Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guide to DragonCon - Part 3

UPDATED: Feb 2013

OK, so the time is finally upon you, and you are walking through the halls of the host hotels. I'd like to share some of the things I've learned to help make your time there as enjoyable as possible. Please keep in mind that Dragon*Con is five days long, with over thirty tracks represented, hundreds of fandoms, and tens of thousands of attendees with their own individual schedules. Thus it's impossible to touch on everything, but I just want to hit some highlights that I've seen come up time and again on the interwebs:

Dragon*Con at last!

A. Common Sense Things
- Yes, D*C is a magical time where you can have lunch beside an elf and go into the bathroom to see a Stormtrooper, but still have common sense and decency.
  • Sleep enough, eat and drink water regularly, and shower. I'm appalled at how often this comes up, but I was also appalled by how some peopled smelled, so it's a legit piece of advice request from your fellow con goers! :P Failing to do these things could leave you sick with the "con crud." Oh, and don't party too hard early on. It's more like an endurance race, so pace yourself each night. 
  • Don't be an ass. When dealing with others, whether it's a a celebrity guest or a scantily-clad costumer, don't say or do anything that you wouldn't want done to a loved one. Respect their personal space, their privacy, and their time.  

B. Con Specific Things
  • A few days prior to departing on your journey, check out the schedule and subsequent changes to it that are posted on the Daily Dragon. It'll give you an idea of what will go on so you can plan accordingly. They even have an App for smart phones! Even someone as OCD as myself has to accept the reality that you cannot see everything you hope to see. A commonly given suggestion is to pick a few must see events and schedule other things around them. It never hurts to have a backup option either. Also, once the convention starts, visit the information booths at each hotel to see if there were any daily changes made to the schedule. And there are ALWAYS changes. 
  • Atlanta is called HOT-lanta for a reason. It is also very humid for people not used to dealing with it. Thus, keep the weather in mind when you decide what to wear, both regular attire and costumes. Bringing some powder like Gold Bond can help things be less sticky. 
  • You will be walking... a lot. With 5 hotels now hosting official programing, you're going to cover many city blocks in one day. Some of the walking will be uphill, some of it will require pushing through hoards of orcs. Because of the distance between various events, you should consider building in travel time into your schedule. 
  • Be prepared to wait in lines. The registration line is no longer bad since they started using electronic barcode scans. But the ever growing attendance numbers makes large celebrity panels a nightmare! If you don't devote at least an hour waiting (possibly more), you may not get into the room. Hence, eat, use the bathroom, and wear comfortable clothing before doing so. As for fan panels or smaller events, I actually advise against lining up early. Just get there 10 mins prior to start and you'll be fine. This frees up several hours of precious con time that you can use! 

    The horrors of waiting for 2+ hours in line prior to barcode registration in 2011.

  • After you get your badge, and especially if you're there on Thursday before official programming start, take advantage of your free time to roam around and become familiar with the layout. Check out what floors certain rooms are, find where the food court is, and look for the quickest routes from one place to another. The last thing you want to do is get lost in a sea of people. 
  • Be mindful of said sea of people and the overall human traffic around you. Especially in the Hyatt, you don't want to stop to pose or take pictures in a narrow hallway. You also don't want to step on Superman's cape that he's worked on for several months. 

Friday night crowd at the Marriott.

  • Take advantage of the Con Suite. It's a hospitality service provided FREE OF CHARGE by the generous staff. You can go there for some refreshments throughout the entire convention. You can find it in room 223 and 226 of the Hyatt, second floor in the corner above the bar. It's a small area, so try to avoid peak eating hours. 
  • Two minor notes about elevator use. First, be considerate to those who may have problems with mobility, but I'd say that's about it. No need to be super nice, otherwise you'll never get anywhere. Second, if the elevator door opens at your floor, get in! Don't worry about it going up or down, just have a spot so you're not waiting all day. I hear this is the worst in the Hyatt. 

C. Other Resources
- Be sure to check back on my first and second parts of the guide. If you just can't get enough information and want to be even more ready as you can be prior to going, the following links provide lots of useful advice:

D*C Wiki
D*C Forum
D*C LiveJournal
- My entry on Celebs, Autographs, and Photo Ops
- My entry on Fan Tracks
- A community LiveJournal entry with a ton of advice

Above all else, HAVE FUN! Dragon*Con only comes around once a year for a few days and it often ends up being the highlight of the year for many people.