Dragon Con 2019 - An Escape From Reality
Over Labor Day weekend, eighty-five thousand people descended into downtown Atlanta for the annual convention known only as Dragon Con - a multi-genre convention that occupies five hotels as well as two buildings of the Mall of Atlanta. Additionally, unlike many other pop culture conventions laden with industry support, Dragon Con maintains its roots as a fan run convention. However, with these facts in mind, one might ask: Do these elements allow the Con excel or falter? Well, let's read on to find out...
An Experience Like No Other
As mentioned before, Dragon Con designates itself as a fan run convention. As such, the convention feels very personal as if the convention staff are there to only ensure that the fans have a good experience. Additionally, despite its size, this same feeling can be felt outside the walls of the event's host hotels: from the various restaurants welcoming con-goers, to bars and clubs hosting parties and gatherings. For the five days that the Con takes place you truly feel like you have left the world behind and entered a world where you can be yourself and fully indulge in your fandom.
Gateway To Adventure Your adventure into Dragon Con begins with registration and badge pickup. As most will take the route of pre-registration from the comfort of their homes there is also the option of door registration. Registration and badge pickup occur at the Sheraton hotel’s lower level. Because of the amount of people that attend this convention, the lines on the event's first day wrapped around the outside hotel - creating line wait times that varied from one to three hours. As with other Cons, Dragon Cons accommodated all its attendees with disabilities - providing a separate line for people to obtain special badges allowing them to be accommodate accordingly.
Upon attending the panels, attendees - as you would expect - do have to have to queue up as you typically would at other Cons, but Dragon Con is again also cognizant of those with disabilities - providing a separate queue area - with chairs - for those in need of accommodations to be seated before the general line is loaded in. With that said, the staff, overall, perform their duty with great efficiency - ensuring that attendees are able to enter the programming spaces quickly and safely .
Finding Your Way Around The Convention
As mentioned before, Dragon Con is broken into five hotels - the Hyatt, the Marriot Marquis, the Hilton, the Westin and the Sheraton. The three hotels Hyatt, Marriot and Hilton are connected through sky bridges which also connect to the underground food court at the Peachtree center. The Westin and Sheraton are nearby but not physically connected to the others. Along with the host hotels Dragon Con uses the first two building of the Mall of Atlanta: the first being used for table top and video gaming, while the other - containing four floors - are used for the dealer’s hall. Overall, everything is in close vicinity to each other and the convention is relatively easy to navigate.
The People Of Dragon Con
Dragon Con celebrates a collection of all genres of science fiction, pop culture, literature and even animation. Therefore it's a Con where you can frequently see Marvel characters, Star Wars characters, as well as video game and anime characters all mingling together in the same space. Furthermore, the statement above highlights one of the major features of the event, and that is, its cosplay. If you're not familiar with the term, cosplay essentially identifies those who dress up in costume to celebrate those characters that inhabit their fandom. Now, in this regard, Dragon Con is second to none (in terms of its cosplay) and people typically will provide their most impressive works to display at the show. However, despite the impressive cosplay on hand, the temperament of the those attendees who participate in cosplay are quite different from other conventions. While audiences at other Cons seem to revel in being super competitive (in regards to their costumes), Dragon Con is quite the opposite, as there is more a sense of kinship amongst cosplayers. Where other conventions are crowded with cosplayers having photo sessions with photographers, the attendees at Dragon Con seemed to be there to have fun rather than progress their cosplay careers. Check out some highlights of what I mean (regarding the cosplay) in the vid below.
The Legendary Marriott Carpet
The story of the Marriot carpet reaches back to 2013 when a pair of creative cosplayers decided to create fatigues in the same pattern as the carpet in the Marriott. After some legal trouble with the creators of the pattern, however, the Marriott decided to replace the carpet with a different pattern. In Dragon Con fashion, the community could not let it go and more variations of the Marriott carpet started to appear. This year was no different and the creativity of Dragon Con's carpet pattern cosplay continues.
This year the Marriott atrium restaurant joined in the tradition and served a chocolate raspberry cake with the carpet pattern imprinted on top.