Per Matt
When the end of the world arrives, will you be ready? Whether it’s due to a Zombie Apocalypse, a Sharknado, an invasion of little green men or you’re simply a doomsday prepper getting ready for the world to become a wasteland, all of these topics (and more!) will be covered via the Apocalypse Rising track at Dragon Con.

In less than a week, herds of the undead will arrive to Atlanta, Georgia, where the 2017 multi-gene convention’s expected attendance will hover around 82,000 people. Recently, I contacted Apocalypse Rising Track Director Shannon Chesnut to prepare for the beginning of the end. This will be her thirteenth year on staff, which she has entirely spent with the same track. Make sure to check out the full schedule on the track’s webpage.

So, what, exactly does the Apocalypse Rising track involve? “If the Apocalypse was coming, what would you do? Our track helps you answer that question by taking a look at the ‘end of the world,’ in all of its various facets. We have survivalism planning for those wanting a practical take on disasters and preparedness. We have fan discussion panels for the multitude of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic television currently on the air, such as Into the Badlands, The 100, The Walking Dead, etc. We also have panels where authors and other experts discuss the genre from a literary aspect. We try really hard to have something for everyone!”

And what was Shannon’s answer when asked about the biggest-planned track-related event taking place this year? “Every year, our biggest event is our Zombie Prom. This year, it will be held on Friday at 10 PM in the Hilton Grand Salon. There’s no theme to the dance this year, other than fun! And that’s the main key to being picked to participate in the costume contest. Show up with a good Zombie costume and a great attitude. Rock that shamble, perfect your call for ‘brains,’ and have lots of fun with it.”

“We’ll have a photo booth, music by DJ D-Cal, featuring D’Vinci (LvL Up Entertainment) and we will be crowning a Zombie Prom King and Queen, who will receive a crown, a sash and the ultimate bragging rights for the remainder of Dragon Con. It’s always such a fun time!”

As the official undead hub of Dragon Con, I was wondering what attendees can expect for Zombie-related events throughout the weekend. “In addition to the Zombie Prom, on Friday night there will also be the Zombie Walk at 8:30 PM. And before both of those, we have professional makeup artists Rob Fitz and Bethany Michel (JackmonkeyFX), offering complimentary zombie makeovers in the Westin to help you get ready for the evening’s events! The makeovers are totally free, though we do encouraging tipping what you can to help the artists replenish their materials.”

In addition to our events, we’ll have panels on The Walking Dead (Friday at 7 PM, Saturday at 7 PM, Sunday at 5:30 PM), a Zombie makeup demo panel (Sunday at 5:30 PM) and a fun Zombies vs. Aliens panel (Sunday at 8:30 PM). Our full schedule will be available in the Dragon Con app, along with our friends at the Horror Track, who also have some Zombie programming.”

Photo Courtesy: Dragon Con

What kind of details can Dragon Con attendees get for participating in the Zombie Walk? “The best way to get information on the Zombie Walk is to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages, and to check out our event page on our website. To participate, just show up at Chastain F-H (Westin) by 8:30 PM in a Zombie or Zombie hunter costume. The route goes from the Westin to the Hilton, and we’ve modified the route for this year to hopefully do a better job of keeping the horde together.”

The Apocalypse Rising track has grown in size with the rising hordes of Zombies found in pop culture throughout the years. In fact, in the track was moved to a larger room last year, now taking place at the Westin (Chastain F-H rooms), due to the increasing popularity. Creating bug-out bags (Friday at 2:30 PM), Prepping 101 (Friday at 1:00 PM) and which types of weapons would work best in survival are just a few survivalist topic panels that will be covered. In addition, genre author Jonathan Maberry is one of the featured guests to be highlighted within the track, including a one-on-one panel with him on Friday at 4:00 PM.

“We’ll also be hosting a really fun panel Sunday night at 7:00 PM: How to Survive an Apocalyptic Movie. Our panel of experts will be looking at clips from some of your favorite genre movies and answer the question: Would that have actually worked? On Friday, at 5:30 PM, we’ll be discussing Zombies in the Modern Age, and whether or not they can sustain their increasing popularity. We also have a panel on Monday at 11:30 AM that looks at the Influence of The Walking Dead on the Current Zombie Genre.”

When I asked Shannon what kind of end-of-the-world scenarios she was prepared for, should they ever happen, what was her response? “That’s the thing. If it’s an end-of-the-world scenario, you’re never going to be prepared. We can speculate and joke, but there’s just no way to be ready for a meteor! So, at our track, we try to prepare you for what you can get ready for: Tornadoes, massive power outages, civil unrest, etc.”

Finally, when asked about her favorite pop-culture reference to arise from the track… “Personally, I’m a fanatic of Into the Badlands on AMC. I think it’s a smart, really beautiful show that just keeps getting better and better. It has swords, awesome fight scenes, a really interesting mythology and a fantastic post-apocalyptic setting in the southern United States (we think). Can’t recommend it enough!”

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