Dragon*Con Round 2!

 Photo by Sang Le PhotographyAnother year. Another Dragon*Con has come and gone. It felt like it was much faster than a typical weekend, but my wallet would disagree with me. While this wasn’t as great as my first time, we did get a chance to sit in on a few more panels and experience the “behind-the-scenes” of the convention – less of the party atmosphere. I’m going to do this in a + / - style to help make this review a bit more balanced. As with any convention, new or long-standing, there are always things to improve.

Plus: Staff members were much more aggressive about managing lines. D*Con has a soft rule about not allowing lines to start until an hour before an event. Last year, that didn’t happen (we spoke to a woman who waited out in the heat for a full day to be first into the Cary Elwes panel). But this year, they tried to reign in that rule and gave people a 2 hour head start as a max. So we were able to walk around the convention and do things other then standing in line, and still nab a good seat.

Negative: Some of the AV techs on the cameras were awful. I’m really sorry ladies and gents. I know how hard you all work. I’ve run tech at cons before. But if you don’t know the basics of panning and tilting of a camera you do not need to be working it. The ‘Game of Thrones’ Q and A was terrible to watch. I’m glad we got a good enough seats to not have a need for the big screens…but wow. Just…wow. I didn’t know a tripod could be so unresponsive with a camera operator.

Plus: I don’t know if it was fear of the new carpet, but the Marriott wasn’t as crowded as usual. I could see the floor every day!

Negative: Where did all the big costumes go? It seemed more casual this year as attendees roamed the streets of Atlanta. I think the humidity last year scared people from going big with their outfits. And it made my camera sad to have so few photos on it.

Plus: There was a party at the Georgia Aquarium!

Negative: There was a “party” at the Georgia Aquarium. This was a disappointment for me. Last year I had a great time! The event was fun, open, and very inviting to DragonCon. It felt like the Aquarium went above and beyond to make the party special to us. They brought in costumed performers, marionettes of sea creatures that circled the building, a DJ that catered to our nerdyness, it was a blast! This year it fell completely flat. Other than the loud thumping club music, it was essentially the normal Aquarium opened later in the evening. *shrugs* I think what really killed it for me is that they didn’t keep the event restricted to party ticket attendees only. If an individual or family bought day passes, they could stay. The Aquarium wasn’t cleared out before the event, and there were a lot of families there who looked completely confused by what was going on. I had to answer a few questions about what the event was, why we were all dressed up, the whole shebang. Which made me wonder if the Aquarium even bothered to tell the daily patrons at all about this special CLOSED event. :/ It was bad form on the Aquarium’s part. Or D*Con’s. I don’t know who is at fault here. Between that, the super long for no reason 20-man costume contest, the blocked hallways, closed exhibits, super expensive food and drinks – nope. Not worth it. Not going back. The specialness disappeared this year.

Plus: D*Con TV! You can watch some of the popular panels and contests from your hotel room if you’re in one of the host hotels.

Negative: The Marriott staff on the day of the parade were extra rude. Dude. We get it that you want us to move. Can you give us at least 10 seconds to PICK UP OUR STUFF before you yell at us again? We had a man who passed out from heat exhaustion. For the love of all that is holy, be a human and let’s make sure he’s okay first before you start shouting at us to move.

Plus: There was a pretty consistent amount of AC in all of the host hotels and most of the sky walks. Yea!

Negative: People were generally rude in Atlanta this time around. Maybe it was the heat? Lots of swearing and talking back that I’m not use to. Southern hospitality and all that. But there were also more reports of people having their badges stolen, pockets and bags looted, even expensive camera equipment were swiped from booths as the photographers were right there.

Seriously. People. Stop being a-holes. You’re making it so we can’t have nice things.

Plus: Badge pick-up ease is still rocking.

Negative: Parade organizers jacked up the N7 group. Sent out our Thresher Maw and truck anywhere from 8-12 groups ahead of our walkers. What the fudge? And we were so far apart we had no way to catch up to them and claim our rightful spots next to the Thresher!

Plus: Great hangout times can still be had in the madness of the event!

Negative: Hotel price gouging. We all know it happens.

As a whole, it was still a lot of fun. I enjoyed my time there and I definitely want to return next year. My plan is to go back to lighter costumes and to take on fewer events so we can just walk around and fill my camera with as many photos as possible. Because people watching is a hell of a lot of fun at DCon!