The 2014 Hall H line on Friday afternoon, waiting for Saturday's panels.

The 2014 Hall H line on Friday afternoon stretched behind the convention center, waiting for Saturday’s panels.

Editor’s note: With the new changes to the Hall H wristband system, it’s tough to call how early lines will start for the next day’s panels in Hall H. Camping overnight isn’t required anymore, but you will need to pick up a wristband and return to the Hall H line before 7:30am. Make sure you read up on all the wristband details if your goal is Hall H. But whether your goal is Hall H, another program room, or the exhibit hall for exclusives, read on for Dustin’s helpful details on braving the early outdoor lines that have come to define SDCC.

Sometimes attendees resort to makeshift signs.

Sometimes attendees resort to makeshift signs.

The panels, exclusives, and free swag announcements are rolling in. While you’re getting your schedule ready to snag those sweet Hasbro Transformer exclusives or get into that Dr. Who panel, here are some things you’ll need to know about lining up.

The Hall H line starts under the tents adjacent to Hall H (in the grassy area called Plaza Park). The line starts under the tents and then depending what time you get in, the line will wrap all the way down to the marina and beyond. Ballroom 20, the Exhibit Hall, and all other panel rooms share a separate line. This line starts at the convention center doors, then lines up on the outside of the Hall H tents and then will begin to wrap around the Hall H line. There are two stages of both lines: pre-condensed and condensed.

The pre-condensed line usually starts from the afternoon the day before to about 5 a.m. the day of programming. This is when everyone is sprawled out in their sleeping bags and chairs relaxing.

Condensing the Lines
The infamous Hall H line chutes.

The infamous Hall H line chutes.

Around 4:30 a.m – 5:30 a.m. the staff begins to condense the line. Condensing is when security will compact the line and make sure everyone is starting to move. It’s important to know these two line stages because your chance of getting into Hall H or getting that exclusive vary. For example: if the Hall H line is pre-condensed (by Joe’s Crab Shack) you are likely to get in. If the Hall H line is condensed and you’re deep in the marina you may want to give up hope on getting into Hall H and find other panels or things to do.

After the lines are condensed they begin to move. Usually around 6 a.m. or a little later the Ballroom 20, Exposition Hall, and other lines will move inside the convention center. Ballroom 20 will then line up outside of the convention center on the second floor. Exposition Floor has two line up areas. One area is in the Sails Pavilion and the other area is around Ballroom 20 almost directly above Hall H.

The Hall H line has four chutes. Once condensed, the staff begins to put the line into the chutes. Once the Fire Marshal approves, the staff begins moving the line into the Hall chute by chute. Once a group is let into Hall H there is a pause before the next chute is let in. Then they begin filling up the previous chute and this continues all morning until the entire room is filled.


Will you be braving the late night or early morning lines at SDCC next week? Share your plans in the comments.

Featured photo, top, by Gage Skidmore.