What it’s like to be an attendee at Dragon Con

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By Kaung Set and Stephanie Monica

By this time, it’s been two weeks since Dragon Con – one of the largest multi-genre conventions held in Atlanta, GA. Cosplay photos are starting to surface, showcasing some of the best talent that cosplay has to offer. But what you don’t get to see is what it’s like to be an attendee at Dragon Con, an experience unmatched by any other convention.

What Makes Dragon Con Different?

As someone who’s been to a handful (a large handful) of conventions, you start to notice a trend. Most are mapped out the same: a large hall with vendors, artists, and/or exhibitors, a section for celebrity photo ops/autographs and a few large rooms for panels. The convention floor will close sometime in the evening and guests will either go home or attend an after party somewhere offsite.

Dragon Con, on the other hand, is the convention that never sleeps. It is held within the span of 5 host hotels, whose doors never close as long as you have a badge and/or a hotel key card. Official programming runs almost 24 hours from the start of the 4-day event, from the earliest event, like this year’s Good Morning Energizer Dance Party (7:30 am), to after hours events like the infamous Dragon Con Rave (3:00 am). Outside of official programming, attendees are free to roam and party for as long as their heart’s (or tolerance’s) desire. You can choose to amass in the common area of the hotels, or wander into one of the many hotel room parties.

Dragon Con has often been referred to as “the Nerdy Mardi Gras.” I’ve been to Mardi Gras, and I will tell you that the comparison is irrefutable.

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So What Is It Like To Be an Attendee?

Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure novels from the ’80s? That’s what it’s like to be an attendee at Dragon Con. You can choose to attend a panel from the 3,500 hours of programming, hang out with your favorite celebrity in the Walk of Fame (and maybe grab a selfie in the elevator), eat a pizza with a Jedi, join the conga line of 30 Deadpools, dance with a 12ft Gundam, grab a drink with the Flash… I could go on forever.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. But if you go in with an open mind, a loose schedule, and no expectations – you’ll have an unCONventional experience.

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