You don't need no stinking badges to be part of the buzz of this year's epic Comic-Con, touching down in San Diego July 20-25.
There's plenty of stuff going on outside of the Convention Center's walls that showcases the largest collection of film-makers, network execs, celebs, geeks, storm troopers and super heroes descending at the this year's popular arts extravaganza to entertain you over the five days.
Comic-Con, or "Cannes for Blockbusters," as it's been referred to due to Hollywood's overwhelming presence, isn't just for the 130,000 attendees who braved the multiple online ticketing failures and scored a badge. Marketing efforts by movie and television studios spill out onto the streets around the downtown San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter in an effort to reach out to as many fans as possible.
For the badge-challenged newbie, the best place to appreciate the costumed humanity attending the pop-culture convention is right across the street from the Convention Center on 5th and West Harbor Drive in San Diego: you'll be at the center of the intergalactic crossroads.
Everything from action super heroes, to popular cartoon and video game characters come to life in the busiest intersection of the Con.
If you decide to wing it without a badge and head south on the 405 to this year's comics convention, here are a few things to keep your antennae raised for that are open to everyone from galaxies far, far, away and beyond.
>> Thursday, July 21st, Comic-Con's opening night, Cirque du Soleil's KÀ is residing at the MGM in Las Vegas, and will make its first appearance at the convention with a free show, combining dare-devil acrobatics with 3D images projected on a wall outside of Petco park.
The performance is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. (time is approximate) outside of Petco Park on Tony Gwynn Drive. The KÀ performance area faces the Convention Center and is adjacent to the Omni Hotel.
>> The Palms Restaurant will be taken over by Marvel Comics and Comic-Con fans, where Marvel artist Humberto Ramos will furnish the San Diego location with some signature works to the walls.
Beginning Monday, July 18th, The Palms will be open for lunch service, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., through the entirety of Comic-Con, ending Sunday, July 24th.
>> Mary Jane's Restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel (201 5th Ave.) will be redecorated by the SyFy Channel in a fitting galactic theme — converting it into Café Diem from Eureka.
Tip: Watch for free swag being handed out outside of the restaurant. Anything from collector buttons to those ubiquitous huge bags can be yours free.
>> If parties are your thing, but you're short on time, you're in luck. Fly over to these websites to purchase a ticket to any of these celebrations. You might even catch a surprise celeb showing up!
>> Cartoon Network takes over Ciro's Pizzeria at 536 Market Street to bring you into the world of Adventure Time with floor-to-ceiling décor, episodes and clips. Also, brand ambassadors throughout the Gaslamp District will distribute coupons for special Happy Hour free food and drink each day.
>> New this year, 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 District.
>> Adult Swim is bringing the ice cream trucks back to San Diego for Comic-Con 2011, and keeping fans cool by rewarding them with free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Show talent will be along for the ride to pass out ice cream, tickets to fan-exclusive events, interact with fans, and sign autographs.
>> Adult Swim will also be hosting nightly fan events at Quality Social Club in the Gaslamp, Thursday, July 21 – Saturday, July 23. The club will be a nightly venue with music and special events. Tickets for admission are limited and will be given out at Adult Swim panels, booth and ice cream trucks.
>> Nickelodeon will host the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Where? Where else, at a pizza place! This is a ticketed Fan Event, on Friday, July 21, 4-7 p.m., at Basic Urban Kitchen + Bar, 410 Tenth Avenue, Downtown San Diego. Check out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Facebook page and follow @TMNTMaster for ticket giveaways and more details.
>> The anticipated highlight of this year's Comic-Con is the premiere of director Jon Favreau's film "Cowboys and Aliens" at the Civic Theater Saturday, July 23. The glamour, paparazzi, and celebrities will congregate at the concourse at 1100 Third Ave. Ave. for a night of lights, cameras and action.
The star-studded red carpet event starts at 7 p.m. with the movie following at 9 p.m. The A-List lineup includes director Jon Favreau, Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde. As of this writing, tickets were not available to the public for the premiere yet, but it was announced that 2,000 tickets will be given away to lucky fans.
There you have it folks. If you are one of the 130,00 lucky fans who purchased a badge, let us know you'll be there. And if you know of other Comic-Con related events or activities open to the public post them here.
The entire schedule of panels, celebrities and autograph signings at Comic-Con is available online at www.comic-con.org.
May the force be with us all!