where all the major movie trailers are revealed, and famous movie and TV stars show up. Hall H has a full schedule but the biggest day is Saturday. If you plan to go to Hall H on Saturday you will need to get in line on Friday. I’m not kidding. On Saturday morning we met someone who had been waiting in line since 3 p.m. on Friday.

We weren't able to get into Hall H on Saturday, but we were able to go on Friday and had a chance to see The Lord of the Rings Amazon Prime premiere and hear from the cast.

line to get into Hall H
Hall H

Things Not to Miss:

1. The Exhibit Hall

  • The exhibit hall is filled with awesome art, comics, and other displays.

Marvel costumes
Exhibit Hall

2. Outside the Convention Center

  • During Comic-Con many of the surrounding buildings are wrapped in advertisements of popular shows and movies. This is the only time of the year this happens. It's illegal for buildings to be wrapped and the City of San Diego can charge businesses up to $10,000/ day in fines.

  • Another cool thing is that there are several interactive exhibits that attendees and non-attendees can participate in. This is a great option if you are in town visiting or if you were not able to purchase badges to attend the event.

Exhibits outside the convention center

If you plan to attend Comic-Con San Diego, I hope these tips are helpful and your first time visiting Comic-Con is unforgettable.



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