Comic-Con 2013 Preview: The 12 Parties Not to Miss in San Diego

A celebrity train from LA, a 153' yacht, a pirate ship and a revolving door of revelry at the Hard Rock Hotel. Get on these lists … or fire your publicist

In honor of BuzzFeed’s inaugural party at "the Con", treat the following listicle as your field guide to the most choice events that everyone will be talking about 120 miles to the south this weekend.

There's plenty of Hollywood industry glitz popping up away from the nerd herd in the Convention Hall.

TheWrap picks the best of the best.

The Croissette Comes To the Con

"Excusez-moi", TVGuide's sailing a yacht in to the Con. Docked at the Fifth Avenue Marina behind the convention center, this 143' foot yacht "The Leight Star’s" manifesto includes Neil Patrick Harris, Ian Somerhalder, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kevin Bacon, Megan Mullaly, Michael C. Hall, Nina Dobrev, and about 50 others.

Less a party and more of a luxe interview set protected from the fandemonium by a moat. They're still stocking it with all the necessities for long days of press: Zico and Fijis, makeup stations, and first look at Nintendo's addictive Pikmin 3 that doesn’t come out for landed civilians until August. The plank opens Thursday-Saturday during the day and is produced by TV Guide and PR-Dept.

Nerd HQ Swings for the Fences

Getty Images

"Viva La Nerdolution!" Zach Levi proclaims. His Nerd HQ is planting its flag in the biggest venue in San Diego: Petco Park.

In it’s third year, Levi’s crew bumps the hometown Padres on a Lakers-during-the-Grammys-esque road trip of 15 days while they snag their home stadium.

Beyond the massive scope of the gaming, signings, and parties free and open to the public, Levi’s wrangled Joss Whedon, Joe Maganiello, and a slew of others for his own ticketed panels (think, "Dr. Who”,  "Orphan Black”) and donates the ticket price ($22) to Operation Smile. Last year, he raised $140,000 for Operation Smile. (Twitter/Instagram: @Nerdmachine) Thursday-Sunday produced by 48 Communications and Rogers and Cowan.

The Patron Train – Arrive in Style

Friday traffic heading south makes anyone want to drink. A few select talent and VIPs will solve both problems safely aboard the now-annual "Patron Train" that leaves downtown LA for the Gaslamp District. (It even includes a return trip on Sunday.)

It’s a rockstar tourbus on rails, as the same lush car pulled up just outside the French Quarter during this past Super Bowl in February hosting events there. Patron and Brandlink Communications are the engineers.

To soak up any excess agave, Fox is handing out free pizza all weekend on Island Ave between First and Second at its Animation Domination High-Def Pizza Truck.

Entertainment Weekly's Lofty Perch

The crown jewel of Comic-Con parties, a few years ago Jon Favreau left his own "Cowboys & Aliens" premiere to come here. Unlike EW managing editor's Jess Cagle Emmy parties and recent foray NYC upfront party, this one has names that are not typically red carpet natives back home in LA. Two years ago, security didn't recognize the "Mythbusters” hosts who gained carpet access only after fans behind barricades berated the clueless security.

With the longest confirmed list of talent of the weekend, the headline names come from shows like "The Walking Dead", "Arrow”, "Workaholics", "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", a healthy dose of "Game of Thrones" and party staple Joe Manganiello.

They’re throwing 20,000 ping palls balls in the pool at the Hard Rock for a bright and loud bash with cache. Beware: Publicists lose clients for not getting EW and Andy Gelb’s thumbs up to get in to this one. (FLOAT Rooftop at the Hard Rock Hotel, Saturday, 9PM)

Meanwhile on Saturday, NBC’s Digital Network party takes over another part of the Hard Rock as 20th Century Fox TV  takes shelter from the noise at foodie’s hideaway Bankers Hill for their intensely private and intimate cocktail party.

True Blood and IMDB Bite Together

HBO, IMDB, and "True Blood" open a satellite of "Fangtasia” at Sidebar on Saturday night. 

In addition to cocktails, the invite promises….bites. [Rimshot].  The venue’s red velvet and chandeliers are an ample stand-in for the Shreveport vampire hang, and expect many of the "True Blood” cast to be there. The co-host is IMDB’s founder Col Needham, who was the one-man online Comic-Con in the 1990s. For the avoidance of doubt, the vamps are adamant – no crashers.


Unless you're staying in Tijuana to save money, you won't be able to avoid Warner Brothers. They long ago tattooed the entire town in a brilliant marketing coup by branding the key cards for most major hotels and owning the official "bag" that every attendee gets in a stroke of Social Media 1.0 genius.

In it's 8th year with a full blown presence inside the hall (they have 17 shows activating), their Friday night cocktails at, you guessed it, Float at the Hard Rock, is a more relaxed affair heavy on working press and talent. Think: summer press tour cocktail party.

The tempo will get a defibrillator’s shock at 8:30 P.M., when WBTV’s corporate sibling from the film division’s partner DC Comics invades the space for a celebration of Superman’s 75th Anniversary. Henry Cavill and Zach Snyder are coming, but the real VIP is a copy of an original "Action Comics #1″. That’s where Superman made his debut in 1938. It’s a loaner from musician from Jack White.

Zombies Vs. Playmates Vs. Kick-Ass'ers

It’s going to be a Friday night fight in the gaslamp. "The Walking Dead's" 10th Anniversary and Universal/Playboy’s "Kick Ass 2" go head to head in outdoor lots a block away from each other.

Weezer performs at "Walking Dead’s" lot to celebrate 10 years of the original comic book, which spawned the hit AMC series’ launch three years ago. Creator/Showrunner Robert Kirkman, Andrew Lincoln, Scott Wilson, Lauren Cohan and more are expected at the Hyundai and Skybound hosted party at Island and 7th.

One block north, the Zombies can smell fresh blood.

Universal Pictures and Playboy’s "Kick Ass 2" Block Party will have giant set pieces from next month’s release in an outdoor takeover at the corner of Market and 7th, also on Friday night. While Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Donald Faison are expected, no confirmation that Jim Carrey will be fighting his way through the crowd at the 21 and over playground. Produced by Universal Pictures, Playboy, and Entertainment Fusion Group. "Walking Dead’s” event is handled by Full Picture.

Con of Darkness

In a move to not get lost in the crowd, a veritable league of super friends from different companies team up to host a big-bash together on Friday. IFC Midnight, eOne, Dark Sky Films, and join forces for a club party with a menu that promises "intestines on a bun," "bloody fingers," and "eyeball skewers." The Fear Factor menu is served inside Voyeur, and not the one that used to be on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Rather than phoning it in at another carpet, "Haven" cast member Eric Balfour is actually DJ'ing his own show’s party the night before on Thursday. Producer Entertainment One smartly preloads their event, also at Sidebar, before the madness. Platform Media Group handles the ropes.

Wired Café

This hospitality suite directly across the street from the convention center is a staple, and always provides a great green room feel with a terrace overlooking the scene.

While Anna Kendrick (below with Joe Manganiello and Kristen Bauer van Straten last year), Sarah Silverman, Kellan Lutz, and Don Cheadle have been the headturners in the past, I predict the wow this year will come from the $8000 laser engraver printer gadget that Wired itself called "The Most Dangerous Thing In the Office.” Bring anything less than 4.5″ thick  – plastic, aluminum, stone, an errant intestine on a bun– and they can laser engrave it with whatever design you want.

Runs Thursday-Saturday under the watch of Wired and ID-PR.

Google Vs. Facebook

The adversarial tech superpowers are going head to head offline, both hosting events on Thursday night. Google's at Nobu in the Hard Rock while Facebook (which presumably includes instagram) celebrates its contributions to the fandom of all of the shows and films with a wine bar event in the heart of the Gaslamp.

Other choice invites include the Kings of Con party on Thursday night at Dollhouse, Maxim and FX’s Party at the Andaz rooftop on Friday night, the aforementioned BuzzFeed bash with the CW’s digital network "Seed", and the Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag ship on a pirate ship behind the convention center on Friday night. (We ought to know by now, the video game publishers have pirate's loot to pull this off financially.)

For the Ride Home

For all the photos snapped out on the town, a final stop at the Samsung Galaxy Experience  (335 6h Avenue, Thursday-Sunday) could net you the chance to port your photo right on to a T-shirt in the press-friendly workspace. Thinking ahead, it’s also worth it to load up on one of the leftover million-plus copies of Jay Z’s "Magna Carta Holy Grail" that Samsung distributed on July 4 for the northbound ride back up the 5.

All these parties are private and by invitation only, so check your phone for RSVPs because there’s nothing super about being a sidewalk hero.