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Go once around the block at San Diego Comic-Con aboard a "Once Upon a Time" -themed pedicab

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Go once around the block at San Diego Comic-Con aboard a "Once Upon a Time" -themed pedicab

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Katie Q. dropped me a line earlier today to say:

I've really been enjoying JHM's Comic-Con coverage. All of the pictures that you've posted so far make me want to come out San Diego one summer and experience it all for myself.

The key to enjoying yourself at Comic-Con -- especially when you're dealing
with the extremely crowded, stressful conditions that you often find in
San Diego -- is to always keep your head. Photo by Jim Hill

My only concern would be the crowds. Are there really 130,000 people in town right now trying to attend San Diego Comic-Con? If so, that sounds kind of nuts. How do you deal with crowds of that size for four days in a row?

Dear Katie Q.

I'm not going to lie to you. It's crowded here at Comic-Con. Here's what the hallway outside of Ballroom 20 looked like on Thursday afternoon ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... and here's what the exterior queue for Hall H looked liked at 9 o'clock this morning.

Photo by Jim Hill

Now please keep in mind that the three thousand or so people that you see in the photo above standing under all those white tents (which Comic-Con International had deliberately set up as shade structure to provide some cover from the often-brutal Southern California sun) weren't the only people trying to get into Hall H yesterday. That line actually extended out behind the San Diego Convention Center ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... and then ended (I'm thinking) somewhere outside of Anaheim. Just to the south of where the long lines for Disneyland begin.

So why would any sane person put up with conditions like this? Because -- in spite of the crowds -- San Diego Comic-Con is still a place of wonders. A place where you're going to hear & see things that you'll never see anywhere else on the planet. Case in Point: Yesterday's celebration of the 25th anniversary of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Which was held in Room 6BCF from 5:45 - 6:45 p.m.

Now this is a film that I've seen dozens of the times since it initially premiered in theaters back in June of 1988. I've listened to the commentary tracks on both the Blu-ray & the DVD versions of this Robert Zemeckis film. And over the past 20-plus years, I've interviewed / talked with dozens of people who were actually involved with the production of this Touchstone Pictures / Amblin Entertainment co-production. Which is why I thought I already knew everything that there was to know about "Roger Rabbit."

(L to R) "Roger Rabbit" producer Don Hahn, voice of Roger Rabbit
Charles Fleischer, special effects wizards Dave Bossert, master
animators Nick Ranieri, James Baxter, Tom Site and Andreas
Deja. Photo by Jim Hill

I was wrong.

Thanks to the absolutely amazing panel that veteran Disney producer Don Hahn put together for yesterday's "Roger Rabbit" 25th anniversary celebration, I heard some behind-the-scenes stories (which -- given that stand-up veteran Charles Fleischer, the official voice of Roger Rabbit, would often disrupt & commandeer the proceedings -- sometimes came straight from the rabbit's mouth) that I had never ever heard before. I saw images of things (like Fleischer conferring with Zemeckis onset while wearing his Roger Rabbit costume) ...

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... that I'd never, ever seen before / that I'd only heard whispers about. For someone like me (who makes his living by collecting info about various Walt Disney Company projects), a presentation like that was manna from heaven. Totally worth what I had to do in order to guarantee that I actually had a seat inside of Room 6BCF when these proceedings actually began. Which was show up two hours ahead of line. Get on line for the panel that was being presented in Room 6BCF BEFORE the "Roger Rabbit" 25th anniversary presentation (which was a panel about that TNT television series, "Falling Skies," hosted by Will Wheaton). Once I actually got inside of that room, I sat through the "Falling Skies" presentation (which -- to be fair -- was pretty entertaining & informative). And once that presentation was over and most of the "Falling Skies" fans had cleared the room, I then moved to the front of the room and snagged a great seat down front for "Roger Rabbit."

Which -- I know -- sounds like an awful lot of time & work. But navigating the crowded hallways at the convention center (and the equally crowded streets of downtown) is actually easier than you might think, Katie Q. You just have to have the right vehicle.

Photo by Jim Hill

No, not that one. That's a photo opp that Warner Bros. has set up out in front of the Hilton Bayfront as part of their Lawn Con.

Photo by Jim Hill

And no, not that one either. That's a full-sized, tri-masted schooner that Starz has anchored in the harbor out behind the San Diego Convention Center as a way to help promote their new television series, "Black Sails."

Photo by Jim Hill

No, I was referring to the many pedicabs that you'll see whizzing around the city. Many of which have been rethemed especially for Comic-Con. Take -- for example -- the Archer-themed one pictured above which is promoting FX's raunchy-but-still-wildly funny animated series. Or -- better yet (for all you "Once Upon a Time" fans out there) ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... this quartet of pedicabs which take their inspiration from that popular ABC series. The folks who put together these rolling promotions for "Once Upon a Time" really went all out. Take -- for example -- the two Captain Hook-inspired pedicabs ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... which feature crocodile-shaped armrests ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... as well as a giant decorative hook tacked onto the back of each vehicle.

Photo by Jim Hill

Or -- better yet -- how about the pedicab that's modeled after the Evil Queen's coach?

Photo by Jim Hill

This one is actually pedaled by a person who's dressed like a member of Regina's royal guard.

Photo by Jim Hill

But if I had to pick a favorite among these ABC-sponsored pedicabs, hands down, I'd have to say that it was the "Alice in Wonderland" -inspired vehicle ...

Photo by Jim Hill

Just to be clear here, this particular pedicab is actually promoting that soon-to-be-launching "Once Upon a Time" spin-off, "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" (which -- if all goes according to plan -- will begin airing on ABC this on Thursday nights starting at 8 p.m. / 7 p.m. Central). And the detailing on this pedicab is completely over-the-top. From that wild sculpture of the Caterpillar & his hookah seated atop this vehicle's mushroom umbrella ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... to the nicely detailed props that have been prominently placed in Alice's bicycle basket. (Pay particularly close attention to that genie's lamp nestled next to the "Drink Me" bottle. This prop is going to prove to be very important once "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" begins airing this Autumn).

Photo by Jim Hill

Mind you, these pedicabs aren't the only "Once Upon a Time" -inspired promotions that you'll find in and around San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Take -- for example -- those building-sized banners which are currently hanging off of the baseball stadium right across the tracks from the convention center.

Photo by Jim Hill

And if you manage to make it out onto the show floor, you'll then discover that ABC has set-up a recreation of the Jolly Roger. Where fans of "Once Upon a Time" are encouraged to queue up so that they can eventually gain access to this landlocked pirate vessel.

Photo by Jim Hill

"And what do people see once they finally enter the hold of the Jolly Roger?," you ask. A bank of flat screens where various characters from "Once Upon a Time" talk about what their life is like now (SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD. Please look away now if you haven't yet watched the Season Two finale of this acclaimed ABC series) that they've sailed off to Neverland aboard Hook's pirate ship. Then Regina comes forward and reveals that -- in her heart vault -- there's a buried treasure. Which will prove to be important in Season Three because ...

Copyright American Broadcasting Companies. All rights reserved

And speaking of Season Three of "Once Upon a Time" ... Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, the co-creators of both "Once Upon a Time" and "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" are taking over Ballroom 20 this morning. From 10:15 - 11:00 a.m., they'll be presenting the world premiere of their new "Alice in Wonderland" -inspired series. And then from 11 a.m. to 11:45, it's off to Neverland! As Kitsis & Horowitz are joined onstage by "Once Upon a Time" cast members like Ginnifer Goodwin & Jennifer Morrison to talk about how Season Three is shaping up.

Of course, given that thousands of Comic-Con attendees are obviously going to start lining up early for those two panels in Ballroom 20 hours in advance, I'd suggest getting to the San Diego Convention Center as early as possible. And one of the very best ways to get around this city while Comic-Con is in session is by taking the trolley ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... which (surprise, surprise) is currently skinned so that it then promotes yet another soon-to-begin-airing ABC television series, "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

Of course, if I had my druthers, I'd arrive at tomorrow's "Once Upon a Time" panel in style by rolling up to the San Diego Convention Center inside of one of these babies.

Photo by Jim Hill

Believe it or not, there are two Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles -- the Bunderstruck and the Autobuhn -- currently driving through this city right now that are in direct competition with one another. And if you'd like to learn more about this competition (and perhaps persuade the nice people at Oscar Mayer to send you your very own wiener whistle ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... I'd suggest you visit the WienermobileRun.com website for more information.

Anyway ... That's how this weenie has been handling the crowds (so far, anyway) at this year's edition of Comic Con, Katie Q. And speaking of crowds, it's once again time to head back into that very crowded convention center ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... to see if it's still possible to snag a seat inside of Ballroom 20 for today's back-to-back "Once Upon a Time" panels.

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  • Terrific coverage, Jim - please keep up the good work!

  • Hey Jim,

    Thanks for all the great images!  Once you've had some time to rest up from the Con, would love to see some more in-depth articles on what was talked about in the Roger Rabbit & Disney Afternoon panels.

    It's been nearly 20 years since I attended SDCC; I can only imagine what a nightmare it is to navigate those crowds now.

  • Dear Mr. Hill,

    I understand that you are sometimes privy to Disney knowledge that you are not entitled to release. Yet I feel compelled to ask you if the following rumor is true:

    In January 2014, the Journey Into Imagination is rumored to be closing for a year-long renovation. Speculation is mounting that the renovation will include a "Phineas & Ferb"-themed pavilion.

    Would you happen to be able to definitively dismiss this rumor? Thank you.

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