Dragon Tales: Experiences at DragonCon Part 1

Atmosphere and Impressions

I’ve only ever attended smaller conventions.  While there are still crowds, panels, and interesting sights attending a large convention is a completely different experience.  So how about one that attracts half a million people to Atlanta in September?  This was my first year at DragonCon and it was a terrific experience.  I thought I’d share some general thoughts on the Con and then get into detailed thoughts in future posts.

DragonCon night at the GA Aquarium. One of the many outside events taking place during the weekend.
DragonCon night at the GA Aquarium. One of the many outside events taking place during the weekend.
  • Atmosphere: One of the great things about attending a broad topic-specific convention is that everyone is there because of their love of something. You might like video games, maybe comic books, maybe sci-fi TV or movies, or is it horror-fantasy?  You’ll find fans of all of them and everyone is there to celebrate these things.  Despite the general nerd/geek tendency to harp on minor complaints I saw very little negativity at the con at all.  Even in long lines, during the long walks, or amidst crowded food courts.  The only complaints I heard revolved around waiting for shuttles (which were free, so complaints were minimum) and being stuck in the parade crowd (because people really didn’t have any idea how to navigate through a crowd…)  Other than that, even with a couple of potentially big SNAFUs, it was just a good atmosphere of positivity and enjoyment.
You never know what you'll see. That's a 1:1 scale (No Pun Intended) Toothless. you could pose with him for charity.
You never know what you’ll see. That’s a 1:1 scale (No Pun Intended) Toothless. You could pose with him for charity.
  • Seeing the Sites: The first full day of the Con (we got our badges Thursday night but that doesn’t count) we spent the morning in the Sheraton watching the Friday morning crowds. Everywhere you looked were cosplayers of all levels happily posing with ecstatic fans.  The vendor halls are packed with unique items you can’t find anywhere else.  Arcade machines are set up free-to-plan, gaming tables are everywhere for every conceivable type of game.  Themed parties take place at all hours and many of the local restaurants have convention-themed menu items.  Celebrities  can be seen talking with fans and in one case even playing an RPG for fans’ amusement.  It’s not just a convention of fans it’s a convention of all the peripheral activities fans love.
Team Cosplay is amazing. This is a spot-on Tidus, Yuna, and Wakka. He even had a Blitzball! (not pictured)
Team Cosplay is amazing. This is a spot-on Tidus, Yuna, and Wakka. He even had a Blitzball!
  • Cosplay Love: I’ll do a fuller post on Cosplaying at the Con, but one aspect that shows the best side of fandom is how loved and accepted all cosplayers are. You of course have highly skilled professionals or near professionals who have spent a lot of time and money perfecting screen-or-page-perfect costumes.  But you also have creative people who have used the means they have to make great costumes, or even knowingly cheesy or goofy costumes and wear them proudly.  What makes this a wonderful experience is that all of these cosplayers receive equal love from fans.  People of all genders, shapes, and sizes playing characters they love and fans accept them with joy and excitement.  It’s hard to find a more welcoming community, especially for beginning cosplayers…but more on that next time.

I loved the Con and I’m actually eager for next year.  Next post will focus specifically on the cosplay experience!

 

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