Comic-Con International 2016: Planes, no trains, a yacht, and automobiles. Quick decisions and determination to get to San Diego.

Last Friday was my one day of celebrating Comic-Con International 2016 (CCI), and the trip was proof that some things are beyond your control. However it was also proof that you have control over your reaction to the unexpected.

My friend and I got to the airport at 4:00 a.m., excited to touch ground in San Diego before 7:00 a.m. and get the day started early. We went through the TSA checkpoint desperately wanting coffee, only to find out while locating our departure gate that the flight had been cancelled. Am I too sleep deprived? Yes, but I’m not seeing things. Cancelled.

It was big news that Southwest had system issues earlier in the week causing many cancelled flights across the country, but as of the night before, the flight was still scheduled on time. I received no text or email notification of a flight status change. My friend and I double teamed on the phone and in line at the ticket counter, and luckily we were rebooked on the next flight to Los Angeles, landing at the same time as we would have in San Diego. Only now we have to pay for a rental car and drive over two hours to San Diego on little sleep. 

With road work, usual SoCal traffic, and finding a needle in a hay stack… I mean a parking spot, we were finally on our way to Spreckles Theater to pick up our Conan O’Brien Live at Comic-Con (ConanCon) tickets. Four hours behind schedule.

We were nervous because we knew that they give out more ticket confirmations than tickets to ensure full audience capacity. But I always do my homework and also knew via Twitter that they had been giving 100+ standby tickets the previous shows thus far, so we weren’t completely without hope. If we did all this work to get to San Diego and didn’t get our tickets (which was basically the catalyst for even going in the first place), I may have had a meltdown.

Luckily there was no meltdown and with tickets finally in hand, a large weight was lifted off our shoulders. We could relax a little over lunch. It was almost mid-day, and I hadn’t eaten anything except for my two small packs of Southwest peanuts.

We made it to Spreckles!

While walking the almost mile towards the convention center, we saw lots of people carrying giant Splat tote bags that looked empty and freshly unfolded. That is a red flag that someone is more than likely passing them out nearby. For those who don’t know, The Splat is a Nickelodeon channel dedicated to its throwback lineup. It’s a stroll down memory lane for 30-somethings. “Mission: I need this tote!” had officially begun. A few minutes later we saw a guy standing on the sidewalk passing them out. What use do I have for this insanely large tote bag collaged with yesteryear Nicktoons? I don’t know! But it makes me happy to get a piece of Nick nostalgia since I can’t get any of it from the convention floor. If you have suggestions for its use, please share. Creativity welcomed.

It took us a little while to cross the street and make our way to the marina behind the convention center, but we finally found the Fear The Walking Dead Experience – a yacht decorated as the Abigail. The line appeared short to convention standards. In my searches earlier in the week, I couldn’t find much on what to expect aboard the Abigail, but it was promising since the experience itself was estimated to last approximately 20 minutes. 

I see zombies aboard.

While in line, we each received a lanyard with a card attached. On board, everyone had their
cards scanned and completed a survey to determine which types of supplies they would carry with them during a zombie apocalypse. This was our “packing list” for the experience. 

Everyone working on the boat were Abigail crew members, dressed in their boat hand finest. We were greeted by one who was our guide, and he lead us inside the boat to our first activity.

We scanned our cards, and watched scenarios play out on touch screens in which we then had to make five second decisions on what we would do next. Depending on what we chose, it loaded a score onto our cards.
The next station was similar but with scenarios played out like radio transmissions. We selected our choices via radio communicator.
Up on deck our objective was to kill zombies at both the front and back of the boat (a kill was counted by the sensor-sensitive collars around their necks). Our cards were then linked to our guns to record our successful shot count. I’m not usually into this kind of stuff, but this was the most fun station on board. 

I just want to take a moment to applaud the zombies. It was hot and everyone was sweating that day (I don’t know how Kylo Ren next to us in line survived wearing all black), but they stayed in character even when their shift ended and they walked off the boat. Do zombies need water? These ones did.

We then went back downstairs where workstations were set up like the wheel house. Everyone scanned their cards and then tested their skills at steering the boat away from large debris and pirates posing as the coast guard. Let it be known that I should never drive a boat in the zombie apocalypse because I was the first in my group to get captured both during the trial and scoring round. My friend on the other hand lasted the longest. Skills!

We had our photos taken for our Fear The Walking Dead trading card, our scores from all the stations were calculated, and we were placed in categories identified on our trading card. I was placed in the Someone Else’s Tool category which is the second highest of four choices. I’m alive, but not the alpha. Oh, how things could have been different if only I could drive the boat.

Most line wait times at CCI are insanely long so assuming that, an engaging, 20 minute experience with a customized freebie at the end made this definitely worth our time considering we were only here one day.

After a quick snack, we tried to find the entrance to the Nerdist Camp Conival. We went to the Conival last year and loved it, so we definitely wanted to visit this spot again. Unfortunately after we practically walked around all of Petco Park looking for the entrance (signs would have be helpful, Nerdist), I was told at the security checkpoint that selfie sticks were not allowed. Petco Park policy. Now I know selfie sticks can be annoying (and up until recently I swore that I’d never own one), but I never saw this restriction listed anywhere when reading about the event. I know they’re banned at the convention itself and I’m actually thankful for that. If it was earlier in the day and I had known that these weren’t allowed, I would have factored in the mile and a half trek back to the car, but with less than two hours until needing to go back to Spreckles for ConanCon, it wasn’t worth the three mile roundtrip walk in the heat which would take up most of the time we had left. Bummer.

Let’s take some time to rehydrate and meet back up in the ConanCon line…

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