Every year, nerds from all around the world gather for the biggest event in pop culture: San Diego Comic Con. Blood, sweat, and tears are shed when fans try to snag four day badges—an endeavor that is almost impossible nowadays. To some, it may seem like the end of the world when their quest comes up empty. Fortunately, the convention tries their best to ensure that everyone is included. While the inside of the convention center has the panels, downtown San Diego is just as fun. The Gaslamp district completely transforms in a nerdy paradise, with studios bringing life-size props and walkthroughs for everyone to enjoy.
As usual, events will be happening all around the city. From parties to midnight screenings, the opportunities are endless. However, for the attendees who are on a tight budget, here are 15 events that will be free to the public.
Location: San Diego Hilton Bayfront Odysea Bar
July 21st at 9 P.M
Attendees might be sad that they’re not able to go to the big after parties, but Boom! Studios is making sure that everyone feels included. You may have heard of their acclaimed Lumberjanes comic book series, which follows a gang of girl scouts on their surreal adventures. Boom! Studios will be hosting an after party at the Odysea Bar in the San Diego Hilton Bayfront. It’s completely free to enter and no RSVP is required. It would be a great place to meet fellow comic book fans as well the Boom! Staff.
Location: Harbor Drive
Amazon will take attendees on a journey through an alternate reality of Amazon’s original series, The Man in the High Castle. Guests will be able to take a tour of the props, costumes, and top it off with a 4D reality experience of Nazi America.
For the sci-fi nerds, Amazon will also have a tour of their other series, The Thunderbirds Are Go. Fans will get to tour set pieces, life-size characters, and take part in a mission to save San Diego!
Location: Hilton San Diego Bayfront Promenade Plaza
A few months ago, Comic Con International launched Comic Con HQ: a subscription channel that has their own shows about film and original content. If you’re bummed about not being able to get inside Hall H, have no fear. For everyone who doesn’t have a badge or just wants to hang outside, Hosts Alison Haislip & Steve Zaragoza will be at the Hilton Bayfront daily to cover what’s going on inside the con.
Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt Harbor Ballroom
Time: Thursday, July 21: 6:00–8:00 PMCreated by Ashley Eckstein (the voice of Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars), The Her Universe clothing line focuses on nerdy attire for women and girls. Coming back for its third year, the Her Universe Fashion Show showcases the hard work of 27 different designers. Not only do they get to show off their hard work to a packed room, but they also are participating in a huge competition. In front of a panel of judges, they have a chance to win the ultimate prize: a chance to design a fashion collection with Her Universe and be sold exclusively at Hot Topic.
Location: MLK Promenade
Are you an Autobot or a Decepticon? This important question will help decide the fate of planet Earth in Hasbro’s new app “Transformers: Earth Wars.” To celebrate the launch, Hasbro will bring Bumblebee himself out for a once in a lifetime photo opportunity. Pose with authentic backgrounds from the game and also get the chance to demo the product to see which side you’re really on.
Hilton San Diego Bayfront Lawn
Be sure to not miss out on Fox’s first look into their new shows, Son of Zorn and Rocky Horror Picture Show! Fans will be able to climb a rock wall, dive into a big stunt bag, and interact with the characters of Rocky Horror Picture Show in an immersive virtual reality experience. Fans will walk out doing the “Time Warp” for the rest of the weekend.
Location: Gaslamp Square, Fifth and Harbor Drive
NBC is bigger than ever this year with three new series to promote! From Supernatural creator Eric Kripke comes the time-bending adventure, Timeless. Fans will get to ride a “Gravitron” and take a motion graphic photo that documents their time travel experience.
Attendees can also experience the world of Oz in Emerald City, NBC’s new midseason drama that will take over the Tin Fish restaurant nearby. A photo booth will be available to take animated photos with the characters.
Lastly, everyone can get a taste of The Good Place, from Parks and Recreation creator Michael Schur. There will be a free frozen yogurt pop up shop to quench that sweet tooth and cool off from the heat.
Location: San Diego Ballroom, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
Nintendo has had a huge place in Comic Con for years with its gaming lounge. Fans will be pleased to hear that it will be back once again but with a bigger boost. They’ll be hosting a “Super Smash Brothers” tournament for kids as well having panels and characters come out for photos. They’re bringing a lot more games to play this year from “Splatoon” to “Mario Kart 8.”
And with everyone living and breathing Pokemon as of late, no one will want to miss the Pokemon Fan Gathering Area. Meet up with fellow fans to trade Pokemon or to try to scout out the closest Poke Stop.
Location: MLK Promenade
This year, attendees will get to decide whether they’re Team Superman or Team Batman. Instead of being in their usual spot at the back of the convention center, WB is moving to the MLK Promenade where they will be hosting the ultimate Batman v Superman experience. Fans will get to see Bruce Wayne’s famous car, the Batmobile, as well as participate in daily giveaway and scavenger hunts.
Location: MLK Promenade
South Park is back this Fall with their 20th season, and they’re going to reward their fans in the biggest way possible. Fans will step into 20 life-size 2D/3D sets of the show’s most iconic moments. And if you’re craving the real show, there will also be a Hulu viewing lounge that will be showing every episode in the series so far.
Of course, the fun doesn’t end there. There will be galleries full of South Park art and stills, and real-world items from the upcoming video game “The Fractured But Whole.” Comedy Central and Hulu are going all out for this legendary show and no one will want to miss it.
Location: Behind the Convention Center
Thursday, July 21 through Sunday, July 24: 11:00 AM–6:00 PM
Nighttime on the Green:
RSVP Not Required
Thursday through Saturday: 8:00–10:00 PM
Adult Swim is back at Comic Con this year, and they’re full of crazy fun. In the daytime, they will be hosting a variety of carnival-style games complete with prizes and a photo booth with Mr. Pickles. If you’re feeling too hot, head over to their Meatwad Dome to take in some air conditioning and some trance-inducing hallucinations that may or may not make your head spin for hours.
And if you’re feeling restless at night, they will also be hosting their annual Nighttime on the Green. Cuddle up with a blanket and watch some screenings or special behind the scenes footage.
Embarcadero Marina Park North
Entertainment Weekly is putting on a con of their own! For the whole weekend, they will be setting up picnic tables, charging stations, and food trucks for families of all sizes to sit down and rest for a moment. Throughout the day, they will also be putting on concerts and bringing out special guests such as the cast of Teen Wolf and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Location: Hilton San Diego Bayfront Lawn
No matter what show you love, FX’s “FXhibtion” will have something for you. They’re bringing their biggest shows to SDCC from American Horror Story to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There will be iconic photo opportunities with detailed art installations such as a 25 foot “infected” Lady Liberty statue from The Strain and Archer’s “Pam Poovey.”
And for everyone who is bummed about the lack of a panel for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, FX will be bringing a version of Paddy’s Pub, serving cold water on tap to keep those hydration levels up.
For those who love to get scared, American Horror Story will curate a virtual reality experience that will transport guests into the show and test the boundaries of their own fear. To avoid long lines, you are able to RSVP for the event at AHSReservations.com starting July 19th.
The FX Lounge will also be available for guests to relax in seating inspired by various FX series props including Archer’s Martini Olive as an Olivia Chair.
Location: 628 L Street
HBO never fails to put on a spectacular show at Comic Con, especially when it has to do with Game of Thrones. This year, HBO is bringing back their House of Black and White and Hall of Faces experience. Inside, you find the heads of past and present characters along with the Iron Throne. Attendees will be able to have their picture taken and have their head photoshopped onto the faceless tower. Fans can also pose with Arya’s sword “Needle” and the costumes for her, Jaqen H'ghar, and the Waif.
Lastly, ff you want to know if you’re the Lord of Light’s chosen savior, be sure to peek into Melisandre’s “fire” which features OC Dream hologram technology.
If you want a chance to get in, it’s recommended to get there first thing in the morning. The lines will easily turn into four to five hour waits.
Location: Hard Rock Hotel
Thursday – Sunday from 10AM-7PM.
The world is about to get a lot crazier when Gotham’s biggest baddies are released on the streets. With only a couple of weeks before its August 5th release, Suicide Squad will be taking over Comic Con! Warner Brothers will be taking 6000 feet of the Hard Rock Hotel and transforming it into Belle Reve, the prison that the holds the “worst of the worst.” Inside, fans will be able to enjoy a virtual reality experience to fight alongside their favorite characters and a special photo opportunity in the jail cells. Don’t forget to stop by Harley Quinn’s tattoo parlor to get your very own Suicide Squad tattoo!