Thursday, July 31, 2014

San Diego Comic-Con 2014: Surviving It With Kids

If you didn't notice already, I'm kind of obsessed with Comic-Con and practically live for SDCC each year. This was our third year attending and our first year taking the kids. I'll be posting more about what we did this year at SDCC, but this post is about how it was with kids. Keep in mind that everything I post about SDCC this year was with kids in tow because we never used their onsite child care.

In line for Hall H

Because kids 12 and under are free with paying adults, you really don't need to decide if you're taking the kids until you pick up your badge. In the past, we have gone back and forth on whether or not to bring them, but this year we decided to turn it into a family vacation. With Sunday being a kids day, Comic-Con isn't that bad of a place for kids especially if your kids are into superheroes, video games, or cartoons. Even if you don't have a badge and just want to take your kids to San Diego during Comic-Con, there are tons of fun things to see and lots to do off-site that is free. Our original plan was to take the kids to Comic-Con on Sunday and then I would go alone on Saturday while Andrew took the kids around San Diego. Instead, we ended up taking the kids to Comic-Con for 3 days and doing almost nothing else outside the Con, which didn't bother the kids very much.

Isabelle's stroller cave

The most surprising part? It went a lot better than either of us could have imagined. Our kids definitely complained about almost everything (which doesn't say much because they complained at Disneyland too), but we were actually able to do way more than we thought we could. They were entertained enough which contributed to the amount of days spent at the Con. Waiting in line and sitting through panels was made a lot easier with electronics, Isabelle preferred her Nintendo DS while Jadon mostly used the iPad. Both had their own set of headphones too so they wouldn't bother anyone. The longer lines were made a lot more bearable with Isabelle in a stroller because we were able to easily move her without disturbing her. It also didn't end up being as difficult or different as we thought it would be. We didn't really miss out on much and we just had to make sure the kids were close by at all times. Otherwise, it was almost the same as previous Cons except we definitely had more sleep this year because that was a priority for the kids.

Playing Skylanders Trap Team off-site

We did structure some of our panels around what we thought the kids would be interested in (Teen Titans Go!), but a lot of what they were interested in was stuff we would have attended without them anyway (Cartoon Voices). We made sure we attended the Skylanders panel and the kids got to test out the new Trap Team game well before the release. Playing the game (even if it was for only 5 minutes) was Jadon's favorite part of Comic-Con.

Isabelle was fascinated by the creepy things

We spent an adequate amount of time in the exhibit hall getting swag, shopping, and seeing the cool booths. Isabelle always made a beeline for the Walking Dead booth and was also intrigued by the alien egg in the video game area. They even sat through the ABC booth line for about an hour without much complaint. We also got to take advantage of the publisher booths where they always have a kids only table of free books. I was worried the kids would want to purchase way more than they should, but they were really good about it. Both ended up with Pokemon stuffed animals and a couple books for Isabelle.

Essentials for Comic-Con with kids:

  • Quiet activities- Even though I brought coloring activities and books, our kids went straight for the electronics the entire time. We packed an iPad, Kindle Fire, DS lites, and headphones.
  • External battery charger- Everyone should have one of these anyway, but it's great for recharging your phone if your kid likes to play on your phone. We have THIS one.
  • Snacks- Never underestimate how long a kid can eat a ring pop. We had healthy snacks like crackers but then we also had candy for extreme circumstances. Water was also always handy.
  • Stroller- Even though Isabelle never uses a stroller anymore. We found the stroller to be useful in the Hall H line and any time we were going to be walking a lot, like from a far parking lot. Although they have some stroller parking, they don't have any that I know of by Hall H so we just folded up our Maclaren stroller and stowed it under our feet. If we were going through the exhibit hall, we never took the stroller although we have seen lots of strollers there.

Something to also keep in mind: I think breaking things up helped the kids a lot. Our longest time in one room was our first day in Hall H where we were in line for 2 1/2 hours (we did take turns to pick up our badges which is a break from the line) then we stayed there for almost 6 hours. We didn't do that long of a stretch again. Instead, we would stay for 2 panels at most then head to the exhibit hall or go out to eat dinner. We didn't have tickets for Friday either so we headed to the beach instead which was a nice activity for the kids and they did get to see some of Balboa Park.

The kids playing for several minutes at Balboa Park

Although this year's SDCC was a success with the kids, I'm not sure we would take the kids again next year. While it wasn't much harder than being there alone, I don't really feel like they enjoyed it as much as I thought they would. That being said, Jadon overheard me say that we might not bring them again and immediately responded by saying that he loved Comic-Con and wanted to go again which was surprising since he had complained about every aspect. Either way, we all ended up coming home with some fun memories.
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