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How to Plan for San Diego Comic-Con 2023

Everything you need to know to plan for an epic weekend including dates, times, badge pick-up and parking info
Courtesy of Comic-Con International FB
Comic-Con Outside

Comic-Con Outside

Courtesy of Comic-Con International FB

Comic-Con 2023 is fast approaching, with droves of superheroes, aliens, villains, droids, and other fantastical folks descending on the streets of downtown San Diego beginning July 21.

This year’s convention promises to be massive, as it will be the first full return to the original format since Covid. Comic-Con International has already started trickling out names from its list of special and featured guests, with more big stars sure to land in the weeks leading up to the convention.

Current notable speakers include Victoria Aveyard, author of Red Queen and the Realm Breaker series; Frank Miller, artist and writer for Daredevil, Ronin, Batman: The Dark Knight, Sin City and 300; Matthew Southworth, cartoonist for Stumptown and The Cloven; and Maggie Thompson, editor of Comics Buyer’s Guide.

The badges for this year’s convention have already sold out, so if you are lucky enough to have secured one, it’s time to start your planning for the weekend. If you didn’t get a badge—never fear! Stay tuned for our upcoming list of weekend events that don’t require a ticket.

Here are frequently asked questions about the weekend and how to plan for San Diego Comic-Con 2023:

When is San Diego Comic-Con 2023?

San Diego Comic-Con will take place at the San Diego Convention Center from Thursday, July 20, to Sunday, July 23. During the weekend, events are held at locations across the city, including the Gaslamp Quarter, The Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, and Petco Park.

Thursday through Saturday, doors open at 9:30 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. The event ends at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Comic-Con Halls

Comic-Con Halls

Courtesy of Comic Con International FB

Where do I pick up my Comic-Con 2023 badge?

If you didn’t receive your badge in the mail, you can grab your badge at the convention center. To pick up your Comic-Con badge in person, you will need to wait in one of two lines: one located in the Sails Pavilion across from Attendee Badge Pick-up and one at the Bayside Corridor from Room 20 down to Room 27. View the convention center map for more details.

You’ll need to bring a valid photo ID and your badge confirmation; your name must match both forms of verification. Children 12 and under do not need their own badge or ticket to enter with a paying adult. Bulk pick-up or nabbing badges for other guests is not allowed.

Can I still get tickets to San Diego Comic-Con 2023?

Unfortunately, 2023 Comic-Con passes are sold out. Guests who lose their badge can get a replacement at the badge solutions desk in Sails Pavilion for a fee.

Next year’s tickets will go on sale for the general public in late 2023—to get a chance at scoring one, enter their lottery system. You can create an account and sign up for the Comic-Con 2024 waitlist here.

Where should I park for Comic-Con 2023?

Parking can be difficult during Comic-Con weekend. Attendees are encouraged to use public transit or carpool to minimize issues. Attendees can park at the Old Town transit center (or any other location along the Green Line) and take the trolley to the Convention Center stop downtown. Alternatively, attendees can use ride-share apps like Uber or Lyft, but expect inflated rates.

Comic-Con also offers a free shuttle service with stops in downtown and Mission Valley and at hotels near the airport on Shelter Island and Harbor Island. The shuttle service, coordinated by SEAT Planners LLC Incorporated, will run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (July 20–22) from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. On Sunday, July 23, the shuttle is available from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Will there be road closures during Comic-Con 2023?

Harbor Drive will be closed to traffic during the following days and times:

  • Thursday: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Friday: 7 a.m.–10 p.m
  • Saturday: 7 a.m.–10 p.m
  • Sunday: 7 a.m.–8 p.m

See the following map from 2022 for more details.

Will there be food and drinks available for purchase?

Yes, there are a number of small vendors selling concessions inside of the convention center during the event, as well as a hospitality suite inside of the Marriott Marquis from 2 p.m. till midnight Thursday through Saturday (it’s closed on Sunday). You must have a valid Comic-Con badge to enter the suite. Outside of the convention center, many businesses will be offering Comic-Con–themed menus and exclusive offerings, as well.

Can I watch San Diego Comic-Con panels online?

Unfortunately, Comic-Con doesn’t livestream their panels during the event weekend (unless a major studio makes an exception). Full Comic-Con panels will be available online at a later date. Typically, panel videos go live a week after the event on the Comic-Con International Youtube channel.

Comic-Con Gaslamp Downtown

Comic-Con Gaslamp Downtown

Courtesy of Eventbrite

Additional Tips

Get updates

Download the Comic-Con app to get schedules, maps, and alerts about events during the weekend. You can also follow Comic-Con on social media (@comic_con on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), plus unofficial experts like @SD_Comic_Con and @cinebeth and trending hashtags. Finally, listen to the podcast SDCONCAST for news and updates.

Know where to stay

Finding a place to lay your head during Comic-Con weekend can be the ultimate hero’s battle. The General Hotel Sale, when you can queue to reserve tiered choices for hotel rooms, has already passed. Comic-Con has a block of hotel rooms that are available now (they get booked quickly, so act fast!). The hotels have shuttles to the convention center, plus a variety of stops throughout downtown San Diego. You can also try to team up with other convention attendees and rent a house or apartment through vacation rental sites.

Create a schedule

Comic-Con has endless activities, from panels, exhibits, and screenings to opportunities to meet authors and get books signed. You can use the Comic-Con app or an online schedule to pick the events you most want to attend and note the ones you’ll likely need to wait in line for. Once you have those bases set, you can round out your itinerary with other events that are lower priority for you. Remember: You need time to get to different parts of the convention center and even camp out in line if you want to go to the most popular panels.

Make a must-see list

Sometimes the best way to narrow down your schedule is to focus on the people. Make a list of celebrities, authors, or panelists you most want to see, and then figure out when they’ll be appearing. You can structure your schedule around that list.

Bring the proper gear

Even if you’re dressed as sexy Princess Leia or clad in Hercules cosplay, you’re going to want to protect your feet. If you’re in the exhibit hall, your toes will get stepped on—over and over again. So plan to wear comfortable, close-toed shoes to get you through all the walking and standing. We also recommend packing a bag with water, snacks, an extra charger, and anything else you might need for a long day at the con.

Know the exhibit hall

The exhibit hall is a huge part of Comic-Con, with massive booths from studios, interactive games and exhibits, and smaller vendors with books and trinkets for sale. Make a list of the tables you most want to hit and map out where to find them. You might also want to make a shopping list of what you’re hoping to find so you can stay focused and not get overwhelmed.

Consider Cosplay

Cosplaying is a major part of Comic-Con, and makes people-watching (or alien-watching) one of the best parts of the weekend. If you want to dress up, get your costume ready well in advance! There are also meetups and gatherings before the convention where you can meet cosplayers and take pictures.

Plan outside the Convention Center

The streets of the Gaslamp around Comic-Con also explode with exhibits and pop-ups that are worth checking out. The SDCC Unofficial Blog has a list of offsite events that weekend, including movie screenings, games, and events. You can also follow @OutsideComicCon on Twitter for announcements about events happening away from the Convention Center.

Be open to new things

Some of the magic of Comic-Con is the spontaneity—you stumble upon an artist you’d never heard of or happen into a panel on something you knew nothing about. It’s great to plan your weekend so you don’t miss what you most want to do, but also be open to changing your plans as you discover something completely unexpected. Have fun!

By Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser has been writing for San Diego Magazine for 10 years. She also is a reporter at KPBS and writes for The New York Times, National Geographic, Marie Claire, Elle and Runner's World.

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