Onto the substance of the post.
I would very quickly tell you that I am not a comic con expert. I've only been to one (New York Comic Con) and some of the journey is highlighted in Peter's post a few months ago here. It was certainly not everything I expected, and quite honestly, I stepped into it wholly unprepared. I was under the impression that they just let you into panels, after all. Still, I had a pretty decent gang around to help me out with that.
So, I know a little bit, at least. Let me tell you how to survive this apocalypse of awesome. I know San Diego Comic Con is coming up (and if you are going, I am very jealous), so this may help a few. Here are some of the basics:
HOW TO NAVIGATE THE FLOOR1. PUSH, MOTHERFUCKER, PUSH.
Don’t be shy.
2. WALK WITH PURPOSE.
You will get nowhere otherwise. If you do not have this ability, find a friend who does and latch onto their shoulder/hand/bag.
3. DO NOT MAKE SUDDEN STOPS.
Friends latching onto you will cause a train crash/you will block the isle/someone will smack you in the head with a keyblade.
HOW TO ATTEND PANELS:1. SHOW UP EARLY.
I mean, really early. I waited in line for about five or six panels, but probably saw only two. One included sitting behind a pillar, so really, one and a half. You will be turned away at the door. At NYCC they also do not clear out the rooms, so if you reallyreallyreally want to get into a panel, get into the one before it.
2. PREPARE FOR DISAPPOINTMENT.
You won’t get into every panel you want unless they all happen to be in the same room, you show up early, and you don’t leave that room for the entire day.
3. BRING SNACKS/FRIENDS.
You’ll get hungry. And bored.
4. SHUT THE HELL UP.
Don’t talk once in the panel, okay? Someone might hit you with an actual sword.
Don’t buy food at the con. Just don’t. I made the mistake of getting hungry while waiting in line for a panel I didn’t get into, and ended up wasting twelve dollars on candy. Not even a lot of candy. And I almost got charged five dollars for two sodas. Peter and I shared a coke, thank you. The best bet is to scout the area beforehand and fine a place you want to eat.
Things you can do: ask people for pictures of their cosplay, buy awesome things, scream RAVENCLAW FOR THE WIN at someone wearing a Gryffindor robe, get free stuff, wait in line with no purpose, roam the halls, have free gum thrown at you.
Things you cannot do: touch people without permission (unless you’re moving them. Then trek on, Spartan), cut in line (unless you have friends), argue with the volunteers, lick someone you don’t know, step in front of photos, and be a general asshole. Those are rules of life, though.
Also, make sure you do your research. Nobody wants to hear you complain about missing a panel that you didn't know about until after it happened. These things can be avoided, my friend.