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26 July 2009 @ 02:36 pm
The San Diego Comic Con  
Let me start this off by saying that I love the San Diego Comic Con. I met my husband here back in the early Ninties, and I’ve had many, many good visits to the Con over the years since. The Sand Diego Comic Con is one of the vacation highlights of my year, and I don’t see that changing in the future.

But this Con will always have a slightly bitter tinge to it.

This year there was going to be a panel for Iron Man 2. It was promoted heavily, and as a fan, I was extremely interested in attending the session. Word had it that not only would the director Jon Favreau be there, but also some of the stars from the movie as well. I hoped there would be clips from the movie, and maybe a discussion of some of the plotline—the usual good inside stuff.

So I planned to attend. I knew the panel was at four O'clock, so I made sure to enroll my youngest son in the daycare service offered at the Con. I knew my younger son would never have the patence to wait in a long line, and although it cost me nearly fifty dollars, I did budget for it.

I knew the event would be in hall H, at the end of the convention center, and that the lines would be well-organized and controlled, so I got down to the right spot at about one o’clock, feeling confident.

The lines were outside. On the lawn. In the broiling sun. I hadn’t counted on THAT, and the exposure meant a serious sunburn. I knew it was happening, but reasoned it was worth it, since I was in the second loop of a line now about nine loops long. I chatted with my fellow line folks, and our enthusiasm remained high.

Then the bad news started coming.

The Con has a policy of not clearing rooms between scheduled events. I know this is a policy they’ve adopted as a general and sweeping rule for the majority of their scheduled panels and events. It allows people to stay in a particular room through as many panels as they want. I myself have benefitted from it, and as I said, *generally* this isn’t a problem.

But apparently for room H, this was an issue already.

Room H had the capacity for six thousand people. Think about that a moment—six THOUSAND. We’re not talking a small room. And by two thirty, those of us in line were being told that very few of the people in the panels ahead of us were leaving.

Since the fire marshal was keeping an eye on the numbers, a lot of us started getting discouraged.

And yeah, resentful.

Part of my line was moved into the foyer—cool blessed shade! Only to discover that there were already two hundred people ahead of us in there in line.

By this time I had been waiting for two and a half hours. My feet hurt, I was crisped with a second degree sunburn and was now told that there was “a very SLIM chance of getting in. that’s just the way it is.”

Never mind that there were battalions of Press walking in, and a few fans going in as others left in ones and twos, like a prisoner exchange.

Nobody had a megaphone or bullhorn, so any announcements from the front were missed by those of us in the crowd or had to be relayed like a bizarre game of Telephone down the line.

Then the last half hour came and the panel started. We could hear the movie theme music through the closed doors ahead of us.

Damn it. I limped off, sunburned, aching, bitter and thirsty. I’d spent nearly three hours in line for this event and hadn’t gotten in because I hadn’t come to Room H at ten in the morning for the first event and squatted there all day.

This is where my anger comes in. I resent the idea that I would have to have spent the ENTIRE day in one room if I wanted to see this panel. In essence I could have to have been there for SIX hours with no chance of doing anything else at the con.

I know true fans will say that camping out is a tradition, and that I’m being a whiny baby. I say anyone paying fifty bucks for a single day ticket, and another fifty for daycare should be entitled to more than sore feet and lingering bitterness.

I suggest that the Comic Con modify its room policy this way: for yearly panels, like Quick Draw, or Oddball comics, that the non-clearing policy stay put. Con attendees will know that if they miss a particular annual panel, they’ll have a chance of seeing it the following year.

But for One-Time events, particularly ones that are heavily promoted, either some sort of pre-registration should be put into place, OR the room for it needs to be cleared after every prior event.

Just my two cents here.
 
 
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
StargateDragonstargatedragon on July 26th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
my hubby and I call BS on the way you were treated.

it's not encouraging us to try to make the effort to go to SDCC. I've been afraid for years that it's turned into nothing more than a media feeding frenzy for the rich and those with connections and has little to do with the real people anymore.

sending over virtual sunburn remedies...
cincoflexcincoflex on July 27th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Thanks--and you should attend at least one, because the Dealer's floor alone is fabulous. Lots of the smaller panels are wonderful too, and the people you meat are nothing short of fantastic.

Just avoid the big media events, *sigh*
4persephone4persephone on July 26th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
I am sorry you did not manage to get in...

if they knew numbers were going to be that high that many hours in advance I can't belieeve they didn't set up a jumbotron in a second room and at least broadcast the resulting panel in somewhere out of the bloody sun...:(
cincoflexcincoflex on July 27th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
San Diego is usually very well organized, but the numbers are really getting out of hand--when you have over 75,000 attendees in one place----
4persephone4persephone on July 27th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
I have heard that too - there has been some complaining not just from attenders, but from event vendors. I think they're even talking about fining a new venue next time around...
kastarikastari on July 26th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
So say we all.

Dammit. Cons have simply gotten too huge. I remember the days of the fan run conventions on the East Coast. I worked on staff at many. They were wonderful.

So sorry to hear your experience was horrible. Can you imagine what Dragon Con in Atlanta is going to be like?

I only attended Bear's House of Blues concert in San Diego on Friday. And I don't get to attend Dragon Con.

Yes, there should be no squatting & rooms should be swept.

cincoflexcincoflex on July 27th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Thanks--I think once Cons hit a certain size they really need to break into small groupings by genre or interest, frankly, and I suspct San Diego will have to do that sooner or later.
Officer Judyofficerjudy on July 26th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
That's horrible. :( I'm sorry you had that bad experience.
cincoflexcincoflex on July 27th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
Thanks, babe. It was frustrating, but the day itself wasn't bad. I tend to brood a bit and then just let things go, and for the sake of my sanity and the kids, I did.

Gotta tell you though, I saw a coulple of folks dressed as Zombie hockey players and nearly took a picture to show you! The uniforms were yellow and green, I think---
Officer Judyofficerjudy on July 27th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
ZOMBIE HOCKEY PLAYERS?!? Okay, now THAT is awesome. :D
Jess: big damn herojessickuh on July 26th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for that bad experience. Also, was this yesterday that you were there? So was I. I had only one objective/fandom to concentrate on that whole day as well so when I saw lines forming for Jon and co. to do their autographs, I just watched from the sidelines and was able to take a couple of pics. I almost missed the panel of my choice (ballroom 20) but I got in just in time. I think next year, I'll probably have only one or two fandoms as well and I'll take an example from your book and get there even earlier. the way I saw it, if I hadn't been able to get in the ballroom, I at least got to get a poster autographed and see my people inches away from me whereas the panel stuff I could find online everywhere. I'm sorry you didn't get to enjoy the rest of the con all because of the long wait. I'm also sorry that OMG *the* Cincoflex was right there in the same building as me and I missed the chance to meet her for the first time ever in life. Yo me, that was major fail too.

*sends tubs of aloe your way*
cincoflexcincoflex on July 27th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
Thank you sweetheart!

Damn, I'm bummed about not meeting YOU! I was there on Saturday--I had a badge for the entire con, but we could only do Saturday.

Maybe next year, okay?
Jess: csi grissomjessickuh on July 27th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
I can't believe I know more people on my flist who are interested with the stuff that was prominent in this year's con. I was totally thinking of you when we were snapping pics of Jon Favreau and I actually scanned the crowd to see if you were there.
Elayna: Wolverineelayna88 on July 27th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
That sounds really incredibly irritating. :-(
cincoflexcincoflex on July 28th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
oh yeah, totally, and thanks!
alice_day: unfreakingbelievablealice_day on July 27th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
Nah, I would be ticked off about that, as well.
cincoflexcincoflex on July 28th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
yeah, I just felt so frustrated.
VR Trakowski: Anti-stupidvr_trakowski on July 27th, 2009 05:27 am (UTC)
Ohh, I am so sorry. What a disappointment. Yeah, it definitely sounds like management needs to do something about that! A second room at the very least.
cincoflexcincoflex on July 28th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
True, but it won't happen--space is limited these days, sigh.
boubabe14: Mad Catboubabe14 on July 28th, 2009 07:08 am (UTC)
I'm really sorry it turned out so badly for you. That is an idiotic way to run a convention, with or without the traditions in place. Bastards.
cincoflexcincoflex on July 28th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
I'm sure they just weren't realizing the degree of interest, yeah.
(Anonymous) on July 28th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
Hi, My name is Bill Gatevackes. Just giving you because I don't have a LiveJournal ID and want you to know I am not an anonymous stalker!

Sorry you had that experience. I went through a similar one last year for the Watchmen panel. Only I did get there just before the doors open and couldn't get in.

It seems you have to camp out overnight to get in to these special panels. That just isn't feasible. Especially when you have kids.

I agree with you that pre-registration for these events would be ideal. The way it is, it's a bit demeaning and non-inclusive. Not to mention not very fair. Maybe if enough people like you share their stories, they will change the way the do things.
cincoflexcincoflex on July 28th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
Hey Bill! Yeah, I'm sorry about Watchman for you--that must have been frustrating too. And yeah, it's so hard to get in to the popular stuff. The only good side is that usually the panels are loaded up on YouTube within hours.
kellykilmer.blogspot.com on July 28th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
What also is not fair is the large number of people who stand in line for other people AND LINE JUMPERS!!! We got in line two days in a row extremely early to see the Miyazaki panel and to see the Disney 3-D panel. It was insane. I'm sorry you were sunburned...
cincoflexcincoflex on July 28th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
oh I hear you on those two issues as well. It's just insane at times.
(Anonymous) on July 28th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
I totally sympathize with what happened in your situation. I wanted to watch the Avatar panel, but gave up when I saw the enormous line an hour before it was going to start.

I did make it into the Iron Man panel, however, and luckily it did not require being there six hours early. A little over 2 and a half hours, but not six hours.

Going by my text message logs from the day, I lined up at 1:20 PM. Got in by 1:40. Watched the Extract panel. Watched the Sony panel. The Iron Man panel started at 4 PM. So 2 hours 40 minutes to get in. It was fairly full by the time I got in, but people were getting in for at least an hour or so after.

My girlfriend lined up at 1:06 and had a seat by 1:18. Her texts are why I decided to try the line.

Are you sure you were there at 1 PM and in the right place? By my experience, and by how many people were still coming in after me (I was by the entrance), I'd guess that if you had lined up as late as 1:30-1:45, you had a shot at making it in.
cincoflexcincoflex on July 28th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
I was in the right place, but they'd just started lining people up outside, so you must have been in the group of two hundred already in the building ahead of us.

You and your girlfriend WERE lucky, and I hope you two had a good time, no hard feelings, heehee!
(Anonymous) on July 29th, 2009 12:42 am (UTC)
Sorry, I can't work up too much sympathy, as at least you were told over an hour before the panel that there was a good chance you wouldn't get in. It was your choice under those circumstances to stay in line. And let's face it, "Iron Man 2" was at least one of the five most anticipated panels of the entire con. Your suggestion to have a TV feed set up somewhere for Hall H is a good one.

Of course, all this is easy for me to say, as I got into the main panel I cared about, "Lost," after a 2 and a half hour wait!
cincoflex: Hankcincoflex on July 29th, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
well of COURSE you're not going to have any sympathy--you got in on YOUR panel.

I'm not asking for sympathy. I'm venting, and I'm offering a suggestion on how to run things better, that's all.
(Anonymous) on July 29th, 2009 10:20 am (UTC)
Sour grapes?
Seeing as how you've, and I quote "benefitted from it" and "generally this isn’t a problem", I'm guessing this is just a case of sour grapes. Perhaps if you were in that hall a few panels before, you wouldn't really have had a reason to think about the people outside in the line.
cincoflexcincoflex on July 29th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Sour grapes?
yes, the panels that I've benefitted from have all been yearly ones though--ones that I know if I missed, I could catch again next year. (and that generally don't have any lines, BTW)

Not quite the same as Iron Man which was only THIS year. And seriously, do you really think it's reasonable to have to sit through three panels of things you aren't interested in (and that other people outside MIGHT be) just to see the one panel you ARE interested in? I myself think that's pretty lopsided.
(Anonymous) on July 29th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Sour grapes?
I'm the anonymous above who got in to the Iron Man panel.

It only required sitting through two earlier panels; the Extract panel and the Sony panel, both of which I did want to see.

When I lined up at 1:20, I was outside, in the first row on the grass, right about in the middle. The second row was filling up as we waited.

Anyone that was there at 1PM got in. Anyone that was there at 1:20 got in. Anyone that was there at 1:30 probably got it. Anything after that I'd call arriving closer to 2 PM than 1 PM.

Showing up 2 and a half hours before is not pleasant, but is not that big of a deal. Even if there were no previous panels, even if it wasn't Comic-Con, filling a room of 6000 people would require almost an hour load in time. (This is from experience working numerous conventions and events in Vegas.)
cincoflexcincoflex on July 29th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Sour grapes?
And I was in the second line at about the middle--near the couple dressed as Gambit and Rogue, in fact. I'm not going to quibble about exact times because it's over and done with, but I hold to my statement that the Con folk should never have started lines out on the lawn if they knew there was no real chance for those folks to get into Hall H.

I'm glad you had a good time and saw panels you wanted, but not all of us were in that situation, and I know I speak for more than just myself.
Amanda: Pretender - Angel // lildumdumlea724 on August 2nd, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
That's really, really sucky that you had to go through that. I'm so sorry! :( :(
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