Pre-Pay or Not to Pre-Pay?

SDCC Tips/Info

I actually started this post before parking went on sale. You can now purchase SDCC Parking!

I was a rookie last year but I knew parking and driving was going to be a challenge. We decided to rent a car because we didn’t want to depend on the shuttle or public transit. We were early risers and didn’t want to waste anytime waiting around for a shuttle to show up. Plus we were in Mission Valley.

I’m not kidding about the early riser thing. I think it’s safe to say that Thursday and Friday we were there no later than 5am. I believe the fact we headed down that early helped us miss any traffic. The drive was a breeze and we had no problems making our way to the convention center. Want to know what else helped? The fact that we knew we had parking waiting for us. That’s right. We had purchased pre-paid parking via CCI. We knew that Thursday and Friday were going to be big days with all the panels that were planned. We lucked out and were able to score passes for the convention center. That location was the first to sell out as you can imagine. We only paid $12.92 a day after fees but it was worth it to know that you had a nice little space waiting for you.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect. It’s great in the sense that you can just go down to the garage and drop off your swag and return to the action quickly but leaving? That was done at a snails pace. It was a mix of everything. You had thousands of people walking around Gaslamp, you had hundreds of cars all trying to leave around the same time plus you of course had the trains. It was a perfect disaster.

Now, what about the other two days? Saturday we didn’t have anything huge planned. We took our time getting Downtown which was a bit of a mistake. We didn’t have pre-paid parking which meant we drove around for a bit looking for something. We tried a garage that we had used during Preview Night but it was pre-sold which meant we were out of luck. We did end up finding a parking lot though that wasn’t too far from the convention center. The nice thing was we didn’t have to deal with the mob when we left. We were far enough away that we didn’t get stuck in either pedestrian or other Con traffic. The bad thing was we were a little too far to drop our stuff off and come back. I’m actually not sure if getting there earlier would’ve helped though seeing how most of the parking in the area was pre-sold. Sunday we skipped the Con and our car was happily parked at the hotel.

This year we’re skipping the car altogether. Since we’re staying in the Gaslamp we really don’t need it. If I had to do it all over again though with parking, I’d definitely go the pre-paid route. I don’t think I’d pick the convention center though because of the headaches trying to leave. If you plan on hanging around Downtown a bit though after you’re done with the Con, it might not be a bad idea since by then traffic should be a little better. Plus there’s the new walkway bridge which in theory should help with some of the Comic Con foot traffic.


  • We did pre-paid last year and loved it. 2 days at the convention center, 2 at the structure adjacent on Harbor @ 8th. It worked out great and it really didn’t matter how early/late you got there. the latest we arrived was 9 AM and it was no problem.

    As soon as I found out parking was on sale this year I sounded the trumpet and got all 4 days available at the convention center. Sadly, they do not offer it for Preview Night, or I’d have got that, too.

    As Jim mentions, if you’re not in a big hurry to leave at day’s end, leaving the convention center parking is not an issue. Grab dinner downtown first or take a walk in the open air before heading underground- lol.

    Enjoy yourself!

  • Having gone about transportation a little different each year, the pre-paid underground convention parking really won me over last year. As long as you plan to leave a little late, or a little early, each day it’s perfect.

  • I LOVE staying in the gaslamp! No worrying about parking, I can sleep in later, and if something should happen and I need a break I can walk the few blocks back to out room!
    I am so happy I got a great hotel this year!!

  • Parking at Petco (the baseball stadium) isn’t too bad, I’ve got there around 9am, plenty of parking. Helps if you can approach it from the east, to avoid the downtown traffic. And it’s the same price as they charge during a ball game (20 bucks), and you can either walk to the center, or take the trolley. Did buy the parking passes for under the con center this year, and since I leave at 2 or 3 in the morning, never had an issue with traffic. Smooth sailing to go north on First and hit the 5 for the ride home.

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