Lines At Comic-Con’s Hall H: Badge Of Honor Or Not Worth It?
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Photo by Elma Gonzalez
San Diego's Comic-Con can be daunting. With more than 130,000 attendees every year, it is not a conference for people who dislike large crowds. And while the event has nearly 2,000 programs on its schedule, there are a few dozen that attract crowds in the thousands.
That is where perhaps one of the most overwhelming elements of Comic-Con comes into play: lines. Anyone who has been to Comic-Con knows they will need to pack at least two things: water and patience.
One line, in particular, takes the prize for the most epic at the Con. That is the line for Hall H. People wait hours, even days to get in to see their idols. This year is no different with popular panels of films such as Kingsman: The Golden Circle and notorious shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.
Pick any day of the four-day conference to visit the south wing of the Convention Center and out by the doors to Hall H, you will find huge tents protecting thousands of brave fans from the sun. The line starts on the edge of Harbor Drive and extends all the way to the Embarcadero.
The 'True Fan'
On Wednesday night, three young women proudly parked themselves at the front of the line for Thursday’s Hall H panels. San Diego residents Kristina Contreras, Alexa Hernandez and Angelica Contreras arrived before 7 a.m. on Wednesday. They brought the essentials: food, water, blankets, chairs and their phones to keep them busy. They were there for one main reason: actor Channing Tatum, Kristina said. He was in the Kingsman panel.
It was not their first time waiting in this line. Kristina said the sisters have done it about five times in the past, and as far as what it takes to survive the wait, she said there are three main things:
“You got to have a strong back, because you got to sleep on the floor,” she said. “You need to be really passionate about what you like and I think the third one would probably be just to, like, be open to the experience.”
San Diego resident Frank Ramirez echoes that sentiment. He arrived in line at 2 p.m. with his family. Battery packs for electronics and bottles of frozen water are a must, he added. Ramirez began attending Hall H panels last year, and he said what he has learned is that the line is “not too bad if you plan accordingly.”
Worth The Wait?
Hall H will have five or more panels on any given day, and those fans who make it into the hall can remain inside for as many panels as they like.
Ramirez said last year he saw two of his favorite shows — The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones — in one day.
“It does feel good to get in. I have to admit it is kind of like, ‘Yeah, I did it, I got in.’ So many people don’t,” he said.
Angelica Ramirez said the experience is worth it, “100 percent!” She said she planned to stay in line overnight to see Channing Tatum and the Teen Wolf panel on Thursday.
“As long as you have a good blanket you’ll be fine at night,” she said.
Her sister Christina agrees.
“It’s kind of fun. Just being here surrounded by people who you know appreciate your show as much as you do,” Christina said.
Badge Of Honor?
Comic-Con has a “lines department,” and every year they try to improve the line experience for fans, explained David Glanzer, Comic-Con spokesman. But that does not mean they will completely scratch lines in the future. Without lines, “there's no chance for the camaraderie for the hanging out for the really meet your friends and all that,” Glanzer said.
Comic-Con has made improvements to the Hall H line by providing shade tents and adding a wristband system that allows people to return home for the night while ensuring their spot in the panel the next day.
Many fans agree with Glanzer. Kristina Contreras said she prefers to wait in line rather than entering a lottery for a seat, for example.
“I kind of like how it is now. It’s kind of like, if you are really passionate about it, you’ll get what you want to get,” she said. “So somebody who doesn’t want to wait in line. That means they don’t really care enough so maybe they shouldn’t get it or shouldn’t get in there first.”
Hall H is like the last level in a video game that tests fandom. And many people view waiting in line as a badge of honor. Kristina said the best part of it all comes after the panels.
“The better part is after you get out of the panel and you kind of feel like it was worth it. That’s what’s the best part.”
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