Six Things I learned From My First Dragoncon


While I have been to plenty of conventions in my time, this year was my first time at Dragoncon, and my first time in years at a con this massive (been to PAX Prime a few times, but it’s been at least 6 years and it’s a very different set up). I’d like to say my overall experience with Dragoncon was fantastic and I am already planning on going next year. If you can, you should to, and it really is never to early to start planning. Here are some things I learned. Some of this is specific to Dragoncon, but some does apply to cons in general.

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6. Don’t Buy Food inside the Con

Much like traveling to a popular theme park, one of the most expensive things you can do at a con is eat inside. Not only is it expensive with long lines, but generally it’s some of the least healthy food you can possibly eat (and rarely of decent quality). This can go double for Dragoncon as many of your most immediate options are hotel restaurants which always carry a premium price for their food. Granted, at some cons there aren’t a wealth of superior options around but for Dragoncon this is definitely not the case. Not only are there plenty of fantastic places to eat within a block, but if you want reasonably priced food, the Peachtree Center is virtually next door and has a food court with a ton of options. Obviously the most price-conscious option is to pack your own food but sometimes you want something else or don’t want to carry food around all the time. This is where I ate nearly all my meals, had something different nearly every time, seemed reasonably priced and wasn’t disappointed.

5. Working For A Website Helps A Lot

It my sound like a recruitment drive, but working for an entertainment website such as this one can help you in lots of ways. I got media pass for all 4 days of Dragoncon for free, and got to sit in on some pretty cool conferences with people such as John Noble Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton, Katie Cassidy & Yuri Lowenthal and even got to talk one on one with some cool people such as voice actors Courtenay Taylor & Dino Andrade. Most were even willing to take pictures with reporters, which can save yo money because then you get your photo ops! It can be plenty of work, but if you are passionate enough to go to Dragoncon, it probably won’t feel like work.

4. Saturday Is The Worst Day

Dragoncon takes place over Labor Day weekend, so there isn’t really a day that isn’t busy, but Saturday at Dragoncon is a nearly impossible mass of humanity to negotiate. It’s possible to move around on the streets outside, but once you get inside the host hotels, it is just a wall of people that doesn’t seem to want to move. Honestly, unless there is a panel you have to see or some celebrity photo op that is only happening on Saturday, you might want to spend this particular Saturday either seeing what else Atlanta has to offer or just resting up in your hotel room.

3. Monday Is The Best Day To Shop

Dragoncon Features tons of vendors, many offering unique merchandise it’s not horribly easy to get otherwise. That being said, unless there is something you know you want, the best day to shop vendors is the final day of Dragoncon. It’s just so busy that you might miss out on other things like panels & photo ops. Monday, usually the last day of the con, not only is usually the least busy day (because many are heading home), but also can get you discounts from vendors looking to unload stock. And this is true of most cons, the last day is the best day to buy stuff.

2. Have A Plan B

Panels get full early. Celebrities cancel. You might not be able to move after one particularly exhausting day. Don’t panic, just have a backup (or possibly a couple) alternatives. Find another less popular panel to attend if the one you primarily want to go is out. Don’t only go for one celebrity. Plan some other activities you can participate in. The point is there are tons and tons of various ways to have fun at Dragoncon, plan for something else to do if you can’t do the main thing you wanted to, you probably won’t be disappointed.


If you just want to book a hotel in Atlanta for Dragoncon, there’s no rush. But Dragoncon can be an exhausting experience, and renting a car/taking a cab can be expensive. Some hotels have shuttles, but they have limited runs and you may be waiting hours for one to take you back. The best option is to book as early as possible in order to get a close hotel. I already have my hotel booked. It’s not a host hotel, but it’s within walking distance. One of the host hotels, the Westin, opened up booking and was filled within hours. Probably all the nearby hotels will be booked by early October. You can check the official Dragoncon website for hotel updates, but it might be better just to call them and see about booking. I feel a lot better knowing I can just walk back to my hotel next year for a quick nap if have hours before the next thing I want to do.

And that’s what I learned from my first experience at Dragoncon. I loved it and already am planning next year’s trip. If you are serious about going, I suggest you should at least start planning as well.

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