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This year, Preview night felt different than what it had felt like in the past couple of years. It could be the limited amount of Preview Night attendees which was cut down when CCI decided to sell tickets with and without preview night. Preview night was actually pretty enjoyable this year. I think for the first time in Years, I was able to actually get in right whenthe halls opened whereas previous years it took a lot more time to even get in.
CCI also came up with another new idea which was pre-paid parking passes where you purchased your parking space in advance. All I have to say to CCI/Parking Lot companies is BRAVO!!!! No headaches or huge lines to get parking. No getting up at the crack of dawn or earlier to try and secure a parking space in the parking lots. This has been the most relaxed SDCC that I have attended in the past few years since tickets have been selling out.
One suggestion is again the lines to get into the exhibit hall before the Convention Center opens is to have signs so everyone knows where to go. I and many others who parks at the Hilton Garage walked right past the line to get in all the way to Hall D before realizing the line to get in was in fact right where we were one we had crossed the street from the Hilton Parking Garage. I think more signs would help as the hired convention security are not informed with the correct information at times. As press, we aren't only here to give our take on SDCC but to observe the way things were handled and how CCI can continue to improve. We don't have any special privileges. We get in line like everyone else to get in, to buy exclusives and to attend any panels.
There is still congestion problems within the exhibit hall. I'm hoping the City of San Diego can come up with a way to fulfill the growing needs of SDCC as SDCC has clearly grown way bigger than what is currently available. I wonder if there can be temporary buildings outside of the convention set up in tents etc..., be it on the lawn outside or other big adjacent places like what some companies did this year. I have read other suggestions such as using Petco Park. Maybe use more Hotels to hold more panels to disperse the crowds inside the convention center. It wouldn't be SDCC anymore if they moved it to Anaheim or somewhere else in CA. I have been attending SDCC for about 10 years or more now and it would be a shame of they had to move due to space constraints and would definitely be an end of an era.
This year was pretty relaxed except 1 company that still can't get their act together when it comes to selling exclusives. That company is Mattel. Mattel has been the worst company to handle their exclusives year after year and they still can't come up with 1 idea and stick to it like other companies such as Sideshow, Hasbro, Gentle Giant etc..... Mattel knows how popular their exclusives will be and how their lines are going to be long no matter what. Why don't they just follow Hasbro's lead and hand out tickets upstairs in the Sails Pavilion everyday except Sunday and limit purchases to the limit per person until Sunday. They should also not be barring Professionals and Press badge holders the right to purchase exclusives since neither of these groups can get in early like Exhibitors can. Exhibitors should not be allowed to buy anything until Sunday.
Here's my ordeal with them. Since I was press, I couldn't buy any exclusives from Mattel until Noon on Thursday. I head to their booth at Noon and guess what the line is blocked and there was a huge gap in the line. It wasn't overflowing and even their Mattycollector facebook says that you can line up if there is space in the queque. They have the Elite Security people blocking the line and handing out cards to come back SATURDAY @ 2:30. I had other stuff to see and do and couldnt spend my time standing there until the line opened. I tried again Friday Morning right when exhibit halls opened only to find out the line was half empty yet they blocked the line again and handed out the cards for Saturday at 11am. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed in Mattel. Saturday came rolling along and I was pumped to finally get in line only to realize once they handed me the list of what was left that most of the stuff that I wanted was SOLD OUT!!!! I'm still upset, since I wanted the Hot Wheels Wonder Woman Invisible Jet even though there was nothing in it.
Mattel really needs to get their act together. They kept changing how they were going to handle lines during the show. Many people asked before hand how they were going to handle the lines and all they said was just in get in line like you normally would. They mentioned nothing about passes will be handed out if the line overflowed etc.... Here's something to think about. Why don't you just limit people so they can only buy the total limit of each exclusive and not let people get back in line to buy more. Give more people a shot at buy exclusives and let Sunday be a free for all. With that said Mattel gets a huge thumbs down at SDCC.
Another gripe with Mattel was their pre-sale on their website to sell stuff using Digital River which was a joke. How long did the page have to refresh before we can even get anything. It took at least 15+ minutes to get to the exclusives purchase page. By the time, I got through all the good exclusives were gone. At least you couldv'e made the more popular exclusives more limited to 2 per person. Their line to pick up pre-sales were long as well and they only had 2 people to take care of the huge line. Line wait was at least 1 hour or more. Who am I kidding, Mattel is not organized and they can't plan out ahead of time on how to handle their lines and to take care of their customers who buy their products. They are never prepared and from all the years before they still couldn't manage to have a plan to implement on purchasing items.
SDCC has definitely grown bigger than the Convention Center itself. Many companies, panels etc... were at neighboring hotels, across the street which was known to many as Swag Street. Syfy hosted their Cafe/restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel. Freebies from Syfy, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, numerous other companies promoting movies, tv shows etc... A prop car from the Green Hornet was out in public viewing. Many hotels had movie promotions on their building's windows. If you were walking down Swag Street on Saturday around 12-1pm you might have saw Joshua Jackson of Fringe walking down the street with his version of Pacey-con where he was shooting a video for funnyordie.com which you can see his full video. He played Pacey on Dawson's Creek and was walking down the street holding a boombox playing the Dawson's Creek theme song. Pics Here.
Let's get down to a play by play of what a day of attending SDCC would be like had you been there. Get up early around 6:30am or so depending on the day. Head to the convention center, park in the parking lot and its about 7:30-8am. Head up to the second floor of the convention building as that is where you can enter to wait in line to get into the exhibit hall. Its a pretty long walk all the way around to the other side which is close to a 360 degree. You line up with everyone else with at least a 5 person deep width. At this time you can eat breakfast, sit on the floor and just rest before the exhibit hall opens. When it gets close the Elite Security will tell everyone to get up and move closer to the escalators. When it opens everyone yells or screams when it opens. The exhibit hall doesn't open until 9:30 but everyday they were letting us in at 9am. Once you're down the escalators, you go into the exhibit hall and head to which ever booth you need to be at first.
If you were there for any popular panels that were held in Hall H or Ballroom 20 prepare yourselves for long lines and get to the line early and I mean super early. Many were lined up especially for Hall H at least 3-4 hours before 7am. I bet there were many who probably stayed overnight to secure their place in line.
We all agreed that this year was very enjoyable. We took more photos than previous years and really just enjoyed being at SDCC. I think what makes it a downer for some is the headaches of trying to buy exclusives from SDCC. The confusion as to what line to stand in as there are a lot of lines for different companies/exclusives/signings etc..... going on at the same time and that's just the exhibit hall. If you're attending panels the lines are mostly upstairs except Hall H which is starts outside the convention center. Confusing? You bet! Just prepare yourself ahead of time and ask around if unsure where to line up. Someone will have the right answer.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a break and go outside and enjoy the San Diego Downtown area and walk around or find a nice spot to rest and people watch for a little bit. Don't forget to eat and stay hydrated throughout the day.
Check out all our pictures of this year's show below! See you next year San Diego!!!!!!!!