Have you wondered about attending a Comic Con with kids? Maybe, like me, you assumed it was really more for adults, or you just weren’t sure the best way to go about it so it would be fun for the whole family. I just went to my first Comic Con with three young children and we had a blast! I found it to be very kid-friendly, but there are some things you should know before you go, so that you can all have a great time.
Comic Con with Kids: What You Need to Know
Disclosure: I received free passes for the show for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Wizard World Comic Con is in town, and I was lucky enough to take my kids to opening day! (Yes, I did get to see Dean Cain!) Here is a look at what to know before you go, so that it is a fun day for everyone.
It Is Fun for Even Young Children: I was skeptical about how the Comic Con would be for my three year old, but he had a great time, and I didn’t see anything that I was uncomfortable with him being around. Everyone was very friendly with my kids, and there were lots of other little ones there. I can’t count the number of times doors were held for us or people moved to accommodate my stroller.
I asked several fellow bloggers what their experiences were attending Comic Con with kids, and they had all attended multiple times with their children, starting from very young. For many families it has become a tradition to attend Comic Con together. Sandy from Adventures with My Geeklings says: “Mine are 5 & 7 and have gone since the the oldest was 3. Until they were 4 almost 5 they only went one day but it was fine and they loved it.”
Use the Wizard World Comic Con Website to Plan Ahead: The resource center on the Wizard World Comic Con website is really comprehensive in answering any questions you have, like what the guidelines for costumes are and whether you can bring backpacks. There is an interactive map and a schedule, so you can plan on what you’d like to see and when to go. Keep in mind that celebrities may cancel at the last minute, so be sure your children are prepared for this. Also, make sure you leave plenty of time just to wander around – that is so much of the fun!
You Can Bring Your Gear: I have 3 children ages 6 and under (including a baby), so we have a lot of gear. Luckily I was able to bring a stroller and a backpack. Just be prepared to have your backpack or bag searched when you enter. Keep in mind that an umbrella stroller may be a good idea for toddlers or slightly older kids that just need a break from walking around the large convention center.
There Will Be Costumes: One of the most fun parts about Comic Con is the COSTUMES. Fun for anybody, but this is an aspect that is really fun for kids. Many attendees take cosplay (that is, costume play) very seriously, so you can see some really awesome costumes. If your kids want to, they can dress up, too! For many, this is one of the best parts of going.
You Don’t Have to Wear Costumes: Many, many people do not wear costumes, and that’s okay, too. Many of the folks we saw were just in T-shirts and jeans. My kids were excited to dress up, but once we got there they changed their minds, so be prepared to carry around costumes if this happens (or if they just get tired of it after a while).
There Is A Lot of Cool Stuff to See and Do: Often we think of celebrity photo-ops, but that is not all there is to Comic Con! There are backdrops to pose for your own photos, tons of vendors with cool gear, panels and demonstrations, tournaments, and more. For my kids a real highlight was trying out new video games in the play zone. This is the same area where they hold the tournaments, but there are also times reserved for casual free play. This can be a nice way to take a break from walking around or to entertain the kids while one spouse stands in line for a celebrity photo-op.
Just be aware that in some cases computers are connected for group play, which is not always well indicated with signage. My little ones accidentally ended up in a 4 player game with some grownups. My kids had a blast, but not so much their teammates! They were very nice about it, but I made sure to move my kids on to something else as soon as I could.
It’s Not Just White Guys: Many of us have the false idea that the gaming world, etc is made up mostly of white men, but the Comic Con we attended was much more diverse than I had expected, in terms of the attendees and exhibitors. Check out this very cool company out of Los Angeles, 133 Art. I love their Kid Carvers!
Bring Cash: While many vendors take cards, some do not, and inevitably these will be the ones selling the item your child has to have. Bringing cash can also help you budget a bit so things don’t get out of hand once your children are surrounded by all that wonderful stuff.
There Will Be Lines: Unfortunately, this is a reality of attending such a big convention. Even just the line to pick up admission tickets that had already been purchased was quite lengthy. And if you want a photo-op or autograph with a celebrity, be prepared to stand in line as well. This is not always the case (the celebrity lines were actually very short when we were there), but it really just depends on when you go and who you want to see, so make sure you are ready for this.
Kendra of Biting the Hand that Feeds You recommends attending with another adult (like your spouse), or attending one day without your kids, so that not everyone has to wait in line: “We took double strollers and I took whichever kid was more interested in seeing the celeb into line with me while hubby took the other shopping. This year I was able to have my sister watch them Friday and Saturday while I got my celebrity photo ops and signatures, then we took them on Sunday in two single strollers so we could split up and take each of them where they’d best like to go.”
There Is A Lot of Stimulation: The volume at the convention was actually fine, but even so there is a constant wave of sound around you, and lots to see and experience. If you have a child with sensory issues, Autism Odysseys has a brilliant article on making conventions more enjoyable for them. (She also has a lot of useful tips for anyone attending Comic Con with kids). For my boys, the problem was that they got pretty hyped up and so I had to remind them to eat and drink.
Think about Food Ahead of Time: There are food vendors there, but it’s hard to know ahead of time what you can find or how long the lines will be, so bring some food just in case.
There are Volunteers to Answer Your Questions: There are many volunteers staged throughout the convention, and they are so friendly and helpful. I had never been to Comic Con before, so I had a lot of questions, and they were always happy to help. When we went they were all wearing matching T-shirts, so they were very easy to spot.
There Is Free Stuff: My boys scored free headbands from a favorite video game, and I saw at least one vendor giving away free posters, so keep a sharp eye out!
A Lot of Stuff Isn’t Free: Obviously there are are many vendors at the convention, but some things you usually expect to be free aren’t, like taking photos. If a volunteer catches you nabbing a photo of a celebrity with your phone, you will be warned but eventually may be asked to leave. (You can find more info on the Wizard World website).
You Should Always Ask First: The best rule of thumb is to ask first before taking a photo of someone, especially a celebrity. But this courtesy also extends to other attendees. Many wearing great costumes are happy to pose for pictures, but be sure to check first.
Know When to Call It a Day: You know your child, so you are the best judge of when it’s time to head home. Remember that because there is so much stimulation, they may not be seem very tired until you walk out the doors and it hits them all at once, so watch for their triggers but also keep an eye on the clock.
Have you gone to Comic Con with kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Stock images courtesy of Wizard World Comic Con.