There’s a million things to do at New York Comic Con. With screenings, autographs, photo-ops, artist alley, the showroom floor, and more there’s something for everyone. If panels happen to be your cup of tea, here’s some advice to help you navigate the busy schedule and even busier Javits Center:
Know what you want to see and do before you go, but understand that it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to do it all. Be prepared to prioritize your wants, and also have back-ups in mind in case the line for your first choice is already capped or the room is already full. You can view the entire list of panels, screenings, and events here: http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/Content/Panels-And-Screenings/View-All/
I don’t just mean like 30mins early. I mean arrive 1-2 panels in advance of the one you’d like to see. Unless it’s the first panel of the day in that specific room, you’ll probably need to sit through the prior panel to ensure yourself a seat. Which brings me to my next point…
When you’re browsing through the list of panels, don’t just earmark the ones you like. After you’ve identified which panels you want to see, filter the list via the room to see what’s happening before and after the panel of your choice. This can help you figure out how early you may need to arrive.
Two years ago for instance I wanted to see The Man in the High Castle panel. Before it was a Marvel Animation one. I showed up right before the Marvel one, but opted to wait outside the room in the queue line so as not to take a seat from someone who wanted to see that one. I felt confident enough that a good chunk of the room would clear out given that there wasn’t much obvious overlap in the fandom. It did and I was able to get a good seat. However, before the Marvel panel, was a different Marvel one, and as you’d imagine a lot of people were interested in both. So a lot of people who showed for the second one ended up getting turned away because they didn’t realize they needed to be there earlier.
Alternatively, last year I want to see the Elementary panel, which took place prior to the Once Upon a Time panel at the Hammerstein Ballroom. I know that OUAT’s fans are dedicated so I expected some people would already be squatting in the room in anticipation for what was to come. In order to avoid missing out, I got there two panels early. Turned out to be a little too early, probably could have come a bit later but no harm no foul, I saw the panel I wanted and enjoyed a couple of Cartoon Network panels while waiting.
Remember, only the main stage, will be cleared between panels so don’t be the last to the party.
As they’ve done for the last few years, NYCC will once again clear the room in between main stage panels. I’m personally a fan of this process and have been successful in seeing the main stage panels I’ve sought out. Like last year, the process will be to ‘tap your badge’ to electronically save your spot for the main stage panel of your choice. Read more about it here: http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/Content/Main-Stage-Clearing/
So that all seems simple, but here’s the kicker: Badge tapping for ALL main stage panels of the day will take place in the morning. Which means even if the panel you want to see doesn’t start until 6pm, you’ll need to be at the Javits Center bright and early to get in the queue hall before the con officially kicks off at 10am to tap your badge. The upside to this system is that you’ll know very early on whether or not you’ll be seeing that panel and can enjoy the rest of the day.
One extra tidbit: New for this year is a Pre-Show Lottery which gives con goers the chance to secure main stage panel seating in advance among other things. The lottery is only live from Thursday, September 14 at 2:00 PM/ET to Monday, September 25 at 5:00 PM/ET.
As NYCC gets bigger and bigger, so has the footprint of the con. This year there are events, panels, and screenings taking place in a few off-site locations including the Hammerstein Ballroom, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, and Hudson Mercantile @ NYCC – 500 W 36th St.
Last year was the first time I ventured outside of the Javits Center, I made it to panels at both Hudson Mercantile and the Hammerstein Ballroom. This year I’ll venture to MSG, wish me luck. My general suggestions to arrive early and know before you go are still applicable in these instances. Other things to consider: unlike the Javits Center these locations are less willing to let you bring in outside food and drinks so pack accordingly. Also, MSG has specific rules regarding cosplay so make sure you read them here.
NYCC tries it’s best to label queues and corral people, but there’s still a lot of things going on all at once so it’s not uncommon to just kind of end up in a line. Don’t assume it’s the right one simply because you’re near someplace you want to be. Lines form for all sorts of reasons and seemingly at random, so ask the people in the lines and / or ask NYCC volunteers before you hunker down. It’s always better to be sure than to hedge your bets. Being in the wrong line is a surefire way to miss out.
Follow @NYCCLines on Twitter and monitor the hashtag #NYCC on Twitter and Instagram to get an idea of what’s going on if you haven’t arrived yet. People frequently post about the length of lines and other pertinent info relevant to most con-goers. I’ve found social media to be especially useful in the morning; it’s a great way to see how long the line is before the doors open or if any of the main stage panels are already full once the doors do open. Just don’t believe everything you read or see. Not everyone knows what they are talking about.
And lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the wild and crazy experience that is New York Comic Con.