Every year when Comic-Con invades San Diego, the geek circus spreads far beyond the Convention Center into San Diego’s Gaslamp District. That’s more true than ever this year, with major companies and fan groups hosting events outside of the Convention. Best of all, none of these events require a Comic-Con badge — which means there’s plenty to do even if you didn’t sign up for a badge when they went on sale five years ago (give or take.) Here’s a list of things to do in San Diego when the walls start closing in:
The Walking Dead Escape: To celebrate the landmark 100th issue of The Walking Dead graphic novel, the comic-turned-TV phenomenon will be the subject of a massive obstacle course at PETCO park from July 12-14. You can either play as a “Survivor” or a “Walker.” Tickets are still currently on sale, but don’t expect that to last long. (Official website.)
Extra at Comic-Con: Warner Bros. is hosting a free outdoor festival at San Diego’s Bayfront Park. Presented by the newsmagazine Extra, the stage promises to feature live interviews with stars from WB-owned shows (like The Big Bang Theory and Fringe.) They’ve also announced appearances by unofficial Comic-Con mascot Kevin Smith and a performance by the Bacon Brothers — as in, Kevin Bacon and Other Bacon. More importantly, “Extra at Comic-Con” will feature every single Batmobile, from Adam West’s Lincoln Futura to Christian Bale’s mega-tank. (Official website.)
NBC at Gaslamp Square Park: The network will be taking over a stretch of town at 5th Avenue and K Street. Tin Fish restaurant will be transformed into a Grimm playpen, complete with professional makeup artists applying skin carvings to anyone willing. The network also promises to show off the actual Ferris wheel from the Revolution series premiere and something called “Revolution Village,” which hopefully won’t end with Giancarlo Esposito killing some or all of your loved ones.
BioWare Base at Gaslamp Hilton: The Canadian videogame company will once again be hosting space at the Hilton, including appearances by Mass Effect voice actors (not Jennifer Hale, alas) and the opportunity to play some Mass Effect multiplayer. Just please don’t show up looking to get in a fight with someone about the Mass Effect ending. Please? (Official website.)
TR!CKSTER: Returning for its second year as a kind of counter-culture Comic-Con, TR!CKSTER is a throwback to the days when Comic-Con was more of a professional swap meet. (Read: Less Hollywood.) Held at the nearby Wine Steals/Proper restaurant, TR!CKSTER focuses on creator-owned comics and promises to feature nifty too-hot-for-Con situations, like a nightly “Pen & Drink” event where attendees can draw scantily clad models while tippling. (Official website)
Cartoon Network Take Over: The cultishly beloved Adventure Time series will have an exhibit at San Diego’s New Children’s Museum, featuring a recreation of the show’s topsy-turvy fantasy world. Guaranteed to please ten-year-olds and certain college students in a certain frame of mind. (Official website.)
6th Annual Zombie Walk: Zombie fans also have the option of participating in this annual undead march, where you can join dozens of attendees in convincing makeup on a meandering brain-hunt through downtown San Diego. This year, the Zombie Walk will take place on Friday starting at 5 PM.
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EW’s Comic-Con 2012 Coverage