Another year, another DragonCon comes to a close! This week I’ll have a few posts about our time at the convention, including photos, and today’s is gonna take a similar style to some of retrospective posts I’ve done in the past for DragonCon.
WHAT WENT WELL:
Proof that the registration improvements are not a fluke, this year’s badge pickup went very quickly. We essentially didn’t stop moving until we got up to a kiosk, and I would estimate the whole process from entering the Sheraton to having a badge in hand took 10-15 min. Huzzah! Check out this year’s badge:
Though we often do a lot of drinking, we are not always as good at hydrating ourselves during the convention, even during the earlier parts of the day. However, since I was pregnant this time, I insisted on a pack of bottled water from Sam’s Club, and we went through it by the end of the day Saturday. I definitely felt good about how well we were hydrating, and pregnant or not, a pack of bottled water will be coming with us every year.
3. Room Location
Last year since we decided to go last minute, we wound up in a walking distance hotel but not a host hotel. This year, we scored a room at the Marriott Marquis, which is where we have stayed most other years when we planned appropriately. Furthermore, instead of just begging for a low floor room when we check-in on Thursday morning, my husband called a few months in advance and asked for a first floor room since I was pregnant. They made a note in our file, and we called again the morning of check-in to see if we had a room on the first floor, and they said we did. We were glad of this, as we heard people nearby during check-in asking for low floor rooms to avoid the elevator havoc, and being told they couldn’t give them one because of already made requests from other guests. We’ll definitely keep doing this in the future. I was super thankful not to have to wait on elevators to make it back to the room.
It was also nice to have a first floor room since we like to people watch from the balconies outside our room, and this made us much closer to the atrium level. Better viewing of cool things like the giant AT-AT in the photo below.
4. EPBOT Meetup
For a few years now, I have been dying to meet Jen Yates from over at EPBOT, one of my favorite geeky blogs to read (she also writes Cake Wrecks for anyone who doesn’t know). She held a meetup for the first time at DragonCon (that I know of), on Thursday evening, and I went! I met Jen and bunch of other fantastic EPBOT readers. AND I got a Leia bot pin 😀 Here are Jen and I during the meetup.
And I was proud of myself for talking to strangers, since that is most definitely NOT a strong suit of mine. I even walked up to a girl who I thought LOOKED like Jen, asked her if she was Jen, and was completely wrong. But Laura assured me she was also waiting for Jen. And then others later assured me that they thought Laura might have been Jen for a while too! I met a Christine and a Beth and chatted with them as well, and then the 4 of us got interviewed by some radio station local guy regarding being a female at DragonCon and how easy (or not) it is to meet men there. The interviewing was a little awkward, but fun to share that experience with new friends! Very cool experience, and one of the best things about this year’s con for me. Also, I squeed with delight on Saturday when Jen asked our Disco Mario Party group to take our photo! I doubt we’ll make it to her blog roundup, and I doubt she recognized me in my getup, but it was awesome!!! I also enjoyed seeing her husband in his Dreamfinder costume. Strangely after never seeing them at DragonCons past, I saw them in the Marriott crowd 3 or 4 times this year from afar.
5. Disco Mario Party Cosplay Group
We wore our Mario, Luigi, and Peach disco costumes on Saturday afternoon for a few hours of wandering the Marriott, and then to the DragonCon Night at the Aquarium. The costumes were very well-received, and we were asked for quite a few photos. Even at the aquarium where we did not expect to be asked as much … lots of families with young kids there who wanted photos taken with us. Cute, but unexpected hehe. There will be more on this group cosplay experience later this week. Here is a preview photo from the end of the evening … we were down some mustaches, my husband couldn’t put his wig and hat back on straight, the fireballs had broken … but the effect is still not too bad 🙂
6. Dealer Hall
Dragon Con’s dealer hall is so infamous for being a clusterfuck that someone made this disturbingly accurate map to help poor wanderers find their way.
I am pleased to say that this year, this was not the case. We are normally so frustrated by the dealer hall that we go, walk down one or two aisles, and leave. This year we saw the ENTIRE THING. And it didn’t make us want to leap off a cliff or borrow someone’s fancy cosplay sword to commit sepaku. There were some small issues with it still, but overall this year was a HUGE improvement. It finally moved to America’s Mart Building 2, took up two whole floors, and the aisles were all nice and straight. Give them a round of applause, folks!
7. DragonCon Night at the Aquarium
We went to the very first one of these a few years back. They close the aquarium to other guests and DragonCon takes over, lots of costumes, etc. They added a costume contest this year, hosted by Yaya Han. And our group decided t0 splurge for the VIP package tickets. At about $80 a piece, they were pricey, but included a buffet and open bar as well as a lounge with seating. My feat were super thankful for that in my gogo boots! This event has definitely gotten better, though admittedly being pregnant I did not get to take advantage of the open bar perk. I feel like my counterparts may have gotten the value out of it for me though. Here’s a shot of a Doctor Who cosplayer and some others during the tunnel walk.
8. Jayne’s Hat Hair
I got a lot of compliments on my firey hair while at the convention … and it was surprising to me how many different people walked up to me and told me it was awesome that my hair looks like Jayne’s hat from Firefly. It does, and I get it, but I definitely stopped telling people it was unintentional after a while. I did see someone dressed as a giant Jayne hat Sunday night, and kinda wish I had gone to get my picture taken with them…
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT:
- Dealer Hall
Despite all the vast improvements in this area, I still felt like the dealer hall could be a little better. Remember my comparison to MegaCon a few months back? MegaCon’s dealer hall won out by far. One of the things it still does better is aisle space. People have plenty of room to walk while others can stop at a booth without causing a traffic jam. DragonCon could use more aisle space. Maybe even something as small as eliminating a single aisle of vendors and spreading that space across the other aisles.
2. Crowded Gaming Hall
The gaming hall in the Hilton continues to get more crowded. They added the blood drive to one of the corners. But this didnt seem to affect too much, since it also appeared like they added more tables to the rest of the room. However, the worst day for gaming crowds was definitely Sunday. I’m not sure what else they can do to make this better … Move blood drive still elsewhere? Move the Mechcorps battle pods to a different space? And add even more tables? Maybe also make a werewolf room separate? Just ideas.
3. DragonCon Night at the Aquarium VIP tickets
I enjoyed the aquarium enough to go back even as a VIP, but noticed at least two things that would have made this better. First, the amount of seating in the lounge was not enough. They sell limited VIP tickets, so they should have enough seats for all, especially since people are often in costumes and looking for a rest. Second, if the costume contest continues, VIPs should get priority seating to view the event, or the event should be broadcast to the lounge, since it had two giant screens that didn’t serve any other purpose.
4. Host Hotel Room Vouchers for next year
It is always a struggle to get a room for DragonCon, especially at the host hotels. At this point, two of the host hotels are using a voucher system. Those who had a room at the Hyatt or the Hilton this year were given a voucher so that they could easily have first dibs on rooms for next year. If you got in this year, you are likely happy about it. If not, you likely don’t enjoy the new policy. Maybe this policy makes it even harder to get rooms in the other host hotels? I’m not sure, but somehow getting host hotel rooms needs to change a bit.
I wanted to take a few moments and just comment on my thoughts about experiencing DragonCon during pregnancy. I was 24 weeks last Thursday. The biggest difference between DragonCon this year and previous years was the lack of drinking. I was never tempted to drink, but I was feeling a little bit sad and left out of some of the fun antics that it is harder for me to appreciate while completely sober. That being said, I still had a good time at DragonCon without alcohol, it was just different. I also couldn’t bring some of my costumes that I enjoy wearing more because they involve corsets, but I still cosplayed two out of three days. I definitely was a slower moving walker this time around due to some pelvic girdle pain, which seemed to worsen the more I walked and went up and down stairs. And last but not least, the very common feeling of needing to pee every hour on the hour. Definitely frequented the restrooms more often during this weekend than I usually do. 😛
**NOTE: This is non-DragonCon related. Some of you have probably been noticing some suspicious looking redirecting happening occasionally from this blog over the last few months. I have been fighting hard to figure out the problem, and believe that the issue is FINALLY FIXED! Anyone who uses WordPress, I had to turn off a particular plugin called “Sweet Captcha” due to some malicious code, so if you have this plugin, beware!