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Top 10 Off-Site Events during Comic-Con 2016

No badge, no problem—these happenings are free and open to the public


San Diego's Comic-Con International is July 21-24.

These are some of our favorite free events and attractions that are open to the public and do not require a Comic-Con badge to attend. (Have a badge? Check out our list of 21 Things to Do for Comic-Con 2016 Badge Holders.)

  1. At Petco Park, Legendary Digital Networks will take over for a third year of Camp Conival, which will feature returning favorite Nerdist Laser Tag, Geek & Sundry archery course and board game area, photo booth, beauty giveaways from Espionage Cosmetics, and more.

    Programming highlights include panels and interviews with some of the biggest names in entertainment.  Confirmed talent stopping by Camp Conival include: Luc Besson (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets), Misha Collins, Cara Delevigne (Valerian), Bryan Fuller (American Gods), Josh Holloway (Colony), Robert Kirkman (Outcast), Leonard Maltin (Maltin on Movies Podcast), Ian McShane (American Gods), Adam Savage, and the cast of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

  2. Adjacent to the Hilton Bayfront, FX Networks will take center stage at the Bayfront Park with virtual reality experiences, rides and attractions, freebies, and art space from shows such as ArcherAmerican Horror StoryThe StrainIt’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Son of Zorn and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll during the Fox Experience.

    Highlights include the American Horror Story Fearless Virtual Reality Experience where fans become part of the show and test the boundaries of their own fear. To avoid waiting in long lines, fans can reserve a spot at AHSReservations.com, beginning July 19.

    Son of Zorn fans can climb a three-story rock wall and make a free fall jump from the top, which will be recorded and shareable on social media. There will also be a 10-foot tall death hawk, which fans can climb atop and ‘ride’ for an awesome photo opportunity.

    In addition, FX will host a broadcast of Archer Live as part of a special “silent disco” featuring light up headphones, setting the park aglow for a late night screening on July 23. The first 300 people who arrive will receive an Archer 4-in-1 blanket.

  3. Behind the Convention Center, Adult Swim is setting up its Carnival Midway again and will be full of fancy county fair-style games with Adult Swim themed prizes. There will also be a Mr. Pickles’ themed photo booth and an oversized pinball machine.

    The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down, as Adult Swim will feature screenings of new shows Thursday-Saturday from 8-10 p.m.

  4. The Hall of Impractical Jokers will take over Dick’s Last Resort Thursday-Saturday. Fans can immerse themselves in all things Impractical Jokers, plus play custom games like Pin the Tail on the Ferret with Blackout Glasses and Pinball Punishment. Themed food and drinks will also be served during select hours including a Scoopski Mashed Potato Bar.

    On Thursday, Sal, Joe, Murr, and Q will broadcast a special live-streamed Q&A on truTV.com and screen the new episode of Impractical Jokers airing on truTV that night.

    And on Saturday starting at 3 p.m., the Impractical Jokers will host a block party at the Park at Petco Park. The party will give fans a chance to get up close and personal with some of the show’s most exciting and iconic dares and punishments. There will be live music, food, an autograph signing with the Jokers from 4-5 p.m., and an exclusive sneak peek of a never-before-seen episode of Impractical Jokers starting at 8 p.m.

  5. The Petco Interactive Zone returns to the parking lot adjacent to Petco Park and behind the Metropolitan Transit System building. This year there will be games, rides, activities, autograph opportunities and freebies from Ash vs. Evil DeadThe Walking Dead, Cartoon Network, the Gishbus, TBS, Snickers, Yo-kai Watch, and more. Plus, there will be unique food from the Hello Kitty Café, German food from Currywurst, Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese food truck, Mexican food truck Salt + Lime, Mastiff Sausage, Super Q food truck, and Stuffed food truck.

    The Interactive Zone is open Wednesday from 5-9 p.m., and will continue Thursday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

  6. The Marriott Marquis & Marina will once again host the Nintendo Gaming Lounge. Gamers will get to play several of Nintendo’s most popular games and partake in tournaments including Super Smash Bros., SplatoonMario Kart 8 and Pokkén for Wii. Winners will each receive a prize pack filled with Nintendo products and merchandise.

    There will also be a Yo-kai Watch voice actor event on Friday with a Q&A session, live voice demos, and a table read of a scene from Season 2 of the animated TV series.

  7. At the Hard Rock Hotel, the Suicide Squad is taking over 6,000 square feet and are transforming it into the infamous Belle Reve Penitentiary, home to the “worst of the worst.” Here, you’ll be able to enjoy a virtual reality experience to fight alongside Suicide Squad members, get your own Suicide Squad tattoo at Harley Quinn’s tattoo parlor, and take photos in a re-creation of one of Belle Reve’s jail cells.

  8. Fear the Walking Dead will be at the Abigail Yacht at the Fifth Avenue Landing behind the Convention Center. Fans and attendees will get to step into the world of Fear the Walking Dead with a special yacht, where fans can re-create life aboard the Abigail.

    The yacht is open to those ages 13 and up and will be open Thursday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. There will also be an autograph session with the Fear the Walking Dead cast from 12-1p.m. on Saturday.

  9. South Park is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year at San Diego Comic-Con, and is hosting an interactive experience at the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade Park. Attendees can stop by to visit a sculpture garden of iconic South Park moments, and get your photo taken. There will also be a Hulu viewing lounge to watch all episodes of South Park, a Coon and Friends Experience featuring real-world items from the all-new video game South Park: The Fractured But Whole, and an art gallery that celebrates the 20th season by featuring 20 pieces from 20 unique artists curated by Ron English. And you can check out a retrospective gallery featuring original cells from the pilot and much more.

  10. Zachary Levi and David Coleman's uber brand The Nerd Machine is bringing fan favorite NERD HQ back to the New Children's Museum. NERD HQ brings the geek community a four-day haven of superstar guest appearances, autograph signings, 160 hands-on gaming experiences, a new virtual reality lounge, food and drinks. Fan favorite philanthropic panel series Conversations for a Cause will once again be positioned on the lower level in a dedicated enhanced auditorium.  This year’s panelists include Nathan Fillion, Joss Whedon, Jai Courtney, Felicia Day, as well as cast members from hit shows such as Colony, Orphan Black, Teen Wolf, Supernatural, Workaholics, Drunk History and more. Tickets for panels are $22, and all proceeds raised through ticket sales go directly to the non-profit Operation Smile, whose mission is to help improve the health and lives of children across the world. Live.Me will also be on board and help broadcast NERD HQ live via its app. NERD HQ is also bringing back the popular fan party on Thursday, the exclusive NERD PARTY on Friday, and a final Dance the Night Away farewell party on Saturday night to wrap up the weekend. 


Transportation Tips:

Parking will be extremely hard to find, and expensive if you do ($30-100) in and around downtown, so I would recommend taking a taxi, public transportation, or use a ride sharing service such as Uber, Lyft, or Flywheel.

In addition, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and Uber are partnering and offering a one-time discount of $5 for uberPOOL riders who utilize its service to arrive or depart from 20 MTS Transit Centers.

UberPOOL riders enter the code MTSUBER and the discount is applied if they are picked up or dropped off at one of the participating Transit Centers:

  • Trolley Transit Centers: Iris Ave., H Street, 8th Street, Barrio Logan, Euclid, Lemon Grove, Santee, El Cajon, Grossmont Center, 70th Street, SDSU, Mission San Diego, Mission Valley Center, Fashion Valley, and Old Town.
  • Rapid Transit Stations: Escondido, Rancho Bernardo, Sabre Springs, Miramar College, and City Heights Transit Plaza.

Carlos Rico has been attending Comic-Con since 1998 as a teenage fan and professionally as a member of the media since 2008.

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