WHAT UP INTERNET?!
With the SDCC Hotel Lottery going down in just a couple days, SDCC-fever (for this Bro, at least) is running at an all time high. As y’all know, when attending the Con of all Cons the crew and I primarily focus on securing those illustrious exclusives. This will be our third consecutive year of attending SDCC and we’ve got into a great rhythm for how we approach this gargantuan convention. Despite my best efforts scouring very helpful blogs (and tweeting folks who were kind enough to offer assistance in the months leading up to SDCC 2014, I still felt ill-prepared for our first day attempting to utilize the Sails Pavilion draw system.
A bit of background for your SDCC n00bs out there: San Diego Comic-Con utilizes a draw system for many of the most popular autograph sessions and to purchase the most sought-after exclusives, such as those sold by Lego and Hasbro. In the case of Lego, you’ve a 50/50 shot of receiving a ticket for the option to purchase an exclusive (more on this later). That being said, other companies utilize Sails Pavilion in a variety of different ways.
For example: Hasbro (in years passed) has provided those lucky enough to get in line before the cut off (which typically happens minutes after the convention center doors open) has provided Con-goers with tickets with a guaranteed time to shop at their booth. Bandai hands out tickets to purchase their exclusives, and marks attendees’ badges to ensure the limits for each exclusive are not exceeded. For most autograph sessions, ConLife lovers are given a ticket to attend a specific session. Once the allotment has been dispersed to those in line, the draw is finished.
While specific companies’ may utilize Sails Pavilion in different methods and these are always subject to change, what doesn’t change is the location all these draws take place in. One of the largest hurdles for prepping our first official day at SDCC way back in 2014 was not knowing exactly where to go during the stampede to Sails Pavilion just after sunrise. In order to save my Bros who are unfamiliar with the Sails Pavilion process the anguish (and disappointment) I felt after our very first morning of SDCC, last year I decided to compose a photo walk-through of what we do each morning when attending Comic-Con.
While this isn’t company specific, this post will show you exactly where you need to go first thing in the morning if you’re after the exclusives most people are. During SDCC 2015 I was one of approximately twelve people on planet Earth rocking a Windows Phone so I ask if you please excuse the poor quality of well, all of the following photos. While none of these photos are particularly good (much less clear), they do show you where you need to go in order to get in line for whatever you’re chasing. As we get closer to SDCC companies will slowly release more information regarding how they will utilize the Sails Pavilion draw system, as there’s no guarantee previous years precedence will continue in 2016.
Assuming you’re unfamiliar with the San Diego Convention Center and won’t have time to scout it out beforehand, I’ll start with our photo-guided tour to Sails Pavilion exclusives outside the Convention Center. To help you Bros get your bearings, we’ll be starting from the left side of the convention center where the Hilton San Diego Bayfront is located:
I’m sure this police officer/security guard is positively enthralled at the prospect of having to deal with 100,000+ Con-goers (not counting those who swarm the Gaslamp district strictly to people-watch/participate in outside events). Regardless, in the left of this photo is the San Diego Convention Center. On the right is the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Under the white tents are those camping in the notorious Hall H line and in dead-center we have Petco Park.
This walkway is sandwiched between the San Diego Convention Center (on the left) and the white tents set up for those who are camping in the Hall H line.
Coming up on the front of the Convention center
This point is where most lines begin to form. If you were to do a complete 180 on this point (and I apologize for not capturing a photo of this point for this post) you’d see two lines. To the right would be the white tents which serve as the Hall H line. Lining up to the grass in the left would be the “everything else” line. This catch-all includes not only the line for the Sails Pavilion draw, but Ballroom 20 and literally everything that isn’t Hall H. If you find a healthy number ahead of you from this point, fear not; since this line encompasses quite a bit including panels, exclusives for every company, autographs and the floor, it tends to swell quite early. IMPORTANT NOTE: There’s no telling how the introduction of RFID badges will impact (if at all) how people line up for SDCC overnight.
For both SDCC 2014 and 2015, the entrance to Sails Pavilion first thing in the morning took place by the “E” sign. Hopefully this is unchanged for SDCC 2016.
Wanted to make sure you Bros know exactly where you’re headed, as I know that’s something I would’ve appreciated.
Pretty straightforward stuff
The two photos above are of the same escalator, albeit at different times of the day. First thing in the morning, it’s obviously packed to the brim. This escalator is directly to your right upon entering the convention center, and volunteers/guards will be directing you to it as soon as you enter. IMPORTANT NOTE: Whatever you do, don’t run anywhere during SDCC. That being said, feel free to walk as briskly as humanly possible.
This is a view of the same entrance coming down later in the day. Note the lone remnant from the morning directing people to the escalator. First thing in the morning, there will be many of these “barricades” directing ConLife lovers straight up.
This is the view as soon as you reach the top of the escalator. You’re going to want to make a beeline to the left (as going to the right would only be looking out the window).
First thing in the morning, everyone is heading to the Sails Pavilion. In years passed this served as not only the location of many companies’ exclusives/autographs draw, but badge pickup and a few other things. Considering badges are going to be mailed out this year, there’s no telling (just yet!) how this space will be utilized.
Once you reach this point, you’re going to want to head straight to the right if you’re gunning for the Sails Pavilion. This is where the line begins to break: some people head straight (which allows you to line up directly for the convention center) and many head right to Sails. It’s of note that once you secure whatever ticket/drawing you’re hoping for, you can line up to enter the convention center directly inside Sails.
If you’re gunning for Sails you’re going to head straight out the doors to the right/
To the right is Sails and straight is a line for stuff this post is not focused on.
The view once you finally turn right-and straight toward Sails!
This is NOT the view you see upon entering Sails. Con-goers enter directly via the doors on the left. Once you enter Sails Pavilion, if you’re gunning for the exclusive draws you’re going to want to head left as well. This photo was snapped (quite poorly, I confess) at SDCC 2015. To the right was badge pickup (moot now that badges are being mailed out) and many other things I’ve yet to check out despite attending for two years in a row.
This is more in line with the view you should see upon entering Sails. Remember, if you’re hoping to nab Hasbro/Lego/Bandai/any-of-the-heavy-hitters-utilizing-a-sails-pavilion-draw, odds are they’re going to be to the left. Some mornings there were signs (more on this in a bit) directing attendees, however don’t count on them being present. That being said, you can always ask a volunteer!
The view of the left side of the Sails Pavilion. Most of the big draws actually take place outside Sails, and to reach them you need to head to the terrace directly to the left.
Poorly-photographed signs from the first morning of SDCC 2015 showing exclusive-chasers where to head for the draw.
Provided the draw takes place in the same location as the last two years, it’ll be directly outside those doors.
The doors we just exited are on the right beside the fellow in the blue shirt. The volunteer with the sign is indicating which line forms where they’re standing-last year this was Lego. Directly behind where this photo was taken was the autograph line and on the far side where all the people are was the Bandai line. Bear in mind; there’s no guarantee any of these companies’ lines will be in the exact same spot.
To the left of this photo is the previously-referred to door. This was the view from the Lego line, however I wanted to provide it for perspective.
Once you get to the Sails Pavilion, it’s a bit of a free-for-all in order to find the correct line you’re after. There will be tons of people with signs stating where lines form and directing traffic, so if you’re lost feel free to ask one of the volunteers. There’s no telling how the changes to badge pickup will impact the Sails Pavilion set up, if at all. Still; if the draws stay in the same area as the last two years, this is where you’ll want to be. Provided you Bro gets lucky, a select few of us might be able to walk away with a handful of golden tickets like these:
Both Bandai and Lego used tickets like these last year in order to buy exclusives. One of these bad boys meant you’d be guaranteed to purchase, and there’s no way you’d be able to snag one without one. Many people will try to hit you up to buy these tickets off you, however I’m in the game of amassing a stockpile of toys so I can one day look back on the sleepless nights I spent and hundreds of dollars I spent so I can confidently tell my children “Look, your Dad was a hardcore NerdLife Bro!” Because that’s something to be proud of! I think….
Although it’s a bit straightforward, considering the deluge of information I’ve dropped upon you Bros I’ll compose a few short posts in the future regarding the Bandai and Lego exclusives process; at least for 2015. Hopefully the set up doesn’t change too much for 2016, as that would render this post (and consequently, my entire SDCC gameplan!) moot.
When I was planning my inaugural SDCC excursion, I would’ve loved to have a post like this so I’m hoping you Bros found this little photo-walkthrough helpful. In the coming months I’ll be sure to hit y’all with a handful of posts to help you Bros prep. If there’s anything you Bros would be interested in, feel free to hit your Boy up on here or on Twitter; you know I’ve got y’alls back. Until next time, Bros!