Dragon Con: Day 0 and Day 1

Day 0: Travel went very smoothly, for the most part. My gate was out of Alaska Air’s terminal and all their gates have outlets at every seat. Fucking fantastic. There was one weird incident: I get settled in and this guy sits next to me. He smells a little and I can’t understand him because he has to use a voice box, but whatever. Shortly before take off, a flight attendant comes over and looks at him and goes, “Sir? You don’t look like a Brenda.” I was in Row 13. His seat? In Row 41. I don’t even know.Plus side, after they kicked him back to his seat, they filled the empty seat with a pilot who was repositioning. She was awesome 😀 Side note: Economy Comfort seat and wifi TOTALLY worth the extra $$ spent. I did end up having to take a taxi because roomie got stuck in traffic, but if that’s the worst thing you can say about a day of travel, that’s still a good day.

The hotel….well…the wifi is free? Beyond that, it’s functional and that’s it. The TV is CRT, the mattresses are unimpressive, they give you no extra pillows/blankets etc in the closet, they give you the bare minimum of towels in the bathroom and so on. It works, but I can’t say I’d recommend the place really.

Registration was okay. Decidedly not as good as SDCC (but then no one can beat the system that Comic Con has in place for its shows) but still less painful than AX. Can’t complain too much. Except for the lack of free lanyards. Kind of a dick move. Veterans were obvious. They brought their own. I eventually forked over $5 to buy one from the con, because the badges (while awesome to look at) are so big that it doesn’t seem like a great idea to clip them from your shirt: like they’d be prone to fall off. Had I known, I would have brought one. I have literally a dozen of them from various cons. It’s a money maker for them, but I still kind of resent it.

Day 1:

Discovered the trams are semi-useless. There are no signs for them. The ground is not marked like they promised. No one seems to know exactly where they are picking up. They also only run from the hotel every 30-45 minutes AND MY HOTEL IS ONLY 1.5 MILES AWAY. The shuttle started at 9:00. First panel was at 10. I wanted breakfast first. So I walked. In the humidity. It was still a bit overcast so it wasn’t too bad, but ugh. This an area for improvement.

I can’t really make too many comments about the programming yet; I only did three panels today and they were all big ‘guest’ panels: the True Blood panel, the Spotlight on Lucy Lawless, and a TNG panel with John DeLancie, Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn. They were all enjoyable. I did slightly prefer the True Blood panel. Not necessarily for the guests (Marina Siritis is a snarky bitch and I kind of love her) but because it was the only panel where the moderator actually spoke to them for a few minutes first before opening it up to Q & A. The other two were a straight hour of Q & A. Anyone who has been to cons of any size knows how bad of an idea this can be. Tomorrow I’m checking out panels from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Young Adult lit tracks so I’ll have a better feel for the unique programming then. As for the clearing the room bit: it’s nice. The whole ‘no line til an hour before’ thing seems a bit silly because people try to line up anyway. They have Reasons, but I ain’t buying them. Anyway.

Walk of Fame: overall, pretty well laid out with generally enough room to do what needed to be done. Prices seemed mostly reasonable. I will say that the actresses who play Holly and Ginger got screwed: they separated them from the rest of the TB actors and I don’t think many really recognized them without that help. Their tables were empty. 😦 I didn’t want to approach because I didn’t want to buy and it seemed kind of mean to do so. I did pick up an autograph from Janina (I have Rutina and Jim’s) and we discussed cosplay for a few minutes. She seemed nice enough. I declined to pay $20 to take a picture of her with my camera though. I will also decline to pay $30 to take a picture with her. I think I’m skipping out on that whole thing and better off for it. That looked like a zoo down there.

Art Show: Genuinely impressed with the level of talent on display. Definitely one of the best ones I’ve ever seen. I also love the idea of having an area for artists to sell prints. Brilliant idea, tbqh, and it might not be a bad idea for other cons to steal.

Dealer’s Room: from a merchandise standpoint, it was a mixed bag. A LOT of steampunk related items (I’ve never seen so many corset dealers in one place!) and a fair amount of indie jewelery makers and the like. Not much in the way toys (well plenty of Funko) almost nothing of comics. Of course, it’s hard to really gauge what is there when you can’t even see how the room is organized or even really walk it properly. I am used to insane dealer’s room. I’ve done SDCC. But this? What a hot mess. The rooms they were using felt like the lines snaked around instead of being in neatly laid rows. Everything was super tight too. I don’t think I’ll be back. The one virtue to the place? TONS of places to charge my phone. Woot! I also actually made it out of the dealer’s room only spending $3 to protect my Janina autograph, since I forgot mine at home. Double Woot!

And the stuff I didn’t like so much:

WiFi/Cell Service – complete shite for me. Wasn’t going to get access at the hotels and it was so busy at the main hotels the only place I had decent luck was the Sheraton. But since this is to be expected, it’s a minor quibble.

Overcrowding- OMG is this con ridiculously overcrowded. The official headcount form last year was 55000. Heard today actual was about 70000. Why the underreport? The 55k was based on rooms sold. This con has a history of getting in to trouble with the Fire Marshall for violating safe occupancy limits. One year they closed off the Hyatt to only those with a key card. This year? They opened doors in the dealers room they weren’t planning to have open because the Fire Marshall made them. There are throngs of people everywhere. And unlike a convention center which is made to hold such volumes of people, the high volumes made it SO difficult to move around. And it’s only going to get worse tomorrow. It’s a con in desperate need of moving to a convention center, but apparently the con has contracts with the hotels for another 6-7 years or something. They’re adding another one next year. And speaking of: here’s the thing. It’s nice that three of the hotels are connected. It really is. It doesn’t change the fact that the hotels are GIGANTIC and can be more than a block apart. Hoping around form building to building in these crowds just isn’t fast and it’s going to suck having two panels back to back in different hotels tomorrow.

The almost snobby attitude of veterans – I’ve heard numerous people complain about things (registration, moving around) being more difficult than in the past. Yet I suggested moving the con and I had more than one person get affronted by the notion. “If we move to a convention center, than programming has to stop at 8 and we’ll be just like San Diego.” (Counter argument: Do what SDCC does: keep nighttime programming in the hotels. Problem solved). More than one person and even con personnel talk about how corporate SDCC is and Dragon Con TV took a cheap shot (and they admitted it was cheap) about how corporations “pandered” to geeks at SDCC. You know what? If pandering means you get Hiddleston dressed as Loki reciting monologues from memory? PANDER ME BABY.

I don’t get the attitude. The cons aren’t the same. Like. At all. The programming is like over-sized Wonder Con meet Lobby Con with more celebrities and some genuinely unique programming. There’s no reason that people can’t enjoy both. It almost comes off as bitter. And it also seems kind of stupid when SO much of their growth is coming from SDCC vets. Just because the con got too big for comfort doesn’t mean they necessarily hated SDCC. It just rubbed me the wrong way.

Ultimately, I do think that I’m catching Dragon Con at a bit of a bad time: it’s clear they’re in a growth spurt but don’t have a great way of handling said growth spurt. That said, all the people I’ve chatted with in line and what not have been genuinely friendly and I can understand why people would love this con. I’m not sure that this is the con for me, but I am waiting to be proved wrong 🙂

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