Top 5 Takeaways from DRAGON CON

– by Michael Connally

Dragon Con is referred to as the largest and wildest convention in the Southeast United States.  With over 77,000 attendees taking over downtown Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend it’s not hard to see why.  Dragon Con has become a financial boost for the city and is welcomed by all business.  Every restaurant in the surrounding area had their waiters and waitresses dress up for the week as well as has themed parties every night.  Dragon Con doesn’t affect one area of downtown but the entire city with The Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Westin, and Sheraton being ground zero for the event.

People from all over the world come to celebrate this convention every year.  When I met people from all over the United States but the couple that traveled from South Africa to attend Dragon Con blew me away.  Below are the Top 5 Biggest Takeaways from attending Dragon Con this past weekend.

1.     The Cosplay 

I have attended a lot of conventions since I was in high school and I have seen Cosplay grow from its infancy to what it is today.  This past weekend I was blown away from the amount of high quality professional cosplayers I saw at Dragon Con.  If you haven’t already go an check out just the few Cosplayers I posted on a previous article here.  After Sunday night I took over 500 pictures just of Cosplayers at the event.  

If you love Cosplay, then this is the event for you and you won’t be able to compare it to any other con.  One of the coolest hidden gems from Dragon Con is the unofficial Facebook group that host photo shoot on the balcony of the Hilton so big groups can get there pictures professionally done.  This group that runs independently organizes Cosplay groups to get their pictures done.  Below are some of the groups I stopped by to check out.  The photo shoot begins on Friday and group reservations go until Monday morning.  

I have never Cosplayed before but I think I am going to when I attend next year.  It was unbelievable to see all the different characters from famous to obscure characters and the detail the Cosplayers put into them.

2.     4 ½ days of straight Con

When I say 4 ½ straight days I am not kidding.  Dragon Con goes on for 24 hours a day.  There is something always going on a night from a binge marathon of “Stranger Things” from 9:00 pm to 4:00 am to a Zombie Ball Saturday night.  If you stay at the host hotels you can literally go downstairs at 3:00 am and find something to do.  I will admit that the attendance got smaller and smaller each night. 

There are also arrays of associated events that take place in the surrounding areas.  One of the most popular events was the Night at the Aquarium that took place at the Georgia Aquarium.  From dance parties to improv comedy there is something for everyone at night.

3.     The Walk of Fame 

Most conventions that I attend I end up getting so claustrophobic from 20,000 plus people being in line to get a certain celebrities autograph.  If you ever attended a bigger conference you have noticed over the past coupe years that organizing lines for celebrity autographs have gotten better.  When the concept of inviting celebrities to sign autographs at conventions it was a great idea that wasn’t really thought through.  Early conventions would be flooded with people and the lines would get so out of hand that fans would end up leaving the conventions all together.

The Walk of Fame that Dragon Con host is one of the most organized events I have attended.  Attendees were not allowed to take photos in the Walk of Fame out of respect for the celebrities.  You could pay along with an autograph to get a picture with the celebrity you wanted.  While most of the autographs or photo prices are a lot more than I would want to spend it did not stop fans from waiting in line to get their favorite actors autographs.  Something that Dragon Con does differently than some Cons they load up the Walk of Fame room with plenty of organizers and volunteers.  Doing this allowed fans to patiently wait in line because they knew times, booth locations, and where lines formed up.

The celebrity with the most consistent and longest line was Charlie Cox but even his line never got out of hand.  After talking to a couple of people who waited in line, they all had great things to say about the process and how things were handled.  There was only one incident that I witnessed where a fan was caught taking pictures and the volunteers escorted him out of the room.  Besides that event everything else went smoothly.

 4.     The Awesome App

             The primary problem I have at most big conventions is simply finding out where all the different rooms are as well as what events are going on.  Dragon Con rolled out an app 2 years ago that has gotten significantly better over the years.  For a majority of the time I spend at conventions it is usually asking volunteers where a panel is at and how to get there.  Dragon Cons app allows you to schedule each day out by looking through the schedule and choosing what events you want to attend.  The best part is the app updates every hour so if a panel changes locations or time then it will alert you when you log in.  The app offers a daily schedule, your schedule, maps of downtown Atlanta as well as detailed maps of the host hotels. I highly recommend downloading the app, especially if you plan on attending multiple days or with a large group. 

 5.     The Parade

The parade, which is on Saturday morning, consists of 3,000 participants from Cosplayers to promotional organizations.  Signing up for the parade started in January and ended March 3 when the max number of participants was accounted for.  The morning of the parade people claim a spot on Peachtree Street as early as 7:00 am.  By 10 o’clock the sides of the street are packed with people 4 rows deep to watch the parade.  The length of the parade goes about 10 blocks and takes around 2 hours to complete.  If you are traveling with children then this is an event you don’t want to miss.  If you are traveling alone you may want to use this time to shop through the vendors mart.

Overall:  This is the best convention in the Southeast hands down.  Compared to the other big conventions in the US, Dragon Con is right up there.  Here is to another 30 years of Dragon Con.

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