Missed out on Comic-Con? Plan now for next year

If you've never been to Comic-Con and missed out on going to this year's event, take solace in the fact that you're not alone.

Thousands of people descend upon San Diego for this yearly four-day celebration of all things pop culture, and during this stretch, news of exclusive footage from highly anticipated films or surprise appearances by A-list celebrities can be upsetting for those left out in the cold.

The fact of the matter is Comic-Con is a tough ticket to come by. Many attendees and so-called "Con experts" agree that the process to get badges (tickets) for the event is one that requires vigilance and patience, but also one that can be truly rewarding once you're there.

So, how do you get into next year's Comic-Con?

BUYING TICKETS AND DATES TO KNOW

Next year's Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center will begin on Wednesday, July 8 with "Preview Night." The convention officially kicks off Thursday, July 9, and ends Sunday, July 12.

Event officials advise first-timers looking to obtain badges to visit the Comic-Con website and sign up for a Member ID. Watch this tutorial video on how to create a Member ID:

Those with Member IDs who opt-in for Comic-Con emails will be notified of important dates/times for badge sales and other important information related to the convention.

Badges for individual days are sold only on the Comic-Con website, and those who purchase badges for all four days of the convention are eligible to buy the Preview Night badge. Tips on buying badges can be found here .

Comic-Con International Director of Marketing David Glanzer told 10News that the process for purchasing badges for 2015 has not yet been finalized. For anyone interested in next year's event, Glanzer recommends frequently checking the website for the latest information.

I HAVE MY BADGE, BUT WHERE WILL I STAY?

Once you have purchased badges for the days you want to attend, the next logical step would be to figure out where to stay in America's Finest City. Glanzer said the Comic-Con website has a hotel reservation system in which a number of hotels near the Convention Center are blocked out specifically for the event. Again, it is highly recommended that those interested in booking a room frequently visit the website for announcements on dates and specific hotels. To check on availability, visit www.comic-con.org/cci/hotels .

Tony Kim, who runs the blog Crazy 4 Comic-Con , said getting a hotel room through Comic-Con's reservation system can be difficult due to the extremely high demand. He told 10News that attendees can try to "reserve a hotel room on your own about 9-10 months ahead of time [or] look for condos or timeshares ... you can also find a room much farther out [from the Convention Center] like at SeaWorld ..."

According to Kim, once visitors book a room through the Comic-Con system, extra reservations could be found via Twitter, but he added, "This isn't as reliable, but if you are lucky, you will find a room."

TRANSPORTATION/PARKING

Many Comic-Con veterans, like San Diegan Mare Tosino, are fully aware that the 4-day convention brings on a traffic nightmare in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego.

"I follow Comic-Con on Twitter and pay close attention to anything related to parking because if you buy a parking pass to any of their lots, you're guaranteeing yourself a less stressful experience," she said.

Comic-Con offers its visitors who are driving numerous parking lot options near the Convention Center, but Tosino said, "You just need to be ready to pounce on those spots, especially the lots closest to the Convention Center. Those spots sell out really quick on the website ."

But Tosino added that parking your car blocks away from the convention is not necessarily a bad thing because "you get to see what else is going on downtown and walking is a great workout anyway."

Other previous Con visitors told 10News that San Diego's trolley service is the way to go. Kim said the trolley "drops you off right in front of the Convention Center."

He also added, "For a great San Diego experience, take a pedicab to get a fun, scenic view!"

For more on how to get to Comic-Con, click here .

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Once you hit the convention floor, first-time visitors should prepare for sensory overload. The atmosphere at Comic-Con can be exciting due to the plethora of booths and displays. Major movie and TV studios set up elaborate and interactive booths to promote their upcoming projects. There are also booths dedicated to collectible items and art displays, various toy/game and comic book vendors and video game setups from some of the big game studios.

"There is certainly something for everyone," Kim told 10News, but he added, "It takes a couple of days to really see everything on the convention floor, so plan accordingly. If you only have a one-day badge, you will have to choose between panels or the showroom floor."

There are multiple rooms and halls dedicated to panels and discussions

throughout the Convention Center. The subject matter varies at each panel, but many Comic-Con attendees know that the most popular panels take place at Hall H and Ballroom 20. If you want to see anything related to the Marvel movies or AMC's "The Walking Dead," Hall H is the place to be. Ballroom 20 typically hosts anything related to popular TV shows like "The Simpsons" or "The Big Bang Theory."

When it comes to panels or screenings, patience is truly a virtue. Comic-Con veterans 10News spoke with were either frustrated with the waiting-around process or were fine with it.

"I've met some great people while in line waiting to get into a panel," said Con veteran Jon Ong. "It's always fascinating to hear where they're from, how long they've been doing this or why they're dressed in whatever costume they're wearing."

Kim added, "There is no easy way of getting into the high-profile panel rooms like Hall H and Ballroom 20. Fans camp out overnight to get into these rooms. The best advice I can give is dress warm, have a pillow and blanket, and bring friends with an adventurous spirit. It's a great atmosphere, but not for the faint of heart."

Prior to this year's convention, Comic-Con officials laid out new rules regarding entry into the popular Hall H panels. Those rules and an FAQ on Hall H can be found here .

HIDDEN GEMS

Kim told 10News that many visitors tend to overlook the off-site events that are hosted by various companies.

"Whether it's 'The Walking Dead Escape,' or Nerd HQ, or Geek and Sundry, there are number of amazing 'Cons within the Con' that make the entire San Diego Comic-Con experience so special. So even if you don't have a badge, four days in San Diego can still be pretty magical," he said.

Tosino said one of the reasons she goes to Comic-Con each year is for the exclusive, show-only items. She told 10News, "My son is really into action figures so I make it a point to visit the Mattel and Hasbro toy booths to see what they're offering. Some of the prices can be on the high side, but they make for really awesome and memorable souvenirs."

ADVICE FROM A LONGTIME ATTENDEE

Lee Roberts, who has gone to every Comic-Con for the past 20 years, advises first-timers to head to the convention with a game plan.

"If you're going just to stare at people in costume, that will get old quickly. Make sure you study the massive programming schedule and make your own quick list of three or four panels a day [you're interested in]," he said.

Roberts said he and his daughter, who herself has been to the convention 10 straight years, also make a list of the specific booths on the floor to visit and always note the booth number. Roberts told 10News studying the map beforehand helps in the experience.

WHO TO FOLLOW

Here are some websites and social media accounts to follow for the latest Comic-Con info:

TIPS FROM COMIC-CON VISITORS

Some advice and tips from Comic-Con attendees, straight from the convention floor:

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