Comic-Con International 2016: ConanCon. And was one badge-less day worth it?

Like last year, the line into Spreckles theater didn’t move when our tickets said doors were to open. My friend and I knew we were in the balcony, but it wasn’t until we were cross-checking passing rows and looking at our tickets that we realized that we were in the second to last row. 

Our view.
Fans joked as they piled in that “wow, we are far back!” But I guess this is one of those times to put things into perspective. A guy near us said that while we are in the very back, at least we are in the middle. We could be in the back AND on the side. So true! And honestly, we should all be thankful that we even got tickets since only about 6,000 people total get to attend across all four nights. And many more requested tickets. This beats having no ticket at all!

The view was still good. But with heat rising up to the balcony and everyone being hot from outside as it was (some in costumes made from material you know doesn’t breathe well), it was a sauna. Many of us laughed it off because we all felt gross. The stage must not have been any better with all the lights since Conan took off his jacket as soon as the show cut to break, and he put it back on literally right before taping resumed. He had crazy armpit sweat by the end. I was feeling awful with my short sleeve, cotton shirt; so I don’t know how he did it in a long sleeve dress shirt and suit jacket. Yep, running on little sleep and traveling all this way… for this. Appealing, right? 

Being a Conan O’Brien fan, the show was entertaining as expected. Captain Make America Great Again was on point with his hand gestures and mannerisms. And I loved the Dead Tauntaun Bed & Breakfast sketch because the stories are true – hotels can be hard to come by or you are practically giving away someone’s semester tuition to lay your head down on a pillow each night. 

People went nuts for the Games of Thrones (GOT) cast, obviously. It was a rare moment that not many people get to experience and I enjoyed being a part of that moment, but I really had no clue what they were talking about since, remember, I’ve never seen a single episode. I had to describe the actors to my sister and she guessed who I was referencing since I remembered no actor names nor the names of the characters they play. Face palm. But they were funny, and my friend (who is GOT fan) loved it.

As we were walking down the stairs after the show, the temperature noticeably decreased to “less warm” and we were each given a Funko Conan Stormtrooper on the landing. I was giddy and riding the high that we actually made it here, loving my Conan Stormtrooper, and there were already folks immediately outside the theater willing to offer $60 for the Funkos. Um, nope! This souvenir is coming home with me.

We ended our one-day in San Diego with Mexican food and piña coladas in Old Town. Then we headed to the airport, tired and preparing ourselves for a long night of trying to sleep in chairs or on the floor by the gate. TSA was unfortunately closed for the night but we were advised that one end of the airport was quieter than the other due to construction. While on the hunt for a good rest spot, we found the food court tables had all been removed, and in their place were cots, complete with packaged pillows and blankets. Only a few people were using them. The employee nearby said that they were for anyone at the airport to use. Who needs to pay $500+/ night for a last minute Comic-Con hotel when you can sleep on a cot for free? Especially only for 4-5 hours of sleep. I’m not sure if this is a nightly occurrence for layover passengers, or if it was set up due to all the Southwest cancellations that week, but we were so thankful. 

Never thought I’d be so happy to see a cot.

 When I got home Saturday at 9:00 a.m., I took the best three hour nap that I had in a long time. Out cold. It was hard to drag myself out of bed to pick up my dog. The rest of the weekend was mostly me being lazy and napping. I just don’t bounce back like a used to, but I refuse to say I’m too old to be doing these kinds of things.

So… was it all worth it? In short, yes! 

The frustration between knowing we had a canceled flight to rebooking was stressful, the almost three hour drive between Los Angeles and San Diego on less than three hours of sleep was difficult, and the trip was at a higher cost since we had the added expense of the last minute rental car, gas, and parking in San Diego. 

BUT we spent probably around what we have spent for one day at Comic-Con in past years, just substituting hotel with last minute airfare. And even with a badge to Comic-Con International, many days you only get to participate in a few activities, so this day wasn’t much different to that either. The only difference is that we didn’t step foot inside the convention center.

*UPDATE: To make up for our canceled flight, Southwest gave us half off vouchers for a future flight. The value we saved on our next flight is higher than what we spent on rental car related expenses, so we actually came out a little ahead. Score!

If this trip is at all weighed in having memorable experiences, overcoming hurdles, and laughs along the way, it outweighed all the negatives. We have stories to tell of our crazy adventures to get tickets to a highly coveted show. We experienced a zombie apocalypse. We saw ghostbusters having lunch with the Ecto-1 parked out front. We ate at our favorite Mexican food restaurant that we visit whenever we go to Comic-Con. We had many laughs about how crazy we are and then crashed at the airport. 

Life is about making great memories, and this is one I’ll never forget. The average day expenses made it even more worthwhile. Investment well made.

If you’re interested in attending Comic-Con International next year or want information on offsite exhibits that don’t require a badge, these sites are where you want to start:

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