ONE WEEK! Well, upon writing, it is only one week to the day we drive out to Atlanta for DragonCon. But when you read this, it will be 1 week to what I consider the start of DragonCon.
In reality the convention doesn’t have much programming until Friday. But we like to get there Thursday night, get our hotel room, pick up our badges, hang out with the lighter crowds that night in the Marriott Marquis, and partake in a few of the scheduled events late Thursday night. If you have never been to DragonCon and are considering going, I have a few pieces of advice.
1) Stay within walking distance of the convention hotels. We used to live in Atlanta and did the drive back and forth to our suburban home every evening, but it meant we missed out on a lot of the really fun nightlife at the convention. We have since stayed at the Marriott Marquis every year. One year we even Pricelined a hotel a few weeks before and managed to snag a room at the Marquis, so it can definitely happen!
2) Get there Thursday. It is really nice to get settled and prepped for what is sure to be a long and fairly sleepless weekend.
3) Bring your own alcohol. Convention hotels and other bars sell drinks for a pretty penny, and it is way cheaper to bring your own and a cooler to your hotel room. Carry a flask.
OKAY! Now on to the more fun stuff. My top 10 favorite things about DragonCon.
10) People watching. Put 50,000 geeks and nerds in one place with all of their favorite things to focus on, and you will see some interesting people and interactions. We hung out on the 3rd floor near our room looking over the balcony and pointing at tons of different people and costumes. Here’s a view of one of the bars, another good viewing spot, if there is space.
9) The board game hall. The basement of the Hilton has a huge tabletop game library, and for $5, someone in your party can check games out all weekend. It is a supremely nice break from the Atlanta heat as they keep it icy cold in there, and it’s open really late (maybe even all night). I like to go here at random times throughout the convention, probably my standard if-I-am-not-doing-anything-else location.
8) The creativity. So many people do really fun, nerdy projects. Like this one, that was done last year.
7) Seeing other people’s costumes. I would say maybe 50% of the con-goers wear costumes. It might even be more than that. Someone once told me it is one of the conventions that has the most cosplay and costuming, and I would believe it. If you want to check out the costumes, the best place to do so is in the Marriott Marquis. The Atrium and Lobby levels are filled with people in costume posing for pictures. We watched from our 3rd story room last year over the balcony, and that view was pretty neat as well.
6) Wearing the costumes I slave over for the majority of the year. I have participated in two different costume contests … one I enjoyed (the WoW costume contest from last year), the other not so much (Friday night costume contest – I did this my first year, and even the novice level at DC is incredibly skilled). The contests tend to suck a decent amount of your time, generally more if they are grading you based on construction. I’m not into costuming for the prizes, all I want out of the deal is for someone to enjoy what I have created – ask for a photo, or maybe wonder how I made it.
5) Trader Vic’s. If you are going to spend money on alcohol, this is the place to do it. It is located in the Hilton, and they serve group drinks. I think it’s like $16-$20 for a bowl that serves 4 people. It’s also a restaurant which we tried to eat at once (you need reservations), but pretty much no one enjoyed it. The bar does close at midnight, which is sad, so if you aren’t eating best time to go is right before closing for a drink or two.
4) The drum circle. I thought the drum circle was a bit of an out of place thing at sci-fi fantasy convention. But then one year we decided to check it out, and it is great people watching, nice mellow music, and just all around low key fun. Good place to relax with friends late at night. This year, we are bringing a very tiny drum.
3) Every year, it feels like we do something different or try something new. Our first year, I feel like I spent a ton of time in the dealer halls. The following year, a lot of time was spent gaming in the Hilton. One year we really discovered the late night music scene and concerts. Last year, we did a lot of hanging out outside of our room people watching. Who knows what this year will hold?
2) The schedule. I am a scheduler. My next post is going to focus on this, but I love looking at all the tracks and figuring out what things I might be interested in attending. I find that I lean towards a lot of the costuming track things, with the occasional panel from something else like Warehouse 13 or Star Wars or the Steampunk track. I also find that I pin everything that I MIGHT be interested in, then I make a game time decision on what I go to. Most of the time, I don’t go to very many things LOL. I love the scheduling part. But I also love ignoring the schedule I make for myself.
1) The people. I’m not good at meeting people and am pretty highly introverted. But at DragonCon a lot of attendees feel that way and we all have lots in common. We met some great folks in the room next door to us last year who people watched with us. You meet plenty of folks for pickup games in the gaming hall. But I also just enjoy experiencing the con with our friends that go, and especially I love that my husband and I both love science fiction and fantasy, and so DragonCon is something we can share and enjoy together every year. We don’t always attend all the same things, but it’s still a nice weekend together. This year will be our first costuming experience together, with the Bioshock Infinite set.
What are your favorite things about DragonCon?