Each Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, 40,000+ people turn the city into the largest Science Fiction convention/party of the year. Dragon Con takes over 4 different hotels, most of which are connected via skywalks so you don’t have to walk outside in the heat/humidity/rain. This is a great thing, although it can also be a bit confusing trying to figure out which hotel you are in (sometimes you’re just following the crowd). Luckily there are standup banners in the main entrances for each hotel so upon arriving, you’ll not only know which hotel you are in but what programming track is taking place there.
Most of the action/crowd seemed to be in the Marriott. The Marriott hosts 3 different dealer/exhibitor room, the Official Dragon Con store, the 501st and Rebel Legions, the R2D2 builders club and is the place where costumed fans seem to congregate. Around midnight you might just find a couple of groups breakdance fighting on the main level. Basically it’s people in costume doing assorted breakdance type moves and acrobats. It was pretty amazing and I had never heard/seen such a thing before.
Dragon Con has something for everyone, over 100 celebrities (in 2011 this included Carrie Fisher, William Shatner, Eliza Dushku, Mary McDonnell, Aaron Douglas, Stan Lee and Eddie McClintock among others), artists (Boris, Julie Bell, Cat Staggs, Rhiannon Owens, J Scott Campbell , George Perez and dozens more) 3 dealers room (which included 7-8 dealers with non-sport cards), costume contests every night (although you didn’t have to go to the costume contest to see great costumes), gaming, parties (there was a Harry Potter Yule Ball on Sunday night) and panels.
Like SDCC, Dragon Con has a phone app where you could download schedules the week of the convention, which was great for remembering what panels to see and when/where they were, and there were daily updates printed out with guest/panel changes and assorted announcements (this could also be found online). What sets Dragon Con apart from SDCC is you don’t have the big corporate (movie studio) presence, though you can find something to do almost 24 hours a day AND…there’s a parade through the streets of Atlanta Saturday morning. The parade route is roughly ½ mile and features a celebrity motorcade and lots of groups in costume (including the 501st Legion).
Editor’s Note—This above show report has been written by guest-blogger (and friend of Non-Sport Update) Laura Inglis. All photos in the photo gallery below were taken by Laura at the show.