Where to spot celebrities during Comic-Con

Performer Justin Timberlake heads to the IMDB yacht berthed behind Comic-Con in 2016. (John Gastaldo/The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(John Gastaldo / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The list of celebrities flying into Comic-Con 2017 includes Charlize Theron, Will Smith, Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling and many other scheduled and surprise visitors, so fans are already looking for ways to see their favorite television and movie stars and creators up close.

You could hit their panels and special events with a badge, of course. But some of those require waiting in line for hours, if not camping out overnight, and you’d probably miss something else you’d want to see at the same time. So what can you do?

As you find yourself running around the convention center, grabbing dinner and otherwise exploring the San Diego sights, here are five place you should linger to catch a celebrity.

1. Fifth Avenue Landing

If previous years are any indication, one of the best places to randomly see stars is the dock behind the convention center.

“Superyachts” are usually parked at the marina at Fifth Avenue Landing and IMDB, for one, often conducts celebrity interviews onboard. If you linger on the sidewalk near the “east gate,” you’ll likely see celebrities being dropped off next to the San Diego Harbor Excursions building (seen behind Justin Timberlake in the photo above) and walking across to the dock. You might even be able to get an autograph.

2. Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Many of the panels during Comic-Con take place in the massive hotel next to the convention center, and celebrities often stay at the hotel or use the rooms to get ready for their events. Keep your eyes focused on the elevators and in the hallways.

Another tip is to watch for stars coming and going from the hotel. They’ve been known to get picked up or dropped off at the entrance in the alley - formally known as Gull Street - between the Hilton’s parking garage and the northeast-facing side of the hotel. You can linger near Sweet Things Frozen Yogurt at the north corner of the hotel and watch from there, although security officials often keep people from going any farther down the street. Still, the big black SUVs pulling up are as good a sign as any to try to sneak a peak.

3. The balcony above NOBU in the Gaslamp Quarter

This was was a hot spot spot last year so it stands to reason things may repeat themselves this month. There’s a glass balcony on the south side of Hard Rock Hotel San Diego above NOBU. Last year, a number of celebrity interviews took place inside, and stars would wave to fans and pose for photos on the balcony. It’s a good place to stake out, and while you’re at it, the hotels, restaurants and rooftops along 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter are always full of special events, media and celebrities grabbing food, so keep an eye out!

4. The convention floor

Stars like Daniel Radcliffe, Ryan Reynolds, Jack Black and Bryan Cranston have all donned masks or costumes to sneak onto the convention floor among fans to check out the action - or in Reynolds’ case - race to their event without being spotted.

A dead giveaway is any masked person with a camera following them, so if you get in their shot you may find yourself in video being shared on celebrity social media feeds afterward. Another word to the wise: That masked jester standing next to you in line might actually be Peter Jackson, so be nice to everyone aroud you.

5. The line for Hall H

Stars have been known to treat fans waiting outside Comic-Con for the big panels in Hall H quite well. In 2011, “Twilight” cast members delivered breakfast to fans in the morning before the panel. In 2015, Misha Collins from “Supernatural” surprised fans with pizza. As you can see above, Benedict Cumberbatch took selfies with fans in line in 2016. There are too many examples to list here, so if you’re in line for Hall H, take heart. Good things come to those who wait.

And if you’re not in line for Hall H, it’s a good place to hang out late at night or early in the morning. You never who or what you’ll see at Comic-Con.
Email:; Twitter: @abbyhamblin


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