This weekend, cosplayers, convention-goers and thousands of science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts from all over the United States will be converging on downtown Atlanta for the 31st annual Dragon Con.
The convention, which has scheduled events from Aug. 31 until Sept. 4, attracts people with various interests and fans of TV shows, movies, gaming and more. Actors, artists, writers, filmmakers and other celebrities are attending the convention this year and participating in various panels.
This year, Dragon Con will be hosted at five Atlanta hotels: Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Sheraton Atlanta Hotel and Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel.
Whether you’re an annual attendee or a first-time participant, Dragon Con has the potential to make cherished memories. You just need to plan properly.
Here are some practical tips you can use to make the most of your Dragon Con experience.
Plan Your Arrival
If you haven’t booked a hotel in the area, it’s important to know where you’re going to park. Rachael Eidson, a student at Kennesaw State University, started attending Dragon Con when she was in middle school. She suggests finding a way to get dropped off at the convention by friends, family members or taxi services instead of driving.
“Sometimes you forget where you park, (and) it makes the experience more stressful,” she said.
Also, parking can be expensive. Visitors can reserve spaces at one of Dragon Con’s parking decks through a service called Parking Panda. Parking information can be found on the convention’s website here.
Another option is to take MARTA.
“MARTA drops you off in the Peachtree Center Station, which is just a block away from the Hyatt Regency and a great place to start your Dragon Con adventure,” media relations director Dan Carroll said.
Know What’s On The Schedule
Eidson says it’s important to plan your day and know which sessions you want to attend so that you can find a seat. She recommends making a list of the panels you want to attend and going early because the more popular the panel, the more crowded it is going to be.
“Our guest list is one of the strongest we’ve ever had — including guests from ‘Doctor Who,’” Carroll said.
The list also includes Atlanta’s own Food Network star Alton Brown, actor and filmmaker John Cusack and actor Wallace Shawn.
“It’s really important to have a good schedule, or you’re gonna end up wasting the day and then realizing, ‘Oh, I missed all these things,’” Eidson said.
Use The App To Help Plan Your Day
Dragon Con offers a free app that provides information to help you navigate the host hotels and keep up with the schedule. The update for the 2017 convention should be available soon, Carroll said.
Eidson said the app has been very helpful.
You don’t want to get weighed down carrying too much throughout the day, but you need to come prepared.
Eidson recommends bringing a phone charger or a portable charger, a water bottle and cash just in case you are not able to use your credit or debit cards.
Eidson also recommends bringing a bag to store all the items you accumulate as you shop from the many vendors available at Dragon Con.
“During my first few trips, I didn’t expect that,” she said. “You get kinda stuck carrying all this stuff.”