My Gods! The Lines! The Crowded Crowded Lines! Whichever venue PAX is in, on whatever coast in whosoever dimension, crowding is almost omnipresent. Recent PAXen have sold out weeks in advance, and the various convention centers have been unable to contain their awesomeness in a roomy manner. There are lines for almost everything, including lines in order to get into lines (I'm talking to you, Merch line PAX East). There is little one can do to avoid them.
When To Get In Line In The Morning
Getting in line is something that should be decided by an individual, so no one can tell someone exactly when he/she should show up. However, it is typically recommended that one get in line fairly shortly after the doors open if one wants to be absolutely sure one won't miss whatever one wants to see.
If one is the more social geek, many recommend getting in line as soon as one can. The people are what make PAX, and there is no better way to meet/converse/trade pokemons with people than being in line. Remember, everyone is there showing their love for games in some way, shape or form, so feel free to strike up a conversation with nearby people!
Note: don't forget to get contact info for new friends! It is very easy to lose many potential friends watching the people one just spent 3 hours with in line fade off into the crowd of gamers.
When To Get In Line For Specific Events
There is no hard and fast rule for when one needs to get in line for a panel or event, as it depends on demand for the individual panel, on which day it takes place, what's going on at the same time, and whether Wil Wheaton is involved in any way. For most panels, an hour or so beforehand is quite sufficient. The Make A Strip Panel, any Wil Wheaton Panel, and Scott Kurtz are likely to require a little more time. If one wants to get into the Keynote Speech on Friday, one will need to arrive at the convention center when it opens, and go straight to the queue room.
Advice For Surviving The Lines
- Relax - Lines happen. Getting angry, impatient or upset will not make them go away. Before you line up, decide whether spending this time is worth it for the event in question, and then simply go with your decision. Take the time to plan the rest of your day, read the forums or, better yet, refer to the bottom entry in this list.
- Follow @PAX_Lines on twitter!! This feed updates constantly about how full lines are around the convention.
- Plan Ahead and Prioritize - Unfortunately there is no chance that any one person can experience everything PAX has to offer, and any five people would have their work cut out for them. When you're looking at which panels or events to go to, choose a few select things you absolutely can't miss and spend the time in line to make sure you get in. When looking at the timetable try to mentally add queue times to the beginning of each session, to get a more realistic idea of what you can and can't see.
- Queue Responsibly - Don't impede walkways. If an enforcer asks you to move, he's not taking away your place in line, just trying to consolidate it into something more manageable and less in the way.
- Get comfortable - If sitting on a hard surface or standing for extended periods of time causes you discomfort, you might want to consider bringing a cushion or a collapsible chair to sit on == is this actually allowed? ==. Unfortunately, chairs or beanbags can't be provided because they would hamper evacuation in the event of fire.
- I need to pee - That's not a problem. Just ask your friendly line neighbour to hold your place, and go. Try not to leave it until the doors open, and DO NOT open your DS or check your Facebook whilst enthroned. If you want to be super prepared, check to see where the nearest restroom is before you get in line, and visit it before you settle down to wait. Also, don't dehydrate yourself just in order to hold your place in line.
- Enjoy the lines - Seriously. There are few places in the world where the next random person standing next to you is likely to be friendly, and instantly grok your rim-shot Monty Python reference, Trade you that last Pokemon, or finally explain THAC0 to your satisfaction. Take your Magic deck, DS, Zombie Dice, Travel Catan and a bottle of water, and hang out with some interesting people for a while.
I Can't Wait In Any Line
If you are simply temperamentally unsuited to waiting, or don't want to take the time to do so, there are ways to enjoy yourself at PAX without waiting around. Many freeplay areas, especially Tabletop, can easily be navigated without having to wait at all, or with a simple sign-up sheet. Large portions of the expo halls also, and the Concerts have generally been accessible 20 minutes or so after the line has gone in. You may need to sit or stand nearer to the back of the hall, but if you hate lines you probably aren't all that fond of mosh pits either. Not all the sessions fill up to capacity, especially later in the con. As long as you avoid the big ticket sessions, and are prepared for disappointment, you may simply be able to ask the enforcers on the door if there is any space inside.