When you’re on the outside looking in — offsite events at SDCC

When you’re on the outside looking in — offsite events at SDCC

The "Peanuts Movie" brought a giant inflatable Snoopy House to San Diego Comic-Con 2015.

The “Peanuts Movie” brought a giant inflatable Snoopy House to San Diego Comic-Con 2015.


In the last few years,  San Diego Comic-Con has become akin to “The Hunger Games.” Badges sell out in less than an hour. The biggest panels, such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” require sleeping outside Hall H for days. There isn’t anything you’re going to do where you don’t stand in a line.

But, as bleak as that sounds, some of the best events at Comic-Con don’t even require a badge and are not even in the convention center. The convention takes over the entirety of the Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park, the Hilton, the Hard Rock Hotel, the Mariott Marquis and Marina and various other hotels and sites downtown. From the moment you touch down in San Diego, you’re surrounded by all things Comic-Con. Petco Park has transformed into an interactive zone full of fun stuff at every turn. Last year, they had an giant inflatable Snoopy doghouse complete with slide and real beagle puppies (!)

So, we’re here to help you narrow down some of the must-do off site events during Con week.

Conan returns to San Diego Comic Con.

Conan returns to San Diego Comic Con.

Conan at Comic-Con — Last year, Conan O’Brien and Team Coco pretty much won the convention. They did everything right — A-list guests, the most exclusive of all SDCC exclusives and even a Bingo game where fans could win even more swag.

Conan announced his return to SDCC 2016 before the end of last year’s Con and true to his word, we’ve been getting tidbits of information in the last couple of weeks.

This includes a preview of the Conan Funko Pop! figures — Stormtrooper Conan, Superman Conan, Joker Conan and Ghostbuster Conan. These figures were THE hottest exclusive at last year’s convention.  Conan will be taping Wednesday through Sunday at the Spreckels Theatre and announced guests so far include the cast of “Suicide Squad” and HBO’s “Silicon Valley”. Check out www.teamcoco.com/comiccon for updates on ticket and guest information.

Syfy Presents Live From Comic-Con —  “Arrested Development” alum and “The Lego Batman Movie” star Will Arnett will host three nights of celebrity interviews, breaking news and behind-the-scenes reports from the roof of the Marriott Marquis & Marina.

Attendees with badges can attend tapings from 5 p.m. tapings July 21-23 for free, but tickets will be required. You can sign up for ticket notifications here. The show will be standing room only.

Suicide Squad: The Interactive Experience — The new Warner Bros. anti-hero film is taking over 6,000-square-feet at the Hard Rock Hotel and transforming it into Belle Reve Penitentiary, which is where “Suicide Squad’s” main cast of characters are imprisoned at the beginning of the film. Here, fans will be able to fight alongside the Squad in a live-action virtual reality experience, get their own skull “ink” at Harley Quinn’s tattoo parlor and take photos in a recreation of one of Belle Reve’s jail cells.

Petco Park is transformed into an interactive zone.

Petco Park is transformed into an interactive zone.

“Star Trek Beyond” premiere screening and symphony concert — The next installment of the “Star Trek” series will have an exclusive premiere on Preview Night, July 20, at Embarcadero Marina Park.

This first-ever outdoor IMAX premiere event will include appearances by the film’s cast and crew, and a live performance of Michael Giacchino’s film score by the San Diego symphony orchestra. Some tickets were distributed to a small, but lucky group of fans back in May, but there some other tickets will still be available. And there have been several contests with chances to attend to attend the premiere in the last several days.

South Park 20 — Part of San Diego will become South Park Colorado as the Comedy Central animated mainstay celebrates 20 years. Fans will be able to visit a sculpture garden featuring some of the series’ memorable moments from 9:30 a.m to 7 p.m daily at the the Martin Luther King Jr., Promenade, 326 W Harbor Dr.

Entertainment Weekly Con-X — Con-X will take place at Embarcadero Marina Park North, with a multi-function stage surrounded by an activation environment where fans can “relax, refresh and recharge” with different activities.

The space will have an area where fans can create custom, limited edition T-shirts, participate in trivia events, repair costumes, have access to several photo opportunities and relax and eat from food trucks in shaded green outdoor areas.

At night, Con-X’s concert production stage will feature live music and DJs.  There will also be an area dedicated for people over 21 to keep the space family-friendly.

EW‘s Con-X site will accept badge-holding attendees on a first-come, first-served basis.

MTV Fandom Fest and Fandom Awards — The music channel will again host the MTV Fandom Fest and MTV Fandom Awards, which honor the fans who push movies, TV, music, theater and video games from subculture to mainstream success. All Comic-Con badge holders are welcome to the event at 6:30 p.m. on July 21 at Petco Park with Fandom Awards to follow. MTV will air the awards show July 24.

Nerd HQ — Nerd HQ heads back to the New Children’s Museum for the second time. Nerd HQ is a FREE, four day event held the same weekend as the annual pop culture convention and offers exclusive gaming and tech activations, nightly events, and intimate celebrity panels benefiting Operation Smile. The Conversations for a Cause panels do require separate ticket purchases and are $22. Guest announcements should be released any day now. Updates can be found at www.thenerdmachine.com.

If that’s not enough, just walking around the convention’s outskirts will net you a million photo opportunities with some of the greatest cosplayers and celebrities you’ll see on any given week of your life. A few years ago, we were outside the convention center and saw Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, behind the convention center is the beautiful marina, a prime example of why San Diego is the most beautiful city in the United States.

All of that walking is going to make you hungry, but not to worry, because The Gaslamp District is home to some of the best restaurants you will find, all within walking distance. Some are pricier than others, but most have menus on display outside with pricing available. Don’t get suckered in on a thirty-buck burger when you can have a great meal for less.