Through my friendship with people at the Geeks with Wives website, I was able to get press credentials to cover Dragon Con 2014. As a first time attendee, I definitely had a lot to learn. Dragon Con took place downtown Atlanta in five hotels (Hyatt Regency, Marriott Marquis, Westin, Hilton, and Sheraton) plus a separate two-story area for vendors. The convention offered 37 different fan tracks which covered topics from comic books, Star Wars, video games, young adult literature, alternate history, and much more. Through a series of posts and pictures I will chronicle my first year at Dragon Con.
My Dragon Con experience began with a media tour/bar crawl the Wednesday before the convention commenced. The tour was led by Media Relations Director, Dan Carroll and his staff. The tour started at Twenty-Two Story’s (“Atlanta’s beer forward Gastropub”) in the Hyatt Regency, where my wife and I were able to meet some of the other media representatives that would be covering the event. After mingling for about half an hour we were shown other areas of the Hyatt including the sky bridge which could be used to travel between the hotels. Unfortunately a few of the doors were locked so we were unable to get to Americas Mart (the vendor area) or the Westin. The whole time we were on the tour I wondered “Why the hell don’t all cold weather cities have sky bridges so people don’t have to freeze their asses off in the winter!?!?” Anyway, we made our way to the Hilton for a short time and then we ended the tour/crawl at the Marriott Marquis. Upon arriving at the Marriott we were shown the Walk of Fame where celebrities from Ralph Macchio to James Gunn would be signing autographs and taking pictures for a fee, of course.
I was so grateful for the opportunity to meet people that had attended a number of Dragon Con events. They gave me a number of valuable tips on how to handle the show. I was told, among other things, to have a plan (it’s impossible to cover everything in four short days), to have cash, to stay hydrated, that Dragon Con gets “mature” after 7 p.m., and to bring an extra shirt. I was clearly ignorant to that fact that there were levels to that shit! That media tour definitely gave me the lay of the land and helped me to understand what was ahead.
I was able to participate in yet another tour the first day of Dragon Con. This time it was only for first time reporters. The tour started at the Sheraton and just walking to the hotel from the train I could tell that convention was in full swing. While I was on my phone trying to make sure that I was going in the right direction I noticed that the woman walking in front of me was holding a pistol. As I gave her a closer look I realized it was a woman in cosplay as River Song. In my five minute walk I must have seen at least 25 people cosplaying characters and the wide variety of costumes spoke to just how many genres were being covered at the convention. As I arrived at the Sheraton I noticed the amount of people and was somewhat surprised at the size of the crowds at 10 a.m. on Day 1.
Dan Carroll was once again our tour guide with the help of other media relations employees. Although we were a relatively small group, Dan brought along a megaphone so we could hear him. Despite his efforts, it was still difficult to hear him at times due to all of the activity. Our first stop was the registration area in the Sheraton and I immediately noticed how well-known Dan is in the Dragon Con community. After leaving the Sheraton we walked to the Hilton to look around at some of the gaming areas and then we used the sky bridge to go over to the Marriott. We visited the Walk of Fame and at that point, a number of the featured guests were already relaxing, waiting for the area to open. Sam Witwer was there conversing with some of the Dragon Con volunteers. We were reminded that trying to take pictures in the Walk of Fame would result is us losing our badges. Our next stop was the Dragon Con blood drive and then the lobby of the Marriott. With the growing number of attendees arriving at the convention and the resulting noise level, Dan thought it best to end the tour early.
Due to family obligations, the end of the tour represented the end of my first official Dragon Con experience. The media bar crawl and first time reporters’ tours helped me tremendously, especially since I had never been inside any of the host hotels. I was able to see four of the five hotels and meet some really cool people that were all excited for the show and excited for me that I was getting to experience it for the first time. Dan Carroll and his staff did a great job of giving me as much information as they could to ensure that my first Dragon Con was a success.
*This Feature was Written by: Shaun Washing (@etmfpodcast)