SDCC 2017 Game of Thrones Experience: Was The Long Wait Worth It?

With New York Comic Con right around the corner and the reintroduction of the Westworld Experience, we look back on our experiences within a different, but related activation in the Game of Thrones: Winter is Here experience. Both HBO activations attracted crowds and endless lines, with the Game of Thrones activation taking their typical spot across the Omni Hotel in the Gaslamp and the Westworld sign-ups located in the Hilton Bayfront lobby. The exclusivity and limited space entailed with the event turned much of the weekend into an endless wait for an experience that may or may not seem worth it.

But let’s examine the Game of Thrones experience a little to see just what we took away from it. Full disclosure: we did not stand in line waiting with the masses for this experience, we previewed the experience with a press appointment. 

Groups are Good

Because of the nature of my admission into the event, I went alone, and the experience lacked as a result. I enjoyed my time in there, as the five activations each had some kind of interactive element ranging from acting on the fly to just playing a simple game. The experience is one that’s meant to be experienced with friends. The first activation you come to is a filming of the King of the North scene in which Jon is crowned king. 

While I managed with what I had, if you’re not theatrically or artistically inclined, it can be difficult to come up with something on the fly. On top of that, if you’ve been sleep deprived and waiting all day to get into the experience, I hate to tell you that you left the line only to jump into a new line. Each of the activations had their own individual lines where the whole experience ended up taking almost an hour and a half to complete. If you’re going to wait that long for this experience, come with friends and keep each other entertained. Few things at comic-con are better experienced alone. 

Come as a Fan

While many activations and off-sites welcome newcomers, this is not the experience for that. For one, the entire thing is a walking spoiler. But more importantly, this was clearly an experience created for fans of the show. You act out your part as Jon Snow, you sit on the Iron Throne and the Dragonstone throne, you kill white walkers, and you dress up as the night’s watch. There is a heavy interactive component, one that almost requires that you get into it. By all means, if you can do it, cosplay. While some activations barely seem worth the effort, HBO did not hold back.

Swag on the Mind

If you’re swag-minded and you want some collectibles, you have two choices. Wait and go through the experience the old fashioned way, or buy after the fact. Personally, if you’re there for collectibles, you’d have to weigh how much time you’d wait and what you would get. Those who walked through the experience received a special edition Night King Funko Pop alongside other smaller goodies. Is it worth the line? For me, I’d say no.

Bragging Rights

Chances are, you’ve heard of Game of Thrones. Not only that, your co-workers have heard of it, your mom has heard of it, your grandma has heard of it, your old elementary friends have heard of it. It’s one of the most popular shows on a huge network. The content that you get from the experience has some huge bragging rights attached to it. The edited videos and excellent props set up for photography don’t get much better when they’re coming from the source. The whole thing is Instagrammable and Facebook-brag worthy, especially if you’re with friends and you’re all cosplaying.

Here’s a taste from my trip to show you an idea of what the experience offered.

So was it worth the wait? Honestly, if I had been asked to wait for 12 hours for this experience, I might not have done it. The convention has so many great experiences and opportunities that will give you more bang for the buck. But having done it? I don’t regret it at all. The HBO experiences are highly produced, managed, and maintained. They’re made for the fans and it doesn’t lack in that area. Even alone, I enjoyed chatting with people in line and coming up with little skits for the King in the North bit and how to pose while sitting on the thrones. 

The only way to do these experiences is to go full boar. Get the gang together, commit to a day, maybe even throw in some cosplay outfits, and dive head first into the experience!