Dragon*Con is one of the largest pop-culture conventions in the world, with four days of events broken up into "tracks" of interest covering everything from science fiction, fantasy, gaming, comics, film, theatre, literature, and art to music, robotics, engineering, space exploration, and paranormal investigation. Held annually over Labor Day weekend in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, programing includes celebrity panels, autograph sessions, workshops, screenings, concerts, art shows, contests, beauty pageants, a film festival, a parade through downtown, a blood drive, and attempts to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
Over 40,000 people spent Labor Day weekend at Dragon*Con this year, transforming downtown Atlanta into pop-culture wonderland. The annual parade drew a record number of participants, with the 501st Star Wars regiment, traditionally the largest of the marching groups, rivaled in size by several entries, including the Doctor Who contingent. The convention also held no less than three attempts to enter the Guinness Book of World Records, and succeeded with the Largest Gathering of Star Trek costumers with 571. The convention's guest list was equally impressive; my personal favorites included Star Trek: The Next Generation's Marina Sirtis, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, John de Lancie, and LeVar Burton, The X-Files' William B. Davis, AKA The Cigarette Smoking Man, Jewel Staite and Morena Baccarin from Firefly, and the entire main cast of I Dream of Jeannie. The lines for events much easier to deal with this year and the staff prevented people from lining up more than an hour and half in advance. However, registration still does not employ the computerized systems of conventions one-fourth its size, and still looks up each per-registrant in giant three-ring binders. As a result, wait times averaged four to five HOURS Thursday; they desperately need to streamline the process before agonized attendees revolt.
Personal Thoughts: Sketch and I flew down to Atlanta Thursday morning, and by the time we arrived at the hotel the pre-reg line was already wrapped around the outside of the Sheraton. Last year it took us two hours to get our badges, this year it took two hours just to get inside. The beer they were selling helped, but not much after a four-hour wait. Friday morning we entered the hall contest in our Cheshire Cat and Flynn Rider costumes before meeting up with EllyStar at the Sheraton pool for the Disney photoshoot. There were lots of great costumes, including the Broadway musical version of the Beauty and the Beast cast, and even a Rapunzel for Sketch to pose with! Afterwards we changed and parted ways; the boys went to hang out with Brian Brushwood at the NFSW panel while I went to go see Marina Sirtis, who I grew up watching as Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I just made the cutoff to get in and she was absolutely HILARIOUS. Troi was never my favorite TNG character, but I love Marina. That evening I was on my way back to the room when I was stopped by a Batman cosplayer who liked my “Batgirl costume” even though I was just wearing a Batman T-Shirt with a black skirt and boots. He pulled me into a Batman photoshoot which was funny, but when his friends starting commenting "when you get married you can tell your kids you met as Batman and Batgirl” I nicely said, “Well, my boyfriend actually got me this shirt.” He was a little disappointed but very gentlemanly about it, and Sketch got a kick out of the story.
Saturday Sketch and PatD marched in the parade with the Doctor Who group, and I joined them for the photoshoot as Amy Pond. That afternoon we dressed as King Kandy and Queen Frostine from Candyland, along with Crazy Flower as Jolly, EllyStar as Grandma Nutt and Sketch’s niece and nephew as the Candy Kids. We were swarmed by people in the Marriott for hours, and the kids enjoyed hiding under my skirts and popping out from under them when people asked for a photo. That evening we got into our Mal and Inara outfits and met up with the rest of our Firefly group to see Brian Brushwood’s magic show. While we waited in line, we experienced a rarity; when EllyStar picked up her badge Thursday, she found out that there were two “Elizabeth O’Malley”s at the con, only one of which was her. However, when talking to the girl in front of us waiting at Brian’s show, we discovered she was the other Elizabeth O’Malley! 40,000 attendees, what’s the chance?!
Following the show we walked to the Westin for the Firefly "It's A Mighty Fine Shindig" party. It started out slow, but after a few drinks a fantastic folk band came on stage and started playing everything from toe-tapping Celtic music to "Sweet Caroline," and I dragged Sketch out and started dancing. Our River soon joined us, totally drunk and spinning like a top, while PatD - as Simon - and Pat O’Malley - as Jayne - joined in, and the crowd formed a circle around us, clapping and enjoying the drunken Firefly cast cutting up a rug. Eventually the onlookers joined in as well, and soon enough the entire party was dancing and singing and having a fantastic time. We danced until the very last song, and Sketch ended the evening by twirling me in for a kiss.
Sunday I went to the I Dream of Jeannie panel with all three of the original main cast members. It was awesome to meet them and hear them tell stories, and Barbara Eden is still drop-dead gorgeous at 76. The audience, however, was full of obnoxious, middle-aged men drooling all over themselves and spending more time gushing all over the place and asking totally inane questions instead of facilitating an interesting discussion. That evening we changed back into our Firefly costumes and met Jewel Staite and got her autograph; she was a sweetheart and loved our outfits! That evening Sketch and I opted for a dinner for two while still in our Firefly costumes; several strangers came up to us during the meal and commented, “We’re so glad you two finally got together!” to which we looked at each other, and quite honestly replied, “So are we!” Monday we all did a last round of the dealer's rooms before catching our flight home; I found a poster version of a photo taken of The Next Generation cast that I had been looking for for years and bought it; I’m going to have fun meeting all the actors and collecting their signatures on it!