In My Shoes: Living the dream at San Diego Comic-Con

Lisa Goudy
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Published on August 01, 2014

John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch answer a question during the Dreamworks Animation panel in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 in the San Diego Convention Center on July 24.

Published on August 01, 2014

The line for Hall H is visible under the white tents adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 on July 26 before noon.

Published on August 01, 2014

Crowds roam Fifth Avenue by the San Diego Convention Center on the afternoon of July 26 during San Diego Comic-Con 2014.

Published on August 01, 2014

A headless horseman tries to 'kill' Lisa Goudy at Petco Park by the San Diego Convention Center during San Diego Comic-Con 2014 on July 26.

Published on August 01, 2014

Kellan Lutz was spotted exiting the Hard Rock Hotel on July 24 during San Diego Comic-Con 2014.

Published on August 01, 2014

Jim Parsons poses with a cutout of his character during the Dreamworks Animation panel in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 in the San Diego Convention Center on July 24.

Published on August 01, 2014

Sean Astin is seen on the exhibit floor at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 on July 27.

Published on August 01, 2014

After spending nearly 14 hours in line, Meghan and Lisa Goudy made it into Hall H on July 24 at San Diego Comic-Con International 2014.

Published on August 01, 2014

San Diego Comic-Con International 2014 ran from July 23 to 27.

Super doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt while at San Diego Comic-Con International 2014.

It was beyond anything I ever could’ve imagined. I’d heard stories for years about it and done research. I always knew it was a big deal.

From programming featuring A-list celebrities to an exhibit floor spanning the length of three football fields, there were more than 130,000 attendees at the event.

But my sister Meghan and I really had no idea how big it really was. It’s impossible to fathom just how many people there were until we were in a crowd like a wall of people, shoulder to shoulder with little to no movement.

Our Comic-Con adventure really began when we were able to get tickets, called badges, through an online lottery system. More than an estimated 500,000 people tried to purchase badges. Each day was sold separately. We were lucky enough to get Thursday and Sunday badges.

Sooner than it seemed, it was July 23 and we were near the San Diego Convention Center. After dinner, we did something crazy.

Hall H is the biggest programming room at the two-storey convention center, holding 6,500 people. There are usually between 10,000 and 20,000 people in line. Rooms are not cleared between events. It’s notoriously hard to get into.

We wanted into that hall on Thursday, specifically for the first event at 11:30 a.m. So, at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday, we joined the Hall H line outside under the tents in the park. It was dark outside. We were going camping on the grass. My heart raced. It was exciting.

We weren’t close to the front of the line at this point. There were probably 100 people in front of us. We only had 14 hours and 45 minutes until the panel started.

Time ticked by. It was noisy and people were buzzing with excitement, myself included. I got little sleep.

It felt like an eternity later before we were lucky enough to walk into Hall H at 10:15 a.m. I couldn’t wipe a smile off my face. My heart was ready to explode out of my chest. I was so, so excited.

At 11:30 a.m., Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show started the Dreamworks Animation panel. The first promotion was for the film Home. One of the film’s stars came out on stage. It was Jim Parsons.

I cheered and grinned. It was unbelievably cool. The other major film promotion was for Penguins of Madagascar.

The whole dynamic of the room shifted when one of the film’s stars, John Malkovich, came out on stage. Awesome doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt at this point. He’d never been to Comic-Con before either.

Several minutes later, the room erupted even more than it had for John Malkovich.

Benedict Cumberbatch was there for his first Comic-Con. The room was electric. It was amazing.

The funniest moment of this amazing panel was John Malkovich’s answer to a question posed by an audience member asking which superhero each of them would most like to play.

John Malkovich finally answered with Lois Lane. Everyone burst out laughing. Benedict Cumberbatch went with Batman.

The nearly 14-hour wait was so, so worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

And to think, this was only the first thing we did that day. In the autograph area, we met Mindy Sterling, best known for playing Frau in the Austin Powers movies.

We took in a neat panel with Neville Page. Remember that creature that tried to eat Jim Kirk on the ice planet in the 2009 Star Trek movie? He designed it like a frog in the back and like a bat in the front.

That night, we passed by one of the exits of the Hard Rock Hotel. There was a small group of people gathered and red ropes lined the exits. We went to check it out. After waiting for a few minutes, Kellan Lutz came out of the hotel. Describing how I felt in that moment is hard to do. Screams erupted from the crowd.

Saturday afternoon, we happened to walk by the same spot and join a crowd. Minutes later, a white van pulled up. My heart beat so fast.

It’s hard to convey in words what it felt like when the doors opened. Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis and Cate Blanchett walked out of the van and quickly into the hotel. It was really cool.

That night, we attended a San Diego Symphony concert outside by the harbour. The orchestra performed the score while the 2009 movie Star Trek was shown. Actor John Cho and composer Michael Giacchino came on stage.

When Sunday rolled around, our excitement hadn’t dwindled at all. We explored the exhibit floor for nearly eight hours and didn’t come close to seeing everything.

The first aisle was row 100. The last aisle on the other end of the floor was row 5,300.

What caught our eye was a dragon. Perched on the top of a booth, we saw Smaug close up in The Hobbit booth.

His eyes opened. He blinked. His eyes penetrated and looked around the room. His underbelly heated up. His eyes closed again, only to reopen later.

While paying for our purchases, the cashier told us that Evangeline Lilly, who played Tauriel the elf, would be at the booth signing autographs. We joined the huge line at 10:40 a.m. At 12:10 p.m. we reached the front of the line at 12:10 p.m. I’ll never forget what she said to us when she saw us.

“You look like elves,” she said. “Elves were always my favourite.”

Later, we were wandering around when we passed Manu Bennett at a booth. There was almost no line to meet Manu Bennett, who is best known for playing Deathstroke on the show Arrow and for voicing Azog the Defiler in The Hobbit. So we met him and he took a selfie of the three of us.

At 4:30 p.m., we saw a sign that said Sean Astin had been at a booth between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. We hadn’t even known about it. We wandered over there anyway. To our surprise, Sean Astin was still there finishing off his line.

At 5 p.m. a voice came over the speakers. The show was over. The floor seemed to become immobile during the announcement. Then everyone clapped and cheered.

I smiled. It had been an adventure, but it was an adventure of a lifetime. We had done and seen so much and it was the best time we could’ve ever wanted.

We were in the presence of like-minded people. We had been within feet of famous celebrities.

We had come, we had conquered and we hadn’t stopped smiling, not even for a moment.

Hope to see you next year Comic-Con. We’ll definitely be back.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: San Diego Convention Center, Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego Symphony San Diego Comic-Con Comic-Con International

Geographic location: San Diego, Madagascar

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