Maria Jackson's picture
By Maria Jackson

Dragon Con 2013: Veterans & Newbies

I have been attending Dragon Con since (at least) 2008 and have had the opportunity to see it grow from three hotels to five, the dealer’s room flourish to the America’s Mart, and thrive throughout the years. I’m an expert at finding paths to the host hotels and the layout of each are burned into my mind. I know when and where to line up early for big panels, that you take any elevator you can squeeze onto; no matter which direction it’s headed in, and where you can eat without having a 45 minute wait. Crowds, cancellations, and room changes don’t phase me.

There’s not much I haven’t seen or said about Dragon Con. I began to wonder, what it Dragon Con is like for a first timer at Nerdigras? In the last couple of years I have been very fortunate to form some incredible friendships with nerds all across the nation (8Bit Animal & the ladies of Nerdgasm Noire)  and this year, they experienced Dragon Con for the first time! What did they have to say?


"Can be a little overwhelming for first-timers, so attend with a group. Prepare for obnoxiously large lines, but ridiculously good panels. Definitely worth it."


"Very overwhelming since it's SO MUCH to do. Once you get your bearings, it's a lot of fun attending panels, finding great cosplay & seeing favorite celebs.  Definitely have a plan in place before going. Very easy to get distracted! Great time!"


"To say that Dragon Con was better than advertised is a definite understatement. You have to have a solid plan in place to tackle everything, but even just hanging out and watching the cosplayers was a ball. A must for any self respecting nerd's bucket list."


“A crowded wild ride full of fantasy, fun, and epic cosplay. The panels, parties, and stars are a nerdgals/nerdguys dream. Be prepared with comfortable shoes and wait on long lines to get the good stuff.”


“Dragon Con, though very crowded, was an overall great experience. The panels with long lines were (mostly) able to fit everyone who wanted to see in, just make sure you plan attending panels with enough time in between to get to what you want to see.”


"Definitely more than worth the money. There are long lines and you need to get to a panel AT LEAST an hour early to ensure you get in; so prioritize what you must experience vs. what you'd like to experience and schedule accordingly. I miss Dragon Con already, and it's only been 2 days."



Tips For a First Timer:

  • This year the crowd was thicker than I had ever experienced, nearly uncomfortable at some a/c free points in the skywalks. The space at the America’s Mart allowed for slightly more personal space to be had, but the ground level dealer’s room may need to move to a bigger spot. If crowds or very intimate contact with perfect strangers make you cringe, you may want to attend the Artist Alley and Dealer’s Room early on Friday, during the parade on Saturday or on that final Monday.  Being able to move around rather freely and bargain with vendors is another great reason to shop on Monday .

  • When attending celebrity panels, make sure to reach your venue at least one hour before start time if you want a seat close to the stage.  Some areas may allow you line up earlier, but in busy thoroughfares such as the Marriott Atrium, this is not allowed. Luckily, most of these panels are held in very large halls, so even when (not if, but when) the line extends outdoors and around the building, you have a very good chance of getting a seat.

  • Download the Dragon Con app. It will help you schedule all of your activities and share that schedule with your friends for easy meet-ups!

  • If you miss a celebrity panel, don’t stress! They usually have multiple panels, one each day of the con.

  • Carry water, tissue, and hand sanitizer with you to stay hydrated and prevent the dreaded sickness; Con Crud.

  • If you weren’t lucky enough to book a host hotel, make friends with someone who was.  You’ll have a convenient, air conditioned place to cool out and recharge between panels.

  • Carry your charger for your phone or camera with you. There are several spots where you can plug in to keep track of your good times!

  • There is a CVS on site at Peachtree Center. You can purchase many of your favorite drinks & snacks for much cheaper than you’d find in the hotel shops. Even the most experience con-goer will run out of and/or forget something.

  • Attend karaoke in the Hilton



I hope to see you next year at Dragon Con!


Dragon Con 2013: Costume & Cosplay!

See some of the creative cosplay featured at Dragon Con and in the annual parade!



Dragon Con True Blood Panel August 31, 2013

Grant Bowler, Tara Buck, Lauren Bowles, Janina Gavankar, Jim Parrack, & Rutina Wesley talk "True Blood" at Dragon Con 2013



Dragon Con Lost Girl Panel September 1, 2013

K.C. Collins, Paul Amos, & Kris Holden-Ried talk "Lost Girl" at Dragon Con 2013