Comic Con

Article Summary

  • We breakdown how much you can expect your whole Comic Con trip to cost you
  • Costs include Comic Con badges, hotel, getting around San Diego, food, drinks and more
  • The biggest cost is your hotel for Comic Con

Comic Con has grown into one of the biggest conventions in the country. The convention has grown from what would be a small crowd to 130,000 Comic Con badge holders annually. Along with this ballooning of the amount of people going to Comic Con has come a ballooning of the costs of attending Comic Con. Clearly you need to purchase your Comic Con badge, which is no small feat, but you also need hotel accommodations, potentially a rental car, eating out daily, and other travel expenses. Comic Con is a serious investment. This article tries to estimate how much you can expect to pay to attend Comic Con. We will break down Comic Con badge costs, how much you can expect to pay for hotels, how much eating around the Gaslamp after Comic Con, and more will cost you.

One quick note before I begin: I am assuming you are travelling from out of town for Comic Con. If any of these expenses don’t apply to you (you have a couch to crash on, get free Comic Con badges, etc.) just subtract them from the total at the end.

Comic Con Badge Cost: $180 - $245

Comic Con Badge Prices

Above you can see the prices for 2017 Comic Con badges. Comic Con Preview Night (Wednesday night) will cost you $45 and the main three days of Comic Con (Thursday to Saturday) will cost you $60 each. If you want to attend Sunday that will be an additional $40. Children 12 and under get free admission to Comic Con, so if you are bringing any of kids with you it won’t cost you anything. The discounted junior rate applies to children ages 13-17, and anyone over 18 is considered an adult. Seniors 60 or older get the discounted military rate.

So the costs here really depend on how many days of Comic Con you want to attend. Personally, I think you are fine with just attending the main three days of Comic Con, which would cost you $180. However, some people like going to everything and that’ll cost you $245.

Comic Con Downtown Hotel Prices

Comic Con Hotel/Accommodations: $1000 - $2000

This is the big expense with Comic Con. I think a lot of people who are going to Comic Con for the first time are pretty flabbergasted by the cost of hotels in San Diego for Comic Con. There really is no way around this: Comic Con is very expensive for hotels. If you have never been to San Diego and want a quick overview of all the different areas you could stay in for Comic Con we have written a quick pros/cons list of each area for Comic Con. You can check out that article here. The graph above shows how much you can expect to pay for a hotel on the open market. By open market I mean if you do not book through one of Comic Con’s hotel sales. If you are unaware, Comic Con does two hotel sales (described below), which you should try to take advantage of. If you can’t get one of these hotels and you need to book through something like Kayak or Priceline you can expect to pay the above prices. For now let’s break down the different ways to get a hotel through Comic Con.

Comic Con Early Bird Hotel Sale

Comic Con in late March holds what they call the Comic Con Early Bird hotel sale. You can get all the details on the program here. Essentially these are nonrefundable hotels in the airport and Mission Valley areas of San Diego you can book for somewhere between $170-$220. There are definitely some good deals here, but you better be sure you are going to Comic Con. Also note there are no downtown hotels in this sale.

Comic Con General Hotel Sale

Comic Con also holds a general hotel sale that includes hotels throughout San Diego including the downtown area. While the Comic Con Early Bird sale doesn’t attract competition the general sale does. Just like Comic Con badges, hotels during this sale are very difficult to get. Typically the sale occurs in April and involves a virtual waiting room where participants are randomly pulled in to purchase a hotel.

So why is there such a rush for these Comic Con hotels? This is your best chance to snag a “deal” for a Comic Con hotel. The hotel is still expensive, but not as bad as if you just go book through Hotels.com or something similar. Check out some of the 2016 prices below.

Comic Con Hotel Sale

There are a lot more hotels and they are all over the San Diego area. These are fantastic deals when compared to what you get by booking through somewhere besides Comic Con. For example, the Westin San Diego is $240 through Comic Con and over $1,000 a night otherwise. The point is, book through this sale if you can. Unfortunately there are limited rooms so some people definitely get left out.

So what does this mean for my costs for Comic Con?

So if you are budgeting for Comic Con I am going to give you three price ranges: if you book through the Comic Con sale (average of $275 a night), if you don’t book through the Comic Con sale and stay somewhere other than downtown (average is about $250 a night) and finally if you book downtown but not through Comic Con (average $500 a night, but could be much more). The table below summarizes:

How You Book

Nights

Average Cost Per Night

Total

Comic Con General Sale

4

$275

$1100

Outside of Downtown, Not Through Comic Con

4

$250

$1000

Downtown, not through Comic Con

4

$500+

$2,000


Don’t forget to add tax onto these estimates, which will be at least $150-$200. I like to provide a few scenarios because as I said, getting a hotel through the Comic Con general hotel sale is far from guaranteed. Have everyone in your group trying to get through for these hotels, you won’t find a better deal in Downtown San Diego for Comic Con I promise you.

Food & Drink for Comic Con: $100/day

If you are looking for some local recommendations for Comic Con I wrote a long article with lots of advice located here. San Diego can definitely be cheap or as expensive as you like. The Gaslamp District, which is across the street basically from Comic Con, has tons of bars and restaurants. There are plenty of luxurious bars but we have quite a few cheap bars as well. My general advice for Comic Con is:

  • Get breakfast somewhere downtown before going into Comic Con
  • Take a break from Comic Con and go eat in the Gaslamp: the food at Comic Con leaves something to be desired and there are great options nearby
  • Cheaper options generally exist on 4th and 6th avenues; 5th avenue is the main street and the places tend to be more expensive
  • My favorite cheap bars near Comic Con are Taste and Thirst, The Field and Tivoli’s
  • My favorite cheap food near Comic Con is Oscar’s Mexican Seafood and Berkeley Pizza

Overall this expense can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it, but I really think you can get by with $100 a day, if not less. It really comes down to how many adult beverages you want to consume – if you don’t drink much this could easily be $50 a day

Getting to Comic Con Daily: $0 - $5/day

I find this easiest if I list this by the different areas you likely will stay for Comic Con. Note I am  not even acknowledging driving and parking near Comic Con: don’t do it.

  • Getting to Comic Con from Downtown – $0 (Walk)
  • Getting to Comic Con from Old Town - $5/day by taking the trolley, which sells day passes for $5
  • Getting to Comic Con from Mission Valley – Either take the Comic Con shuttle (free) or take the trolley, which sells day passes for $5
  • Getting to Comic Con from Near the Airport (Point Loma/Shelter Island) – Take the Comic Con shuttle, which is free

Flying to San Diego for Comic Con: Undetermined

Obviously this will be an expense for many of you, but it is difficult to estimate. My biggest advice is to book early: San Diego airport is fairly small for the size of the city. Comic Con is the busiest weekend of the year so flights will fill up quickly. If flights are absurd into San Diego you could look into flying into John Wayne Airport in Orange Count (roughly 90 minutes north) or LAX (2 hours north). I just don’t advise waiting too long waiting for a deal.

Total Comic Con Costs

Item

Cost

Comic Con Badges

$180 – 245

Comic Con Hotel

$500 – 1000 (Assumes you split the room cost)

Food & Drink

$400 (Assumes 4 days at $100 a day)

Getting to Comic Con Daily

$0 - $20

Airfare

N/A

Total

$1090 - $1665


Above you can see a tally of the total Comic Con costs. I know this is a range but it is highly dependent on the hotel. Like I said, a hotel through Comic Con’s sale is not guaranteed so I wanted to give an estimate in case you are on the outside looking in. Hopefully this helps you budget appropriately for your Comic Con trip. It’s expensive, but it’s definitely worth it!


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