Some Tips for Taking Kids to a Comic Book Convention
Since Pumpkin has taken an interest in comic books and superheroes, I bought us tickets to go to Phoenix Comicon thinking it would be a fun, end-of-the-school-year treat for her. And it was! A few weeks out, I realized I knew nothing about Comicon so I put out a call to friends on social media for their advice. Below are some of the tips I received – with my notes added – and a few of my own, that I hope are helpful for anyone attending their local Comicon.
- Be flexible. I’m putting this first for two reasons. One, flexibility is always a good idea with kids – especially in a crowded event where they may get overwhelmed. And two, there was a security issue on the first day of Phoenix Comicon, so some of the rules changed. I followed along in the news and social media in the days before we went, and made adjustments as far as when we planned to arrive and what we planned to bring in with us. It all worked out!
- Don’t be shy about costumes. This was great advice. I went WAY out of my comfort zone so Pumpkin and I could wear the costumes of her choice – Cat Noir and Ladybug from Miraculous. By the time we decided on this, it was too late to order costumes, but I was able to get quick shipping on the pieces I needed to make it myself. For Pumpkin, a black spandex unitard, cat ears and tail, and black mask completed her outfit. For myself, I needed a red spandex unitard and red mask. I picked up black fabric paint and used hole punches to make stencils to add the dots to my Ladybug costume. I was surprised that so many people knew who our characters were (we even saw two other Ladybugs) and that they asked to take pictures of us and / or with us.
- Go early. I actually got conflicting advice here, some parents recommended going early, others said it was pretty slow early in the day. But in light of the security changes and long lines earlier in the weekend, I ultimately decided to wait until about an hour after opening to go on Sunday. There was no wait at all. I’m not sure if there was a line when doors opened, or if it was less crowded being that it was the last day. Either way, it was great timing for us. If not for the security incident, though, and people waiting in long lines on previous days, we probably would have arrived before doors opened.
- Pack snacks and water, but leave some of them in your car. I had planned to bring a big bag or backpack with all the essentials, but with the security changes, I downsized to a small handbag with a cross-body strap and pinned a Bumkins Snack Bag onto it. We left our everyday, refillable water bottles in the car for after the event, and took disposable bottles in with us. It is an extremely rare circumstance that I buy bottled water, but under the circumstances, having something we could toss into the recycling bin if necessary seemed like the better option.
- If you need a stroller, use an umbrella stroller. You might have to carry it at some point. This was not something I needed this time, but solid advice for others.
- Look at the schedule and map ahead of time. You can look on the website, app, or program you get when you arrive to see everything that’s going on. It’s a lot! Pumpkin’s a little young to sit through panels, so we went straight to the stuff she would enjoy. At Phoenix Comicon one hallway had a lot of activities geared toward kids – including a LEGO room, an art project room where Pumpkin made a mask to bring home for her sister, a reading corner, and video game rooms. This was our first stop, but was also a great place to take the kids when they need breaks from the crowds. The real highlight for Pumpkin, however, was the Hall of Heroes. This area had a few vendors, but also tons of photo opps with superheroes and Star Wars characters. She loved getting a chance to shoot at Stormtroopers.
- Bring cash. Some of the superhero groups are non-profits and ask for donations for photos. There are also fees for things like autographs and selfies with actors.
- Bring a phone charger. The service is not great, but you can run down your battery quickly taking photos. Alternately, if you forget to do this like I did, putting your phone in airplane mode can help preserve your battery.
- Have a plan in case you get separated. Pumpkin knows my phone number but whenever we go somewhere I have her tell it to me, and we talk about what to do if she can’t find me. Another idea is to write your phone number in pen on your child’s arm and then cover it with liquid bandage (we actually did this at Disneyland).
All in all, we had a great time. I think because it was our first time and we just wanted to see what it was like and didn’t have an agenda or specific things we wanted to see, it was really easy to just roll with it. I obviously can’t compare, but I’m guessing Sunday was also more low-key being that it was the last day. Pumpkin already is talking about going next year and brainstorming costume ideas.