If I had to describe DragonCon in one word it would be CRAZY; crazy costumes, crazy people, crazy busy, crazy packed, crazy fun. I went with one intention and one intention only: The 100. I cannot fathom being one of the thousands of people there that wanted to spend their time on more than one show/cast. With only four people on my agenda, all of whom were together, my schedule was still jam packed full of walking and standing in lines and waiting for panels and that was just for my one little ride or die show.
More power to the people that are braver than I and packed their schedules with wanting to see everyone. You are a saint and a God(dess) amongst us mere mortals. You have my undying respect.
But on with the show.
My experience was probably a tame one in comparison to others. Early on, my merry band of friends and I decided that we weren’t going to arrive on Friday and dive right in, we were going to arrive on Thursday and take a day to adjust. And thank God we did.
If you’re a member of a fandom, half the fun of cons is meeting up with your fellow fandom friends. I am extremely fortunate to have some amazing fandom friends and we actually all flew in sort of together-different states, same airline, landing times within fifteen minutes of each other-and were roomies at our offsite hotel.
This is important. If you are not going to be staying in one of the hotels that hosts DragonCon, make sure that your hotel has a shuttle to and from the airport so that you can take the train in. Which we did. Every day. Sometimes twice a day.
Thursday night was a chill night. My frands and I grabbed dinner and stayed at the hotel with plans to wake up early to go and get our passes the next day. If you’ve never met up with friends from online, you’ve never experienced that awkwardness that comes from meeting someone face to face as opposed to just talking through a phone. We were lucky and didn’t miss a beat and were able to segue our online friendship in to one that didn’t need a phone seamlessly. Our Lyft driver was very impressed with our natural easiness. Yay, friends!
Things we learned:
Alarms are merely suggestions to get up as opposed to actual things that should be listened to. Basically, we made plans and were late for all of them because that’s just who we are as people.
Heels are cute. Don’t wear them. You will walk so much. Friday marked our first official day navigating the hotels and trying to find the right ones that held our badges-The Sheraton for the general admission badges, the Hyatt for my press pass-and then getting to where the first panel was supposed to take place.
We ended up walking over 7 miles just on Friday, which is a lot when you feel like you’re walking in circles, and in the rain no less.
After we got our passes, we immediately made our way to the line-the long long line- for first of The 100 panels. We were over an hour early and still were nowhere near the front. Who says The 100 isn’t popular? People who just have no idea, that’s who.
A lot of the fun of waiting in line (besides talking to each other,) is listening to other friends talk to each other around you. Seeing how this show has brought so many people together is truly beautiful and it’s such a humbling experience firsthand.
Unfortunately, waiting in that long ass line and then doing a little jog to get seats that were good and waiting an additional forty-five minutes was all for naught. The first panel was cancelled due to “transportation issues.” We later learned that “transportation issues” was code for, “Hahahaha, sorry, yeah. They’re literally not even in the country yet and we forgot to tell you. Better luck tomorrow.”
That was unfortunate.
But we took it in stride and headed to The Marriot that hosts the legendary Walk of Fame. For those not familiar with the term, the Walk of Fame is where all of the stars are every second that they’re not at panels. It’s where you get your autographs and selfies with your faves (for a fee) if you’re not up to purchasing one of the official photo ops. We wanted to check and see if our cast’s fees were up so we could properly prepare for the next day. Because the actors weren’t there, there was no line to wait in and we ended up talking to the IDDS manager, Daniel, for a bit. If you’re not familiar with Daniel, you should be. He’s awesome. He’s the manager for Richard Harmon and Chris Larkin among others of the cast, but since Richard and Chris were the ones that were doing DC, they’re the ones that get mentioned. I don’t make the rules.
Oh, wait. This is my article. Yes, I do.
Anyway, after Daniel was nice enough to chit chat with us for a bit, we went to Holly, with Conventions, Etc, to check Zach and Tasya’s prices as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to talk to her as much (sorry, Holly!), because that is one busy lady. Something to note, even with Zach and Tasya not there yet, the number of people coming up to check out their prices and inquire about where they were was insane. Zach McGowan? Insanely popular, much more so than I realized. Which makes sense with how charming and personable he is in person, but more on that later.
Heading back to the hotel, we decided to power nap-which I didn’t-and go back to downtown Atlanta that night for drinks-which I did.
You may recall back in May that Cinco de Mayo kicked my ass. I haven’t had too much to drink since then.
DragonCon changed that. Not drastically, but drink I did.
Despite our night of drinking and having a good time, we headed back relatively early because we had another panel to attempt the next afternoon and we wanted to hit the Walk of Fame before that. We wanted to be the first ones there and had a plan to get there as soon as it opened. Which brings us to….
DragonCon is absolutely famous for its parade, and rightfully so. It is a sight to behold. Well, I imagine it’s a sight to behold. I couldn’t actually see much except the 80+ people that were surrounding me as I was shoved up against the brick wall of a Hooters. Funnily enough, we didn’t want to see the parade. We thought we were being smart and were going to take the train, which lets out in the lobby of a mall that is in the Hyatt, and use the skywalk to go over to the Mariott.
Did they show us.
Instead of letting us into the Hyatt they made use walk allllllllll the way to the other side of the station and up into foot traffic. And that foot traffic? An utter nightmare. We managed to stay together for all of three minutes before we got shoved and prodded away from each other for the better part of an hour. Shout out to the guy who ended up shoved directly into me who was nice enough to introduce himself and to the nice woman who grabbed my hand and pulled me through as soon as she saw an opening in the crowd so that we could move. I had lost all levels of Zen at that point and she was my guardian angel. Long story short, the Dragon Con parade is not for the faint of heart. Whether you want to see it or you want to get to another destination immediately, make plans to leave at least an hour early so you can actually move.
We did eventually reach the Marriot and make it in to the Walk of Fame and then stood in line for a lonnnnng time before we finally made it in front of Chris and Richard. My kingdom for a cell phone that takes no crap pictures. Chris offered the people in his line a power bar and after a few moments of silence I took it since….what am I going to do? Leave the dude hanging? Plus, I ate that bar waiting for the panel so…score. To make things fun and interesting for themselves as well as their fans, Chris and Richard had everyone write their name, favorite planet, and preferred medicine of choice, and then had everyone sign their table, which I thought was a fun touch.
Another line, another panel and this one actually went through! I really debated about whether or not to go into details about the panels here, but honestly, nothing was spoiled for season five. It was more of a rehashing of everything that we already knew and some personal anecdotes. Such as, Richard Harmon loves Dominion. Everyone in the cast apparently plays it and Richard is the self-proclaimed starter and champion of it. Again, most mind boggling is the sheer volume of questions for Zach McGowan. The man is a hot commodity and everyone wanted a piece of him. Tasya went into detail about how she’s such a vibrant person that she found it difficult to find her stillness in Echo. Chris….is a quiet bean. He didn’t speak too often but when he did, his answers were hilarious. He is very dry and quick-witted. I may now stan.
After the panel it was back to the Walk of Fame, this time for Zach and Tasya. Once again, these lines were so extremely long. Half the time you spend at DC will be standing in line. Luckily, The 100 cast makes it worth it. They all seem like they’re genuinely pleased to meet you and want to make your experience a good one and they don’t rush you away from them, even if the line starts to build up behind you. We tried not to abuse that, but sometimes you get so wrapped up in talking to them that your social graces fall to the wayside. To any fans waiting behind a group of four chatty women, sorry!
Saturday night was interesting. Beyond interesting. It was fantastic. It started off with deciding we were going to check out the “nightclub” at the Marriot, Pulse, partially in hopes of maybe seeing the cast, partially because it was vacation and why not let loose? To kick the night off, I was propositioned while waiting to be let into the nightclub. Now, here’s where I have mad respect for the dude who did the propositioning. He stopped, started chatting me up, got my name, where I was from, told me where his hotel was, and asked if I wanted to take his number. Now, I was there with my friends and had no intention of leaving them to go off with some guy I don’t know, in a city I’m unfamiliar with, at a convention, for goodness sakes. I was totally planning on pulling the girl move of giving him a number that was close to mine but a digit or two off. It’s a thing, fellas. Look it up. Instead, before I could even unlock my phone screen, he stopped me and asked if I was interested in “cuddles” that weekend, to which I promptly responded in the negative. He flashed me a smile, gave me this kinda cocky/self-deprecating shrug, and peaced out without another word. While some may find this behavior reprehensible, I have to say…mad props to you, dude. You knew I wasn’t interested and instead of putting any pressure on me whatsoever, you went off to find someone else who might be. Respect.
Dancing and drinking at Pulse was fun. Running into the cast at the restaurant downstairs was even better. Once again, big thank you to them for letting us chat with them for a bit during dinner and even letting us take some pictures. Or maybe they should be thanking us for the introduction to good fanfic. And by good, I mean bad. And by bad, I mean dirty. Let your mind go where it may.
Sunday brought a morning panel and a hangover and exhaustion as we once again hit the Walk of Fame. Why we didn’t just sleep in that room, I don’t know. I’ll know better for next time. Sunday’s panel was a lot of fun, honestly. Chris and Richard decided to switch names and Zach came in late, tossed a chair, and drank directly out of a water pitcher. A good time was had by all. Sunday was the third day of the con and by that time, my granny self was feeling the effects. Sunday was spent in a con fog and we returned to the hotel early and decided to crash. Of course, that was the night that the cast ended up doing karaoke at the Hard Rock. Somebody remind me to power through next time.
Monday was another blur: packing, showering, fighting the post-con depression (it’s honestly a thing, you feel so depressed leaving this magical time behind), and scrambling to say goodbye to the fandom friends who’d become so much more than that. If you ever go to a con, you might think you’re prepared for this moment, but you’re not. It honestly is very hard.
I would like to thank DragonCon for letting me come to their event and for organizing such a great one, even with its occasional hiccups. To my friends who told me that I was in no way allowed to cancel, no matter how close I was to actually doing it, thanks for putting up with me and making it a great time. And let’s not leave out a thanks to the city of Atlanta, who not only put up with 77,000 additional guests, but also wanted to make sure everyone was having a fun and safe time.
Until next time! May we meet again.
(Quick thank you to Erin, Kels, and Jess who were nice enough to let me steal a few of their pictures as well as Nicki who made this semi-readable.)