SAN DIEGO — Comic-Con 2016 sold out within 45 minutes of the ticket sale server launch — which made over 130,000 people happy, but left thousands more out in the cold.
Fortunately, Comic-Con and San Diego had planned to bring the inside-the-convention experience outside to these ticket-less people.
Due to the convention center crowds, Comic-Con has expanded outward into the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown San Diego, bringing the excitement and spirit of the Con to those unable to procure tickets to the event itself.
Interactive exhibits and carnivals spread from the convention center into downtown. Petco Park even hosted members of the “Impractical Jokers.” The Petco black top was filled with booths and food trucks. Television programmer Adult Swim held its own small carnival behind the convention center for wristband holders.
The San Diego Central Library also got into the the act of Comic-Con, opening to people who didn’t have badges, such as AJ Osborn and her son and daughter, who made the trip from North County San Diego.
“The convention center is too small of a venue and too crowded with people, so it’s good that it’s spread out,” said Osborn. “My daughter wanted to dress up, has been taking pictures, and doing Pokemon hunting.”
Cosplayers is a contraction of the words “costume play,” and is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. They were everywhere, more than within the convention center due to overcrowding on the exhibit hall floor. The outer areas of the convention center were a more popular place to spot costumes.
“It’s cool to see all of these characters out here, people really get into it and dress up,” said Eddie Pina from San Diego, one of many residents who came out to see everything.
Outside, thousands mingled in the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. Some celebrities were even wandering the area — like Norman Reedus from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and Jaime Alexander from NBC’s “Blindspot.” Interactive exhibits were set up for fans to walk through. The “Mr. Robot” was particularly popular with the crowds.
The anxiety of being ticketless dimmed as “outside the convention” activities offered nonstop fun day and night. Many fans shared their approval at how easily and eagerly San Diego has embraced Comic-Con year after year.
“We love it,” said the Colyar family from Arizona, “All of the interactive exhibits, and it’s just a good experience.”
The downtown district definitely makes bank on the crowds that attend every year. Some places deck out their establishments in comic book decorations. Some bars and restaurants offered discounts if someone presented their badge. This year, with the Pokemon GO craze still going strong, there were even more places capitalizing on the crowds.
“I believe the outside events are growing more in popularity with a lot more to do for those who couldn’t buy tickets,” said Nathan Theuret, a Brawley resident who likes to attend just for the outside activities.
“I think it’s getting better every year, ” said Sonny Hernandez from San Diego, one resident who was lucky enough to be inside Comic-Con four years ago. “It’s pretty good for all the people who don’t get to go inside (they) can experience Comic-Con on the outside.”