SWCA: Tips for Newbies

April 11, 2015

If you're planning on going to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim or any sci-fi convention this year, then I have some useful tips for you. Conventions can get overwhelming if you're a first timer so below are my top seven pieces of advice for you when attending SWCA this week. 


Pick up your badge early. If you ordered your Celebration ticket early and got your badge in the mail, sweet! You're already one step ahead of the game. If you have to pick up your badge on site, try to do it on Wednesday before the convention. The lines on Thursday morning will be long and will take away from your time in the exhibit hall. 

Pack snacks. I am guilty of not eating very often when conventions are going on because I get too busy and forget to eat. There are usually small stores or gas stations close to convention centers where you can grab snacks or some bread and PB & J. Make it a priority to stop by one of those stores on the first day of your trip. If you pack a sandwich in your convention backpack with some mixed nuts and water, you'll be ready for anything. Plus, you'll save time by eating on your own schedule rather than waiting 30 minutes or so for an overpriced convention hot dog.

Have a loose plan. I feel like planning for a convention is a true art. Some people over plan (I did this this at Celebration VI) and others don't have a plan at all. Getting the right balance of planning is tough because it varies from person to person. I would suggest having a loose plan with room for random opportunities that may pop up. If you schedule every minute of the convention, it doesn't give you any wiggle room for events that may go over time. Take a look at the convention schedule, mark down a few panels that really strike your interest, and then play the rest by ear. It's more fun that way!

Bring portable backup power. If you like to be on your cell phone a lot, definitely bring some sort of backup power source to recharge your phone. I have a wallet that can charge my phone back to 100% but there are plenty of other portable options out there. This will be more convenient than trying to find a power outlet and then getting stuck there while your phone charges. 


Get the exclusive merchandise. This statement doesn't mean you should buy all the exclusive merchandise at the entire convention because that would cost a pretty penny! When I say this, I mean that if you see something you really like but are debating about getting it, just say yes and buy it. Convention exclusives are almost impossible to find after the event and if you are able to find it, the price will be at least three times more than you could have purchased it for. Also, if you are getting exclusive merchandise, try to buy it on Thursday. Exclusives sell out fast so you might as well get it out of the way before they're all gone. 

Pack a variety of clothes. Convention centers are cold. However, Anaheim will be hot so bring a variety of clothing to wear. Layering clothing is also a good idea. You can throw your favorite Star Wars shirt over a long sleeved T-shirt if you're chilly and then if you get hot later on, you can take off the long sleeve shirt and toss it in your backpack. 

Grab the free swag. If you don't have a ton of money to buy merchandise, no worries. Many of the booths will have free swag for you to take. Bookmarks, pins, comics, and posters are some really cool items to keep a lookout for. 

I'll be posting updates when I return from Anaheim next week. Keep checking back! 

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