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Comic-Con makes its way to San Diego's Convention Center every summer and I finally decided to head downtown to check out the biggest Comic-Con event of the year. I have been living in San Diego for two years now and still haven't been able to get my hands on passes, but I heard that there were plenty of activities taking place just outside of the convention center. I live about a few miles from downtown and figured it wouldn't hurt to check out the free events outside of Comic-Con.
I first checked out a site called Outside Comi-Con to get an idea of what events I wanted to stop by. If you go to the website now, the events have all been taken down since it has ended but new events will be available for next year when time gets closer. I don't know the exact dates, so I'll probably check a few months prior to Comic Con 2019.
I was pleasantly surprised at all the events that were taking place and it actually took me a little while to plan which events I wanted to go to. There were about twenty or so events and I narrowed my list to four: Cartman's Escape Room, Dragon Ball, The Good Place, and Nintendo Gaming Lounge.
I am a huge South Park fan so I really wanted to get into Cartman's Escape Room. Dragon Ball is very nostalgic since I grew up watching the Japanese anime. I used to collect Dragon Ball Z cards and would trade cards all the time with my siblings and friends.
I also grew up playing Nintendo and couldn't get enough of Mario Kart. I miss those games. I have a hard time playing games these days as they look way too realistic and there are too many buttons on the controllers. I miss those simple times! The Good Place is a show that I recently started watching and I love all the actors in it. So with these four picks in mind, I headed towards Downtown San Diego around 10AM.
My Rookie Mistakes
Parking was pretty much impossible to find unless I wanted to pay a hefty $50 parking garage fee. I should have just taken an UBER. I did, however, manage to find parking many blocks away from the main area of the events. Luckily, downtown San Diego has rental scooters scattered everywhere, so for the first time, I rented a "Bird" electronic scooter. It was actually really fun riding on the scooter so parking far away turned out to be a good thing.
Underestimating the Lines
I know Comic-Con is huge and I figured most of the crowds were inside enjoying the celebrity panels and all the other fun stuff inside the convention center. I was dead wrong. The free outside events were just as popular as the paid convention center events. I went to each of the events I wanted to check out and each line was a 3-4 hour wait. I was shocked because that wait time is worse than Disney World! I have the patience for an hour or two, but three hours is a bit too long for me.
Getting to the Event Too Late
I quickly discovered that if I wanted any chance of getting into any event without the long wait times, I would have to go super duper early. I talked to the security guards at the different events and most of them said to come an hour before the event opens.
Despite my rookie mistakes, there was still plenty to enjoy. There were tons of displays set up for photo-ops and there were so many people dressed up in costumes. It almost felt like Halloween.
The Jack Ryan Experience
There was one event that I was able to attend that only had a wait time of about 45 minutes. It was a huge event held by Amazon Prime to promote their upcoming new series, "Jack Ryan". While I was waiting in line, they had attendants come by several times to offer free bottled water and a fun Jack Ryan newspaper to read to help kill the time. The line wasn't super long, but it took a while to get in because everyone had to create an analyst badge. Right before you enter you make an analyst badge at a kiosk they had set up. This badge was your entrance ticket and it also was a way to scan your email so that all the photos you took inside would be directly emailed to you. It was pretty high tech and very well organized.
The Jack Ryan experience had a live virtual reality showcase and tons of photo-op booths. They even had a free ice cream stand to help you cool down and handed out little gifts like bags and tumblers. Overall, it was a fun event and they definitely got me geared up to watch Jack Ryan.
Although I didn't get into any of the events I wanted to check out, I did get into the Jack Ryan experience and it was pretty entertaining. It was also fun walking around outside to see all the fun props and people dressed in costumes. The weather is usually nice in San Diego and it was in the low eighties, which is perfect weather for me. Next year if I still can't snag a ticket, I'll definitely head down to the outside events again.
Have you ever been to San Diego's Comic-Con? Have any tips for scoring tickets or skipping the long lines? I want the secrets if you have them! If you want to start planning for Comic-Con 2019, check out our hotel and Airbnb suggestions:
COMIC-CON SAN DIEGO
ADDRESS: Downtown San Diego, California
NEXT EVENT DATE July 18-21, 2019