Frustrating, tiring, ultimately rewarding… Overnight queuing for the bigger rooms of San Diego Comic-Con has long been the ‘nature of the beast’, even if CCI themselves don’t condone it. The lines that gather ‘under the tents’ or along the length of the Convention Center are now legendary rites of passage for any hardened attendee of Hall H – but new for the 2014 event, CCI are introducing a colour-coded wristband system in an attempt to help attendees recognise where they are in the queue…
As the line begins to form in Plasa Park (the grassed location behind Hall H and the home of the infamous tents), CCI staff will hand out wristbands to those already in the line, up to and including those that join at 1am PST in the morning. Starting up handing these out again at 5am – to those that have joined the line as it continues to form down Convention Way and around the Marina – markers will then separate the distributed bands into quarters, providing a useful datamine to determine who would then actually get seats – you don’t get a wristband, the odds are good that you won’t make it into the Hall.
While not guaranteeing any wristband holders seats, this system should give attendees further down the line a better picture of not only the odds on making the first panel but also how far they are from the allocated end of the wristbands to plan whether it’s worth sticking around or moving on and trying for something else.
Toucan Tracker Wristbands for the First Panel of the Day in Hall H
In order to help you manage your valuable time at Comic-Con, we’re starting a new system for the initial morning line for Hall H called Toucan Trackers! Our goal is to help attendees get a better idea of the length of the line for Hall H. At certain times, listed below, wristbands will be distributed to the line for Hall H for the first panel of the day. These wristbands are not guaranteed entry passes for Hall H, but will show Comic-Con (and you!) your chances of getting into the first panel in that room. By using these Toucan Tracker wristbands, we hope to alert people to the possibility of getting into Hall H for the rest of the day. We will accomplish this by using the data collected to place color-coded markers along the line route, noting approximately what percentage of the room would have to clear in order for those remaining in line to enter. Although we can never guarantee entry, this hopefully will help people determine if they want to continue to wait in line or go do something else.
Here’s How It Works:
Wristbands will be distributed for Hall H ONLY. These wristbands are not guaranteed entry passes. They will be used to gauge the length of the line for Hall H.
You must have a badge or badge barcode to be in line.
Wristband distribution will begin in Plaza Park as people get in line but will stop at approximately 1:00 AM, resuming again at 5:00 AM at the spot where the last wristband was given out.
You will need to have a wristband in order to enter Hall H for the first panel of the day only. If people with wristbands leave the line for the first panel of the day and more seating becomes available, the room will be filled with the first people in line who do not have wristbands.
These are not meant to be entry passes, but a marker for attendees in line. As always for Comic-Con International lines, if you need to leave the line for any reason, be sure a member of your group remains in line or you will lose your place in line.
Wristbands cannot be sold, saved, or traded.
After the first panel of the day loads, the wristbands will not be used and the line will proceed as normal.
The wristbands will be in four colors, each color denoting a section of the line. The first quarter of the room capacity will receive a certain color, the next quarter another color, and so on.
What is the wristband for?
They help Comic-Con, and our attendees, know how many people are in line for the first panel of the day for Hall H.
What does it do?
It shows Comic-Con—and you—that you are one of the people who will likely be admitted to Hall H for the first panel of the day. We will also use the data collected to place signs along the line route which will let attendees know how many people would have to leave the room in order for them to enter.
Can I leave the line and come back? Does it hold my place in line?
The colored wristbands will denote a section of the line (divided into quarters). As with any other Comic-Con line, if you leave the line, make sure someone in your group remains in line or you will lose your place in line. The wristband is not a placeholder. If your whole group leaves the line you will have to go to the end of the entire line, not just back to where you were before you left.
What about the disabled seating line?
The disabled seating line will also have wristbands that will help attendees determine their chances of entering Hall H for the first panel of the day.
Can I get back in line in front of the people without wristbands if I have one?
You can only reenter the line in your color zone if someone from your group remained in line. If no one from your group remained in line, when you return you will have to go to the back of the entire line, not just behind those who have wristbands.
If all wristbands are distributed, what does that mean for me?
We are giving out fewer wristbands than actual seats in the room, so there is a small chance you will get in but you are most likely not getting into Hall H for the first panel of the day. However, the posted signs will give you a better idea of how much of the room needs to clear before you will be able to enter for the next panel.
Am I guaranteed a seat in Hall H if I have a wristband?
No, you must still be in line and Comic-Con cannot guarantee entry to any panel room.
If I have a wristband and stay in line, I’m getting in, right?
Pending any unforeseen circumstances, you should get into the room. However entry is not guaranteed.
Can I give my wristband to someone else if I change my mind about going into the panel?
No. We ask that you do not give away your wristbands to allow those who have been waiting the chance to enter.
When will they be distributed each day?
The first wristbands for Hall H will be distributed as people begin to line up until approximately 1:00 AM. They will resume being distributed at 5:00 AM at the spot where the last wristband was given out.
My friend is coming later to stand in line. Can I get an additional wristband for him or her?
No. Wristbands will only be given to those people in line, while supplies last. Anyone who comes later will have to go to the back of the line.
How can I save a spot in line for someone then?
Make sure they have the same color zone wristband as you and be sure that someone in your group remains in line to save your spot! Note that you can only wait in your color zone, and cannot join other attendees in a different color zone. Once the room begins loading, any member of your party not with your group may not get in to the room.
Can I get into the first panel of the day in Hall H without a wristband?
Only if all the people with wristbands who remained in line have entered and there are still seats remaining.
(Readers should take note: this system is ONLY for the first panel of Hall H, CCI aren’t going to continue the process throughout the course of the day. Which means, if you are aiming for a panel later in the schedule, you’re still going to have to determine on your own whether it’s worth the effort. So: if it’s four-thirty in the afternoon on Saturday and you’re still admiring keels in the Marina, I’d suggest cutting your losses and taking a constitutional…)
This new measure is a first step for that veteran Hall H Overnight Camper who has been long frustrated by the blight of line-jumpers and spot-holders, meaning that a line group must fully be in place when the line forms, collecting their wristbands in person, without any stragglers joining at a later time – it also puts a stop to those rogue line-jumpers that snake down a line of sleeping campers, looking for the first available spot to plant their bum.
Another possible advantage of the new system is the ability to now attend the embarrassment of riches when it comes to SDCC off-site events which, as many will notice, is a very full calendar in 2015. Getting a wristband early would allow people to leave, see the sites and then return (admittedly, to join the ‘short straw’ that had to stay behind and keep the group’s place in the line. Better bring something nice for them!!)
Of course, this being Comic-Con, it wouldn’t be a new system without its detractors – tweets and social media posts were quick to state that this system merely encourages the one thing that CCI has always said they would like to avoid: excessively early queuing and overnight camping. With the announcement that wristbands will be handed out from the moment the line forms to 1am, this system implicitly puts an emphasis before the 1am ‘hand-out’ deadline and attending off-site events would mean getting into the line the previous afternoon.
Likewise, the more conspiratorial critic quickly made the observation that no wristband is ever fully secure and it’s only a matter of time before a burgeoning line in black market wristband sales will emerge (forgetting, of course, that at least one willing stooge will have to be in line to welcome the new purchaser along – as a means to work around the system, I think you’ll agree that’s awkward…).
This writer, however applauds any effort by Comic-Con International to enforce the epic Hall H line, even in this remote manner: I’d still like to see more actual staff or security on-site throughout the night, mind – ideally with tasers. AEISD recognises that this suggestion might, however, open CCI up to some awkward legal issues so, hey, let’s see how this namby-pamby wristband solution works in practice when it’s introduced next week…