Last weekend thousands gathered in Atlanta, GA to celebrate all things nerdy at Dragon Con. Dragon Con is not simply a comic convention, but it contains one. It wouldn’t be fair to label it a fantasy convention, but you can attend one while you are there. Dragon Con is more than a sci-fi convention or even a pop culture convention. It’s all of these things and more.
Many of the large conventions that we hear about in fandom are what are known as industry conventions. These “comic-cons” are designed for the industry to show-off the next great thing. But Dragon Con is kind of the opposite of that. It’s a convention for fans, by fans. Dragon Con is an event where fans can go to just be fans.
It has been reported that more than 80,000 fans joined in the fun that is Dragon Con last weekend in downtown Atlanta. They were joined by some of their favorite creators, artists, authors, and actors in one of the most unique convention experiences in the world. And I had the pleasure of joining in for my second year.
What is Dragon Con?
I was asked this question many times over the weeks preceding Dragon Con. I was asked by friends, family, and my colleagues at work. It is a great question, and the answer is somewhat difficult to convey. Sure, it’s a pop culture, fantasy, and sci-fi convention that includes comic books, movies, and books… but Dragon Con is really about the fans having an opportunity to interact with their favorite creators and fellow fans.
Dragon Con takes place on the weekend before and on Labor Day. Last year Thursday served as a preview. This year they scheduled events and panels on Thursday, making Dragon Con a five day event!. Dragon Con is different from many conventions in that it isn’t found in an expo center. Dragon Con is held in seven separate buildings in downtown Atlanta. Five of these are hotels (The Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott Marquis, Hyatt Regency, and the Westin) and the other two buildings are AmericasMart Buildings 1 & 2. When you attend Dragon Con you should be prepared to walk, but it’s good to know what “tracks” are in which building.
Dragon Con is divided into 36 tracks. You could absolutely visit the event and never know this, but it does help you navigate the massive convention. The tracks act as sub-conventions that allow you to more easily keep up with the events centered around specific fandoms. There are Star Wars tracks, Anime/Manga tracks, Film Tracks, Puppetry tracks, Table Top Gaming Tracks, and even Podcasting tracks to name a few. Check out Dragon Con’s Fan Tracks here.
What is there to do at Dragon Con?
One of the most popular things to do at Dragon Con is to dress up. No, like… you don’t understand… more than half of all attendees at Dragon Con participate in the cosplay. It may be simple like the right T-shirt and pants, or it may be some guy walking around in a giant furry wolf costume that looks like it should be in a theme park somewhere (Yeah, I held the other door so you could fit through the doorway when you left the Hyatt on Saturday. Excellent costume!). I had one person tell me they were told that you feel out of place at Dragon Con if you don’t dress up. I wouldn’t say that, but I would definitely say that if you do want to dress up you would definitely not feel out of place at Dragon Con.
Dragon Con offers a plethora of things to do. One of the highlights of the convention is the Dragon Con parade. The parade route is packed with people, and like the rest of Dragon Con the parade is made up of fans in their best costumes.
Dragon Con also hosts many actors/actresses, authors, artists, and creators who come to the convention to meet their fans. Many of them do autograph sessions and most guests can be found on at least one panel. Dragon Con is also well known for its live performances and parties. Every track has panels and workshops going on each day.
How do go to Dragon Con next year?
Dragon Con doesn’t sell tickets to the event in advance, but memberships are already available online. A membership for 2019 provides you access to all five days of Dragon Con, all panels, events, concerts, performances, and even access to the legendary Consuite (free food!). Membership is available until 9/21/2019 for the low price of $85. After that the price begins to go up in steps.
You can buy single day passes, but those are not available until just before the event. Don’t worry because Dragon Con never sells out of single day badges. The structure of the event means there is no limit on how many people can join in, but the fire Marshall may limit the number of people in each building.
For those who decide they want to make Dragon Con an annual event, the store also sells an Eternal Membership for $2,500.
You can purchase your memberships at the Dragon Con Store.
If you are going to Dragon Con you will also need to book a place to sleep. Dragon Con works with host hotels to offer rooms. They begin booking rooms pretty early, and there are Facebook groups dedicated to helping people find a place to stay. I would advise you to book your room as soon as you order your tickets. They go fast.
If you have any questions about Dragon Con you can reach out to us through the comments below or on Twitter @DuckTalks
So how was my trip?
I will post a follow up blog tomorrow detailing my experiences at Dragon Con. I had a great time and bought some great mementos! I can’t wait to share them with you.