Dragon*Con 2007 Report
There was considerable doubt to whether we would go to D*C in 2007. We knew my wife was going to be pregnant again and money in general is tight. I also was not sure how Taylor would handle it. She was 1 when we went in 2005 and handled it OK. However, we had a stroller which made things easy except for the times when we were in the dealers room. But we figured since Jordan is going away to college next year, we would not have a chance to go as a family again. So Steph OK’ed us preregistering back in April. I was very excited about the guest list. That is really all I was interested in. Gaming was never something I did at D*C. Costuming was something I never did at D*C either but that is something I ended up doing this year.
My trip to Dragon*Con for the first time started on a Thursday. We left late that night and stayed in a cheaper hotel just outside of Atlanta using some Marriott points. Our journey into Atlanta started Fri morning. We were in our hotel by 10:30 AM and the crowds had already started by that time.
Registration wasn’t bad that early except for a guy that had to be taken out on a gurney for some reason or another (probably heat exhaustion). If I ever go back, we’re getting there that early again. As the weekend went on, I saw registration lines that circled the block and thanked God that we had gotten there early.
Friday started with just looking around and getting a feel for where everything was. As usual, D*C was in multiple hotels. Because of renovations being done to the Marriott (which really did complicate things), the gaming, registration, dealers and exhibitors hall had been moved around. The three hotels this year were the Marriott Marquis, the Hyatt and the Hilton. It used to be that most of the action took place in the Hyatt and the Marriott. This year – most of gaming was in the Marriott. Registration was in the Hyatt (where gaming used to be). The dealers room and exhibitors hall were all in the Hilton in different rooms. The dealers room was in the same room it used to be in back in the 90s – in the basement area of the Hilton. I remembered when D*C could fit in just the Hilton. Main programming and most of the programming tracks were held where they usually are – in the labyrinth of the Hyatt’s convention space. The Walk of Fame was in the Marriott as well – a placement I was not sure was all that smart.
I had a mission to find certain number of people during the weekend and with at least 40,000 people expected to attend, I was not hopeful I would find them all. The funny thing is I did in the first few hours of the con. Some weird law of chaos or something.
We got to tour the dealers room and exhibitors hall quickly before it closed. My only complaint with the dealers room is that it was confusing. There was plenty to buy and if I was not a family guy and still in my 20s, I probably would have spent $1000 like I did one year. But I was conservative (at least to me it was) and only bought a game the first day – Dust, by Fantasy Flight.
Another thing I got to do on Friday is a panel in the American Sci-fi TV track about The 4400. It was a pretty lively discussion about the plot and morals of the show. I found it entertaining but I realized there are quite a few people that take the show a little more seriously than I do. We also got into the first Stargate Mega-panel which had a good group of the early arriving Stargate celebrities. That was quite funny.
I also checked out the gaming area once to drop off MACE and ConCarolinas flyers. Gaming was spread out over several floors in the Marriott. This was different from the one big room in the Hyatt that it is usually in. This made it seemed less populated that in years past. But I am sure it reduced the noise problems. There was board games, miniature games and RPGs, but I never got around to seeing the cards games. The times I went (which were not during the peak times)
Saturday started early for us because we were all going to be in the parade with the Stargate groups. I was dressed in full Stargate gear, Jordan in his Army gear, Stephanie as pregnant Vala in a dress her and her mom made, and Taylor in her little camo gear. The parade was simply HUGE. Everything from Star Wars and Star Trek to Pokemon and Resident Evil, from super heroes and super villains to World War Two replicas and pin-up girls. It was awesome. We had all the SG groups there. SG Atlanta has a big contingent (go figure…) and there were about 6 SG-SOCOM people there. We represented as best as we could. It was almost a mile walk in full SG gear. It was hot but not terribly hot. It was relatively overcast and there was a good breeze, so overall it was not bad. It actually was real fun.
Once we recovered from the parade and had lunch, we set out to get autographs. We wanted autographs from Christopher Judge, Michael Shank and Claudia Black. That took a considerable amount of time. We first bought tickets but because most had a panels or lunch breaks planned at 1 PM, we had to come back later. So we tried to make it to the Claudia Black panel. This was our first experience with the over-crowding problem. The panel was full and the doors were closed. This would happen many times through out the weekend. You did not get into main programming panels, especially SG panels, unless you stood in line that wrapped around for blocks.
We did come back for the autographs and stood in line for 3 hours. We got all three we wanted and talked briefly with the stars. We found out while standing there when Claudia Black arrived that she is pregnant again. So she had more in common with my wife then just looks. It was also interesting to see Chris Judge with long hair. He really grew it out since the show ended. Surprise guests this year included Jason Momoa (Ronon of Stargate Atlantis) and Aaron Douglas (Cheif Galen Tyrol of Battlestar Galactica). I did not get autographs from them however.
Saturday after dinner, I hung with Chris Fisher while my wife took Taylor back to the room. I went to the Dawn contest with Chris. It was subdued compared to contests in the past, but fun. 70 contestants. I left after 62 and went to bed.
Sunday was pretty wide open for us as we had accomplished most of what we wanted to do on Fri and Sat. We did get into the Stargate Mega-Panel this time, with everyone including Claudia Black. It was funny again. That room was very full.
We also went into the Dragon*Con charity auction which did not attract the crowd that I would have expected. The room was one of the smaller ones and it was only half full of people. I got in just in time to get an autographed (by the writers) copy of the not-in-stores-yet Battlestar Galactica RPG. I immediately went to the Walk of Fame to get Jamie Bamber’s autograph.
We went to dinner with the Snyders and their friends. We got back as the costume contest had started but I was not all that excited about going to that, simple because of the crowds. They had to arrange for an overflow room because they expected such a big crowd this year. Honestly, from what I saw on the hotel TV, the quality of the costumes seemed to have dropped some. The best were the Wallace and Gromit costumes. I usually am right down there in the photo-op line taking picture of the costumes but the crowds were simply too big for me to do that this year.
Steph, Jordan, Taylor and I donned our SG gear one more time to walk around and take more pictures of the hallway costumes, which are always much better than the contest. I took over 100 pictures over the weekend. Jordan was nice enough to watch Taylor that night to let Steph and I to walk around. Between midnight and 1 AM, there were still big events going on including other costume contests. D*C has made a good decision to let many of the big tracks have their own costume contests, including Star Wars, Harry Potter and Anime. Some of these were still going that night. The SG track room (our first trip to the actual room) was still packed with people having fun.
Sunday night marked the only real bad experience we had. We stayed at the Marriott (thanks again to Marriott points), where the parties were not supposed to be happening. And for the most part, that was true. That night when Steph and I walked out of our hotel room to walk around, we had already heard noises out in the halls. I thought there might have been a party going on or something. Come to find out, it was just a group of 6 to 8 young 20-somthing snot-nosed kids talking and making all kinds of stupid noise. There were 40 other floors to do this on and they chose the top-most floor to sit their and make noise. WTF! There was not anything else happening on our floor. There was a few people on the 9th, 10th and 11th floor because that is where the lounge floor was, but outside of that, there was nothing on the other floors (except the lobby, of course). So I asked them nicely to take it somewhere else stating that I had a child trying to sleep in the room. Most of this group were very accommodating but one or two decided make a few snide remarks about having kids at con … the quote being “..Kids. Cons. Kinda awkward…” Man, that steamed me. They were lucky they got on an elevator because I just about exploded. Who are these kids telling me that it is awkward to have kids at a con. I probably have been going to Dragon*Con since before they were old enough to be out of diapers. I have been running cons longer than they have been even thinking about going to cons. Idiot kids. It hit a sensitive spot and it took a while for both me and Steph to calm down.
Monday was check out. Check out at D*C is utter chaos. We were on the 41st floor, which was good because it was the last stop for the public elevators. Some in most cases, we had a fairly empty elevator. Instead of getting the hotel to take our bags, I chose to man up and take the bags down myself, all the way to the parking garage. It took three trips with the last trip Jordan and Stephanie helping. It was rough but it was much easier than dealing with the chaos of the Marriott loop and the lack of luggage carts. We hung around long enough to buy a couple more things in the dealers room and then left after lunch exhausted. We got home about 7 pm Monday night.
Taylor and Stephanie were real troopers, but Taylor got tired real quick on Friday and every day after that. Imagine this little girl not able to see anything more than peoples legs rushing by, being bumped by people who did not bother to look down as they rushed off to their next event, dealing with the heat in and outside the hotels and being dragged along by parents who walked faster, I can see why she would get quite tired of things pretty quick. She was not all that bad through out the weekend, but you could tell by the second day, this little 3 year old was ready to go home. We did buy her first dice bag and some dice for her on Saturday, which she liked and played with for a little while.
Jordan on the other hand, had his hands full with getting us ready for the parade the next day and working with the SG-SOCOM people that came down. Matt Snyder and his wife had traveled down from Maryland to their first Dragon*Con. It was good to see them and I am sorry we did not get to spend as much time as we wanted to with them, but I am sure Jordan made up for it. We were simply a slave of two things – the few events were definitely wanted to attend and Taylor. Eating was somewhere in there too.
I talked with many of the friends I have met through ConCarolinas, MACE and StellarCon. I enjoy the socializing at Dragon*Con although unlike many, I do not have a core clique that I hang with all weekend. I guess I am not as social as some. I guess I seem antisocial to those that I talk with briefly but I don’t mean to. I just feel like there is so much ME anyone can really take before you just want me to go away. I also saw people I did not want to see but it seems as the years go by, I care less and less about being in her vicinity.
Overall, it was great. It was crowded. It was hot. The dealers room was always crowded and hot. The Walk of Fame was always crowded and hot. The escalators actually held up better than years past. The energy of Dragon*Con is always incredible and I do not see it going away any time soon. The dealers room all were talking about how well they did. Some probably could have lived off the money they made that weekend. Well, maybe not, but the money seem to be constantly flowing down there. There were things that made me feel out of touch with fandom because I did not recognize it (like some of the Anime stuff) but then again, I saw things that made me feel right at home (like the V Visitor uniforms). Dragon*Con always wears me out but also leaves me wanting more, so when I can, I will plan to go again.