Guide to Surviving SDCC with Kids, for Someone Who Has Just Returned

San Diego Comic Con logoLast year I went to Comic-Con (henceforth referred to as SDCC) with a group, but I was always doing my own thing “for work”, and I responsible for nothing but taking a ton of notes. This year I was responsible for the lives of three children, which is why now all my hair is completely white and I stare into the void with haunted eyes. Did I have fun?  Yes, absolutely – but I didn’t really realize that until we were all home on Sunday night and I counted children. Not only do I have the same number of kids I left with, but I even have the same kids. So hey – parenting win!

If you take kids to SDCC, here’s some things to keep in mind:

There is child care.

Not free, alas, but very reasonably priced. My team was a little old for it – they are tweens so not old enough to roam unprotected but too old to want to go to child care. However, a friend of mine used it last year for his younger kids and they adored it and begged to stay.

There are some events specifically for kids.

Most of these are on Sunday, when one room is devoted to different craft and art projects all day. There’s also a Children’s Film Festival.

By and large, SDCC is aimed at adults.

This means that if you go to a panel, expect some off-color remarks and some profanity. If you walk down the street, you will hear cussing from people on the street (not at you, just a cloud of general cussing). Some outfits are skimpy and some involve fake gore. As a parent who is very lenient about language in the sense that I curse non-stop in front of my darling daughter (sorry, honey) I didn’t find anything objectionable – but it’s not like going to Disneyland where the priority is making kids happy. With a few exceptions, the SDCC crowd is grown-ups having grown-up fun. They are happy to have you and your family present, but they might not tone things down for your benefit.

Have back-up plans in case of separation.

Here are some pictures of SDCC crowds:

Here's a crowd of people waiting to get on the trolley, with a crowd in the background trying to cross the street. The staff who did crosswalk duty were incredible - assertive but also polite and with a sense of humor. Thanks, guys!

Here’s a crowd of people waiting to get on the trolley, with a crowd in the background trying to cross the street. The staff who did crosswalk duty were incredible – assertive but also polite and with a sense of humor. Thanks, guys!

This is a terrible photo, but I hope it shows you how packed the trolley gets. No one falls down because we are so closely packed in together.

This is a terrible photo, but I hope it shows you how packed the trolley gets. No one falls down because we are so closely packed in together.

People trying to get on the escalator to the lobby and Exhibit Hall.

People trying to get on the escalator to the lobby and Exhibit Hall.

SERIOUSLY. That’s a lot of people and a lot of chances to get separated. Luckily, the vast majority of people at SDCC are lovely. So teach your children ahead of time that if anyone makes them afraid or uncomfortable, or they get lost, they should not hesitate to get help from a vendor or staff or, if being harassed, just yell, “THIS PERSON IS BOTHERING ME!” and multiple people will come to their aid. Also have meeting places. We had different ones depending on where we were. Separated on trolley?  Get off at next stop and wait. In Exhibit Hall? Go to the Girl Genius Booth, because we love Girl Genius and they know us well. Figure out what will work for you and make a plan. Again, out of 100 nerd, 99 are awesome. They just want to share what they love with you and make you happy. Statistically speaking, out of 100 people, one is probably going to be a jerk, so don’t be shy about enlisting the help of the nice 99 if you have any problems with that one guy.

Make physical comfort a priority over doing stuff.

Hungry? Eat. Bring snacks and be prepared to also spend a lot of money no food. Tired? Rest. Thirsty? There is water at the back of every panel room. In a full day of walking around you might only cross one thing off your list. That’s OK. Enjoy the cosplay and drink your water!

Enjoy the moment.

I was so stressed out I almost forgot to enjoy where I was – but we had a great (and safe) time! The kids learned to make steampunk bracelets, they met stormtroopers, they saw a giant minecraft display, they attended a hilarious panel at which people argued about which are the best starships, and they played their very fist Dungeons and Dragons game. And now I’m going to sleep for a week. I can’t believe I’m saying this – but I can’t wait to take them again next year!

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One thought on “Guide to Surviving SDCC with Kids, for Someone Who Has Just Returned

  1. JF Owen says:

    I truly envy you and your girls. By the time I make it to Comic-Con, I’ll have to roll around on a Hover chair.

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