The week of July 17, 2011 Twilight Bond (Cullyn and I) headed off to San Diego for a two-week vacation andour first experience at Comic-Con (7/21 – 7/24). Our plan was to camp out at the San Diego Convention Center for Thursday’s Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Panel; however, we weren’t sure exactly when to arrive. After following the updates of several Twilight Twitterers (thanks @TwiFans, @TwilightLexicon and @TwilightMoms!), we landed on the grass outside Hall H at 9:00am on Wednesday, July 20.
Here are our tips to a successful overnight experience:
1. Book a hotel near the Convention Center EARLY - preferably the Hilton San Diego Bayfront (it’s the closest to the grassy campout area – this will become more important later on – See #5), but the Marriott Marquis and Hyatt work, too.2. Pack the right gear – this year, Security made people remove their tents and blow-up beds (“This is a line not a campsite.”), so we brought a tarp for the grass, sleeping bags and bug spray (OFF for the bugs and Raid for the ants in the grass). Others had chairs and blankets. We also brought Wisp toothbrush/paste in one, refreshing face towelettes, deodorant, etc. Dress in layers in case it gets cool (I had to buy a fleece jacket and yoga pants since I didn’t plan well enough). Remember pens, cards to pass the time, magazines, books, etc. Also, a power strip comes in handy for charging several electronic gadgets at once…when you can find an outlet.
3. Get to know Security- first and fast. They have to stand there all day and night, so engaging them in conversation helps both of you pass the time. Plus they’ll give you a head’s up about what’s going on.
4. Make friends with those in front and back of you - the fans in line pretty much regulate themselves, and are fierce about keeping line-jumpers at bay. They’ll watch your spot and vice-versa when you have to leave line (and you will). IMPORTANT: if you have someone holding your place in line until you can arrive etc. have him/her advise those around them that you’re coming later. It’s courtesy to let others know what’s up.
5. Scope out the bathrooms- there’s a bathroom under the garage at the Hilton, as well as one in the Convention Center’s Hall G (if it’s unlocked). Hence, the convenience of having a hotel room close to your place in line for bathroom breaks (and showers). See #1.
6. Park close - if you aren’t booking a hotel, be sure to go to the Comic-Con website when the reserved parking lots are announced and book a spot close to the Convention Center. Unfortunately, most of the lots aren’t 24-hour. See #1 and #7.
7. Have a disinterested runner - if you can get someone who isn’t interested in the event go get food, pick up your gear, keep your place in line, drive you to pick up your badges and wait, etc. I highly recommend it. This year my son served as our runner so I set him up in a nice hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter and let him order room service. Whatever it took.
8. Get ready to move fast on the morning of the event- be prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn to the sounds of Security yelling that they’ll “be condensing the line at 6:00am.” This is where having a hotel room or car close by comes in handy – you’ll need to pack up your gear and stow it. Then you’ll all shift closer to each other and stand in a semblance of a line…for hours. This is the time where you may be able to sneak in a shower. See #1.
9. Pack your own food- eating out is expensive around the Convention Center. Living on PB&J, soda, Skittles and chips for a day or two won’t cause any lasting damage. Summit did give us Breaking Dawn-branded muffins and bottled water. There were also a few Convention Center guys walking around offering apples and bagels.
10. Who are you? – Don’t forget your business cards to exchange or a notebook to record the names and contact info of your new Twilight friends.
Just know that even if you’re not camping out for Twilight-related fun, Comic-Con involves a lot of hurry up and wait time. Be patient and most of all, have fun! You never know, stars from The Twilight Saga could surprise you at dawn!