It’s the SPOOOOOOOKIEST day of the year: the annual lottery for hotel rooms for San Diego Comic-Con goes live today at noon et/9 am pt. Pandemic be damned, demand has come roaring back, and you’ll need nerves of steel to navigate this year’s revamped hotel list.

The announcement itself was a bit abrupt – only two days notice. But based on my texts and emails, everyone was already thinking about getting a hotel room, so might as well get it over with.

You’ll also need a credit card with some room: hotel prices are inching ever upwards, with the most popular ones – The Marriott, the Hyatt, the Bayside Hilton, etc – at around $325 a night. Add in the fees and it will be closer to $400. Get those roommates lined up now! (These are still cheaper than regular summer rates, it should be noted. For instance, The Hyatt is $434 a night two weeks before SDCC.) And don’t even ASK about
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As always Kerry Dixon at the Unofficial SDCC Blog has the most detailed information on how to survive the process. But in summary, you can enter the waiting room at any time from 8 am to 9 am (all times PT) and at 9 am you’ll be entered into a waiting room and then RANDOMLY selected to enter the hotel selection process. Your place in line is determined by when you enter the room NOT by when you finish, so those days of speeding through the forms in a panic are no more, thank goodness.

The lottery is still a harsh mistress, though. Last year I got in at about 2 minutes, and got my first choice. A friend got in at 11 minutes and got nothing.

If you’ve been following my Hoteloween reporting for the last 20 years or so, you know that in former times, software and servers were not up to snuff, crashes and endless waits were the norm.

For the last five or six years, happily, everything has been running smoothly from a tech standpoint. Aside from the nerve wracking waiting, the whole process takes 10 minutes or so.

All that said there is a new wrinkle this year. The SDCC hotel site allows you to preview it and see what hotels are available, to have a practice run, as it were. When the time comes you can select up to a dozen hotels via a drop down menu.

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This year, for the first time, the drop down menu includes HOW MANY BEDS YOU WILL NEED. Thus Manchester Grand Hyatt 1 King Bed is one selection and Manchester Grand Hyatt 2 double beds is another. Doubles are often pried higher and if you switch, you’ll be charged a fee – if a double is even available.

I know some people – perhaps even the person writing this – who have used picking one bed as a way to jump the line – most people need two beds, and you’ll be given your first selection available. This new process has made that a very risky proposition indeed.

In years past I sometimes added up the total number of rooms available, but that information is a bit harder to find these days. However, there are a lot more hotels in downtown San Diego than there used to be – say 20 years ago.  I’m sure the pandemic took a toll here, as with everything, but San Diego remains beautiful and people like being near the water. A few more of modern boutique hotels like Moxy, Pineapple and a “new”Margaritaville (Formerly the Solamar) give con-goers more options than ever. And if all that fails, well, the shuttle runs from Mission Valley! (Our advice: stay in Little Italy if you can’t stay right downtown.)

And don’t forget, a sprawling development on the other side of the Embassy Suites will add even more hotel rooms some day.

You’ll know if you won the lottery on April 17th, when emails go out to winners. And you’ll need to put down a TWO NIGHT deposit on April 20th or lose the room…forever.

While modern con-goers call Hotel Lottery Day Hotelpocalypse, we’re sticking with “Hoteloween” – you never know quite what you’re going to get. And also, we were here first.

Whether you’re hoping for an opulent room at the Bayfront, or just an economy at the Days Inn….good luck! Countdown to Comic-Con begins NOW!