Day one: Thursday
Since Preview Night passes sold out at the convention last year, Ken and I had regular four-day passes this year. I didn't miss Preview Night too much -- it's nice to have a few hours on a slightly less crowded exhibit hall floor (you can identify people who go to other conventions because they call it the "dealers' room" -- it took me a while to figure out what that even meant), but I didn't have much shopping to do this year, so it wasn't a big deal.
So on Thursday morning, we went to the Old Town trolley station around 8 am... only to find it completely full. We went on to Fashion Valley mall, only to find all their parking areas either cordoned off or full as well. Finally we gave up and went clear to Qualcomm Stadium, where they have 5,000 parking spots for convention-goers. No problem finding parking there, but it added another fifteen minutes to the trolley ride. (On the bright side, that's the far end of the special trolley line, so we were guaranteed seats. If we got on any later, we might have had to stand.)
When we finally made it to the convention center, around 9am, this was the line that greeted us:
It's hard to get a sense of perspective on line pictures like this, but this is behind the convention center. Because the line already went most of the length of the front, and around back, and down past the marina. (I saw an awful lot of the marina, over those four days.)
(I took that picture for the sake of the strange ivy-covered mermaid-with-a-megaphone art in the distance, but I also really liked the owl backpack of the girl in line ahead of us.)
I'm used to the pass line moving very, very quickly; it's the one thing SDCC is really organized about. You move right along, get into the Sails Pavilion, pick whoever's free among the hundred or so computer stations, get your pass, and go. This year, though, for whatever reason, the line was slow. It took us an hour to get through it. That was a bummer, because the Burn Notice panel was at 10am and we had no hope of making it. We weren't that disappointed, because the panel was supposed to be focusing on the lame TV movie that aired a few months ago, but still, shuffling along in line for an hour and missing a panel wasn't the best start to the day.
Having nothing else to do, we hit the exhibit hall right away. At the BBCA booth, there was a Dalek hanging around:
I thought this was some kind of official thing at first, even though it doesn't really look like the Daleks on the show. But it turns out it's just somebody's homemade Dalek wandering around.
I grabbed a t-shirt and the special-edition SDCC Doctor Who comic while I was there, and then Ken and I split up; I wanted to see Patricia Briggs and then get in line for a TV Guide panel in the afternoon that had, among other people, Matt Smith. Ken wanted to see a smaller panel that was actually about Sci-Fi. We planned to meet later on for Wilfred, if not before, and went our separate ways.
And then I got in line for Ballroom 20. SDCC is basically the queueing Olympics. Despite having exactly the same number of attendees for each of the last several years, the lines get worse and worse. If people got in line for something three hours early last year, other people will try to beat them by arriving four hours early this year, or five hours, or six, and it just escalates until the Twilight people end up camping out for a week. There were some improvements in line management this year, at least, but things were still kind of messy around the smaller rooms for events that had (I think) unanticipatedly large crowds.
And what can you do except go along with it (or give up entirely on attending large or popular panels)? So by 1:15 I was in line for my 4:15 panel, and the line already snaked through all the tents on the upper level outside, then down some stairs, through a bunch more tents, and down to the marina. I didn't arrive a moment too soon. Now, I knew that the TV Guide panel was going to follow the insanely popular Game of Thrones panel, so it's possible the room was going to clear out significantly. But I couldn't count on it, so I got out my book and settled in to wait.
I did not make it in for Game of Thrones (which was fine, because I don't watch it), but I was two tents from the building by then, so things were looking pretty good for the TV Guide panel.
Then we grabbed the trolley for Qualcomm Stadium and (eventually, after a few wrong turns) home. One day down, three to go!