Thursday, September 1, 2016

Tips and Tricks for Dragon*Con 2016

It’s that time of year again! One of the biggest sci-fi/fantasy conventions will take over Atlanta on Labor Day weekend: Dragon*Con. If this is your first year attending, or if you need a little refresher, here are some suggestions on how to make your experience even better.

After purchasing your ticket, you should have received a booklet in the mail listing out all the events, panels, and guests at this year’s con. However, there were no dates and times. The Dragon*Con app changes all that.

You can see everything that’s going on throughout the con. You can follow a certain track, or you can attend the major events. Planning your day with the app makes things so much easier. However, you need to have some flexibility with your schedule. Some events might cancel without warning, the lines might be so long you don’t want to deal with it, or the weather might not cooperate.

The ideal way to experience everything that Dragon*Con has to offer is if you stay downtown the whole 4 days. If you’re lucky, you can grab a hotel that’s close to all the host hotels and just walk to the convention. There are events and panels that last well into the night that you would miss if you have to leave early. It might not help you out for this year, but for next year, check out the hotels. Usually right after the convention ends (or maybe a week or two after), the host hotels will offer deals for next year so you can actually stay where the action happens!

If staying downtown isn’t your thing, try using MARTA (our public transportation system). There are buses and trains that will take you into the city, it’s relatively cheap, and there’s free parking in the MARTA lots!

When picking up your tickets, make sure you arrive early. It doesn’t matter if you preordered your ticket or you’re buying that day, everyone gets to wait in line at the Sheraton. To make things easier on yourself, make sure you have two things with you: the blue postcard that Dragon*Con sends you in the mail, and your photo ID. If you don’t have those, things could get messy.

The Dragon*Con parade happens on Saturday (usually around 10am), and this is the only event that is open to everyone, ticketholders or not. Naturally, the parade route is packed. If you want to see it in-person, try to get there as early as possible to stake out your spot…and then just sit there until it stops. There will be a wave of people trying to get there and leave at the same time, so you might want to find a spot to wait it out until it dies down.

If attending it in person isn’t your thing, the Atlanta CW channel will be airing the parade live on television and rebroadcasting it later in the evening.

Sometimes you get a huge case of the hangries or you’re getting dehydrated. Dragon*Con has a Con Suite staffed by volunteers who can take care of your sustenance needs.

If you need to report an incident, the Atlanta Police Department are on duty throughout the entire weekend. There is a security office stationed in the Marriott, complete with an APD officer. Also, security has a right to check your costumes and accessories (mainly your cosplay weapons) to make sure they’re acceptable. If not, they might be confiscated.

Cosplaying, or dressing up as one of your favorite characters, is such a fun way to experience the con. You’re walking around and seeing all these people in great costumes. You just want to go up there and talk to them! And take their picture!

You can.

Most people are totally fine with getting their picture taken. Just be polite and ask them if they would mind, and most of the time they’ll strike an awesome pose. As a warning, some costumes might be a little more skin-baring than others, but the rule of asking is still a thing. Cosplay is not consent. Don’t assume that since someone is dressed like that, they want a certain kind of attention. They don’t. They want to have fun like the rest of us.

Dragon*Con is a wonderful event that you really have to experience for yourself. You'll meet some interesting people, see awesome stuff, have the best shopping experience ever, and overall have a great time. Stay safe and get your geek on!

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