San Diego Comic-Con Is Overcrowded. Let’s Make It Bigger
The world’s biggest pop culture convention has become its least enjoyable, but it doesn’t have to be
San Diego Comic-Con is a one-of-a-kind experience that everyone who’s excited about pop culture — which is just about everyone — should attend once. And that should be the last time. One visit is all you’ll need to realize that despite the stars, the festival, the crowds, and (to a much lesser extent) the comics, the event has gotten so big that it’s not just bloated — it’s broken.
But it doesn’t have to be. And it turns out that the way to fix a big and bloated pop culture mega-event is to make it even bigger.
To anyone who’s waited hours in line in hopes of attending a hot panel at Comic-Con, or tried to find a place to have dinner in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter after the show, this may sound crazy. After all, the world’s biggest pop culture expo’s main problem is that there are simply too many people here. The issue goes beyond long lines, of which there are plenty. The con draws a reported 135,000 attendees to the San Diego Convention Center, which has a capacity of 125,000 — and this attendee number doesn’t count the thousands of guests, exhibitors, staff, and media personnel who also have to squeeze into the convention center and its environs.
At its busiest, on Friday and Saturday, you can quite literally get swept away by the nerd herds roaming the aisles.
San Diego Comic-Con takes a ridiculous amount of time and effort to actually attend. The 67 “official” hotels — positioned within an eight or so mile radius — can only be reserved through a lottery, held in April, in which all rooms are booked within a minute. (No exaggeration.) If you’re not one of the lucky few to end up within walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center, you have to drive through bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to the marina, and then battle for parking. (ACE, owner of many downtown garages, has its own, unofficial lotto to use its spaces.) And once you’ve finally managed to arrive, the fighting really begins.