Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Tips for Surviving C2E2

The Culture Cast crew are no strangers to comic book conventions. Between the three of us, we have attended multiple conventions over several years. Yes, we realize that might be a bit sad, but we accept the lives we lead. With the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) coming up and becoming more and more popular, I thought it would be a good idea to look at this convention and provide some tips for new comers. Eventually, a permanent link will be provided for this post and it will be updated as seen fit.

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The tips here are specific for C2E2, but can be applied to other mid-to-larger sized conventions.

Planning:

  • Getting tickets can be fairly easy through the C2E2 website or through various Chicago-area comic book stores. It is advisable to buy your tickets in advance. They will be more expensive at the door. As of 2014, C2E2 has never been sold out.
  • If you are retailer, artist, library, or education professional, you may qualify for professional registration in which you can get a free or extremely reduced price ticket. Take advantage of it, but be aware that professional registration closes about a month before the convention.
  • Be sure to check the schedule of events and decide what panels, celebrities, writers/artists you want to check out. Have some sort of loose schedule will help you out tremendously when organizing your time at C2E2. The panel schedule is usually release about three-to-four weeks before the event.
  • Decide how much money you want to spend. It is very easy to get carried away with all the stuff able to purchase. Know what is in your budget and stick to it.
  • It might be worth taking the day off of work following the convention in order to rest. Also to look at all the new junk you just bought.

Where to Stay:

  • It is Chicago. There are plenty of hotels and several are connected to the convention (with shuttle bus services). Because I live in the area, I never had to book a hotel room, but what I do know is that they can get pricey (again, it’s Chicago). The earlier you can book a hotel, the better.
  • C2E2 does have a block of hotels they arrange deals with.  Check C2E2’s website and book a room early.
  • However, if you wanted to save on some cash, you can always get a hotel in the suburbs. There are many fairly inexpensive modes of public transportation to get from the ‘burbs to the city.
  • Do you know people in the area? Crash with them!
  • Do you have friends that are going to convention as well? Share a room! That would cut down on the price.

Right Before:

  • Get cash from a local bank branch/ATM. It is easier to have cash on you as opposed to using your credit card (some booths may not accept it). You can also avoid any lines at the ATMs in McCormick Place.
  • As mentioned above in “Planning”, check out the schedule of events and artist alley locations. The convention floor is going to be confusing at first, but if you have an idea of where things are, it will be much easier to navigate.
  • Make a list of the panels and people you want to see. This might seem obsessive compulsive, but it makes life easier.
  • Also worth considering is to make a list of the stuff you might want to buy. Want that specific Superman crossover event? Writing which comics and issue numbers the story is in will help you out a lot when searching for it.

Transportation:

  • McCormick Place has three parking lots. They range in price from $14-$21. Lot B would likely be the best bet as it is the cheapest and is within a short walking distance to the North and South Building. If the convention is held in the West Building, there is a parking lot right next to it, but it is more expensive. The distance from Lot B is a little longer, but nothing too bad (especially considering that most of your day will consist of walking around).
  • Another option is public transportation. Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains and buses are inexpensive and reliable. If you are coming from an outlying area, the Metra trains that takes you into Ogilvie Transportation Center or Union Station are other solid choices. Check the online schedules to plan accordingly.
  • C2E2 also has a free shuttle service. It travels to and from various Chicago hotels in addition to Ogilvie Transportation Center and some CTA stops. You can check the C2E2 website each year to see the different routes the shuttle takes. Usually, the shuttle picks up every 30 minutes.
  • C2E2 also teamed up with ParkWiz where you can purchase a parking pass for $25 a day which not only would work at McCormick Place, but other recognized ParkWiz partners as well. This could be great if you are coming in from out of town and staying in the city.

Packing:

  • Comfortable shoes. This should be your number 1 priority. Don’t buy a brand new pair before the convention. Your feet will thank you.
  • Wear something comfortable. I usually recommend a t-shirt (featuring your favorite superhero!) and jeans. I’ve usually found McCormick Place to be a bit chilly. I would advise a hoodie or a long sleeve t-shirt if you are one to get cold easily.
  • You can probably skip a jacket. Even it gets a bit chilly outside, you are a mostly short walk to the car. You will likely not need it inside the convention center and it can get in the way.
  • Bring a backpack. This will be an excellent way to carry various items that you buy or get as free swag.
  • Bring an extra battery or a charger for your camera. This will likely depend on how many pictures you plan to take.
  • Bring your cell phone charger, especially if you have one that just drains battery power. In a convention hall like McCormick, this can be a strong possibility.

At C2E2:

  • Friday has been in the past to be a lower-attended day. Crowds will still be there, but it will be nothing like Saturday. Saturday will be insane and will continue to be so as C2E2 becomes more popular. Be prepared to a lot of people. This can be overwhelming.
  • Even though Saturday is the busiest day at the convention, it is also the biggest cosplayer day. Get your cameras ready.
  • Set your phone to vibrate. You won’t hear the ring. You just won’t. Chances are, if you are like me, you won’t even feel the phone vibrate. If you are expecting a call, check it every once in a while. If you are there with friends, just send texts to each other to contact one another.
  • Watches are your friends. Makes it easier finding a non-existent clock on the floor show and helps you keep tabs on when the panels you want to see will start.
  • Use the wristband on your camera. Even though much of the convention floor is carpeted, if you drop it, it can still break. And that would be no good.
  • Plan! If there is some item you want (such as an exclusive) or a popular writer/artist in the artist alley you want to see when you first get there, know where they are and get there fast before something sells out or a line gets too big.
  • Be on the lookout for some sweet, free swag. In the past, the Marvel booth passes out some cool posters from either upcoming comic storyline or for whatever their next big movie is. Other booths have free stuff to promote what they have. However, don’t be greedy. Take one unless taking extra is encouraged.
  • Be nice to the C2E2 Crew members (the volunteers) and staff. Most are very friendly and are just trying to help the show flow smoothly. Don’t get in their face about something you don’t like. They likely have no control over it.
  • If you go to see a special guest and a C2E2 Crew member is standing there with a “I’m the Last Person In Line” sign. Don’t get discouraged immediately. Check back a little later. If a line moves quicker than expected, it will open back up again.
  • Don’t be an ass to people in the Artist’s Alley. They are there to have a good time too. If you don’t like a particular writer/artist, then don’t go see them.
  • Just don’t be an ass to anyone. It doesn’t really help anything.
  • Please shower and brush your teeth before you come to the convention. Your fellow attendees will thank you.
  • If you are a cosplayer and are wearing a cool costume, don’t get overly annoyed if people ask you for a picture.
  • Alternatively, if you see a cosplayer and want to take their picture, ask nicely.
  • Bring tissues and hand sanitizer. Conventions are the best way to get sick.
  • Learn where the restrooms are. This can save your life.

Events and Panels:

  • Give yourself a good 30 minutes to get to a panel (perhaps a good 45 on Saturday). This is mostly for the bigger DC/Marvel ones. More than likely, if you are late getting to a panel, you will not be allowed in.
  • When a panel is full, it is full.
  • C2E2 hasn’t gotten to San Diego levels. Chances are you will be able to see multiple panels a day. Just plan accordingly
  • If you can, don’t try to save seats. Especially for the bigger panels. If you are asked not to, don’t get angry about it. You are not the only one at the convention.
  • When asking questions at a panel:
    – Don’t be rude.
    – Don’t start a back and forth conversation.
    – Don’t shower the panelists with praise.
    – Just ask the damn question.
  • Don’t ask for an autograph at a panel. You will get booed.
  • If it is a DC Comics panel, please don’t ask about Wally West or Stephanie Brown.  It was obnoxious two years ago and still is now.  They are coming back, okay?
  • Be aware, some events are in the evening after the main floor closes. Be sure to check these things out. Most can be fun, if a little off the beaten track.

Food:

  • McCormick Place has food courts in each of their buildings. Be aware, they are all expensive. There are also a McDonalds and a Connie’s in the bottom level of the North/South buildings. They are a bit higher than average.
  • Bring snacks with you to the convention. I recommend something that isn’t too sticky (like a zip lock bag of Cheerios). This way, you won’t get sticky hands as you rummage through various booths. That said, still bring a napkin.
  • You can also bring food from the outside. Before arriving, bring some sandwiches that will save for later (Subway or Jimmy Johns can be viable options).
  • Bring a water bottle. Not only will this provide much needed hydration, but it is easily refillable anytime during the day!
  • If you need Starbucks, there are plenty around McCormick Place.

Resting and Recharging:

  • You will go nutty if you don’t take a load off during the day. Find a nice spot to rest your legs every so often.
  • C2E2 usually has a main stage area with seating in which ever building the convention is being held in. There is usually something fun going on on the main stage.
  • If the convention is held in the South Building, the food court is on a second level above the convention floor. Not only is this a good place to sit, but it gives you are cool look over everything.

Concluding Notes:

These are just some things to consider when going to C2E2 or a similar convention. Not everything will apply to you. We also welcome new suggestions and other tips! Please feel free to contact us via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

I’d like to give a thank you to Kelson Vibber of SpeedForce.org. He previously wrote a “Tips for Comic Con” article detailing how to survive the San Diego Comic Convention. His article inspired me to write this one, and he graciously allowed me to use a similar format.

Be sure to check out some of our other convention coverage over the years centering around the Chicago-based conventions of C2E2 and Wizard World.

The Conventions Podcast
Taking the Con Out of the Comic Con
Nick’s C2E2 Experience (2013)
The C2E2 Podcast (2013)

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3 responses to “Tips for Surviving C2E2

  1. TheGorehound April 23, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Fortunately I live right near the electric metra line which lets off directly at the McCormick center. Couldn’t have asked for better transportation.

  2. Pingback: Lessons from Comic Con | Side Quest Publications

  3. Pingback: Lessons from Comic Con | Tamie's Travels

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