Stormtrooper and every sort of alien, zombie and superhero costume will replace downtown's suits, ties, skirts and uniforms beginning Thursday as Comic-Con descends on the Gaslamp Quarter.
Fans can leave their Millennium Falcons, or any other means of transportation, docked in their garages because getting to the epic Comic-Con convention is easy; for Coronado residents, it's only a boat ride away. Everyone else can hop on the San Diego Trolley, which stops in front of the San Diego Convention Center.
What? Did my supersonic ears hear you say the badges are sold out?
No problem. You don't need no stinking badges to be part of the excitement. There's plenty of things to do without a badge outside of the convention center.
The best place to appreciate the costumed humanity at the Con is Fifth Avenue and West Harbor Drive, the center of the intergalactic crossroads. But if you want more, here's some insider tips:
1. Thursday, Comic-Con's opening night, Cirque du Soleil will mark its first appearance at the convention with a free show outside Petco Park. The performance of “KÀ” (which is in residence at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas) will be at 9:30 p.m. on Tony Gwynn Drive, facing the Convention Center near the Omni Hotel.
2. The Palm Restaurant, 615 J St., will be taken over by Marvel Comics; fans can watch artist Humberto Ramos as he works his magic on the restaurant's walls.
3. Mary Jane's at the Hard Rock Hotel, 201 5th Ave., becomes a nerd's sanctuary during the convention. The SyFy Channel has re-decorated the eatery the last two years in a galactic theme, converting it into Café Diem from the TV show “Eureka.” Watch for swag being handed out outside of the restaurant, anything from collector buttons to Comic-Con's ubiquitous huge bags.
Also: Keep an eye on nearby warehouse roll-up doors, which open to reveal studio employees tearing into boxes and throwing Comic-Con exclusive merchandise to passersby. Last year, "Mythbusters" swag was distributed this way.
4. If parties are your thing you're in luck—but hurry. Hit these websites to purchase a ticket to a variety of celebrations. You might even catch a surprise celeb appearance! Note: Most of the soirees are for 21 and up.
5. Cartoon Network takes over Ciro's, 536 Market St. The pizzeria will be transformed into “Adventure Time” with floor-to-ceiling décor, episodes and clips. Also, brand ambassadors throughout the Gaslamp will pass out coupons for happy hour free food and drinks each day.
6. Every day during the convention an “Adventure Time” parade featuring Finn, Jake, Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, Lumpy Space Princess and Lady Rainicorn will wind its way through the Gaslamp.
7. Adult Swim is bringing the ice cream trucks back, keeping fans cool with free Ben & Jerry’s. Show talent will be along for the ride to pass out tickets to fan-exclusive events and sign autographs.
8. Adult Swim also will host nightly fan events at Quality Social Club, 789 Sixth Ave., Thursday to Saturday. The network’s creators, producers and talent will appear. Tickets are limited and will be given out inside the convention, but also at ice cream trucks outside.
9. Nickelodeon will host the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from 4 to 7 p.m., at Basic, 410 Tenth Ave. A behind-the-scenes look at the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be on offer, including upcoming toys and comics. Check out TMNT on Facebook and follow @TMNTMaster on Twitter for ticket giveaways.
10. Want to see stars? The highlight of this year's Comic-Con is the Saturday premiere of director Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens at the Civic Theater, 1100 Third Ave. The red carpet event starts at 7 p.m. with stars Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde; 2,000 tickets will be given away to fans for the 9 p.m. screening. Watch for chances to snag tix by liking the flick's Facebook page, by following @jon_favreau on Twitter or the hashtag #cowboysandaliens.
If you're not one of the lucky ones, then you can experience the pandemonium behind the barricades outside the theater.
Check back here in the comments for any last-minute added Comic-Con events that are open to the public.
May the force be with us all!