As many San Diego Comic-Con veterans know, the highlights of SDCC often happen in Hall H. This room is where you will usually find the brightest stars, watch the newest clips, and hear the biggest announcements. As such, Hall H is also one of the biggest draws of SDCC weekend, with thousands of people getting in line early for a chance to get in.
The infamous line for Hall H is a beast in itself. Hardcore fans will camp out days in advance for the best view of their favorite stars. Others are willing to wait a few hours just to be in the room where it happens. And before this year, a few hours was really all you needed.
Then came the linepocalypse.
For reference, the 6 Nerdy Chicks have been camping out for precious Hall H seats for the past few years. Two years ago – when Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was included in the lineup – a few of us got in line at 4 pm Thursday afternoon and were some of the last few to grab section D wristbands for Friday (the wristbands are given in sections: A, B, C, and D. The D section is the furthest from the stage but guarantees you a spot in the hall.).
Last year, we got in line at 5:30 pm on Friday evening and just missed the last of the wristbands. We decided to camp out overnight anyways and try for the standby line and were still able to enter before the first Saturday panel started. This year we decided to bite the bullet and just camp out all day. We got in line at 8:00 am Friday morning and set up our chairs and umbrellas. We would be waiting a long time, but it would be worth it.
At 8:30 pm the wristband handouts started. Almost immediately the Hall H twitter account blew up with accusations of line cutters and people swarming the front of the line. They ran out of A wristbands almost immediately. The B wristbands were gone before they even left the Hilton hotel area. C wristbands were gone in the lot at Joe’s Crab Shack. And at 11:30 pm, we received our D wristbands – about 20 people before they ran out.
Which means that the people behind us – people who had been camping out for 15 hours since 8:30 am Friday morning – would not be guaranteed a seat. Never mind the thousands of people in the line that stretched behind them.
But what else could have been done?
One of the most common complaints about the Hall H line is that it is easy to cut in front. Official rules dictate that a person may save space for 5 people, but without a system in place to enact this rule, it becomes pandemonium. An hour before the wristbands were passed out, people crowded around the front of the line, making it impossible to see where the line actually was. Some reported on twitter that where there had only been 6 people in front of them, numbers had swelled to 85+.
— VPT (@vtsdcc) July 22, 2017
The line is also not thoroughly regulated. Many people take photos of the line throughout the day and let security know when groups of people are dishonestly getting in line ahead of them. Unfortunately, if last night was any indication, the majority of the security team didn’t care, letting the attendees know that the line is “self policed”.
— The4LIST (@the4list) July 22, 2017
Aggravating the issue is that the wristbands themselves seemed to be given in a disorganized order, allowing some people to grab more than one to sell or to hold for friends. Footage from the following day shows people pulling out wristbands from their backpacks and selling them for cash. A great deal for those involved, a terrible deal for those who were in line since 9 am.
— syntulk (@syntulk) July 22, 2017
And the fun doesn’t stop there. The next morning attendees were pleasantly surprised to learn that bag checks and metal detectors were being implemented this year, unsurprisingly leading to longer queues. At the time of this writing, it is an hour before the first panel is scheduled to start and we are nowhere near the entrance. It is hard to say what would help alleviate the pressure of the ever growing Hall H line. Some argue that a ticket system should be enacted to ensure that a person is holding spots for only five other people. Others argue that abandoning the camp out system ad adopting a random draw would be better. Some think that only getting wristbands for specific panels would be the most fair. The solutions vary, but one thing that most attendees can agree on is that something needs to change.
@HallHLine please get organized for next year. It’s not fair to all the people who actually waited and didn’t cut. Missed out on too much 😭
— Kaley Biggs (@kaleybun) July 22, 2017
In the meantime, we at 6NC are still waiting in line trying to make it in time for Jason Momoa, wondering if we will be coming back for this next year. If this year is any indication, the answer may be a definite “no.”