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13 Comic-Con 2023 Experiences You Can Do Without A Badge

Eat dinner like Barbie, catch a Disney-inspired fashion show, hit up Petco's Interactive Zone, and more
Courtesy of Sonic City
Sonic the Hedgehog Cafe, SD

Sonic the Hedgehog Cafe, SD

Courtesy of Sonic City

No Comic-Con badge? No problem: Even if you didn’t manage to score an elusive pass to one of San Diego’s biggest weekend events, you can still hang out with Barbie, eat with Sonic and bond with dinosaurs—no pass required.Here are some of the best things to do during Comic-Con 2023 without a badge:

July 13-Aug. 20

Sonic the Hedgehog Speed Cafe

You’re going to need fuel, especially if you’re moving at sonic speed during Comic-Con week. Secret Sauce Society’s Andy Nguyen curated a menu inspired by Sonic’s universe with items like the Knuckles Sandwich (a fried chicken sandwich), Golden Rings (onion rings), and Fast Fries, in honor of Sonic’s speed. There will also be merch available for purchase. The Speed Cafe will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., July 13 through 18, and July 24 through August 20, and from 11 a.m. to midnight, from July 19 through 23. | 910 J Street, East Village

July 15-23

Grant Grill, Barbie-inspired dinner

Grant Grill, Barbie-inspired dinner

Courtesy of The US Grant

Barbie at the US Grant

Stop by the Grant Grill at the US Grant hotel for pink-inspired menu items like Hi Barbie, Hi Ken Sliders with Pinkglow pineapple slaw, the Live Your Dream cocktail made with Patron Silver and prickly pear puree, and the Malibu Barbie Milkshake. Menu items are available from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and are on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last. A lifesized Barbie box will also be on hand for photos Thursday through Sunday. | 326 Broadway, downtown

July 18-23

Special Exhibits at the Comic-Con Museum

At the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park, fans can get a taste of the magic of the Comic-Con all year round without having to pay the price of the badge. During the convention, the museum will introduce new exhibits dedicated to the anime series My Hero Academia, the anime series Cowboy Bebop, and the comic book legend Stan Lee. Pop-culture fanatics can also play a game of Pacman, look at previous decades of Comic-Con memorabilia, and learn about animation. Tickets for the museum are $25 for adults, $12 for children ages 6-12, free for kids under six, and $18 for students, seniors, military members, and juniors ages 13-17. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | 2131 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park

July 19-21

Malibu Daydream Experience

Come on, Barbie, let’s go party at the Malibu Daydream Experience. Take a step into the plastic fantastic event at Parq Nightclub, where a ticket will include an interactive lounge, photo ops, Barbie characters, and complimentary sweets and non-alcoholic beverages. The pink daydream for those 18-and-up and will be open from Wednesday through Friday, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. | 615 Broadway, East Village

July 20

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Her Universe Fashion Show

Enjoy pieces created by 25 pre-selected amateur designers at the Her Universe Fashion Show hosted by Ashley Eckstein, founder of Her Universe, with co-host and actor, Michael James Scott. The fashionistas will create one-of-a-kind, not-for-resale, Disney-inspired pieces, while two winners will be awarded the chance to design a collection with Her Universe. Seating is first come, first served, which is why fans will spend hours lining up for this free fashion show in the Harbor Ballroom of the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel. The show will be on Thursday, June 20, starting at 6 p.m. | 1 Market Place, downtown

July 20-21

The Lanford Lunch Box

Sitcom fans will love The Lanford Lunch Box, a pop-up that lets you step into the world of Roseanne. Enjoy some loose meat sandwiches for two nights only and get some Lunch Box merch, plus a chance to watch a re-enactment of the classic episode, “Lanford Days.” You can find the diner just a couple of blocks away from the Convention Center, open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | 904 Sixth Avenue, downtown

July 20-22

Adult Swim Festival on the Green

Calling all adult animation fans, the Adult Swim Festival on the Green will have music, comedy, meet-and-greets, and more. All registered tickets for this free event have been sold out, however, there will be a stand-by line each day for people who are 18 and up. The festival is open Thursday at 5 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m. Closing times vary based on performances. | 600 Convention Way, downtown

July 20-23

Kitties and Coffee

Take some time for a little break at The Cat Cafe and enjoy the company of some adoptable felines. There’s a 10-person limit for every 50-minute session because even cats can get a little tired of crowds. A reservation is $25 and will get you unlimited cuddles from the friendly cats, and a food or drink item. The cafe will be open from Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. | 302 Island Avenue, #101, downtown

Hello Kitty food truck

Hello Kitty food truck

Courtesy of Sanrio

Petco Park Interactive Zone

Head to the Petco Park Interactive Zone at the Petco Park Lexus Premiere Lot (across the street from the Convention Center) for several mostly free activities. Get a sweet treat at the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, or grab a bite at one of the many themed food trucks. A collab between GNC and Marvel will be making an appearance at the zone. The interactive zone will be open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | 58 Eleventh Avenue, East Village

Hero Within Energize Lounge

Head to the Gaslamp for the Hero Within Energize Lounge, a Star-Trek themed experience lets you recharge and connect with fellow fans. The Energize Lounge will have themed drinks based off the series, plus featured promos from IDW Publishing, RockLove Jewelry, and the Star Trek Cruise. The lounge is open from Thursday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday. | 332 J Street, Gaslamp

Comic-Con Art Show

Original drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more will be on display at the Comic-Con Art Show at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Nominated comics and books for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards will also be available to view. The event is free for all ages, however, to purchase artwork, you must be 18 or older with proper identification. The show takes place on Thursday (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Friday (9 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and Saturday and Sunday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). | 1 Market Place, downtown

July 21-22

Step Into Jurassic Park

About a 20-minute walk from the Convention Center, you’ll find some roaring fun. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, guests are invited to take a stroll into this prehistoric world and encounter some favorite dinosaurs and moments from the film. While reservations for this free, timed event are filled, there will be a standby line available. The park gates will be open on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. | 315 15th Street, East Village

July 21-23

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Casa Mexico at Comic-Con

It’s fiesta time, amigos! Head to Casa Mexico to listen to live music, have some appetizing authentic cuisine, and view an exhibition featuring the Mexican comic artist Rius. This free event takes place at Seaport Village on Thursday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. | 849 W. Harbor Drive, downtown

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