There’s no con like DragonCon. DragonCon is a true experience and perhaps the most inclusive convention there is even more so than San Diego Con. Unlike many conventions where the focus for most is the panels and programming, this is not the main focus for many who attend. Instead they focus on the pure celebration aspects, partying with friends in cosplay of all types which is why it also has the nickname of of nerdigas.
At all times including the 5am parties such as the rave you’ll see people of all physical abilities enjoying and interacting. Everyone is accepting, almost everyone is happy to get their photos taken and do photos at any and all times be it 3pm, 3am, etc.
You can see people in extremely impressive costumes of fan favorite characters, original mashups, and even original ideas like the Duck Fairy (a very nice person who hands out squeaky ducks to people) you start to find them everywhere after he starts handing them out on Thursday.
Pulse in the Marriott is one of the primary party spots and is always busy save for a few hours after last call at 2am. People bring some of the craziest and most impressive costumes whether that be a an armor or a pirate with a ship on stilts or even just casual party clothes, it’s DragonCon, so you’ll see most things.
Each main hotel has something different to offer to see because architecturally each is so different. Now while many think of the Marriott as the main, each hotel has something to offer. The benefits of three of hotels connected by the Sky bridges is that should there be bad or excessively hot weather you never have to leave the usually climate cooled areas as you go from location to location in the three connected hotels.
The Hilton is known for its steps and photoshoots which this year included the official Marvel Cinematic Universe Photoshoot (of which I was one of only two Visions). It also had a styled décor this year all in the realm of Jurassic Park including various dinosaurs to take photos with.
The Hyatt has wonderful lobby décor and is also the site of the blood drive (which I try to do every year). It also have wonderful programming in its towers.
It can be a place to see George Perez enjoying things with friends, family, and cosplayers.
It is also the closest hotel to the SunTrust plaza an offsite where many different photoshoots are held within its stone columns.
The Sheraton (also the host of the Pinup Pool Party) has the most wonderful pool decor which is very 1920s glamour and there you may see a mermaid or few swimming all the time. Like most places at DragonCon it makes for some really wonderful photoshoots.
The Westin is the host of some of the best parties DJed by DJ Spider and are always perennial favorites as well as some wonderful locations if you might be doing an inspired bridal shoot with its interesting décor within. The Heroes and Villains Party has quite a line to get in with but totally worth it for DJ Spider’s beats.
Exploring will you will find all sorts of interesting places in each, some are limited by where you stay such as Nikolai’s breakfast in the Hilton you’ll need to be on one of their executive levels to access it. In the Marriott behind pulse and right after the turns for the skybridges there is a beautiful area with a dome window skylight perfect for acrobatics and finding various droids. While not an official cool off/rest area (which DragonCon has many for those with disabilities including even by Pulse in the Marriott) it does serve as one for people who may get exhausted and/or need some water after some busy times in the Mariott. It can also be a place to see some awesome acrobatics done.
The paths less traveled and explored can have all sorts of interesting things to see and the exploration can be a uniquely fun time at DragonCon. You can see a unique costume, make a new friend, or even by chance find something funny such as the fact that the Sear steakhouse font can remind you of Archer.
There are various events that are on the official schedule which I separate from panels as these are things that are more parties and celebrations. I make this distinction because most panels have you sitting and listening to a set of panelists like the very interesting Tribute to Ditko I covered (which had stories with George Lowe next door) whereas the celebrations are full of more interactive and have all sorts of goings on, even with their contests.
One of the perennial favorites is the Bunny Hutch which serves as the launch party basically for DragonCon. Now this party is very Playboy style bunny themed in costumes (basically in bunnies and Hef with robes and captain hats) it features burlesque, a bunny costume contest, as well as a bar.
Originally more of a tradition at DragonCon this has become part of the official programming as I mentioned earlier this is the kind of programming you would not see at most Mega Level conventions including San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con. Something like this might be listed as an afterparty or offsite event but not generally as a part of the official programming. (Though plenty of conventions have 18+ content including San Diego Comic Con [sometimes at surprising times])
The events are some of the most unique because there are so many different things that can happen. Also there are a lot so you will not be able to make them all. Some people switch up what they are doing each year. The schedule varies yearly so it’s something to keep in mind.
There is something for every fandom, as DragonCon has said there’s a track (over 30 of them) and programming if people request it and there is so much to see and do. Checking the app has been and will definitely be beneficial in planning what you will want to see and do.
However one of he best outside events that occurs every year is the annual DragonCon Parade in Atlanta which not only fills the streets with con-goers but people from all over Atlanta as well. This event fills the streets and many wonderful cosplayers and displays from floats, to cars, etc. You’ll see such a variety of incredible things cosplayed, floats, themes, including marching bands. It’s truly a wonderful sight or rather a variety of sights.
That’s perhaps one of ways to describe DragonCon as a seemingly endless amount of sights to see and also participate in. You might not get big announcements here but you will get all sorts of amazing memories from the various events and things that you’ll participate in.
From the gatherings and photoshoots which happen almost constantly at the Hilton to meeting with the convention’s many guests which can include even the Wasp meeting her parents to even just having lunch with friends, or even just exploring you’ll see so many wonderful things and make many new friends while seeing current ones.
It’s the most wonderful experience that makes you feel as if it won’t end until it does, but people will be cosplaying till the very last hours, and soon after people start planning for the next DragonCon all over again.