NYCC Tuesday Tips 2018: Navigating the Javits Center & Surrounding Areas

NYCC Tuesday Tips is a new series we’re trying out in anticipation of New York Comic Con 2018 this October. Similar to our San Diego Comic-Con Sundays, we will be compiling tips and tricks for making the most out of your time at the convention based on our past experiences. New tips come out every Tuesday right here on the blog. 

Last week’s topic: Eating in NYC


This Week: Navigating the Convention & Surrounding Areas

The past two weeks we’ve discussed staying in NYC and eating in NYC. This week we’re going to be going into a little more detail specifically about the Javits Center and the surrounding area. It can be a lot to take in for someone in their first year of the convention. Offsite events can take attendees wandering through some strange parts of NYC. 

Hopefully out tips this week will help newbies and veterans alike better understand what they’re walking into when they arrive at new York Comic Con!

1. Know where you’re going in the convention by knowing the sections. 

There are multiple “sections” at the convention that will oftentimes dictate where your favorite creator or vendor will be. You’ve got the classic Artists’ Alley which last year was moved downstairs. If construction is still happening this year it will likely be there again. This is where you’re going to find most of the comic artists that will be attending the convention, as well as other fan artists who were able to get in to sell their prints. 

Assuming it is in the same place as last year, you can head straight into the convention center through either entrance. You’ll want to go to the far left of the center down some stairs, then to your right down an escalator. Otherwise, if it is back in the big space you’ll head to the right after entering the space. Down some stairs, up some stairs, keep going until you hit the furthest right wall. In the upper corner of that wall will be yet another hallway to follow – but only if there’s no construction this year!

Then, there’s The Block, and the rest of the more traditional “dealer’s hall” that is pretty easy to find. This is where you’ll locate small time vendors like our friends at Bling Squared Cute Glass, or the larger, typical vendor floor types where you can buy a nerdy t-shirt. The larger comic publishers are usually in the upper part of this section from the piece labeled “The Block” on the entrance level, as well as any TV network presence. 

Squished between these two are usually more comic book artists and it is one of the calmest areas in the convention. 

Finally, outside of this main show floor are multiple hallways, platforms, and an outdoor space. Nothing goes wasted and you will often find more promotional booths out here with chances to win all kinds of swag. Outside there’s usually a few local food trucks to help break the monotony of typical convention food. 

2. Getting in the building is its own challenge.

Here’s what to expect Thursday and possibly Friday morning when the convention opens: chaos. 

Despite NYCC’s clear guidelines, colored entrances, and mailing badges, for some reason getting into the building at the start of the day is still a struggle. Between attendees confused about which entrance they can use on top of security measures and badge tapping, you’ll want to book in extra time the first few days. 

Usually by Saturday the process smooths out. Please add to the days before being smooth too by reading the information sent with your badge about what entrance you will use. Also note that there will be wonderful NYCC helpers all along the way to guide you to the correct line to get to where you’re going. 

Typically in the morning attendees will be shuffled into the building after tapping their badges and will be taking downstairs to a general queue to wait to be let into the hall. There is a bag security check to get in so if you’re going to have a backpack or purse try to have it open and easily accessible to speed up the line. 

Once you pass through the bag check you’ll tap your badge and be directed in from there. 

3. Know the rules for off-site venues.

We’ve written about the off-site venues before and you can check it out in more detail here. The Hammerstein Ballroom is usually where people run across the most grief because they are very strict about what you can or can’t bring in. Be prepared to surrender food and water depending on what security guards are checking your bag (though last year I was allowed to bring them in as long as I didn’t open them in the building).

Other than specific venue rules, attendees are usually able to bring their own snacks. The panel rooms tend to run cold and New York City weather in October is a bit unpredictable, so bring a sweater. If you plan to go between venues a lot, a compact umbrella might be a good investment. 

But hey, you’ll experience first hand just how easy it is to buy an umbrella in NYC when it rains. Vendors come out of the woodwork left and right, so bring cash and you should be good.

Saving seats across venues is generally discouraged. 

4. Take the advice I tell my niece about going to the bathroom when there is one – you should at least try. 

Bathrooms are a hot commodity in NYC. The Javits Center has a lot of bathrooms scattered all throughout the building that they keep pretty clean, but they often have lines. I will say that NYCC does a wonderful job keeping them clean and running, even though it means stumbling on a closed bathroom in your time of need. 

My suggestion? Use the bathroom at the Javits Center when you can. The lines suck, but not as much as running between venues needing to pee does. Most subway stations, IF they have a bathroom, will not be welcoming. They’re gross. Don’t do it. 

Public bathrooms in NYC in general can be few and far between. In the area near the convention, your best bet is going to be Starbucks or other chain restaurants. Bathrooms will often be locked with a code so come prepared. You will have to either buy something ($1 soda at Burger King, for example) or be shameless enough to ask without doing so. 

Go when you can. When you find a free bathroom, especially with a short line, use it. 

5. Please be safe and aware of your surroundings.

Near the Javits Center you’re going to be in an industrial area with a lot of traffic, construction, and people. Listen to all NYPD officers while they direct traffic. Don’t cross the street against the light unless they tell you to. There are going to be huge groups of people standing at crosswalks so be aware and careful. 

NYC is generally safe, but if you’re going to be traveling at night and you’re unfamiliar with the city it is best to go with a buddy. I’ve lived here for two years now and have never had a problem, but I’m also vigilant. 

NYCC is a huge, fun event where nerds from all over come to celebrate the things they love. However, it can be a lot. The venues are huge and spread out and NYC is a beast. Be safe, be aware, and be ready to have a bit of an adventure. 

And if you get lost? Ask for directions. New Yorkers are pretty good about it.