I know this thread has nothing to do with projectors, or gaming. It does deal with saving money, even though it’s not on electronics, computer products, or video games. I am going a bit rogue on this one, but anything to save someone a few dollars! After surviving four days at Comic-Con I thought I would give those planning on attending next year a few pointers. Hopefully these will save you some cash, and prevent you from having a constant headache.
Booking your room:
In order to save money, be sure to book early. As soon as Comic-Con releases the room pricing, book it. Make sure the hotel has a refund policy, just in case you are unable to purchase tickets. If you want to save even more money, consider staying south of the convention center close to Mexico (Tijuana). Not only will you avoid the traffic coming from the north, the rooms usually run about $100 a night. Try to book a hotel that includes parking, has free Wi-fi, and provides a free breakfast if possible. By eating the free breakfast you can save about $10 a day. Also, all of the hotels near the convention center charge for parking. It can vary from around $20-$40 for each twenty-four hour period, and they all seem to charge to use their Wi-fi as well.
Wear comfortable walking shoes! You will be walking more than you ever imagined; take care of your feet. Walking around for twelve to fourteen hours a day is no joke; your legs will be sore and you might be wishing for death by the end of the day.
If you do dress, go crazy. Also, be original! There will be a ton of Klingons, Storm Troopers, Darth Vaders, etc.. It is always refreshing to see something new and original. This is the one time you can dress up besides Halloween, and not make a complete moron out of yourself…go for it!
We found a lot off of Market and 7th that was only $12 for twelve hours. It is a decent walk from the convention center, but a lot of the lots that are really close to Comic-Con run about $30-40 a day. There is also parking at Petco Park, it runs about $25 a day, and is fairly close.
Get a shuttle map, and schedule. The shuttles pick you right up in front of the convention center, and drop you off at various points within San Diego. All stops are within a six mile radius (estimated). You can use these shuttles to get to restaurants, and back to Comic-Con. They are all paid for by the city of San Diego, so you can save a lot of money on taxis, and pedicabs this way.
Food and Drinks:
Bring a backpack filled with drinks and snacks, unless you like paying $4.25 for a 20oz. Coke, or $3.25 for a bottle of water. A sandwich is $8.25 if my memory serves me correctly, so it is just as cheap to go to a restaurant outside of Comic-Con. There are a ton of places across the street from the convention center, and they are accessible by the shuttle. Beware that a lot of the smaller diners and restaurants close early, like 3pm early. We could not believe how many places were closed when we were looking for a place to eat. Always call ahead and ask! There are also a few themed restaurants; this year SyFy had one named after the diner on the show Eureka: Cafe Diem. We met the entire cast of Being Human, as well as a couple of the actors from Eureka and Warehouse 13. I am sure SyFy requests they eat there, so you may get a photo op and autograph out of eating at some of the themed restaurants.
Expect the worst, and then double it. Comic-Con is as bad, or possibly worse, than Disneyland on the 4th of July. It is wall to wall people. You will constantly feel like pushing children out of your way, and choking people. Ever since Hollywood took over Comic-Con it has been HORRIBLE! For example, the True Blood panel was full before it even started; people lined up for some of the panels the night before. You can easily wait six to twelve hours in line for a panel, if it is popular. It was just not worth it to us, wasting a whole day for one panel. The worst part is that Comic-Con staff do not clear the rooms after each panel, they just allow people to stay in the room/hall all day. That seems unfair, and does not give a lot of the people in line the opportunity to get in. Just because you’re in line for a few hours does not mean you will actually get to see what you are waiting for. Not to mention they allow way too many people in the convention center to begin with. The Saturday attendance for 2011 was 150,000. The attendance for the first year I attended (2002) was 63,000. It has outgrown the San Diego Convention Center, even though they won’t admit it. Be sure to bring some Tylenol with you, you’re going to need it.
Make sure you bring a camera with a ton of zoom, because you will probably be in the back of the room/hall most of the time. A lot of the rooms are dark, so make sure it does well in low light as well. I bought an inexpensive $200 camera with 18x zoom before going and I thought it would be enough, but most of the pictures were out of focus due to poor lighting conditions.
Most of the celebrities charge for their autographs by selling you a photo; they can range from $10-$30 each. Most of the celebrities were very nice, but you will run into a few that really seem like they don’t want to be there. These ones usually aren’t willing to take pictures with you. If you want autographs from a panel, you better be quick to run to the tables where the celebs are, they usually leave the room fairly quickly. Here are some examples of the cost of autographs:
Lou Ferrigno: One photo for $25, or two for $40 (very cool dude)
Nicholas Brendon (Buffy’s Xander): one photo for $30 (very friendly)
Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek): one photo for $30 (did not seem to want to be there)
Irwin Keyes (House of 1,000 Corpses): one photo for $10 (great guy)
Rowdy Roddy Piper (wrestler): one photo for $20 (positively the most charismatic, and nicest celebrity you could hope to meet)
All of the current, major celebrities did not charge for autographs. There were long lines to get them though.
The exhibition hall is where you can purchase a lot of the comic book art, as well as art in general. They also sell toys, clothing, posters, pre-signed memorabilia, etc.. Do not get caught anywhere near the exhibition hall exits around 7 p.m.. That is when the exhibition hall closes, and you will be in for a huge headache. I REPEAT, do not be anywhere near the exhibition floor, or the exits near closing. You will be stampeded by a tidal wave of human beings. Stay upstairs, and check out panels from around 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m..
You can try to bargain with the vendors on purchasing multiple items. It might not always work, but sometimes it will save you a few bucks. If you are a bargain hunter (like me), wait until Sunday afternoon to do your shopping. A lot of the vendors are getting ready to close up shop, and are desperate for sales. They will mark down a lot of their products, and be more willing to wheel and deal.
There is a mall less than two miles from the convention center called Horton Plaza. If you need an extra shirt, shoes, or underwear because you soiled yourself after meeting your favorite celebrity, it’s all there! There is also a Ralphs grocery store, and CVS drugstore within walking distance. Again, just ask one of the shuttle drivers in front of the convention center if they go anywhere near them and they will point you in the right direction.
There will be tons of people pushing all sorts of products on you. Postcards, fliers, CD’s, posters, coupons, etc.. Just be ready to be bombarded with useless crap, it will happen to you constantly. Do not litter, throw it away if you do not want it!
Most of the Comic-Con attendees are very friendly, and open to dialogue. Feel free to strike up a conversation, you might get some dirt on where a celebrity is, or if something great is about to happen. Or the greatest advice, where all the great deals are in San Diego! It’s like being transported to a world where people are actually nice, and fun to talk to.
If you are thrifty, you can manage to save a lot of money. Here is how much I spent over the four days:
Hotel for four nights = $410 (southern San Diego by Tijuana)
Breakfast = free at the hotel
Lunch = $80 total
Dinner = $100 total
Gas = $30 (my car gets like thirty-five miles per gallon)
Snacks/drinks = $40 total
Parking = $74
Shopping = $200
Four day pass = $150 (2012 price)
Plan on spending close to $1,100 just for yourself, and that is if you plan on going cheap. If you can find a buddy to split the hotel cost and parking with then you can do it for about $850. If you plan on shopping a lot, then plan accordingly. I have seen people bring $2,000 just for shopping in the exhibition hall, so it all depends on what you plan on buying.
Purchasing passes for the following year:
If you plan on attending the following year, then you will need to buy passes at Comic-Con. Tickets always sell out fast, and are very hard to get online. Plan on spending four to six hours in line for next year’s tickets. I would do this on Thursday, or Sunday. Those days typically have the weakest programming schedule. Be sure to get in line to buy passes early in the morning, like 4 a.m. early.
Hopefully these tips help you save a ton of cash, and if all else fails then you can always try this: =)