Hey you guys! Tidesiren here comin’ at you with another con review!
This time, earlier this month, I got to attend Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia! At $95 for a full 5 day membership (usually Thursday to Monday-including Labor Day), this convention takes over Downtown Atlanta and five of its main, most distinguished, hotels: the Sheraton, the Westin, the Marriott, the Hyatt, and the Hilton! With sky bridges and tunnels connecting the Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton, this trio of hotels becomes the home-base that is Dragon Con, and happens to be where most convention-goers stay for their fun.
As someone who has personally stayed in the Marriott Marquis, I would say the Marriott is not only the most architecturally unique building in the city, if not the entire Southeast, but also the heart of the action. With 47 floors and 1633 rooms, Dragon Con had all 12 elevators going practically non-stop. With a mezzanine level hovering above, the Marriott’s lobby wrapped around the inside of the building with elevators toward the back and a large hole and escalators to more floors in the center of the building. The second lower floor had booths and access to the sky bridges to the other hotels and a food court that was almost always crowded with people in costumes. The third and bottom-most floor had the Walk of Fame where all celebrities and guests gathered in a massive room at booths of their own where they could meet and greet fans.
I definitely didn’t get to explore as much of the other hotels as the Marriott was my “home base” for the weekend, but it gives me another reason to return. I definitely recommend the Marriott Marquis Atlanta for your Dragon Con home away from home if you can snag a room in time! Though I admit I lost my mind a bit when I walked into the Hilton and found Jurassic Park in the lobby, so that may be fun to try sometime too.
Convention staff were everywhere checking for badges on the escalators, to get into the hotel, panel rooms, sky bridges, and ballrooms. They were knowledgeable and gave direct and clear instructions when I needed to get to the media room to pick up my badge, and they were helpful in directing my companions to pick up their badges at the Sheraton a few blocks away as well. They weren’t too strict on their weapons policy, though they definitely checked realistic guns and blades, so that made for a fun and fully immersive convention and cosplay experience for everyone. With no real dress code (other than bathing suit coverage), cosplayers were able to bring their best cosplays which may have been unacceptable to more strict convention standards.
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This year was so special to me being able to attend this con. Not only was it one I have been wanting to attend for years, but it also took place on the same weekend of my 25th birthday! Now we regular convention attendees have all heard of the infamous Dragon Con as being the party con and cosplay con, but did this event live up to its reputation?
As far as I am concerned, Dragon Con is the cosplay con everyone claimed it to be. There were elaborate costumes everywhere I looked and whether you had a huge armor build or you had intricate designs on your fabrics, you fit in and stood out all at the same time, so this is definitely a welcoming experience no matter what cosplay you wore. With this event split up among so many hotels and with city scapes in between, there were endless opportunities for photographers and fans to snag photos as well. Some of the best (and early riser) cosplayers got to participate in the parade Saturday morning and with endless superhero and gaming groups walking the streets while crowds filled the sidewalks.
Amazing guests like John Barrowman, Anjali Bhimani, Tom Cavanagh, Peter Capaldi, Felicia Day, DC Douglas, Lou Ferrigno, Victor Garber, Karen Gillan, John Heder, Jason Isaacs (who is a heartthrob in person), Evangeline Lily, Gaten Matarazzo, and Adrian Pasdar (another heart melter) lined the booths in the Walk of Fame. With so many talents from all walks of entertainment, there was a little bit for everyone. I got to meet Peter S. Beagle, the writer of the Last Unicorn, which was a moving moment in my life, as well as Craig Parker (holy cow, that accent made my knees shake), who starred in Reign, and Anna Popplewell, who was Susan in Narnia!
Dragon Con was probably the largest convention I have been to thus far. It was so large that I didn’t even get to the vendor hall, which was in another building entirely and I heard that alone took three floors. I’ve never not made it through an entire convention or been able to see where everything was. I got to see the Westin, Marriott, Hilton, and the Sheraton, leaving the vendor building and Hyatt totally unexplored.
Now, since this convention was more than any other convention for me, I wanted to celebrate my 25th birthday right and go to the con they called the “party con.” For all of you asking, yes, this con is the “party con” it claims to be. There were bars at every turn, people walking around, in and out of cosplay, with drinks in hand, and even walking the streets in broad daylight like this as well. You’d think drinks and cosplay may not mix, but it is quite the opposite.
I arrived at Dragon Con by myself knowing one other person (thank you Santoras Propshop for being in my life!) and I spent the weekend, almost in its entirety, meeting and roaming with these new friends who would not stop buying me “birthday weekend” drinks. I am definitely not complaining, I just wanted to elaborate on how friendly and welcoming this cosplay community was at Dragon Con and how one could arrive alone, and not knowing anyone, and leave with new lifelong friends. Thank you to all of those who made this weekend an unforgettable dream come true that I want to re-live over and over again.
And as for Dragon Con and everyone asking, I will most definitely be back next year, and I highly recommend you check out the best party you’ll ever attend!