Comicon with kids? Are you crazy? But they really want to go! Is it fun? Is it appropriate? Good questions and if you properly prepare you CAN take your kids to Comicon. You will be able to have a good time and avoid the pitfalls if you put in the effort before hand and PREPARE.
We are huge fans of all the things you will typically see at Comicon. Yes, we are huge nerds. We like zombies, heroes, monsters, vampires, fan art, comics old and new. Going to Comicon is a must for us. We live in Arizona and attend Phoenix Comicon as well as the smaller Fanfest. I’m even going to Keen Halloween, a Halloween and Horror based event. I can’t stress enough how much planning you should do when taking the kids. I have made so many mistakes when taking my kids. I speak from experience when I say that you don’t want to waste the money you paid on the tickets and have what could have been a good time ruined. I have been there and it’s not a good feeling. The good news is it all could have been avoided.
Tips for a Meltdown Free Comicon
1. Purchase your membership online. You don’t want to wait in excessively long lines. Your kids will be half way spent before you even walk in the door. Also review the various types of memberships and determine in advance what your kids can handle based on age. If you want signatures or photo ops make sure you know where to be and get there a little early. Popular autographs and photo ops can have long lines. Just make sure you know what they are in for in line. Consider having some entertainment, and ipad, board game, snack.
2. Review the Comicon Policies, 2-3 times. Well maybe once is enough. My point is that you need to KNOW the rules before you get there. Several apply to children. If you can bring water DO IT. Some venues even allow snacks. Even the most kid friendly Con’s usually require kids 12 and under to be accompanied by and adult at all times. Meaning they don’t want your kids running about unattended. Many of the booths have original art. And some of the booths have collector items worth a lot of money. Besides the concern of your little one ruining these types of things they could also get seriously injured. These venues are not usually set up to keep your little ones contained to a specific area. So getting lost is also a concern. Show your child where to go in the event you are separated. This happened to us once and my boys went straight to customer service and I was paged and called on my cell. It’s not a bad idea to have all your contact info on their little person. I put it in their badges.
3. Map out your visit. Many Con’s post the map days and sometimes months in advance. Utilize this to your advantage. Know where your MUST see spots are. For sure know where the bathrooms and food vendors are located. Stick to the plan, don’t let excited wide eyes pull you back and forth all over the place causing you to get burnt out early. Know the times you need to be where.
4. Print the Programming Guide or grab one right when you arrive. Break out the old trusty highlighter. Using the above mentioned map and coordinate when and where you need to be during your entire visit. For me this is actually part of the fun. Sure I leave wiggle room for changes but for the most part I love having this all planned out. Don’t judge me that I use multiple highlighters that are color coded.
5. Make Decisions. Now it’s time to really consider your kids ages and make some decisions. What are they ready and able to do. What is within your personal comfort level. Will a bloody zombie make your three year old scream and cry for the rest of the Con. Is your twelve year old going to beg you for hours for all the most expensive autographs? Can your six year old handle the lines? Get ahead of these problems with a good plan and a before hand discussion with your kiddos.
6. Set a Budget! I can’t stress this enough. My kids are a little older so I decide how much I am willing to let them spend and tell them when it is spent they are DONE. No more money will be handed out. They each get the same amount to avoid complaining. They know this in advance and I mention it several times. I must admit there are SO many cool things to spend money on that it could get out of control quickly. If they think they really want something within the first two minutes, I urge them to wait, we mark the booth and will get it on the way out if that desire stands.
7. Take a test run. We are lucky in Phoenix in that we have the slightly smaller Con, Phoenix Fanfest, so that we can take a test run. Use something like Eventbrite to find kid friendly similar events in your local area.
8. Be Camera Ready! Don’t miss all the great opportunities to take photos with your kids enjoying the Con. Always ask before taking a photo of someone in costume. I have never had anyone say no, but it is the standard rule. I taught my kids to ask as soon as I could. As they walk over to the person I am getting my camera ready as to not waste any time. Do not take photographs of original art without consent. Most artists DO NOT want you to do this. Even in the background of a photograph of your kids.
Well those are my tips for Surviving Comicon With Kids! What are some of your tips? I would love to hear what others are doing. I am sure by next year I will have more tips in the Teen arena now that my boys are entering the pre-teens.
See you at the Con!!