Another Dragon Con has come and gone, and for the second straight year, I was there to see it. Cosplayers, celebs, the parade, crazy long lines, friends, vendors, and even a panel or two doesn’t even begin to describe what I experienced In Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. With so much to describe I guess I should start at the beginning. My Dragon Con 2015 started with the same two events that kicked it off last year: the Media Relations Informal Pub Crawl and the New Reporter’s Walk through.
Two nights before the official start of Dragon Con, reporters were taken on a bar crawl by the Dragon Con Media Relations team. Just like last year we met up at the Twenty-Two Stories Bar in the Hyatt for drinks and to meet other Dragon Con reporters. What did change this time around was that my wife decided all of the drinking, walking, and merriment was just too much for her to handle so I was joined by my fellow ETMF Podcast member Andre Williams…Sr. After about 30 minutes at the Hyatt our tour began lead by Deena Roth (who was representing the Blue Barracudas from Legends of the Hidden Temple) and Dan Carroll dressed as…Dan Carroll. I’m almost positive jeans and a blue shirt isn’t cosplay. We walked through the Hyatt to places I knew from last year but it was still good to have a refresher. We were shown the media relations room, where we would pick up our badges and be able to access Wi-Fi during the convention. We saw a few other rooms in the Hyatt and then made or way to the Westin.
Once we arrived at the Westin, Deena and Dan told the group how it was the home of the Whedonverse track. Then we headed for the bar and relaxed for an adult beverage or two before continuing the tour. When Dre and I told one of the bartenders we were with the Dragon Con crew she seemed a bit shocked. I don’t think she expected to see two bald thick ass brothas that were into comics. It was all in good fun and we had some laughs before heading to America’s Mart. Deena lead us through America’s Mart food court to show us the many options that we would have over the weekend. As we headed toward the Marriott Marquis Dan told the new reporters about the “Habitrails” the above ground walkways that connect the Marriott Marquis, Hyatt, and Hilton.
At the Marriott we were shown the old home of the Dragon Con blood drive. New for 2015 the Dragon Con Blood Drive was held in the Hilton. Deena and Dan told about fundraisers held over the weekend for the Lymphoma Research Foundation. Two former Dragon Con track directors had lost battles with Lymphoma so this was a cause that was very personal for many for the Dragon Con volunteers. This was the end of our tour as we made our way to Marriott’s Pulse Bar that was already starting to fill with Dragon Con attendees. After Dre and I enjoyed an always delicious glass of Crown Royal Regal Apple it was time to depart. It was time to get home because I had to get my ass up for work the next day.
The next afternoon I was able to walk over to the Hyatt just to pick my badge so I didn’t have to fight any crowds Friday morning before the new reporter’s tour. On my way to the tour on Friday morning I felt like a seasoned veteran. We were meeting at the Hilton and I knew exactly how to get there whereas last year I was struggling to remember how to get to the different host hotels. When I got to the group led once again by Media Relations Director, Dan Carroll, I was about to meet another GWW contributor C.K., Aaron from The Black Astronauts podcast, and to get reacquainted with fellow Chicagoan Ashley who was representing Once Upon a Fan.
We were taken to the gaming area in the lower level and shown the new location of the annual blood drive. There we
learned that there were 3,000 blood donors in 2014 that some cosplay outfits actually create issues for people trying to donate because of how restricting they are, and that Life South is the organization that runs the blood drive. Next we were shown the Walk of Fame which was still being set up. It was still cool to see all the celebs that would be there. Dan stopped one of the volunteers to tell us about the five different auctions that were taking place over the weekend to help raise money for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
The last hotel we were taken to was the Hyatt to see the comic alley and the art gallery. Many of the vendors were still setting up their booths but were still nice enough to talk to us if Dan asked. I’m convinced Dan knows everyone at Dragon Con, I mean EVERYONE! The tour ended with Dan showing us where to we would be able to gather for the Dragon Con Parade the next morning. Sadly, that tour is only for first and second year reporters so I will not be able to participate again next year. I’m extremely thankful that I was given the opportunity to join the tours as I am sure they have prepared me to tackle Dragon Con on my own next year. The tour ended at 11:30 Friday morning which meant my day was just starting.
My next piece will recap the Dragon Con parade before I get into all the shenanigans that I endured with the ETMF crew. Stay tuned…