So you want to attend San Diego Comic-Con but the odds do not feel in your favor. I feel that. But you can score a badge, I promise! You just need to know how. Here are some tips for attending SDCC!
Welcome, newbies! Getting a San Diego Comic-Con Badge can seem daunting, but it’s absolutely possible. If you follow these four steps you’ll greatly increase your chances of attending the world famous pop culture convention. For most attendees, badges are the most important component of attending the convention. While you can fill your time with off site events and other entertainment San Diego has to offer, you won’t be able to attend any of the official panels or the exhibit hall floor. In recent years, off sites have begun restricting attendance to con attendees only (Update) and as of 2018 the area around the convention center is restricted as well.
Long story short, you need to get a badge, my friend. So follow these tips to improve your chances of attending SDCC.
STEP ONE: CCI MEMBER ID
Before reading any further, head on over to this link and create a member ID. This will close prior to SDCC badge sales. Go do it NOW. If the member ID portal closes before you make one, you will not be able to attend SDCC at all and you will have to wait until after open registration is complete to sign up again.
Go register and then come back here and read on.
STEP TWO: SDCC BADGE SALE DATE/REGISTRATION & BADGE TYPES
There are a lot of different types of SDCC registration/badges. Most of you will likely participate in general sales (AKA “Open Registration), but let’s do a run down of ALL the types of sales and registration so you know what’s going on across the board and when certain options become available.
Prices for 2018 were as follows:
UPDATE: Keep in mind the badge prices go up every year and this article was originally posted in 2017. While we will update the content of this article frequently to stay relevant, we may not update the above price guide. Always check the official SDCC Badges page for the most current prices.
SDCC Pre-Registration/Returning Reregistration
This is typically the first big sale that gets announced (Creative Professional Registration is in progress, but more on that later). This particular sale is only for returning attendees. If you didn’t have a general San Diego Comic-Con badge for the previous year, you will not be eligible for this sale. As this is a “newbie” guide, you won’t be involved in this sale. However, you will see a lot of people talking about it on various forums so it’s good to know that it’s happening.
The technical term for this is “Returning Reregistration,” but it’s been called “Pre-Registration” for many years so a lot of long time attendees use the older term or use them interchangeably. I, personally, will refer to it as “Pre-Reg” until the day I die. Old habits, you know?
So when does this happen? It varies. Sometimes it’s in the fall. Sometimes it’s later. Dates are hard to predict with this con so that’s why you need to go get your member ID and start monitoring your emails for announcements NOW.
SDCC Open Registration
This is the sale you’ll most likely participate in. There is no date announced at this time, but once the Pre/Returning Reg sale happens, get your ducks in a row quickly. It usually happens within a few weeks of the Pre/Returning Reg sale so you’ll have little time to prepare.
Check STEP FOUR for how to have a strategy for the day of the sale, whenever that may be.
SDCC Professional Registration
If you work in the industry, you may qualify for a Pro Badge.
There are two types of Pro Badges. “Creative” Pros are offered a comped badge whereas “Trade” Pros can purchase a badge in a separate sale. Update: As of 2018, there is only one type of professional badge available and requirements got a lot more difficult. Still not impossible, though, so read the guidelines to see if you qualify!
Some Pros are also entitled to a guest badge, though quantities are limited and, while not as bad as general sales, these badges can sell out very fast too. So you may be able to bring a friend if you get approved.
The professional application period for Creative Pros for 2018 began before the 2017 convention, but as with all things SDCC this date can fluctuate. Start thinking a year ahead if you want to try for a Pro Badge.
SDCC Press Registration
If you work for a media outlet, you may qualify for a Press Badge. Check out the requirements and apply if you qualify. The requirements have become more stringent in recent years, so be sure you’re showing your best work and you read the instructions carefully. If approved, you’ll be notified about when and how you can register for your press badge.
STEP THREE: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EMAILS
Congrats on your Member ID and the knowledge of what type of badge you’ll be trying to get! Now it’s time to hurry up and wait.
You’ll receive important announcements about your respective badge registration dates, deadlines, and other vital San Diego Comic-Con badge information via email, so pay attention. Much of this also gets posted via social media, but don’t rely entirely on social media for updates and links. Oftentimes your emails will include unique links or codes exclusively for you and your individual registration.
You’ll be able to tell if you accidentally opted out of emails in your member portal by viewing the “OPT-OUTS” section. It’s safe to opt out of newsletters/magazines and third party emails, but it can be risky to miss important emails directly from SDCC. Just don’t do it.
STEP FOUR: HAVE A PLAN FOR THE DAY OF SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON BADGE SALES
The General San Diego Comic-Con badge sale can be intimidating. Once the Pre-Reg people have a go at badges, things move very fast. Have a plan in place and make sure everyone you plan on going with are on the same page. Here’s some general tips:
- Have a buying group. This can be your group of friends or, if you are flying solo or with a small group, people you trust from places like the Reddit convention communities (or wherever you hang out, really). The more people trying to get a badge, the better your odds are. Everyone should be pulling their own weight in the group, though. If your friends aren’t willing to put in the work for a badge, it’s unfair to the rest of your group. Work with people you trust.
- Set alarms and join the waiting room ASAP on the day of the sale. San Diego Comic-Con badge sales (both pre-reg and general) have an online waiting room. You have an hour to join the room and then you’ll be sorted into groups to purchase badges. It’s a good idea to allow plenty of time to join the room to account for technical difficulties. Don’t oversleep either. Be there when it asks you to be there and have time to fix problems as they arise. The last thing you want is to realize your wifi is broken with only 5 minutes left to join the waiting room.
- Don’t be sad if you don’t get all four days. Saturday badges sell out fast. Friday is usually the next to go. If you only end up with a Thursday and/or Sunday badge, don’t fret. There’s a ton of offsite events to make your trip more than worth it. And besides, if you get at least one day this year, you can participate in Pre-Reg next year, which is a lot less competitive than the general sale. You can try again for a four day badge at that time.
- Understand how registration has worked in the past, but adjust accordingly. We can guess some basics about how badge sales will go down. Former guides, such as this one from Nerdophiles, are a great place to start. However, things change every year. Sometimes these changes are small. Sometimes they are large. Study how things have been done in the past and be prepared to adjust accordingly. It’s better to have a basic understanding of how things work, then learn the changes with the rest of us rather than starting from scratch at the last minute. Things that change include how many badges each person can buy, how the waiting room and sorting works, how badges are mailed, etc. Some of that information has already been announced on the official San Diego Comic-Con badge FAQ here. Some of it will come later.
- Get active in Comic-Con communities before the sale! Find your community – like the aforementioned Reddit community – and get social. It’ll not only enhance your SDCC experience, but give you a group of knowledgeable people that can help you understand any changes that happen during registration. We may be old timers, but we love newbies. We’re happy to help you get to the convention in any way we can.
Will the above four San Diego Comic-Con badge tips guarantee a badge? No. Of course not. But it will give you a better chance at attending SDCC than someone who is going into it blind. Good luck and we’ll see you next July!
See Also: SDCC Hotel FAQ
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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