How to Camp Out in Hall H Line for SDCC

In Norse mythology (or simply just Thor continuity in many of our readers’ cases), Valhalla is where Asgardian warriors go to in the afterlife when they have died honorably in combat – it is their reward for a life well-lived. Hall H is Valhalla for San Diego Comic-Con geeks.

We battle all night, fighting off hoards of line cutters, the growl of hunger pains, the shiver of the pre-dawn sky and the sister of death herself, sleep. For those that survive the long, grueling night, they are gifted with entering the majestic Hall H.

Many have heard horror stories about camping out for Hall H – all the questions and confusion about  when and where to line up, what time you can enter, who’s allowed in and out, something about wrist bands and an unofficial line, and so on. Once you do figure out when and where the line starts (we don’t even know ourselves, and we likely won’t find out until the actual con itself), the next important thing to do is figure out how to make your overnight campout pleasant enough so it doesn’t feel like you’re sieging a castle for six months.

I’ve camped out for Hall H three times, each time successfully getting in and having a very enjoyable time. For first timers it may be daunting to plan an entire night of waiting in line but here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully you won’t get stuck next to a power generator buzzing all night long like I did last year:

Sleeping and Comfort

You’ll be stuck outside with nowhere to go for 10-18 hours, depending on when you line up, so you’ll need to pack a few things to be as comfortable as possible:

  • Sleeping bag – preferably a lightweight backpacking sleeping bag that stuffs into a small sack.
  • Sleeping pad – another piece of lightweight backpacking gear that rolls into a small sack.
  • Camping chair – one that folds up very small, not the kind that professional wrestlers break over each other’s heads.
  • Dress in layers – it’s San Diego, so it’s nice and warm but it can still get cold in the middle of the night. At the very least, pack some sort of hoodie or light jacket.

You may have noticed a trend – pack light and small! You can’t have a tent, or large chair, or sleeping bag and pad that take up space because you’ll have to bring everything into Hall H so it needs to all fit under your chair. The exception is if you’re staying in one of the (very) nearby hotels to drop your things off in the morning and have a buddy save your spot in line.

The Buddy System

Waiting in line overnight alone is boring – do it with friends! You’re allowed to leave the line and come back once they hand out wristbands (no one knows what time this happens), so it’s super valuable to have a friend or two in line to hold each other’s spots for bathroom breaks and food runs. If you’re going alone, make friends with the people around you! You’ll be stuck next to each other for hours, might as well get to know them and have them hold your place in line, if needed. I’ve camped out alone once, and no one ever screwed me over by not letting me back in line. We’re all in this together!

Sustenance

Pack a lot of snacks! Not just for yourself, but for all your new friends that you’ll make in line. Offering someone food goes a long way in creating a positive atmosphere, which is of the utmost importance when everyone is tired and hangry (hungry and angry). Once the sun comes up and Starbucks opens, offer to go on a coffee run! There’s also a 24 hour Subway across the street, so that’s another option for late-night food runs. In 2014, the line for Starbucks next to the Hall H line at 7:30am looked like this.

Avoiding Boredom

Bring a deck of cards or some small games. Don’t bring an entire board game – it’s too cumbersome and hard to set up and clean up when you’re laying on a sidewalk. Bring a Nintendo DS and games, if you have one, and offer to let your line neighbors play! A portable phone charger is also very important to have, because you’ll kill your battery quick browsing #SDCC or following us on Twitter and Instagram all night. And of course, bring a stack of comic books to read and share!

The most important thing I keep mentioning – be nice to your neighbors! We all want to get into Hall H, so let’s just all be nice to each other. Hopefully these tips will make your campout more enjoyable, but even more so, I hope you actually make it into Valhalla!

If this is your first time visiting Shortboxed, thanks for stopping by! We want to provide a place online where people new to comics can come and learn about the culture and be introduced to some amazing stories without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated. We’re always adding new content, so please come back soon! You can also follow us on TwitterInstagram and Tumblr at @shortboxed.

Featured image up top by Acta Dinerda.

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