Dragon Con has come and gone. As a first-year attendee, I learned some helpful tricks to navigate the throng of fandom. Here are a few tips for first time con-goers.
1. Download the Dragon Con app — The free Dragon Con app features everything you want to know about the con. Create your own schedule, picking and choosing the panels and events you want to attend. Schedule around your favorite fandom or your favorite guest or mix and match. Save time and do it prior to the con. And you can share your itinerary with your friends, so the whole group can meet at the same late-night party.
2. Read the Daily Dragon — Attendees can find the Daily Dragon one-page news flyer scattered throughout the convention at information booths. Each morning, the colorful paper provides the most current additions and cancellations. I missed a panel with one of my favorite authors because I didn’t read it on Saturday morning. See you next time, Matt Fraction.
3. Hydrate — Water stations are found throughout the convention hotels. This is especially useful to combat the Georgia heat or the dehydration that accompanies a wild late night at the Marriott while dressed in 50 pounds of leather.
4. Arrive early for the parade — Spectators begin lining the parade routes as early as sunrise. Front-row spots are reserved for children. Find a good spot, bring a chair and wait for the spectacle to arrive.
5. Battery pack — Electrical outlets are scarce on the convention floors. Bring an extra battery pack for your devices so you don’t miss the opportunity to snap a pic of your favorite cosplayer or John Barrowman in a Tardis dress.
6. Tape your hotel key to your badge — You will need two things to get in and out of the convention: your Dragon Con badge and your room key. Bring (or buy) a lanyard to keep your badge on your body. If your room uses a touch keycard, tape it to your badge for safe keeping.
7. Real law enforcement DO NOT wear Dragon Con badges — Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a Call of Duty cosplayer loaded with fake firearms and an actual Atlanta police officer. Police and security are not wearing Dragon Con badges. Don’t ask to take a picture of their realistic cosplay.
8. Allow for plenty of time for check out — The mad rush out of the hotels on Monday morning can make for wait times at the elevators lasting more than an hour. Pack up and leave early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heavy-suitcase traffic.
9. Use MARTA — If you are flying into town, Atlanta’s mass transit, MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transport Authority), can get you from downtown Atlanta to the airport in less than an hour for an inexpensive fee. It’s an easy one-stop trip from the airport to the convention hotels area.
10. Reserve your hotel for next year now! With more than 70,000 in attendance in 2015, rooms are a limited resource. Rooms sell out in October for the September event. Book next year’s room now and ensure you have a place to sleep when Dragon Con returns to Atlanta next Labor Day weekend.