Feeling a little left out after not scoring those coveted Comic Con Badges?
I used to think not scoring a Badge to the Biggest Nerd Gathering in town, meant a week of avoiding social media and cursing my lucky friends that had made their way inside; now to add on to the frustration of having a kid just as excited to see all the Superheroes and Legends coming to life, and old enough to understand when all the San Diego news programs have been taken over… Oh The Despair!!
But, have no fear I found a few tips and tricks to keep the badge-less family in the know and still able to join in on some of the San Diego Comic Con fun.
You may be asking, “BUT??? Will I be silly if I dress up or let my kiddo wear that favorite costume while walking around San Diego’s Downtown?!” The Answer is a BIG HECK NO!!! YOU’LL LOOK AWESOME!!! You’ll fit right in! Heck, even if that’s just not your cup of tea, don’t worry about just wearing a t-shirt of whoever! You’ll totally blend in as well! Do what your heart desires, everyone gets into the fun. Only thing I would say is- think weather appropriate and comfy, especially shoes wise. Year after year I have to remind my kiddo of this when she adds Cat Woman or Black Widow to her wish list of SDCC costumes. Tennies are so needed especially for the littles, as well as adults. It is a lot of walking. Though you will see plenty of high heels, I just wouldn’t recommend it. 😉
As we get closer to the big event, Research, Research, Research! A great part of this research is to also know what show/celebrity/artist that is coming to town. Yes, the main SDCC page will have a list of who is to appear inside. Chances are that the person you love that will be there will have a Twitter, so hop on Twitter, start “Following” it/them all. Lots of awesomeness happens on there during this special week. You never know who’s going to do what until its about to happen and that is the most live and up to date connection to have.
During research mode you have to check what places are doing a no badge required deal. Lots of events will start to pop up on Facebook and this is my favorite site to check often leading up to it, “SDCC Unofficial Blog.” They even try to keep an up to date calendar of it all. It gets to be really impressive.
Biggest key words to look out for are “Outside the Tents.” or “Offsite Meetups.” Typically the Lawn behind the Concourse Center is taken over and open to the public, sometimes you even get lucky and see the stars leaving the Panels at the best known Hall H. My husband was lucky to have a quick chat with Zachary Quinto one year while we were at the froyo for a kiddo break. The harbor even gets decked out!
Other spots pop up along the trolley line, from The New Children’s Museum down to beyond Petco Park! In fact, one big location that often sets up lots of kid friendly free fun is in the Parking Lot by Petco Park. We’ve seen Smurfs, Angry Birds, X-men, movie cars and props put on display in this lot. Many times TMNT and Hello Kitty have set up here as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if they return to this location again. Adult Swim also tend to frequent this location.
Sundays, also can have less going on outside. Some Downtown “Outside the Tent” items maybe gone by then, a little less swag items to be given out, but not nearly as big crowd wise. So if it’s your first time and you have a really tiny tot, this maybe a good introduction date to try. As for us, the seasoned veterans, it gets a little disappointing. For example, I put off going into Verizon’s Hunger Games deal till Sunday one year, and came Sunday it was gone. Yeah, still a little bummed over that. :/
Here’s a couple events already in the works this year that you may want to check into: These two are happening not exactly in the heart of the Con, but close to Balboa Park, and are totally family friendly! Cute, Cute Kawii being event 1 & event 2, “Underground Lightsaber Battle.” Though this event is almost monthly, with SDCC going it should be all that more interesting.
Always open for SDCC is the Chuck Jones Gallery (closer to the date they may tell you of special viewings). Another fun one this year for the Trekkie Family is the “Star Trek: 50 Artists, 50 Years Art Exhibit” at Micheal J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery. Both galleries are on 5th Ave.
Ok, hear me out, for a mere $15 you can buy a 30 minute time slot for food & drink AND Cat Time at “The Cat Cafe – Coffee & Kitties!” (Just in case you are wondering, sorry folks, I won’t be there. The kiddo and I are both allergic 🙁 )
Sonic is also Hosting a Big 25th Anniversary Party at the House of Blues, though at this point I believe tickets are sold out, but you can check.
Another event to look into is “The Zombie Walk” (here). Though I should warn you, my child is a little braver then the average kid! So if yours loves costumes, zombies, and LOVES to play the part without taking it serious, it will be big fun. It’s big that they plan to be back this year!
Even with knowing some locations will be open for us, I still recommend bringing a backpack. It’s hot, sometimes extra humid, and as you know kids get dirty. Sunscreen is also great, plus snacks & water can never be over rated.
On top of what you bring, there will be a ton of SDCC Swag and very quickly your arms can get full, especially if you have yet to find the promotional reusable bags being given out (*tip normally giant bags around the Gaslamp stop).
There are typically drink and snack companies also giving out freebies. There will also be tons of street vendors, even quick stop snacks outside the hotels, but if you want to save your cash pack a little. We typically save our big spending for a middle of the day break, pick any downtown restaurant; enjoy the break and the facilities. Some get completely theme changed by a channel, show or movie, it can be really fun! Even early in the morning Donut Bar will be embracing the comic book theme. Not only can the themes be really fun, but it also gives you just enough of a boost to keep going. It is extremely hard to even see all the outside stuff in one day and if you really want to push you will need the break.
As for strollers, well, I wouldn’t recommend. The crowds can get tight! On and off the trolley can be worse. There is a lot of up and down the curb from sidewalk walking, so it can get really hard even with the best jogger. Another reason, it’s not the easiest if you want to enjoy the pedicabs that will be all decked out and prepaid (still tip your driver 😉 ).
I’m sure you are getting excited and are so ready to get down there, but here are a few more words of advice:
Downtown can be madness! As the crowds have grown over the years, the chances of finding pay for a day parking, or even being dropped off, has gotten crazy and closer to impossible. Personally, as a born & raised San Diegan, I won’t drive Downtown during the event.
I really REALLY recommend taking the Trolley. It is soooo much easier. You have 2 really good drop offs, one is “The Convention Center” stop another is the “Gaslamp Quarter” stop. Both put you right in the action.
And, probably the best tip with riding the trolley is, get on it as far back as you can. The closer you get to Downtown the more packed it gets, which is especially hard when you have little ones along for the ride. But honestly, it’s one of my daughter’s favorite parts of the whole deal, lots of people in costume to check out along the way, and you typically meet fun, like-minded people to discuss the latest fandoms.
Another bonus is all the Trolleys are typically decked out and we love to see which one we get.
One Last Word of Caution, (I swear, this is it) though this can be a really awesome event with all this sci-fi fun, some cosplayers and hired actors can really get into the look of a certain character or part. Most will be great at over compensating to make the kiddos feel comfortable, and know it’s make believe, but if your kid is easily squeamish and tends to be sensitive to the “scary” during Halloween, I would not recommend bringing them with you to all the madness. It can get crowded and over stimulating and is definitely not a “G Rated” enviroment.
Please feel free to share your tips as well! Especially, if you know an event that’s happening, I know as we get closer more will come out, we would love to hear from you!!!
*I was not paid to advertise. No free San Diego Comic Con Passes here. All pictures taken and edited by me through years of SDCC’s past.