Comic-Con: How to Get Into Hall H Without Waiting in Line (Guest Column)

A longtime attendee breaks down shortcuts for getting badges and party invites, though some of these methods may be considered unsavory.
Zade Rosenthal/Marvel 2016

Attending San Diego Comic-Con is a geek's dream come true. A strange dream full of people in costumes, famous people wandering around, more events than there are hours in the day and impossibly long lines. It's all beyond overwhelming, even for experienced Comic-Con goers.

If you're headed to the convention, various levels of panic may be setting in at this point. Well, I'm here to help. And have assembled some quick tips for surviving Comic-Con. Like everything in life there are multiple ways to achieve your goals. Some are the traditional, "above board" methods, and some of these methods are … a bit shadier (and ones I don't necessarily endorse).

GETTING A BADGE

Above Board

If you don't have a badge by now, you are already out of luck. Try again next year. Here's how:

You must first create an account and acquire a member ID before the day that badges go on sale. The day of the sale you need to be logged into your account, clicking on the “join queue” button as soon as the clock strikes ... well whatever time it opens where you live. You will be entered into the queue with no notice of where you stand. Then you wait and hope your number comes up while tickets are still available. Praying is highly encouraged as are sacrifices to the Comic-Con gods. You can buy tickets for up to four people but you must have all their member IDs.

Questionable

A great way to get tickets is to create or join a large network of people seeking to get tickets. This way you all join the queue and each time someone comes up, they buy tickets for four people (usually themselves being one of them). Even if you got tickets via someone else, you stay in the queue because you can buy tickets for four others once your number is called. This is the most effective way to ensure you get in. Many Comic-Con hopefuls across the nation do this, using shared spreadsheets updating who got tickets and still needs them.

Downright Shady

Comic-Con strictly forbids buying and selling passes. Each badge has the buyers' name on it and must be picked up by said buyer. What they don’t strictly do is check that information ever again. So if you have a badge in hand but your name doesn’t match, no one is going to know. I won't say that at my first SDCC I had a badge with a woman’s name on it that I bought from a guy on Craigslist, but I also won’t lie and say it didn’t work out great.

GETTING INTO HALL H

Above Board

Hall H is where the real magic happens, with studios bringing out the big guns for exclusive footage and blockbuster guests from the worlds of Marvel, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, DC's big-screen superheroes and more. Unfortunately, H may as well stand for Hell, because that is what you will go through to get into there. Lines start the day before the panels you want to see. People spend 18-plus hours waiting, including overnight. The best way is to form a group and take shifts, bring snacks and board games and make friends with those in front and behind you.

Questionable

Those lucky enough to get into Hall H are actually allowed to leave for a moment. To use the restroom or get food. They get a “hall pass” (see what I did there?) to leave for 30 mins and come back. That presents an opportunity (totally not sanctioned by Comic-Con) for those seeking to get into Hall H without waiting in line. One method is to stand appropriately close to the exit and proceed to beg people who may be leaving for the day to take pity and give you their hall pass to re-enter. I suggest you do this away from the monitors and play it cool when re-entering, aka no high-pitched squealing.  

Downright Shady

Similar to the questionable method above, you can obtain someone else’s hall pass — for a price. Maybe you only want to see one or two panels, but REALLY want to see them. Often a more effective way than begging is the almighty dollar. And yes, I mean literally buy someone’s hall pass because $20 is $20 to most people. Again, I can’t say I have done this, but I can say I saw the preview for Avengers: Age of Ultron in Hall H in 2014 without standing in a line beforehand — and I was $20 poorer for it.

GETTING INTO PARTIES

Above Board

Looking at the Comic-Con schedule, you may find yourself overwhelmed as there are literally dozens of different events going on simultaneously the entire time. You have to choose which ones you truly want to attend. Some of these events are open to all (beware of lines), some are semi-exclusive, requiring pre-registering or getting into a lottery, and some are super exclusive. You can follow the rules, get into lines, pre-register months in advance or find alternative methods to get in.

Downright Shady

There really isn’t any terribly questionable ways to go about this. But there are some excellently shady manners that just might work. Exclusive events usually have someone sending out invites via email. If you can find that person’s email and know about the event, you can send an email to them thanking them for the invite and asking them to gladly mark you down for a yes. Many of these people are overwhelmed and won’t check to see if you even got an invite originally. Again, I am not saying I have done this in the past, but I am saying it worked on six out of nine invites I RSVPed for one year.

Tom Cox is a long-time Comic-Con attendee and and lover of all things nerdom. If you can’t already tell, he is also a politician, currently serving in the Kansas House of Representatives.

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