Following my Pre-Planning post…We’re 30-ish days from DragonCon, and this may be your first year going! Never to fret, Dragon is the most nerd-friendly place! Get ready to hang out with 77,000+ of your closest (new) friends!
Labor Day weekend in Atlanta is busy – and HOT. There are several things going on in town that weekend, and with these tricks you’ll do just fine.
1 – Pre-Plan: That’s right, pre-plan. I know I said it before. You should already be doing this. You should also start taking Vitamin C supplements (you’ll read why further down). By now you should have your room situation taken care of and your badge purchased. If not, you still can or you can get them online for $140 (until 8/17, then they’re $160 online). Tickets are $140 on site so do not buy it at the higher price!!! Also if you’re doing celeb photos, you should pre-pay them online from Epic Photo Ops. I believe they do on-site sales as well.
- If you’re driving, you should already go ahead and scope out what parking lots are around the con on-line. They can range from $3/day (uncovered) to garages that are $18/day (covered), and even hotel parking which I do NOT recommend, as it’s $30-35/day and that’s just crazy. All of the hotels have a service where you can unload your gear and have it set aside in the lobby while you go find parking.
- If you’re flying, check out what route on the MARTA you need to take and if you’re having someone meet you at the airport, schedule your meetups.
- Atlanta also currently uses Uber and Lyft, but watch out for Uber surge pricing.
2 – Pack: Packing is essential. Veterans have become masters of suitcase and car-tetris. With as many costumes as some of us bring, it’s vital. In the past I’ve written a short packing list that you can check out. I recommend packing short sleeves and shorts, jeans, and COMFORTABLE SHOES as your mundane clothes. You don’t have to go outside normally, but there is programming in both the Westin and Sheraton that you have to walk to (as in not via skybridge). It’s only a couple of blocks for either. Same goes for the Vendor Hall and Gaming, which are now located in the AmericasMart across the street from the Hyatt.
3 – Arrival: You made it! Now you need to meet up with your room holder (unless that’s you), and get your stuff up to your room. Take a few minutes, relax, BREATHE. Shenanigans are already happening (and do 24/7 pretty much). Unpack, get a nap in (you’ll need it), get some food.
Now that you’re at DragonCon, you’ll need to be aware of some things….
- Realize that you’re going to stand in some lines at some point. That’s okay! Big celebrity panels tend to form huge lines (as do the masquerade and puppet slam). Line up for those as early as DragonCon staff will let you. All panel rooms are cleared after each one, so you can’t just park in a room all day. It’s not fair to others who wait in line.
- Bonus: Most big name panels and the masquerade are broadcast on DragonCon TV in the host hotels, so you can avoid it altogether if you just want to watch it in your room.
- Bonus 2: You can meet new people in line. People you obviously have at least one common interest with.
- Learn your way around. DragonCon is HUGE and it’s easy to get lost. The con is spread out over five hotels, which are:
- Hyatt Regency Atlanta – 265 Peachtree Street NE
- Marriott Marquis Atlanta – 265 Peachtree Center Avenue
- Hilton Atlanta – 255 Courtland Street NE
- Sheraton Atlanta Hotel – 165 Courtland Street
- Westin Peachtree Plaza – 210 Peachtree Street
- The Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt all connect to each other via skybridges. You can also reach the Peachtree Center food court through the Hyatt and Marriott.
- Pick up your badge. Badge pickup is located in the Sheraton. DragonCon staff have had their stuff together and for the last few years it’s been pretty speedy. If you have your barcoded postcard, bring it! If you need to purchase a badge, be ready with your ID and money. If you’ve lost your postcard, that’s okay too. Just be ready with a Photo ID. DragonCon has posted an article with the process and the hours of operation here.
- Plan a schedule. You can pick up a program at the end of registration. It lists all of the events and panels that are going on. They should also be in the app (you can download in the Play Store or App Store). Just keep in mind you’ll probably change this up a bit.
- Find the ConSuite! It’s open 24 hours, and they provide snacks (and SPAM) and beverages to all convention goers!
- They are located in the Hyatt in rooms 223 and 226.
- Check out the food court. Seriously, you have to eat. Make time for that. The food court provides a LOT of options, including:
- Cafe Momo
- Metro Cafe Diner (24 hours!!!)
- Moe’s Southwest Grill
- And so many more! Check out this link to find out what all is available: Peachtree Center Food Court
- Personally, I recommend Café Momo for breakfast and dinner as they cost by weight and you can get SO MUCH FOOD for a decent price. They also have gluten free options.
- There’s also a 24 hour CVS, and you will make at least two trips there. Just saying.
- What events are must-see? DragonCon is enormous and it is impossible to see everything you want to, whether it is your first con or you are an eternal member. However there are many events which should be seen at least once (and preferably your first year, because you may want to participate the next!)
- The Parade (10am Saturday). With over 3,000 participants, this one is a must-see for everyone.
- DragonCon Night at the Georgia Aquarium (7-11pm Saturday). You have to do this at least once! They close the aquarium early to the public, and then reopen for a night of costumed fun. You get to visit this amazing attraction with FAR LESS crowds than a normal day. It is simply breathtaking, and the photos that come from this are to die for.
- The Masquerade (8pm Sunday, Hyatt). Most people will watch in overflow locations, or on DC*TV from their rooms as this event fills up very quickly.
4 – Have fun, but be responsible: It’s hotter than hell in Atlanta (Hello, Satan’s buttcrack!), so hydration is super important! There are water fountains in the hotels so I recommend bringing a refillable water bottle.
- Remember the rule of 4, 2, 1…
- 4+ hours of sleep per night
- 2+ meals a day
- 1+ shower per day – with warm water and soap. Axe bodyspray does not count as a shower. Seriously, no one likes con funk. Don’t be nasty.
Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Most people are there to have fun and it’s harmless, but there’s always the risk of someone putting something in a drink. Also, you don’t want to share drinks with people because you’ll end up with Con Crud. That’s right. There’s always someone sick there and it’ll spread like wildfire. No one wants a week long cold right after being on a week-long trip. Just be smart. Also, this is why you should start taking Vitamin C supplements a month ahead if you don’t already.
- Know your limits. As adults, we’re all going to have fun and probably partake in adult beverages, but don’t get so wasted that you’re puking everywhere and what not. Be smart.
- Be courteous to people in general – costumed or not. Don’t pull on someone’s Proton Pack, prop, or piece of a costume…and don’t be a creeper on someone in costume. Sexual harassment is never okay.
- Follow the Law of Wheaton – Don’t be a dick!
- Allow disabled people onto the elevators first. They have no other option to get upstairs, you do.
- Follow the rules of the con. They’re printed on the back of your badge.
- Make memories! That’s why we’re all here – to have a great time!
I can’t wait til DragonCon and I hope to see you there!!