Cincinnati Comic Expo: Ultimate Guide On Prep And What To Expect

Cincinnati Comic Expo is Cincinnati’s largest comic and pop culture exposition.

Cincinnati Comic Expo Ultimate Guide On Prep And What To Expect

The convention welcomes nearly 25,000 guests every year to come and enjoy exhibitions, numerous vendor booths, panels & meet and greets with celebrities and comic creators that covers two floors.

If Cincinnati Comic Expo has been on your to-do list for a while or maybe you’re an Ohion resident who’s always been curious and wanted to go, then this ultimate guide will tell you how to prepare and what to expect when you attend the expo so you can make the most of your time there.  

Buying Your Ticket/Badge

The only way you’ll gain entry to the Duke Energy Convention Center where the expo is held is by having a ticket.

We’d recommend buying your ticket in advance if you don’t want to risk turning up on the day and buying a ticket, although many people will do that if they’re not 100% sure if they’ll go yet. 

An adult weekend ticket is $55 and a child weekend ticket is $6 which will provide you with access to the convention for all 3 days of the event. 

If you don’t want to go the whole weekend then you can also purchase single-day passes online. Friday tickets are $25, Saturdays are $35 (the best and busiest day of the weekend), and Sundays are priced at $25.

All child admissions are the same price for a single day as it is for all 3 days. 

There are only a limited number of advanced tickets available on the website, so if you are dead set on going then make sure to buy them as soon as you can. 

If you’re an expo superfan, then they also offer a VIP package for $105 where you’ll get exclusive access to showings, merchandise freebies, vouchers, and priority seating at panels with celebrities.

Some people like to hold off and wait till the venue releases the official schedule for the day so they know exactly what celebrities and guests will be attending and on what days, so they can plan their days around this.  

If you’re a vendor or an exhibitor and you’d like a space at the Cincinnati expo then you’ll need to register on the website. Payment will be taken in advance to secure your space.

Some spots in the center are more desirable than others, so if there is a space that you’d particularly like then you’ll need to register and reserve it early on. 

What To Bring To Cincinnati Comic Expo

You’re going to bring some stuff with you, you’ll be buying stuff and you’ll also receive lots of freebies within the convention center so it’s highly recommended to bring a backpack with you to store everything in. 

Make sure to bring your wallet with both cash and card in as there’ll be some vendors that will only accept cash to avoid credit card fees so you don’t want to miss out on buying a dope vintage comic because you have no cash on you.

You’ll want to capture all your memories at the comic expo, so bring your camera with you or just use your phone and bring a portable charger to keep it charged throughout the day. 

You’ll probably spend a lot of time waiting in line, of which you’ll want something to do to pass the time, so we recommend downloading some apps onto your phone or even bringing along a handheld gaming device to make time go quicker. 

If you’re planning on getting some stuff signed by the guests at the expo, then bring along a pen that will write on the material you want to be signed.

Most celebrities will be provided with a few pens at their tables, however, the pen they use might rub off on the item you’re bringing so buy a pen that you know will work. 

Celebrities tend to charge more for autographs on larger items, so think carefully about what you want to be signed. Most people will bring comics, posters, but you can just bring a notebook if you’d rather keep your comics in pristine condition. 

The expo doesn’t allow you to bring in food or drink from outside the venue, however, you will be allowed to bring in a bottle of refillable water. There are food booths inside where you’ll be able to buy snacks and meals.

Deodorant will be your best friend at a comic expo. The venue is packed with thousands of people walking around and up close with each other, so squeeze a travel-sized one into your bag and freshen up throughout the day. 

When the crowds begin to die down towards the end of the day but the AC is still blasting, you may want to reach for a light sweater in your backpack to make you more comfortable.

If you’re dressing up for Cincinnati Comic Expo then don’t hesitate to bring along a mini sewing kit or fashion tape just in case a costume mishap occurs. 

What To Wear To Cincinnati Comic Expo

To wear a costume or not to wear a costume? That is the question. Many attendees will dress up in costume for the entire weekend and may even wear one costume for each day.

However, if dressing up isn’t for you then don’t worry, you won’t be singled out for wearing your civilian clothes. 

Regardless of if you’re dressing up in costume or not, make sure to wear comfortable footwear as you’ll spend hours on your feet waiting in long lines and walking around the convention floor. 

Wear whatever you feel most comfortable in as it’ll allow you to fully enjoy the day.

If you do choose to wear a costume, then we’d recommend entering the costume contest that is held on Saturday and you’ll need to register and go through the prejudging process before the contest in the evening.

Unfortunately, anyone who has won the costume contest in previous years is ineligible to enter again. 

There are some rules and regulations regarding clothing and weapons for Cincinnati Comic Expo:

  • No functional weapons
  • Nerf guns are permitted but with no ammunition and triggers must be zip-tied
  • Metal weapons are forbidden
  • Weapons MUST be distinguishable from real weapons
  • No wooden or metal bats are permitted
  • Do not threaten or use the weapon on another attendee
  • No nudity or indecent exposure with costumes
  • Women’s costumes must be no smaller than a regular swimsuit or bikini 
  • Men’s costumes should be no less than a pair of swim briefs

If you need more information regarding the regulations of weapons to bring to the expo then you can visit the website.

Easy Cincinnati Comic Expo Costumes

If you need some last-minute ideas for Cincinnati Comic Expo and you don’t want to break the bank on a costume but don’t have the creativity to make your own then take a look at these easy comic expo costume ideas below for some inspiration.

Waldo from Where’s Waldo

Georgie form IT

The Hulk

The Sims

Super Mario

Bob’s Burger

Back to the future

Can You Go To Cincinnati Comic Expo Without A Costume?

Can You Go To Cincinnati Comic Expo Without A Costume

Absolutely, dressing up is all part of the fun but it’s not compulsory, so if this is not your kind of thing then no need to worry.

If you don’t have time to make a costume or buy one from the store, then there will be plenty of opportunities to buy accessories and costume bits within the expo. 

What To Do When Nobody Gets Your Cosplay

Smile and explain where it’s from and take the time to ask them about their cosplay as well. 

Guides To Cincinnati Comic Expo Lines And Crowds

There are a lot of people at this expo, so there will always be lines and crowds. However, Saturday is the busiest day so if you don’t like the hustle and bustle so much then we’d recommend attending on Friday or Sunday instead.

You should try to get in line for panels, autograph signings, and photo op sessions as early as possible to avoid missing out. Keep a schedule in your phone of what you want to do/see and what times so you can get everything done. 

When entering the Duke Energy Convention Center, there will be cash and credit card admission lines, Will Call lines (where you collect your badge or wristband), or a VIP line (collecting a VIP pass) that you’ll choose to go to and then will be directed to your correct line where you’ll be able to enter quickly. 

When entering the comic expo there will be 3 main groupings for lines, one for people with no bags and no props, fans with bags, and then one line for people with props, this way they can get as many people through the lines and into the convention as quickly as possible with minimum waiting lines.

So make sure you’re listening out to what expo staff is calling or ask a member of staff if you’re unsure that you’re in the right line. 

Getting Your Comics Signed

There are plenty of opportunities to get your comics and other memorabilia signed at the Cincinnati Comic Expo. However, these autographs will come at a price, and they vary depending on what guest is signing.

Most guests will only accept cash payment for autographs so make sure you have plenty on you throughout the day.

They will have 8×10 photos and merchandise on their booth that you can buy and get signed or you can choose to bring something of your own to sign. 

How Much Money Do You Need?

How long is a piece of string? Kidding. Seriously though, how much money you will need will depend on what you want to buy and what you plan to do there.

If you want to try and get autographs and photo-ops with as many guests as possible, then you can easily say goodbye to $500, so be sensible and try to privatize who you’d like to meet the most. 

Unless you manage to sneak food or drinks into the venue, then you’ll have to buy your snacks and meals inside at one of the food booths.

These prices won’t be cheap and if you need to eat more than one in the day expect to budget around $40 per person per day.

When it comes to collectibles and merchandise, prices will depend on what you’re buying and how desirable it is. Costumes can easily set you back $200 and the same goes for vintage comics and video games. 

Some people are looking to trade at Comic expos like the one in Cincinnati, so if you don’t intend on spending money but you’re after a particular item, then bring along some collectibles that you’re willing to swap in return for it. 

Try to set a budget for yourself whether you’re going for just the day or the entire weekend and keep track of what you’re spending as you go along.

Browsing can easily lead to spending it and you can quickly spend hundreds of dollars on collectibles within half a day.

If you try to factor in accommodation and travel if you’re coming from out of state, alongside a whole weekend at the comic expo with purchases and meet and greets included, you will probably be looking at $400 minimum. 

Don’t Forget To Bargain

Some vendors will be happy to negotiate a price, that’s if you ask nicely and don’t jerk them around by offering an almost insulting price.

Try to offer $20-$30 more than what you’re willing to spend to see if the vendor will accept it, if not you can go back and forth until you meet an agreed price that you are happy with. 

You will probably find that vendors are more willing to negotiate prices on Sunday as they will want to unload some merchandise before leaving, so if you are looking for a good deal then that’s probably the best time to go. 

Do your research on collectibles you’re looking to get before you attend the expo, so you know what prices you can expect to pay and know when someone is trying to overcharge you. 

Other Tips For Cincinnati Comic Expo-goers

  • Be respectful of everyone else at the comic expo. Don’t touch people’s costumes without permission as they could cost a lot of money or may have taken them ages to make. 
  • Make sure to eat breakfast before arriving at the expo in the morning, you’ll want to be energized for the day ahead. 
  • Don’t pick up every freebie you come across, especially not as soon as you arrive, you’ll have to carry it around for the rest of the day

And finally, just have fun, don’t try to plan or schedule your day TOO much otherwise you’ll be bummed out if it doesn’t go to plan or you don’t get the chance to meet who you want to.

Hotels Nearby

If you’re traveling from elsewhere for the weekend at Cincinnati Comic Expo, then you’ll need a nearby hotel that you can call home to sleep and rejuvenate ready for each day. 

Some nearby hotels that are only a short walk away from the Duke Energy Convention Center are:

  • Hyatt Regency Cincinnati (0.1 miles away)
  • Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (0.2 miles away)
  • Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown (0.3 miles away)
  • The Westin Cincinnati (0.3 miles away)

We’d recommend booking in advance to secure a room and to also avoid the surcharge that hotels will put on just because there is a convention on. 

Car Rentals Nearby

There are 3 car rental companies just across the street from the convention center so you’ll be able to find a vehicle to rent for the weekend from Avis, Enterprise, or Hertz.

If you’re flying into Cincinnati then you’ll also find some of the most popular companies like Avis, Hertz, and Alamo at the airport where you can also rent a vehicle for the weekend. 

Parking At The Event

Parking spaces for the Duke Energy Convention Center where the expo is held are within the surrounding area located in metered street spaces, private loft parking, and privately managed garages that you can pay to park at.

Parking at the garages will provide you with entry to the convention center by Cincinnati’s Skywalk System. 

Public Transport To The Event 

If you’re staying in Cincinnati and you plan to take the bus to the expo, you’ll be able to take any one of these bus lines and they will drop you nearby to the convention center: 20, 21, 24, 33, 49, 6, 78, 85. 

You can also use the light rail system to get you near the convention center. Get off at Aronoff Center Station at 7th & Walnut and take a 10-minute walk to the expo. 

Lyft and Uber’s vehicles are also available in Cincinnati, so you’ll be able to order one straight from your phone. 

If you’re coming from further away you can even take an Amtrak train into Union Terminal in Cincinnati or fly into CVG airport.