My Dragon Con 2017 Experience: The Pros and Cons
So another Dragon Con has ended and the con faithful are returning to their regular lives and day jobs filled with memories of seeing their favorite actors, sitting in panels showcasing pop culture and entertainment that they admire or marvelling at the detailed cosplay that friends and total strangers decided to unveil that weekend. Many will remember (hopefully!) the good times that they had and the friends they either experienced the Con with or the new ones they have just made. In that spirit, here is what I took away from my time at Dragon Con 2017.
While I have experience at several different cons, this was my first experience at the con as a member of the press and because of that, I went into the experience with the work in mind. I took a step back from my excitement in order to have an objective view of the entire con and the processes that went into making it the event that it has been for over 30 years. So here are some Pros and Cons (no pun intended) of Dragon Con 2017.
Every single volunteer I met at Dragon Con was professional, courteous and helpful (Especially the lovely ladies at Meeting Room 202). My first time there with the new interview format, it took me a while to find my bearings and every volunteer I met or spoke with either answered my questions in a friendly and courteous manner or they got someone who could. At no point in the entire weekend (and I stayed until Monday) did I get the impression that any of the volunteers were frustrated, rude or unfriendly. It is a testament to the management of the event that they are able to find such great people.
The Walk of Fame
Even at its busiest, a room full of celebrities could have been a madhouse for anyone, but the room was spaced well so that the lines for specific stars and the overflow area never impeded the flow of the crowd moving through the room. Even when John Barrowman stole the momentum of the room being his loud, boisterous self, you never got a bottleneck of people in one area.
There was a great lineup of panels this year and I enjoyed going to the Star Trek: The Next Generation panel, the Voice Acting with the Pros panel (Rob Paulsen reciting the entire Countries of the World song from memory made my heart grow three sizes) and many others. The panels were informative and fun and I hope I get to more of them next year.
There was an amazing showcase of talent both on the stage and in the audience. People from all walks of life used their creativity to both inspire and entertain with their cosplay choices. The amount and creativity of expression from everyone, no matter the level of detail, was inspiring to see and everyone was so willing to compliment others on their cosplay that it was gratifying to see and hear from the background.
The Interview Room
Not everything can be perfect at any event, especially one this big (estimates of over 80,000 people). While I enjoyed the interview format, it wasn’t necessarily conducive to everyone covering the event for their respective outlets. Out of the five interviews I was lucky enough to book, one dropped out of the entire event and two more canceled either moments before they were scheduled to arrive, or after rescheduling for the next day. Out of four remaining interviews, I was able to secure 2 or 4 and that made me one of the lucky few.
Fortunately, there’s no blame to be placed on anyone. It happens. You’re a celebrity who is at an event for two to four days, you have panels you need to be at, you’re signing autographs and taking pictures with fans from morning to night. It is understandable that you don’t want to break up that momentum by going to another room to answer questions from reporters. While I have an increased respect and admiration for the people who took the time to come to the room and answer questions, I can’t begrudge the ones who didn’t and hopefully the room is better organized with the actors and their schedules to allow for them (and myself) to have those interviews in the future.
Once again though, huge thanks to the volunteers for being as gracious as they were during those moments and for all the effort they put in to getting guests to the room and letting us all down gently when guests cancelled.
The Vendor Areas
Having all of the vendors in the Americas Mart buildings was a great idea, but it still felt cramped on the floor. If the area were better spaced and the aisles more easily accessible, it might have helped the flow of traffic more for both the shoppers and the browsers.
Overall, my experience at Dragon Con was amazing. I truly enjoyed myself as a fan and through my interactions with fellow reporters, volunteers, talent and attendees. It’s definitely an experience I plan to repeat next year.
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