This Saturday at 8:00 a.m., Comic-Con will open the digital waiting room for open registration. From there, hopeful attendees have one final opportunity to attempt to buy a badge for the pop culture convention next July.
There are no spells, potions or superpowers available at this time to help you obtain a coveted Comic-Con badge but there are experienced attendees who can offer some advice to help you survive open registration and maybe even succeed at purchasing a badge to the epic pop culture convention.
For those unfamiliar with Comic-Con badge buying, the bottom line is that demand now far exceeds supply because there is a cap on attendance based on the available convention space.
Back when I started attending Comic-Con in the late 1970s, you could just walk up and purchase a badge at any time and never have to wait in line. But those days are long gone and unlikely to return. So now pop culture fans who want to attend have to deal with the annual stress and anxiety of trying to get a badge.
Anyone who attended the convention this past July had a chance to purchase a badge for next year at returning registration, which took place Nov. 4. Now anyone who wants to attend the 2024 convention will have a shot at the remaining available badges. But it is not an easy process and there is no guarantee you will get one. But don't let that stop you from trying!
We have a pair of geeky advisors on hand to offer tips to make the process easier.
"While it's the very best experience when it comes to comic conventions that's available, it's not an easy convention for first timers because there's just so many hoops, there's so much you have to do, so much work, you have to put into it in order to get just to get to the show," explained Tony Kim of Crazy4ComicCon.
"Comic-Con attendees don't know any other mode except panicked to be perfectly honest, that's just kind of in our nature," said Kerry Dixon, editor in chief at San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog. The blog is designed to help new or veteran attendees navigate through not just the convention but all the steps necessary to get access to the pop culture mecca.
1. Get a member I.D.
Everything begins here. Without a member I.D. you cannot access open registration.
Dixon: "You only have to sign up prior to 8 a.m. this Saturday and then you are good to go. Then basically what's going to happen is on Saturday at 8 a.m., when you go to the member site, it's going to take you to a waiting room. And you just sit in that waiting room until 9 a.m. then it'll randomize everybody, and then they'll start letting people through to purchase."
2. Work in teams
Dixon: "The best chance you have to get a badge is going to be to work in a group. When it is your turn to purchase, you can purchase badges for up to three people."
Kim: "Buying groups really help significantly increase your chances of attaining a badge. Get yourself into a group of at least two other people. The Comic-Con community is very welcoming and there are a lot of different Facebook ticket buying groups, and a lot of different blogs and websites that offer opportunities. Piece of advice: be smart about it if sharing financial information. The ideal situation is getting a group of your friends who all have their own member I.D.s and work together as a team."
3. Check out all the information on Comic-Con website
Kim: "You have to do your research. Go on the Comic-Con website to read through the steps to make sure that you're prepared for it."
4. Have an info sheet
Kim: "Make sure you have all your logistics, all important information gathered before the sale."
This is especially vital if working in a group. Have everyone's member I.D. and login info, credit card payment, and preference for which days for people. Once you get to the point of buying a badge you have to act fast because badges can disappear from your cart if you take too long to purchase.
5. Set up payment information in advance
To save time you can set up payment methods in advance on the Comic-Con website.
6. Tech prep and specs
You must use one of the following browsers and be sure to have the latest version installed: Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari or Microsoft EDGE.
Kim: "Just chill. Don't do anything. Don't back click, don't forward click. Just wait. Also, make sure you're not on multiple computers signed in to the same account or that can cause some technical problems and maybe get you kicked out. Don't try to register on your phone or an iPad. Use a laptop and then give yourself at least an hour, maybe more to complete the process."
7. Log into waiting room between 8:00 a.m. and 8:59 a.m.
Kim: "The waiting room will open up at 8 a.m., so you can technically get in anytime between 8:00 and 8:59 a.m., and you'll be randomized into the purchase process. For most of us who are very superstitious, we all try to get on right at 8:00, even though it doesn't matter. But if you log in after 9:00 a.m. then you are put at the very back of the line."
Dixon: "Once you're in the waiting room, it's not going to tell you exactly where you are in the line, but it will give you an estimated time. You'll also have what we call the little green running man, but it's basically like a little status bar. And again, it won't tell you the exact time, but your little guy will either be running real fast or he'll be running real slow. The times will fluctuate. I feel like that's the question we get the most. Maybe your time says 15 minutes and then two minutes later it's back up to like 35. That's okay. It doesn't mean that like more people are jumping in front of you."
8. Don't panic
Kim: "There's nothing really you can do once you actually are in. The main thing is don't attempt to fiddle with your browser as far as refreshing or backing up or whatever. If you do get kicked out of the waiting room portion of it — before the sale opens — it'll put you back in the exact same spot."
9. Take any day badge that is available
Dixon: "I want to stress that there's no bad day at Comic-Con. I know a lot of people get really hung up on Friday and Saturday getting sold out, and don't want to buy a badge anymore. But buying a badge for any day this year means that you get a chance to participate in returning registration next year, which again, you only have to have one day and that's going to increase your odds to get more badges, more days next year by participating in both returning registration (where the ratio of tickets to attendees is more in your favor) AND open registration."
Kim: "Even if you have one day at Comic-Con, you've already beaten out a multitude of nerds across the world. So be happy for that. Whether it's one day or all four days, you should rejoice."
10. If you have a problem contact Comic-Con
Dixon: "If anything does go wrong, take a screenshot, take a video recording, anything that you can do. Contact Comic-Con international. There's a contact form on their website so you can contact them, send them your screenshot, your video, whatever you might have, and hopefully they'll be able to help you. "
- Register here for member I.D.
- Do your homework and read through Comic-Con's open registration guide.
- Check out the official Comic-Con Toucan blog.
- Check out SDCC Unofficial Blog's open registration visual guide and follow them on Twitter/X on Saturday morning for live updates.
- Cute puppy pics if you need to reduce stress.
Your FINAL final options
Purchase a Legend Membership to Comic-Con Museum: this is an expensive option but if you are desperate enough and rich enough you can get a four-day badge and help support Comic-Con Museum. The price tag: $1900.00.
eBay: sometimes badges are returned since buying badges nine months in advance means that plans can change for some people. Comic-Con has, in the past, put returned badges up for sale on its eBay account. But make sure you are buying directly from Comic-Con.
Look for booth staffing or volunteering opportunities: if you know a vendor or artist or nonprofit organization that will have a booth at Comic-Con, then see if they are hiring people to work in the booth or if they need volunteers. Exhibitors have an allotment of badges for the people working in their booth and have an option to buy a limited number of additional badges. So ask around to see if you can work a booth.
Giveaways: there are occasionally official giveaways with prizes of Comic-Con badges.
Volunteer: registration to be a volunteer closed for 2024 on Oct. 25, but check out the information online and consider volunteering next year. You just need to volunteer one shift for a few hours and then you get the rest of that day to explore the convention.
To all the geeks and nerds currently in panic mode or experiencing high levels of stress ... May the Force be with you!
Our nerdy advisors
Kerry Dixon, editor in chief at San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog
Dixon lives in Oklahoma but has been attending Comic-Con since 2010, and took over the SDCC Unofficial Blog in 2014. Her fandom is rooted in TV shows and she heard about San Diego Comic-Con "like it's the Mecca of all things geeky and nerdy. It's Christmas in July because that's basically what it feels like. However, it's not something that you can just like stroll in. So if you do decide you want to go, we recommend doing some research and that is exactly what our site is there for. We try as best as we can to make it all incredibly easy. In order to have the best convention, it's better to be well informed. So we do the very best job that we can to gather all the information into one place."
Tony Kim, blogger/podcaster at Crazy4ComicCon and founder/CEO of Hero Within
Kim first attended Comic-Con in 2006, shortly after moving to California from Texas. He recalled, "I had always read about Comic-Con in the back comic books. So for a little boy in Texas reading about what's this thing called Comic-Con, it sounded like some sort of fantasyland." He attended the convention, even worked briefly for the non-profit organization, and then turned his cosplay fandom into a geeky clothing company called Hero Within. Kim added, "it's been a great sort of experience to really celebrate with other people who are experiencing Comic-Con, and there's a little kind of a little community kind of built around those that are experiencing Comic-Con for the first time. And it's always a joy to to help in some small way to make someone's experience that much better."