CONVENTION REPORT: Dragon Con 2015 (Atlanta, GA)

Every Labor Day weekend, the nerdy hordes of multi-fandom descend upon Atlanta, GA for four days (or more) of non-stop, “Apple Pie” infused, wallet draining, debauchery. This year, I was among this lot (some reporting as high as 70,000 in attendance). I had attended one day of Dragon Con back in 2011 and left feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled. So, in the spirit of bygones, and with a handful of money in one hand and hand sanitizer in the other, I was prepared to get my geek on!
dragoncon

I knew from the start that the host hotels were going to be out of the realm of possibility. They book up quickly! They aren’t necessarily expensive, but most big city hotels “nickel and dime” you for every little thing: Parking, etc. Staying alone would have eaten up most of my fun time budget and I opted to stay with friends about 15 minutes away and Uber’ed my way in each day. It’s definitely the way to go if your budget is so tight it squeaks and if you’re seeking a little peace and quiet after days of dodging crowds, standing in line, and the mind numbing sensory overload.
In my experience, pre-planning is the way to go! I preregistered online and received my postcard via the postal service. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and flew through the sparsely populated line. I was free then to buy my photo ops, which also had a nearly non existent wait in line. If I return next year and I hope to do so, I’ll definitely go this route! You can preregister now for the lowest price possible, but too much can happen within a year and it’s just not a risk I’m willing to take.
41343539_277ccbaa82_zI never eat or drink at the convention itself, save for water. It’s pricey and pretty unhealthy. A bottle of water and Power Bars are what keeps me from hitting the floor! The host hotels allow ice chests and a two minute Google search can turn up some helpful and ingenious cooking hacks; Boiling hot dogs in a coffee maker and steaming the buns atop the filter hatch, such as that.
One of the most talked about issues aside from guests and cosplayers are the sights and scents of the attendees. It’s interesting how the entirety of the crowd is split into two camps. One cares about how they look and smell and the other is seemingly oblivious to it all. The courteous rule of thumb is to shower daily and apply deodorant whether you think you really need it or not! Dragon Con is hot, humid, and crowded. Being called “funky” is not a 70’s era compliment!
This is the largest convention in the southeast and there’s lots to do and see and lots of people trying to do and see them. Everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. There are people with strollers, in wheelchairs, and all sorts of contraptions. By virtue, they get a free pass. They’re doing the best they can. But, be cognizant of those behind you, as well as, those in front of you. If I had a dollar for every time someone stopped dead in a pathway with his/her mouth gaping open, staring at God only knows, I’d be able to prepay next year’s trip! By day three, people are weary of this, and while I didn’t see fisticuffs result, I saw plenty of “the stink eye” and heard some rather irreverent suggestions. Literally, just go with the flow…or get trampled!
DragonCon2013-crowd-Marriott
Since my one-day odyssey four years ago, I recognize a marked improvement in organization and time management. I imagine changes from year to year are the norm. At the end of the day, Dragon Con is no more or less than what you make of it. Despite finances, crowds, and the endless parade of bright and shiny characters that march past you, one can have a fantastic time if the proper preparations are taken and if one shows up with and maintains a reasonable attitude. So if by some miracle you’ve never experienced Dragon Con before, do yourself a favor and check it out. Just be prepared!
 
-Shon Jason Medley
Contributing Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine
 
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