San Diego Comic Con 2017-Freeks and Geeks?
Our first trip report here on Airlines.net detailed my once in a lifetime journey to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. So for our second trip report we figured we would change things up quite a bit (and by a bit I mean take a 180 degree turn) and cover something way more silly and fun, San Diego Comic Con 2017. Much like our first report, this one is divided into multiple parts (three to be exact), covering the journey to San Diego (part 1), Comic Con and San Diego (part 2) and the journey back from San Diego (part 3). Feel free to pick and choose whatever interests you (assuming any of it interests you
Just a little housekeeping: Any links in this trip report lead to our own website and blog TwinDoctorsTV. You have been warned If you didn't catch our Hajj trip report and you want to check it out here ya go:Condensed version here on Airliners.net:http://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1368071&hilit=hajjLonger versions on our website:
Part 1-The journey to Saudi Arabiahttp://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-my-journey-of-forgiveness-redemption-and-rebirth-aprt-1/
Part 2- Medinah, Saudi Arabiahttp://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-redemption-rebirth-part-2-medinah/
Part 3-The Hajjhttp://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-rebirth-redemption-part-3-hajj/
Part 4- The journey homehttp://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-redemption-rebirth-part-4-heading-home/FORWARD: For the uninitiated, what exactly is San Diego Comic Con (SDCC)?
San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has been about way more than just comic books for a long time now. SDCC did indeed start in 1970 with only 140 attendees as a gathering strictly devoted to comic books. Over the decades however, it has evolved into a multi-genre entertainment juggernaut hosting more than 130,000 attendees every year covering a huge range of the pop culture and entertainment landscape from horror and science fiction to animation, anime, manga, video games and fantasy novels. With over 130,000 attendees, is it any wonder that SDCC has been crowned the largest popular culture gathering in the world?
These vintage pics from the early days of Comic Con show that the more things change (a panel this small hasn’t been seen at Comic Con for decades)…
the more they stay the same (you still had grown folks dressing up in public).
Modern day San Diego Comic Con has become a massive gathering but…
some things never change. You still have grown folks dressing up in public. So, I look like a pretty sane guy, why Comic Con?
True confession, I’m not a huge fan of comic books or anything comic book related for that matter. So why Comic Con you ask? Well, my oldest son has always been a lover of comics and all things derived from comics (TV, movie) along with video games and just about any thing else popular culture. For a long time now I have been taking each of my children on a one-on-one daddy-daughter/daddy-son trip. In 2012, my son, who was 13 years old at the time, asked me to take him to Comic Con. So for our 2012 daddy-son trip, Comic Con was the plan. I diligently booked flights, got a hotel relatively close to the convention center and then started trying to figure out how to get tickets for the actual event.
In retrospect I did things a wee bit backwards, event tickets definitely should have come first. A bit of research quickly got me up to speed. Apparently Comic Con was really popular and getting tickets last minute was literally impossible. Heck, even getting tickets in advance bordered on impossible. People literally plan a year in advance for this event, usually as soon as the current Comic Con ends. And to make matters worse, you have to be a registered Comic Con member which we definitely were not at the time. Even as a registered member, you only have about a 5% chance of getting a ticket in the lottery that takes place a few months before the event.
So yeah, we clearly were not going to actually get into Comic Con. None-the-less we went to San Diego and we had a blast soaking up the whole Comic Con vibe that takes over the city. The entire Gaslamp district and much of downtown San Diego transforms into a surreal fantasy world with tons of cool things to see and do. Sans Comic Con tickets, we still had four full days of fun and I left San Diego a total Comic Con convert. Okay, rookie lesson learned, as soon as we got home I registered each of us for Comic Con IDs with the hopes of returning in 2013.
The ticket lottery however had other plans and 2013 just didn’t happen. Surely that was just a bad flip of the coin and 2014 would be our year, right? Nope, no dice in 2014. 2015? nope and 2016? fugetaboutit! Now comes spring 2017 and my 18 year old son had pretty much given up on the idea of ever getting tickets. My wife will tell you however, that I am nothing if not tenacious. If need be, I was going to submit my fate to that damn lottery every year until I was 80, but come hell or high water we were going to go to Comic Con even if I was going in a wheel chair with my balding 50-something son pushing me around.
So with little hope I entered the random lottery and wouldn’t you know it? luck was actually on our side this year and we were among the lucky 5% who got tickets in the general lottery. And so 2017 would be our year, no wheelchair or Rogaine required.PART 1-GETTING THERE: The Journey to San Diego If you want to shorter (but still pretty long) version, read on. If you want to read the entire first part and see all of my great pictures (I know, I'm so humble), check them out here:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/san-diego-comic-con-2017-freaks-geeks-part-1-getting-there/
There really is no exotic or interesting way to get from Chicago to San Diego. There are no “five star” airlines, no five course meals, no lie flat seats and no 100+ channels of inflight entertainment. Living in Chi-town however, we do have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to nonstop domestic flight options. There is Southwest at Midway Airport while United, American and Spirit have extensive networks out of my preferred airport, O’Hare. For better or for worst (and mostly it has been for better), I usually remain loyal to United Airlines and Star Alliance. So United it was for our trip to the left coast and the largest popular culture event on the planet.
When it came time to book tickets, I went to trusty united.com where I found that nonstop flights were significantly more expensive than connecting flights ($342 roundtrip versus $515 roundtrip). So connecting flights it was.
Our outbound trip was via Houston while the return was by way of LAX.
After an abbreviated morning in the office seeing patients, I zipped home, grabbed my son and my luggage and we were off to the remote parking lot at O’Hare airport. I always check-in on-line because I like to see how hopeless my chances of an upgrade are, but I am still old school so I always get a printed boarding passes when I get to the airport. Boarding passes in hand we zipped through TSA Precheck and made our way to the United Club located near gate B4 where…
I took advantage of the free wifi and vittles. Don’t judge! The cucumbers and quinoa definitely balanced out the cheese and brownie, right?
After a quick snack and a whiff of free wifi, we headed to gate B14 for flight UA1128 bound for Houston Bush Intercontinental. With three trips to Asia and only one more domestic trip planned with UA for the year, I figured my RPUs (Regional Premier Upgrades) were getting close to being useless, so I decided to use them for our flights to IAH and SAN.
The upgrades didn’t clear right away (they rarely do), but at least we were #s 1 and 2 on the upgrade list. How my son with no status, traveling on my RPUs was placed above me on the list I don’t know. I’m guessing it was just alphabetical, but it honestly didn’t matter.
As we stood in line waiting for boarding to begin, I heard my name called. I figured one or both of us was going to be upgraded, so I sauntered up to the desk to get our new boarding passes. Instead of issuing new boarding passes, the agent explained that the flight to Houston was oversold and they offered us seats on the nonstop flight which left two hours later but would still get us to San Diego and hour and a half earlier. My difficult side wanted to ask for compensation since an offer of $500 was made for volunteers willing to give up their seats at check-in, but I decided to just make it a win-win for UA and for us and just take the nonstop flight as the consolation prize.
New boarding passes in hand we headed back to the United Club, this time the smaller club across from gate B18, and I killed another couple of hours eating way more brownie bites than I should have.
Soon enough we made our way to gate B8 to board United flight UA395 operated by Boeing 737-900 N37422. N37422 was originally delivered to Continental in May of 2008. Always trying to log a new registration number I was a bit disappointed to realize that I had flown N37422 from O’Hare to LAX in February of 2014. Oh well.
We took our seats, 10E and 10F, and I did what I always do.
I checked out the activities on the tarmac as the cabin quickly filled to capacity minus the two empty middle seats in the rear of the aircraft.
My son humored me and actually smiled for this shot but then….
he made the mistake of going to sleep. Thats when the fun began, or at least a pathetic form of daddy fun. You know this one is going on Facebook and Instagram!
Economy Plus legroom was pretty good, but the new slimline seats really don’t have enough storage space in my humble opinion. With an on-time pushback we were officially on our way to San Diego!
I checked out the Hemispheres magazine as we slowly taxied and of course I had to checkout the fleet page. My still favorite widebody was sitting on top of the page looking forlorned with the knowledge that her days with United are numbered. I’m sad to see the Queen of the Skies leave the fleet of my favorite airline BUT I am excited to be flying on that last flight from Seoul/Incheon to San Francisco in October.
O’Hare usually has a nice variety of carriers but as we taxied to the active runway there was only United as far as the eye could see.
As we held short of the thresh-hold I caught a glimpse of my second favorite wide body the triple 7. Well, actually my second favorite widebody is the DC-10, but of the aircraft currently flying, the 777 is definitely it! Soon our spunky little Boeing snuck past it’s patiently waiting big brother, finally making our way to runway 9R.
We lined up on 9R and within seconds the engines were spooling up. Within seconds we were up up and away, starting our 3 hour and 34 minute journey with a 180 degree turn which gave us a descent view of downtown Chicago in the hazy distance as we slowly made our way westward.
Hey, look who spotted Chicago Executive airport below our starboard wing.
I have no clue what airfield this is but I know one of my aerophilies can clue me in.
I love flying westbound because you can see the landscape change from the flat browns and greens of the midwest to the wondrous landscapes, formations and mountainous scenes of the mountain region of the country.
As you get closer to the west coast the landscape takes on more of a beautiful red desert-like appearance. Contrast the red landscape below against the deep blue sky and it’s stratus and cumulus clouds and is there any wonder why most of my time was spent with my nose glued to the window?
Now the best part of any domestic United flight is the generous and copious in-flight service. Yes, that is sarcasm! After the premium snack mix and 4 ounces of water, I was bursting at the seams. No more, please no more, have mercy, my stomach can’t handle it! The main in-flight service was supplemented however with a second run of water or OJ about an hour out of San Diego, so thats actually a total of 8 ounces of hydration. Call me crazy but I’m pretty sure mid-cons on United used to have two full beverage services. Anywho, I already stuffed myself with free food in the United Club, so I wasn’t really hungry anyway.
As we got closer to the California boarder, the desert scenes yielded to the greens and blues of So Cal. Add to that the impressive show that the clouds were putting on and the views were just breath taking. These clouds just looked comfy enough to sleep on though I’m sure anyone who tried would plummet to their very quick messy demise. None-the-less a boy can dream.
We had a nice smooth descent as suburban sprawl came into view. We were on short finals before I knew it buzzing the Air & Space museum. Landing at San Diego International Airport is second in my book only to landing at Chicago Midway. Our 737 cut a path through downtown and with a light thud we were back on terra firm
Making our way to gate 39 where we were surrounded by company aircraft.
For those of you sick of my pictures from the flight to San Diego just read on for the details of the actual event. If you want to read all of the first part of the report and see all of my great pictures (I know, I'm so humble), check them out here:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/san-diego-comic-con-2017-freaks-geeks-part-1-getting-there/PART 2-THE CON!: The Real Fun Begins
Okay, with an aerophilie like me is saying this, you know it has to be good. As much as I love everything flying, the journey to the destination definitely pales in comparison to the destination when San Diego Comic Con is said destination. So here we go!A huge part of San Diego Comic Con is the visuals and I have included quite a few. If you want to check out the full second part of the report with all of it's pictures check it out here:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/san-diego-comic-con-2017-part-2-con/
So what actually happens inside of Comic Con? Well, we made our way to the San Diego Convention Center bright and early the first morning of SDCC to find just that out. And what did we find you ask? Besides lots of signs advertising the convention both outside and inside,
we founds lots and lots and lots of lines. Yup, the first thing you are going to do is get into a line to enter the convention center. Then there are the lines to collect your conference materials and swag bag and of course there are lines to get into any of the really good panel discussions. But hey, we were finally at SDCC, so what are a few little (or not so little) line here or there? At least it was day 1 and people were still relatively well washed.
Speaking of Swag Bags, here is my son walking the convention floor with his swag bag. Awwwww man, we got Ninjago! Oh well, it could have been worse, at least we didn’t get the Wonder Woman swag bag. Nothing against Wonder Woman of course, but there was no way a teenage boy was going to walk the streets of San Diego with a Wonder Woman bag on his back!
The exhibition floor is the hub of activity, this is where just about any and everything horror, scifi, fantasy and comedy can be found and purchased.
False advertising! Bob’s Burgers was NOT selling burgers! Thanks for making my mouth water for nothing!!
I did manage to take a few pics with The Walkers. If you didn’t know, black folks don’t play when it comes to scary things. If horror movies were real, there is no way the brother would be the one walking in the direction of that bump in the night. So yeah, the other side of the fence was the perfect spot for me.
No, you are not seeing things, this is Mariachi Man getting his Lucifer wings. Only at Comic Con my friends, only at Comic Con.
Now who said school can’t be cool? I don’t know about you but if they are still taking applications, SIGN. ME. UP! I’m not sure if you could actually pay to have makeup applied or if these were just demonstrations, but either way they were pretty dang cool. And guess what? There actually is a Cinema Makeup School and where else would it be but Hollywood California of course. Now here is my question. Once your makeup is done, how long do you wear it? Just through the end of the convention? on the flight home? Maybe to work or school? Curious minds really want to know.
The exhibition floor was huge and after having walked it for two days I’m certain that we still didn’t see everything. If only I had four legs, things might have been different.
A lot of Comic Con’s activities surround panel discussions, many of which feature popular entertainers, authors and screen writers. This particular panel featured the cast of SyFy channel’s Z-Nation. I haven’t seen Z-Nation, but I recognized Kellita Smith from the Bernie Mac Show.
We also got to check out the cast of TNT's Supernatural.
Next up was Kevin Smith. He is best known as a film maker, actor and comedian but some aerophiles may remember him as the guy Southwest deemed “too fat to fly” in 2011. He says that embarrassing incident prompted him to lose weight. Lemons are now lemonade, bravo!
Kevin, who was quite funny by the way, was moderating the panel with the cast from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. I’ve seen the show a few times when my oldest son was watching, but after checking out this panel and the show clips they previewed, it looks like a nice mix between supernatural, comedy and mystery which is right up my alley. It was cool to see Frodo Baggins (aka Elijah Wood). I have to say his feet were way smaller in person than they were in the Lord of The Rings trilogy. I guess it’s true what they say, TV really does add 10 pounds….to your feet.
While the convention itself is really great, a lot of what makes Comic Con Comic Con is what happens outside of the convention center, throughout the Gaslamp District and downtown. One thing that happened a lot were the fundamentalists who used their bullhorns to yell at all of the convention goers outside of the convention center on the streets near the convention center and Petco field and in the Gaslamp District. They were everywhere, every day and every night. They were even there on Sunday morning which you have to admit was a bit ironic. Wasn’t there somewhere else they should have been on Sunday morning?
Xfinity had a pop-up with set re-creations from Orange in the New Black, Game of Thrones and Luke Cage. The Game of Thrones set mockup would have made for a nice photo but this was the line so we passed and decided to spend a little time on the inside with Orange is the New Black.
The set mockup was complete with food trays covered in disgusting prison-like food. After we were sprung from the joint, we made our way to the Luke Cage set mock-up and Pop’s barber shop.
Similar to the AMC Deadquarters inside the convention center, there was a second Deadquarters outside that was open to the public. The lines were crazy here too and I figured I already escaped the walkers once on the inside, why tempt my fate again?
Before leaving the Deadquarters though, I had to take off my hat, bow my head in silence and pay my respects to the ones we’ve lost. Heres looking at you Glenn!
Now I’m a huge American Horror Story fan. AHS is actually a family winter vacation tradition, our nights are spent binging an entire season. I’ve already pre-ordered season 6 for Bali this December!
Having said that, I don’t know what in the fig I saw in that sneak peek booth. Don’t worry AHS, your secret is safe with me….because I was clueless!
Branding was everywhere from…
trains and trollies to…
parking lots to…
the free ComicCon transportation buses. I really liked the quotes on the SyFy buses. “Don’t judge a book by it’s movie”.
Now if you are thinking this is a SyFy branded double decker karaoke party masquerading as a bus, you would be correct. I really, really, really wanted to catch one but my son forbade it!
And my favorite walking, talking, breathing (I presume) piece of marketing was this little raincoat wearing, ballon carrying child from Stephen King’s IT. This one happened to be an Asian woman, but there were little IT’s all over the place. Some were male some were female, some where white, others Asian and even a black IT or two.
Now the convention floor is nice, the cast panels are cool BUT what truly makes Comic Con unlike any thing you have ever seen is the cosplay. Cosplay is the technical term for wearing costumes and if you are heard using the word costume, you will lose any and all credibility, these folks take the their cosplay seriously.
My son got to hang out with Scooby Doo and the gang. Do those Scooby Snax have caffeine or is it just meth?
And everyone’s favorite character from Ghost Busters, the Staypuff woman (I’m guessing by her fancy toes) made an appearance too.
Age is nothing but a number at the Con. Who says Elsa has to be in her 20’s? And I’m willing to bet she didn’t even have to dye her hair.
You want how much money?! C’mon, say it with me folks…. One Milllllion dollars.
Uncle Fester has a friend (or two if you count the hand on his head).
Well look what was conjured up! It’s the scary nun from The Conjuring 2. You just stay over there sister.
Okay, everybody stop what you are doing and give this guy a standing ovation. He is the definition of going all out with your Cosplay, I mean a pig head. You win the day if not the entire weekend! Pig Man from American Horror Story.
I don’t ever want to hear my wife complain about wearing high heels again. This Wonder Woman took heels to a new height (yup, pun was totally intended there) and I didn’t see her wobble, not even once.
At SDCC The King of Pop was alive and well
Look who got to take a picture with Rick, Negan and Lucille. I don’t know about you but it looks like Rick and Negan have patched up their differences.
Woo woo, wait…what?! Okay, hands down, you guys totally win Comic Con. Pyramid Head from the Silent Hill series.
I just had to stop and take a pic with Patsy and Edina from the British Comedy Absolutely Fabulous. You nailed it ladies!
We had most definitely Con-ed it up and it was now time to head on back to sweet home Chicago, sore feet and all. Much like the outbound journey, the return journey involved a connection (this time at LAX) because it was much cheaper.
If you want to check out more of the picture from Comic Con or checkout the full report, you can find it right here:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/san-diego-comic-con-2017-part-2-con/PART 3-The Journey Home:For the full text and pictures from the journey home, check it out right here:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/san-diego-comic-con-2017-freaks-geeks-part-3/
We had a blast at San Diego Comic Con 2017, but it was now time to head back home to Chi-town. Our day started with an early Lyft ride from the Doubletree to San Diego International airport. Having checked in online the night before, we zoomed through the precheck line and headed straight to the United Club for a quick, light breakfast. The spread was indeed light but appropriate for the time of day.
What I really like about this location is the atrium overlook which gives you great aerial views of the terminal and pretty decent views of the tarmac as well.
After about 30 minutes, we headed for gate 40 where United Airlines N38459, a five year old Boeing 737-900, was awaiting to take us on the 110 mile, 22 minute journey to LAX.
Having been upgraded we were among the first to board this new aircraft with it’s Sky interior, mood lighting and Direct TV.
Such a short airborne time meant that the in-flight service was provided pre-flight in the form of a Biscotti and beverages of choice. In my case it was good ole H2O.
We pushed back on-time joining the building early morning traffic, slowly made our way to the thresh-hold of SAN’s sole runway.
This poor JAL Boeing 787-8 had been hanging out at SAN for days (at least the four since we arrived). Guessing it went tech and was awaiting something for repair.
After one final Southwest 737 took off it was our turn, as we lined up on the active runway.
Another Southwest 737 and a company 737 watched while we took our turn taking to the skies over a sleepy. San Diego International airport. San Diego Comic Con 2017 was now officially in the books.
Within minutes we reached our cruising altitude of 10,000 feet and we soon started our descent over the suburbs of Los Angeles.
A smooth touch down and we were at LAX, heading to our gate, or so I hoped. I was spotting some heavies at the Tom Bradley International Terminal when I noticed that we were making a left turn instead of the right that would take us to United’s terminals 7 and 8. No bueno I thought.
And it was no bueno. For some reason ground operations thought that it was a good idea to assign a flight that was clearly way over timed to begin with and scheduled to arrive at 7:57AM to a gate that…
a 777 scheduled to depart for HNL at 8:00AM was also using. Our connection time was already barely legal at only 33 minutes (was 63 minutes when the flights were originally booked) and now we were looking at a 19 minute connection time when we finally blocked in at 8:11AM. We hauled booty as soon as we got off of the plane only to find the agents at gate 71A literally closing the door 9 minutes early having already unseated us. Nice communication guys. As they started to furiously tap at computer keys to re-seat us, another passenger from the late arriving Melbourne flight also came. Why they would close a flight 10 minutes early when passengers from late connections are coming I’m not sure, but either way we were re-seated and quickly made our way down the jetway and to our bulkhead seats, seats that I’m sure folks had already be eyeballing.
After our sprint, we boarded N66837, a 3 year old Boeing 737-900 for the 1745 mile, 3 hour and 28 minute flight to Chicago O’Hare. Bulkhead legroom is always nice though the ABC side bulkhead legroom is always a bit less than the DEF side of the cabin.
Soon the mood lighting was changed to blue and still six minutes ahead of schedule, we pushed off of the gate and made our slow journey to the active runway
We passed soon to be no more Virgin America and their…
eventual new identity, Alaska Airlines.
Well hello sexy. It’s hard to take your eye off of this beauty until…
the sexiest plane in the world comes and eclipses her. This QANTAS Boeing 747-400, having just finished her long journey from Australia, definitely stole the show.
Soon it was our turn and within seconds the engines spooled up and we were off
Soon the beautiful Pacific coastline came into view as we bade Los Angeles and beautiful SoCal adieu.
The first in-flight service started with a beverage and United’s now well known StroopWafel. Who knew the Dutch made such a decent little breakfast snack?
There is nothing more beautiful than the views that you see flying across the western and southwestern United States. I’m not much of a nature guy in terms of outdoor activities like mountain climbing, but I definitely dig checking nature out from the safety and relative comfort of an airplane cabin.
Look who spied Denver International Airport as we cruised along at 35,000 feet.
A second beverage service occurred as we crossed Iowa. Gotta stay hydrated aloft so I again opted for water.
Based on the in-flight map I believe this was DSM but I’m sure someone can confirm or correct.
Soon it was time to stow larger electronic items, bring our setbacks to the upright and locked position and prepare the cabin for an early landing.
I will grant you that it’s not as striking as say the Rockies, but there is something beautiful about the different shades of green (at least during April-October) of my home state Illinois.
We approached O’Hare from the west today and were soon crossing the streets and roads of the suburbs adjacent to the airport.
We touched down on a beautiful Monday afternoon as an Aeromexico 737 started it’s takeoff roll and…
an Iberia Airbus A340-600 made it’s way to the international terminal. Always great to be home in Chi-town!!!