Comic Con 2014 Pre-Registration (only open to those who obtained a 2013 single or 4-day badge) has come and gone. The internet was filled with varying emotions; cries of anger, last minute efforts, tears, joy, satisfaction, and elation all very common. Which emotion did you succumb to? Did you get your 2014 badge?
If the answer to the above question is a resounding “No!” then I’m here to tell you… “Fear not!” You still have a chance with the upcoming “Open Registration,” which, as the name implies, is open to the public (as long as you have a Member ID). The worst part of that last sentence is that Open Reg is an even worse experience than Preregistration. Random page refreshes, time-outs, and any number of things can go wrong and boot you out of the waiting room, a waiting room that you may or may not even be able to enter due to scheduling/work conflicts.
So what if you don’t get a badge at all? Is it worth traveling to sunny San Diego? Can you still have fun at Comic Con without entering the Con? Of course the answer is “Yes!”
For the past three years I have flown out to San Diego without a badge. Every year I try. Every year I fail. Maybe it’s my ISP. Maybe I’m not the “fastest nerd in the West” on a keyboard. Who knows where the fault lies. What I can tell you is that with or without a badge (I’ve managed to get one each year after making it to the Gaslamp District thanks to some amazing people!) San Diego Comic Con is something I couldn’t imagine my life without.
What can I do WITHOUT a Comic-Con Badge?
Of course, I am a champion for Nerd HQ. That’s my main attraction each year. With fantastic panels (which are also hard to score tickets for), video games, dance parties, free giveaways, drinks, a ton of like-minded people, and a fantastic volunteer staff that is incredibly welcoming, you cannot go wrong here.
But Nerd HQ isn’t the only off-site location. There are a TON of these little pocket-cons popping up all over the place. 2013 saw Geek and Sundry’s first appearance, taking over Jolt’n’Joes giving nerds a chance to play board games with the likes of Wil Wheaton, try out new video games from developers new and old, and so much more. There has never been a better place to profess your love for all things geek/nerd/gamer than the Gaslamp District during San Diego Comic Con. The local shops get in on the fun as well, often hosting TV shows and theming their establishments out accordingly.
And that’s just during the day. At night, as it is with any downtown location, the Gaslamp comes alive. Now, admittedly, you’re going to get the club crowd. People who don’t really mesh well with your Captain Mal cosplay. But when have you ever let that crowd ruin your fun? There are after parties EVERYWHERE. Walking around the Gaslamp and discovering new locations is an incredible experience that I’d recommend every one do each year. You’ll find nerdy low-key and chill areas at various hotel lounges, elbow-to-elbow tech on every table bars and restaurants, and video game paradises all throughout. There is honestly something for everyone here. And these are just the FREE things you can do.
There are plenty of paid-to-enter events like the Walking Dead Escape Zombie Run where volunteers dress up as zombies and are tasked with “killing” you before you make it out of a pretty decent obstacle course. Glenn and Rick cosplayers welcome.
The moral of the story here, folks, is that if you didn’t score your badge yet and you continue to come up short, it’s not that big of a deal. There’s so much more to do at Comic Con than JUST Comic Con. Get a group of your closest nerd friends, what some might call your “Contourage,” and get your butts down to San Diego for what will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your year, every year.
As a side, you’re also traveling to San Diego, one of the most beautiful cities in the continental United States. If you don’t have a badge and somehow run out of things to do, or if you stick around after the Con, there are a multitude of places you can go just to check out the scenery that are also FREE. And, if you’re lucky like I’ve been, you might just find yourself inside the Con anyway. Basically, come to San Diego, you won’t regret it!