Fandemonium: San Diego Comic-Con 2016 & Lessons Learned (PART I)


(There are going to be two parts because SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED.)

I had the absolute pleasure of attending Comic-Con for all four days (including Preview Night) this year. I only went on Thursday last year – so I knew going in that this was going to be an even more wild ride. I had to prepare a lot more for this con, so I did a lot of research. Tony B. Kim’s blog, Crazy4ComicCon was extremely helpful. His “10 Weird Things You Need Before Comic-Con” list was hilarious and gave great context to what I needed to expect going into this behemoth of a week.


Here’s a list of things I ended up bringing with me each day:

  1. A backpack
  2. An umbrella (ESPECIALLY necessary for times where you’re waiting in long lines in the sun)
  3. A foldable chair for hellish lines (there are many)
    *MTV gives tiny chairs out every year in easy-to-carry bags, so definitely head to their booth for this freebie next time!
  4. Bottled water/refillable water bottle (there are water fountains inside)
  5. Chapstick
  6. A ball cap/sun hat (protect your face!!)
  7. Cardigan/sweater for the evening
  8. Two portable phone chargers + cables
  9. Poster tube
  10. List of exclusives I wanted to buy on my phone (SDCC Unofficial Blog has a tab exclusively for…exclusives, lol.)

I looked at the programming schedule and the Toucan Blog (also a fantastic source for tips on how to survive the con) on the Comic-Con International website and used the official Comic-Con app to save information about the panels I wanted to go to! They also provide quick guides for each day at the Convention Center itself so you don’t have to use up your phone battery.

Here’s a breakdown of what happened each day:


Preview Night wasn’t going to start until 6PM, but I had one goal that day: to get into the world premiere of Star Trek: Beyond. I arrived behind the Convention Center around 9:30AM and huddled under my teeny tiny $1 umbrella until they moved the entire line into a serpentine by the Embarcadero Marina Park. After that, it was another three hours of waiting.

While scrolling through my phone, I noticed that SDCC Unofficial Blog tweeted about the fact that you had to have another buddy with a SDCC badge or barcode in line with you because the staff was going to distribute TWO wristbands if you won the lottery. Panicking, I used their hashtag #SDCCStarTrekBuddy, and found an amazing buddy in Krystal, who flew down from NorCal with her friends. After an extra hour of waiting, we finally made it into the tents where the lottery was happening. If you drew a green ticket, it was a no. If you drew a pink, you got your two wristbands.

I drew first, and lost. Krystal was next, and she drew a pink ticket! We both got wristbands and information about that night’s screening, and parted ways, elated.

After that, I hung out with my good friend Masato. We went to The Taco Stand on B Street and walked around Horton Plaza before parting ways (unfortunately, he didn’t have a badge). I lined up inside the Convention Center to enter the Exhibit Hall for Preview Night – there were TONS of people. My portable phone charger saved my life – at this point, my phone was at 20%, and I still needed it later!

Once we got into the Exhibit Hall, I made a mad dash for the TBS booth because I wanted a Conan O’Brien Pop Vinyl – very rare and extremely coveted by Conan fans and Funko Pop! collectors alike (I am both). Unfortunately, after I participated in the very fun VR experience they had set up, they told me they weren’t going to start giving Pop Vinyls out via lottery until tomorrow (I went back the next day and didn’t win. Sad), but I got a cool poster out of it.


The Conan O’Brien VR experience!

After that, I went straight for the Loungefly booth at the Lucasfilm Pavilion, and managed to get the #1 thing on my SDCC wish list: the Rey cosplay backpack! It came with a beautiful enamel pin (which I lost…I’m still heartbroken about it…) and a cosplay headband.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 6.23.53 PM

Courtesy of Loungefly

After taking a photo with the beautiful Captain America 75th anniversary statue at the Marvel Booth, I made a beeline for The Ninjabot‘s booth down in the Small Press area. I snagged their free exclusive Star Wars button of the day featuring Captain Phasma!


Afterwards, I realized I was running late for the Star Trek: Beyond premiere (they were going to close the gates off at 7:30PM. I ran from the Exhibit Hall to the Embarcadero Marina Park BEHIND the Convention Center (I haven’t worked out in a year so this was ~fun~), and made it just in time to actually see the cast’s bus drive in!

I saw John Cho through the window of the bus, took a chance, and waved. He noticed me, smiled, and waved back. Life. Made.

I also saw Simon Pegg at the front of the bus, looking super excited to see everyone. As the cast was exiting the bus, Simon went over to the autograph area (next to where premiere attendees were queuing up) and signed some things for people. There was, unfortunately, this extremely rude man telling security to “do their job” because “they had gotten there first” and he was literally screaming at Simon to go over to them – but how was he going to do that when this man was literally on the side within the crowd? Simon sort of looked annoyed from my point of view, but still kept signing for the fans up front while the man kept screaming.

We finally got to enter the Marina Park after waiting for the cast to walk to the red carpet. They gave out free glow bracelets what would be timed to the music (unfortunately I didn’t get one because the security check was intense AF), free dinner (Subway sandwiches), water, and free seat cushions.


They were extremely comfortable.

Anyway, Conan O’Brien was ~CASUALLY there to introduce the film and the cast! One by one, they all came out on stage, right next to the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. They were accompanied by director Justin Lin, producer J.J. Abrams and Michael Giacchino (my favorite composer of all time, next to John Williams)! There was a moment of silence for the late Anton Yelchin and Leonard Nimoy, followed by a beautiful medley of Giacchino’s music, which was accompanied by fireworks and an intensely bright and well-choreographed light show. I have videos of the light show and will upload them soon.

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Part of the beautiful light and fireworks show.

Watching film itself, with the music performed LIVE by the SD Symphony on the world’s first outdoor IMAX screen was definitely an #iconic experience. I don’t think any other movie premiere will live up to this. Ever.


At the end, they gave everyone free swag bags with a t-shirt, U.S.S. Enterprise enamel pin, four DVDs (Star Trek: Origins, Wrath of Khan, Star Trek (2009), and Star Trek: Into Darkness), and two ball caps with the LLAP hand gesture on it!

I got home super late, but it was so worth it. Preview Night was a success!


  • Keep looking at your freakin’ phone for the time so you won’t have to run around entire buildings to get to where you need to go.
  • Bring more water/buy more water/HYDRATION IS CONTINUOUS
  • Navigating crowds at Disneyland really prepares you for these things
  • Check Twitter for updates constantly for big-ticket events, it will save your booty.

UP NEXT: Days 1 – 5, celebs are real people and they’re also very pretty, I spend an ungodly amount of money, I meet my comic book writing/art heroes


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