For most Americans, Labor Day weekend is a celebration of this country’s labor force. It gives hard working citizens a well deserved day off and a nice, long, 3 day weekend. For residents of Atlanta and several people across the nation, however, Labor Day weekend signals the arrival of one of the largest Sci-fi/Fantasy Conventions in the country. DragonCon was founded in 1987 and was a small convention, drawing only 1,400 fans. 30 years later, DragonCon attendance has grown to a whopping 80,000+. The Hyatt Regency, Marriot Marquis, Hilton, Sheraton, and Westin Hotels, along with the Americas Mart Trade Center, are now the home of hundreds of special guests and thousands of hours of activities and programming for fans of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books.
The Con kicks off on Thursday and there’s a mad rush for everyone to get their badges. Thursday isn’t a huge day for events and it’s mostly a day to settle in and mingle. For those looking for entertainment on Thursday there is DragonCon Championship Wrestling, musical performances, and the Playboy inspired Bunny Hutch party. It’s hard to resist partying too hard, but play it safe because there is a lot of Con left and Friday is the first full day.
Once the Con kicks into full gear on Friday morning the streets are flooded with cosplayers and fans. It’s more common to see a person in costume over the next few days than a person in street clothes. Tons of people pile into the Americas Mart buildings where the Artists Galleries, Gaming, and Vendor Halls are located. You can meet your favorite fantasy/comic artists and purchase some of their works if you’re a collector. If you’re a gamer, there are several options that range from Campaign RPG, Card Games, LARP, LAN Gaming, Table Top, and Video Games. The real traffic is in the vendor halls, where you can find something for everyone. You’ll find anime, comics, movies, toys, clothes, costumes, knives, props, oddities, antiques, music, jewelry, trinkets, collectibles, and much more in the dealers area. It’s easy to spend several hours and lots of money in this area.
There are several Fan Tracks to choose from that run smaller rooms throughout the hotels. They have events scheduled throughout the day and you can use the DragonCon app to organize and track where you want to be at any time. The Fan Tracks cover costuming, animation, puppetry, robotics, podcasting, and writing. There are also tracks that explore media genres, so whether you’re into Dr. Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, comics, anime, or horror, you’ll find something to take up your time. If that doesn’t interest you, then there are always the celebrity panels that usually draw huge crowds. They usually host these in the Marriott, which is where the Walk of Fame is located. These panels usually focus on a particular TV series or movies that are popular among Sci-Fi fans. They always take questions from the audience after the moderator has finished up their questions. Depending on who the stars are, the line for questions can get pretty long.
The Walk of Fame is at the bottom of the Marriott and gives fans a chance to meet and greet their favorite celebrities. Some lines are longer than others, but you have the chance to buy merchandise, autographs, and photo ops from the likes of John Cusack, Tricia Helfer, Brent Spiner, Charisma Carpenter, Sean Gunn, Karen Gillan, Matt Smith, Peter Mayhew, and many more. Get your merchandise from the vendors and Walk of Fame before 7pm, because they shut down pretty early and that signals the coming of DragonoCon nightlife.
DragonCon gets buck wild at night and some choose to party out in the lobby, but there are several options for night time celebration. There are multiple musical performers booked at the event that hold concerts at night if that’s your thing. If not, there are several themed party rooms where you can mingle with people with common interests. There’s a Zombie Prom, a Dr. Who Ball, a Yule Ball, the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball, and the Heroes and Villains Prom. Other activities include Cosplay Karaoke, Kilt Blowing, Late Night Puppet Slam, and DragonCon Burlesque show. This last until Monday evening when everyone, sadly, has to pack up and go home. There’s really more than anyone can possibly do in one weekend. There’s plenty of other things going on in the nooks and crannies of the Con that some still don’t know about. It’s definitely one of the best Cons out there, but plan your time wisely if you decide to go because it’s over before you know it. That’s a wrap for DragonCon 2017 coverage. Farewell, and stay bloody.