Before you jump on a plane and make your way to sunny California, have you made sure you have everything you need for Comic-Con? Strange, confusing currency that all looks the same? A tolerance for the early closing times of San Diego’s watering holes? (Midnight? Ha! Where are we, the Isle Of Wight?!!) A confident working knowledge of the entire history of the Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Spaced and The I.T Crowd franchises (you’ll never know when that’ll come in handy…)?
Let us walk you through the steps you’ll need before you even get on the plane, through the San Diego Convention Center doors and into the hallowed Nerdvana which is Comic-Con…
First things first:
MEMBER ID’s & BADGE TYPES
To purchase a Badge for Comic-Con International, all attendees MUST have a Member ID – it is free of charge to sign up for a Member ID, only requires an email address and can be applied for here. (An instructional walk-though video from 2012, on how to obtain one of these, can be found here – some changes have been made to the general layout in 2014 but basically it’s the same setup.)
Please note that applications for Member ID’s do temporarily close during events like Badge Sales. Keep an eye on the CCI homepage or on various forums and Groups, such as ours, for news on when this process opens and closes.
Once you have a Member ID, you are eligible to purchase a Comic-Con International Attendee Badge. In the past, badges could be bought both individually and as a four day badge – however, in 2014, badges can now only be purchased as INDIVIDUAL DAYS (Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun).
NOTE: If you do purchase badges for the four separate days, these can be CONSOLIDATED into a ‘FOUR DAY BADGE’ on-site when Comic-Con starts proper. Also, during the badge purchase process and if available, you will be given the option to purchase an additional badge to attend Preview Night on Wednesday prior to Con opening properly on the Thursday.
Preview Night was traditionally a ‘soft-open’ for the Con, running for a couple of hours on Wednesday evening (4.30pm – 9pm), allowing exhibitors to ease themselves into the rhythm of a open exhibition floor and iron out any kinks of their stand – Preview Night badges were limited to a small percentage of FOUR DAY Badge Holders, allowing for ease of movement.
Please be aware, in recent years, CCI have appeared to make available increasing numbers of these Preview Night badges; while Ballroom 20 has taken to screening pilot episodes of forthcoming WB shows, with no other panels or additional rooms open, the Exhibition Floor can be as busy as a normal open day.
HOW TO BUY BADGES (2014 Edition: THE WAITING ROOM)
In 2012, CCI introduced a new format to purchasing Badges: the WAITING ROOM. This allowed the EPIC Registration website managers to stem the tide of badge applications by putting all applicants into a holding pattern, instead of just ‘turning on’ a badge purchase webpage and servers crashing under the sheer weight of numbers.
This format has been amended in 2014 to provide EPIC Registration even more of a ‘buffer’ for its infrastructure, introducing a ‘random draw’ element to the Waiting Room by opening it TWO HOURS prior to the Badge Sale – instead of ‘first come first served’, those waiting will now be randomly selected for Session places.
- Up to 24 hours, prior to an announced Badge Sale, eligible attendees with valid Member ID’s will receive an email containing a REGISTRATION CODE and an EMAIL LINK to the Waiting Room Landing Page. (This Registration Code will also be able to be found in the Registration tab of an attendee’s Member ID page.)
According to updates published on the CCI website, the Badge Sales will always take place shortly after 5pm GMT (9am PST / 12am EST) on any announced Sale day.
- At any point during the TWO HOURS prior to the announced Badge Sale (3pm-5pm GMT / 7am-9am PST / 10am-12am EST), attendees will be able to access the LANDING PAGE where there will be a field in which to enter their Registration Code.
- On entering your code, you will then be directed to the WAITING ROOM: a page which will refresh every TWO MINUTES and give you information on how the Badge Sale is proceeding and real-time updates on how things are going.
DO NOT HIT REFRESH DURING ANY OF THIS PROCESS. A ‘spinning wheel’ will let you know your Waiting Room page is active.
Note: entering your code will also register the computer and browser in use, locking out the ability to enter the Waiting Room on additional computers / browsers – this has, in the past, bogged down the badge buying process. This way, only one channel of access will be open to an applicant and only open to eligible applicants. Can’t say fairer than that.
Browser choice has been discussed at length on many forums – however, it has been agreed that, ultimately no individual browser or operating system has an advantage over another. The process has been tested by EPIC Registration on the most popular browsers – Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari – and have stated that they “cannot guarantee your results, should you use [an alternative] browser”. As the system does not use Flash, you should be able to access the Badge Sale process on a mobile tablet device. You can check your browser has all the correct settings by visiting this link.
- Shortly after 5pm GMT, Badge Purchasing Sessions will open with applicants in the Waiting Room RANDOMLY DRAWN for spaces in the next available Session.
- The first page of a Purchasing Session will be a LOG-IN form, asking for A VALID MEMBER ID / LAST NAME. Click Continue.
On entering a Session, you will have FIFTEEN MINUTES to complete a purchase for this Member ID and any others you are buying for. Make sure you have all information to hand, including Member ID’s, Surnames and the details of your payment method.
- The next page of the LOG-IN form is a drop-down selector, asking you to detail how many people, including yourself, you are buying badges for. You can select up to THREE in total. Click Continue.
- The next page is the INVENTORY PAGE form, in which you enter who you’re buying badges for and which badges. Enter the Member ID and Surname for each person and select the badges required. A total cost for the Purchase will be listed at the bottom of the selection fields.
This page will also list the Badge quantities available for this Session in real-time – don’t panic that, if it is showing your required days are available, that these will sell through while you’re in a Session. These numbers will not change: they will be frozen for the duration of your Session. Also, to make things easier, if you are wanting to buy all four day badges with Preview Night, and it is available, you can click on just the Preview Night box – all the Badges for the week will be automatically selected.
- Once you have entered all the correct details and the badge quantities required, click Proceed To Checkout.
A Confirmation Box will appear, asking you if you are sure all details are correct and that you’d like to Proceed To Checkout. Click YES to continue, or NO to return to the Inventory Page. DO NOT HIT REFRESH or ‘BACK’ as this will close your Session and invalidate any selections you may have made.
- The next, and final, step is the PAYMENT PAGE. Enter your payment type and details into this page.
NOTE: on this particular page, there is a field for BILLING ZIP CODE. As UK postcodes are not recognised in this field, don’t panic – simply leave this blank. You are also prompted to enter your Phone Number and Email, in case payment is refused and CCI/EPIC need to get in contact with you. DON’T FORGET to enter the International Dialling version of your phone number: +1 for the United States and the rest of your number, minus the first zero.
Payment types are: VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS. PayPal is explicitly not accepted and it is assumed that Maestro bank cards won’t work, either.
- Once you have completed this form, you will then click Continue and be taken to a Purchase Review Screen, one last opportunity to make sure all the Buyer and Payment Information is correct. Take the time to review this page carefully. You can edit any Badge Selections at this point and an amended Order Total will show at the bottom.
- Once you’ve checked everything over, and made any changes you may have needed, type ‘agree’ into the T&C’s box at the bottom of the Selections Forms.
- Click Process Order.
And that’s it: the Session will be complete, and you’ll then be taken to a Order Summary page, showing your Reference Number – it’s not essential to take a note of this but it would be prudent, if any issues arise at a later date.
So, to summarise:
- Between 3pm and 5pm GMT, click Link in email
- 1. HOLDING PAGE: enter Confirmation Code (found in email or on Registration tab of Member ID page)
- 2. WAITING ROOM
- Shortly after 5pm GMT, Sessions open!
- 3. LOG-IN to join next available session – input valid Member ID and Surname
- 4. INVENTORY PAGE – enter Member ID’s/Surnames and required Badges from available stock
- 5. PAYMENT INFORMATION
- 6. CONFIRMATION PAGE
A Badge Purchase Instructional video has been posted by CCI – it is highly recommended you watch this to familiarise yourself with the process, on-screen:
After the Sale has completed, CCI will begin the process of charging emailing Confirmation Emails and Barcodes out to successful applicants. You will need to print this email off to present at Badge Collection to receive your lovely Comic-Con Badge!
* Remember: the Payment Receipt goes to the email address you provide on the Payment Info page. The Badges bought will automatically to the email addresses attached to each Member ID.
* Preview Night is really only for collectors of exclusives or first-timers to allow them a time to get their head around the scale and geography of the thing. If Preview Night isn’t something that you feel you’d be interested in, do not feel that you will be missing out if it is not available as an option in the Inventory Page.
* Don’t panic if you enter a wrong detail on the Payment Info page: an incorrect number or the wrong address, for example. Payments are processed after all the dust is settled – any inconsistencies (including insufficient funds) are picked up within 24-48 hours and you are given time to correct any issues.
* IMPORTANT… Stay calm. Adrenalin will kick in from the moment you are chosen from the Waiting Room for your Session but remember to breathe. You have FIFTEEN MINUTES to complete a Session – the last thing you need is to be stuck on a page because you have rushed through it, or get the wrong badge because you’ve entered a field wrong. Calm… calm…
* Once all the process has been completed at CCI’s end, they will begin allocating badges and emailing confirmations out – if you read online that some have begun to receive theirs and you haven’t, don’t panic: CCI does emails in batches, it’ll come. It’s when it’s been a week and nothing’s happened that you should start to get motivated. In this case, go to the Contact page of the CCI website (http://www.comic-con.org/contact), quoting the Reference No. given on the Confirmation Page – it’ll get sorted, relax.
Hopefully, this post will give some helpful hints, especially if visiting Comic-Con from the UK – best of luck!