Did you know there was once a time when you could go to San Diego Comic Con and get into the front row of Hall H just by showing up a couple hours in advance? I’m not talking about a time when SDCC wasn’t the monster it is now, this was just a little over a decade ago. But thanks to a certain movie series with crazy fans, that SDCC experience will never return.
As recently as 2005 someone who wanted to get into the big Saturday panels at Hall H could go down to the convention center and actually be the first person in line, as long as they were willing to do so around 5:00am. It didn’t require camping out over night for a week. I know it sounds crazy, but I did it myself multiple years in a row. I can remember being in the front row of Hall H for lots of major panels, such as when Bryan Singer revealed the first new Superman movie footage in nearly two decades.
But that all changed thanks to Twilight.
The first year SDCC held a Twilight panel, they weren’t prepared for the crazy fanbase and put it on the Saturday schedule. This would be the mistake that would forever destroy the semi-relaxing Hall H seating experience. The Twilight fans began camping out the Monday prior to the panel. They set up camp for Hall H, and other SDCC attendees noticed that. Comic Con noticed it as well, which is why for the following years they tried to schedule the Twilight panel as the very first panel in Hall H in the hopes that those fans would quickly clear out and make room for people who wanted to see more than one movie presentation at SDCC.
But the damage was irreparable.
Twilight happened in the years that SDCC was rapidly growing in attention and attendance. New people were showing up at SDCC and seeing massive week-long camp-outs for Hall H, and they just thought that was normal. Because of Twilight, the idea of camping out on the sidewalk next to San Diego’s homeless population just to get into Hall H became the accepted norm. Hall H will never return to the glory days of getting there at 5:00am for a front-row seat because Twilight taught people that they had to camp out to experience the big panels of SDCC.
The convention has slightly improved things in recent years with the wristbands handed out to people camping overnight, but other conventions handle their lines much better. NYCC bans overnight campouts completely. Star Wars Celebration and D23 Expo put the overnight lines in an indoor queue protected from the elements with readily available restrooms and food.
Maybe once San Diego finally completes their Convention Center expansion they will be able to do something similar as other cons. But until then, the Hall H experience is hell for long-time SDCC veterans who remember how it was just ten years ago. And we can all thank a crappy movie series everyone has already forgotten about for ruining it.