I find the auction consignment store is generally worth a peek, but I collect old BECMI adventures and supplements. I try to go later in the evening on Thursday or Friday, usually the line can be navigated with only about a 10 minute wait or so at that time.
If you have ever struggled with the insanity that is San Diego Comic Con (which is exactly like what the OP described), you will know that Gen Con is an absolute dream.
The show floor will be crowded on Saturday. But you will not have to wait in line to get a ticket to wait in line to get the chance of doing a thing.
Heh... I sorta wanted to answer the title question with "Yeah! That's what makes it so much fun!!" :)
But seriously, I can't add anything new, so I'll just emphasize what others have said: Sure, there are lines. But they don't feel excessive at all. Occasional exceptions exist - last year's line for the Terry Brooks autographs seemed pretty long to me, and there seems to be a serious line whenever stars do their autograph tables - but for every one line that's long there are a half dozen or more that are nonexistent, and I don't mean that the event has no participants, I mean that everyone gets in quickly and easily.
Seriously, it's a lively con, but "overcrowded" is a bit of an exaggeration. Damn busy and well attended for sure, and that takes away from any leisurely atmosphere that characterizes other events. But I wouldn't call it overcrowded.
I stand in line for the burlesque shows to sit towards the front, usually at least an hour ahead of time, maybe more, but that is about the only thing...well that and food.
I remember getting done with a magic tournament around 1 or 2 in the morning last year and trying to go to Steak & Shake for dinner (the only real thing i could find open at that time) and there was like a 30 minute line out the door for takeout and for dine-in....I went hungry that night.
It is surprising that more restaurants in Indy don't take advantage of literally a couple thousand people looking for food after 1am.
Edit: and beer, but that may be an ordinance issue.
To give an example of a well-managed line, I have early exhibit hall access due to Trade Day. On Thursday morning last year, all the early access people lined up to get in and it was easily a couple hundred people. The entire line got through the doors in 10 minutes or so. It was very smooth going.
If you walk a block away from the convention center (but not to the mall), there are plenty of good restaurants with no lines at all. You can walk to hooters or the claddagh, eat your meal, walk back, and see the same people still in line at the RAM. Kilroys, or the spaghetti factory.
We all walk so much during gencon, I can't figure out why our radius outside the convention center is so small.
Also, in 10 years of going to gencon, I still have yet to eat at the ram. Stood in line twice, but got bored waiting and went elsewhere.
In 2010 I ate at the RAM. went right past the line. How I did it? Was on my own so I could take a single stool at the bar. They were playing big trouble in little China on the big screen. Food was alright.
Me and a couple friends did the same thing a couple years back. They were playing Dredd on the screens at the bar. :)
Cont' next post!
For years we did call-ahead ordering, mostly at Noodles & Co., for takeout. Last year they discontinued it during Gen Con. I understand that customers in line get upset when someone walks by, gets their good, and walks back out, but doesn't it make sense to encourage more people to do call-ahead and schedule time to get their food rather than get stuck in a two-hour line?
I also never can get people who get peeved at others for using their brain and calling ahead to make either a reservation, or calling in their orders, so they can just walk in, get it then leave..
You talk about the food trucks...Last year I went out to the food truck area Thurs around 2:30pm. There were still riduculous lines and some of them were waving people away and even telling people in line that they were not going to be able to serve them. Not to mention I ended up waiting in line for hotbox pizza, and paying $7 (I think) for a slice of pizza that was cold. When I tried to address the issue they wouldn't even talk to me, and just ignored me like I was not there. That was after I had waited in line for over 30min on the 1st day of the con. I figured I'd give them a second chance and tried again the next day at 3pm, only to wait in line for almost an hour, finally got to the booth, only for them to tell everyone they were out of food. My wife and I had to walk 3 blocks to find a place to eat even at out of peak times, (she is wheelchair bound which means I had to push her) and we still had to wait quite a bit for a table.
For the record, I didn't have a problem with the line for will call, like other people say, the line was long, but my friend and I went through it in about 30 minutes at around 11:30 Wed night.