We’ve all been there at one time or another: there’s a panel we just have to see covering the coolest, most popular recent pop culture behemoth (my guesses for this year’s longest lines: anything to do with Guardians of the Galaxy or Arrow). These panels always draw the biggest crowds to the biggest ballrooms, which means you have to get there early and queue up like everyone else who wants to see it. Often, you’ll find yourself standing there for hours, sometimes baking outdoors in Atlanta’s veritable convection oven of a climate. How are you supposed to spend all that time?
Well, after years of first-hand experience, here are my best suggestions to keep you from dying of boredom while you wait.
Bring a Friend
This is one of the easiest ways to make passing time more fun. We’ve all made friends at Con, and surely if you’re in line for one of the biggest draws of the event, it won’t be hard for you to find a friend who also has an interest in what you’re waiting to see. So team up and go together! This is also helpful in long lines because you can play tag-team to go get water or take turns heading out for bathroom breaks without losing your spot in line.
Make New Friends
This one might be harder for those of you who are shy, but Dragon Con is one of the easiest places for even a timid person to make a new friend. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you! You already know you have at least an interest in the panel in common, and it’s very easy to start there and find more in common as you go. The convention gives you a smorgasbord of topics to start with: what other panels are you going to try and see? Who do you want to meet in the Walk of Fame? Do you participate in the costume contests? Are you going to the Avenger’s Ball? If your line-neighbor is up for a chat, you may find yourself at the start of a beautiful friendship.
If you’re anything like me, you carry at least one book on you at all times–and even if you’re not, the dealer halls are full of reading material for your perusal! If you know you’re going to be standing in line on Saturday, make sure you drop into the dealer halls on Friday and look through the selection. There are books by the hundreds and tons of comic book anthologies to choose through. Bring it with you when you’re in line and spend your wait in someone else’s universe.
I’m not talking about the ones on your cellphone, either–though that’s definitely another option, if you’re more of an antisocial type. I’m talking card or dice games you can carry in your bag. Uno’s a classic and easy favorite, as most everyone knows how to play, but nearly any portable game will do. Last year, some friends introduced me to Zombie Dice and my line experience changed forever. Hell, I’ve seen people start up games of Cards Against Humanity and Dominion while waiting in the Hyatt. Exceedingly ambitious folks even carry around full board games. Not only will you make friends with people around you, but you’ll probably also find the time moving pretty damn quickly once you get going.
“What? Don’t stand in line?” Yep. Don’t stand in line. A lot of the biggest panels are shown live on Dragon Con TV. If the line is outside in the heat and you don’t want to stand in it, or if standing in line would mean missing out on a smaller panel you really want to see, find out if the big panel will be on TV in your room. Then spend the time that you would otherwise be spending standing around in a line doing other things, like seeing smaller panels, walking through the dealer rooms, or taking a nap. Dragon Con is only so long. If you think standing around in a line is a waste of your time, you may be in luck. Check out what’s on Dragon Con TV and give yourself a break.
There are other options I’ve seen as well (I participated in a Firefly themed sing-along once when the Brobdingnagian Bards crashed the line to the Serenity panel a few years back), but the above are tried and true. Try them out! Make some new friends or meet some new characters. Your time in line will seem like nothing when you’ve filled it with something fun.