I Got My Steps in at Comic-Con 2018

Well, another Comic-Con 2018 has come and gone, but fear not, for once again, I saw and did several things, and you can relive it vicariously through me.  Luckily for you, you get to skip all the walking, and waiting, and sweating; so much sweating.  Also, I spent a bunch of money so you don’t have to.  You’re welcome.

For the fourth year in a row, I kicked things off by attending Preview Night, which opens up the exhibition floor for a few hours, allowing attendees to get a peak at what all the various booths have to offer.  I believe there’s a handful of panels during Preview Night as well, but I spent the whole three hours wandering the floor.  For pop culture collectors such as myself, this is a great time to get a jump on some of the exclusives that might be harder to get your hands on later on in the weekend.  There’s still lines of course, but they’re not quite as bad as busier days such as Friday or Saturday.  As a matter of fact, if you ever find yourself at Preview Night, and you see something you want, and you tell yourself you’ll wait and get it another day; don’t!  Get it right then and there, because it very well could be sold out when you come back another day, like what happened to me, for the second year in a row…

For the first time in several years, I found myself without a badge for Friday and Saturday, so as a way to compensate, I decided to dedicate those days to exploring the off-sites around downtown.  I kicked off Friday morning by checking out the Jack Ryan Fan Experience I talked about in my last blog.  This ended up being arguably coolest thing I did at Comic-Con 2018.  The Jack Ryan Experience transformed all of its participants into rookie analysts for the CIA, and put us through some “training” scenarios to prepare us for life in the “field”.  It was divided into two main sections.   The first one we did was the Jack Ryan Training Field, which was a Virtual Reality obstacle course designed to test your mettle out in the field.  The section got off to a bit of a slow start, with a line that lasted for several hours, due to the fact that Press and VIP were allowed to come in and bypass everyone waiting in the general attendee line.  Eventually, the staff started to implement some systems that helped get the general line going, and getting us through the course.  Now, I’ve done VR a couple times, but never in a manner as in depth and immersive as this.  You start off by rappelling out of a helicopter, then walking a narrow plank spanning two rooftops, to enter a building in search of valuable intel.  After a narrowly fending off some enemy combatants, you zipline out of the building and hop into a jeep for a high speed chase through the streets evading terrorists as you attempt to flee the city and make your way to safety!  I was on a pretty good roll throughout the course until I got to the driving portion.  I’ve always considered myself a good driver, but the VR would beg to disagree.  Given a second chance, I’m pretty sure I could’ve done better.  Anyways, upon completing the course, I was given a Jack Ryan tote bag full of swag as well as a Jack Ryan challenge coin, signifying that I had completed the training.  On to the next one!

After completing our VR training, we moved on to the other section of the Jack Ryan Fan Experience, an escape room titled Dark Ops.  For Dark Ops we entered the escape room as a team of nine, and told we would have to work together in order to successfully accomplish our mission and make our escape.  This experience ended up comprising of several rooms that included a money wind tunnel, disobeying orders, drone strikes, and even an instance of me being separated from the group only to find myself handcuffed to a chair and interrogating a possible terrorist for valuable intel.  I was a little nervous with this one, but I kept my cool and got the information we needed to make our escape!  Our total time was 12:30, which wasn’t quite the quickest of the day, but it was close.  Upon completion, we were presented with a different Jack Ryan bag filled with some more swag as well as another challenge coin.  After doing a little secret recon of our own, we discovered that upon presenting both coins, we were to receive one more special gift, a brand new Amazon Fire TV Stick!  Now that is some serious swag!  This was Amazon’s first real presence at Comic-Con, and they made damn sure their impact was significant!

On Saturday, I decided to dedicate the morning to getting through Cartman’s Escape Room.  My friend and I got in line around 9:30 in the morning, and following a brief four hour wait, we finally made it to he front of the line, and in a team of ten, we made our entrance.  Now, this escape room was a little different from the Jack Ryan Dark Ops.  For Dark Ops, however long it took to get through, that was your time.  For Cartman’s Escape Room, you were allotted ten minutes, and if you didn’t make it out in those ten, then you failed.  So, we entered the room, made up to look like a classroom, took our seats at the desks, and the countdown began!  Our team got off to a good start, with everyone finding clues spread throughout the classroom.  I even helped recover a key that opened a “device” stored in one of the desks.  This was where things started to go a little sideways.  We all got a bit stumped by our respective clues. One of my teammates and I were utterly lost on what to do with our device.  Eventually, the monitor watching over us began dropping subtle hints, and just when I realized what we were supposed to do, the buzzer rang!  We had failed.  The escape room was fun, but I’m still not quite sure if it was worth the four hour wait.  Regardless, I’m excited for the new season of South Park.

After finishing the escape room, we tried and failed to some of the other off-sites, mostly due to how long the lines were.  I’m willing to wait several hours for the first off-site, but to go straight into another four hour line is just too much.  Eventually, we ended up at The Experience behind Petco Park, which had a number of experiences, however, the only line we were willing to wait for by that point was for free ice cream, which luckily, wasn’t too long.  The ice cream was good too!  After leaving The Experience, I bade farewell to my friends and met the rest of the Rowlbertos Crew at a nearby hotel bar only to discover that Neil deGrasse Tyson himself was attending a party there.  As he made his exit, he passed right by our table where our chanting got him to stop by for a couple brief pics, as well as quick conversation with Ryan concerning the unrealistic science behind the Death Star (Ryan was wearing a Death Star shirt).  What a hell of an end to the day!

On Sunday, I had a badge, so I dedicated the entire day to walking the main exhibit floor, basking in the sweet sweet air conditioning, and making sure to see everything I didn’t see on Preview Night.  I walked up and down that floor, got my steps in, ran into a few friends, and bought some cool nerdy merch to boot!  No matter how many of these I go to, I will never tire of seeing everything Comic-Con 2018 has to offer.  I love it dearly, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year!

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