NYCC Tuesday Tips 2018: That Panel Hopping Life, Yo

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: Navigating the Javits Center & Surrounding Areas


This Week: The Panel Hopping Experience or “What to Expect When You’re Expecting NYCC”

Our journey toward New York Comic Con is going to come to an end in a couple of weeks when everyone converges on NYC for a weekend of geekery. We’ve been hanging tough trying to bring you the best tips and tricks we can to make the most out of the experience. 

We’ve given you tips about Staying in NYC, Eating in NYC, and Navigating NYCC, meaning it is time to talk about what happens inside the convention. After four years of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, we’ve cultivated a pretty solid list of tips for panel hopping. 

Learn from us, and we will show you the way of the panel.

1. Expect to arrive early to everything. 

If you think you’re ahead of schedule, add ten minutes. Over the past four years NYCC crowds have continued to defy our expectations. Even our press credentials aren’t always a guarantee we’ll get in, especially if we turn up late. Long gone are the days where it is easy to get into the small niche panels, especially in the middle of the day. 

You also don’t want to assume that a small panel will draw a small crowd. You’ll want to check the schedule for the entire day for the particular room the panel you want is in. Why? Because for all you know there are going to be people in there waiting for a star studded panel at 5pm even though it is 2pm. 

So bottom line: assume everything is going to take longer than you think and plan accordingly. You won’t be disappointed.

2. Get your pre-show lottery registration out of the way NOW.

We wrote up a post about the pre-show lottery process this year which you can check out before you wade into the muck. This is also where you will want to start building your Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C schedules. 

Your Plan A schedule should assume you are going to get into every single thing you want. All your lottery dreams come true. After that, you’ll have a Plan B that provides some substitutes for the bigger panels that may prove difficult to get into (see: Main Stage panels). Finally, Plan C is the ultimate “I’ll take what I can get of what’s left” plan. 

You’ll still have fun, it just won’t be all your dreams come true. However, you will still thank yourself when you can easily switch to it in the midst of the con. Otherwise you’re stuck sitting in the hallway with your guide trying to figure out a backup plan.

3. Use the lack of room clearing to your advantage.

As of now, the only room that will be cleared between panels is the Main Stage. All the other rooms at the convention allow attendees to hang out in them between panels. This is also true for Hammerstein Ballroom. This means if there’s a panel later in the day you really want to see, you can camp out in the room ahead of time. 

When we’ve attended as fans we’ve actually had pretty good luck with that strategy. However, the above rule I mentioned applies to this too: if you think you’re going early enough, add another ten minutes. Sometimes fans will surprise you and you’ll walk into a room of people doing the same exact thing.

4. Look for surprises on small panel

This is probably one of the best tips I’ve ever received which is why I’m passing it on. At a convention like NYCC odds are there is going to be a lot of industry overlap. That voice actor you like might also be writing a comic book. The generic “sci-fi” panel might have some big names hidden away in it. 

A lot of creative people tend to pursue many different creative ventures. If you didn’t get into the main panel your favorite creator is on, don’t skip over the others on the schedule! You might luck out and find them, or someone else awesome, on a small panel tucked away somewhere. 

5. Don’t expect to use panels as a chance to get an autograph. 

When it comes to autographs at panels I’ll use the words of my favorite Dungeon Master: you can certainly try. However, it is not a guarantee and probably never will be. That’s not to say there isn’t a chance – one I’ve taken many times – but temper your expectations. 

On the Main Stage attendees usually rush it at the end of the panel and if you’re lucky and toward the front, maybe. Sometimes the talent will stick around long enough to take a couple bent-over selfies and sign something. 

The smaller the panel room, the greater your chance, but my statement still stands. It is always going to be a toss-up that will depend on the talent, the schedule, and how active the NYCC staff and security feel they need to be. 

6. Finally, respect the staff and security. 

If you’re asking a question at a panel, be nice to the mic moderators. Follow the rules they set. If you don’t, literally everyone in the audience is going to groan at you when you break the rules. You’re going to feel the intense stare of a thousand people at your back. The only time you’re going to get away with it is if you’re 5 and adorable. 

If security asks you to move, move. If a staff member directs you to another seat, just go with it. They are only trying to do their jobs and some of them end up being volunteers! They’re not being paid, but are a vital part of making the convention run. Be kind to them. 

I know it can be disappointing if it is staff or security standing between you and your dream experience. I get it. Nonetheless, don’t be the jerk everyone overhears and talks about for the next 24hrs whenever anyone asks them how the panel went. 

Panels are a large part of what makes NYCC such an amazing show. The schedule is live now so you can begin working on your Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. You’ve got just under three weeks to figure it out, but even less time to enter the pre-show lottery. 

So get to it! And hopefully some of these tips will help you along the way.