September 1st - 5th, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia

Convention Stats:
Location: Peachtree Center
Event Year: Thirtieth
Reported Attendance: 77,000
Theme: 30th Anniversary
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
Mal Reynolds, Firefly
Han Solo, Star Wars
Richard Castle, Castle
Prince Adam, Beauty and the Beast
Prince Adam, 1950s Disneybound
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
Inara Serra, Firefly
Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars
Summoner Lenne, Final Fantasy X-2
Rei Hino, Sailor Moon
Emerald Empress, Legion
Belle, Beauty and the Beast
Belle, 1950s Disneybound
Our Events:
A Night At the Georgia Aquarium
Convention Photos:

Photo Credits:
Lionel Lum, Sketch, Photos-NXS, ChezPhoto, Shiva, Sketch, DC Staff, Shiva

Dragon*Con welcomed over 77,000 attendees Labor Day weekend for its 30th anniversary, which included fans from all 50 states and countries around the world. Featured guests included Gillian Anderson from The X-Files, William Shatner and Karl Urban from Star Trek, Alan Tudyk from Firefly and Rouge One, Karen Gillian from Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy, and the puppeteers of BB-8, the new droid in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For the last few years attendees have started arriving late Wednesday or early Thursday, and Dragon*Con responded this year by offering expanded programming on Thursday. They also launched a fan-driven awards program called the Dragon Awards, which recognizes the creators of science fiction and fantasy in movies, television, literature, comics, and gaming. The convention also further expanded its space in the AmericasMart, including not only dealers room space but also programing and panel rooms, which helped alleviate some of the congestion in the main hotels.Although the convention remained very crowded, the staff and hotel security did a good job of keeping people moving and implementing a strict badge-check policy to keep gawkers who weren't attending the convention out of the hotels. For better or worse, the crowding aspect can never truly be fixed with a change in venue; Dragon*Con's sense of community and charm is based upon its interconnected hotel location, so it will likely never expand to a convention center.

Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
We flew down to Atlanta at the crack of dawn Thursday morning along with Ellystar and met up with Majodere at the Atlanta airport. We enjoyed our annual ritual of checking into the Marriott before the crowd arrived, standing in a short line for badges, and then having a leisurely breakfast at Caribou Coffee at the Peachtree Center food court. After getting settled, we hopped on the MARTA and headed out to the Buckhead area of Atlanta; we had never visited that part of town before and enjoyed wlking around and seeing some of the local sights before returning to the Marquis and joining our roommates in a Thursday afternoon nap. Refreshed, we got into our Mal and Inara costumes from Firefly for a photoshoot with UV Photography, then met up with the crew for a delicious sushi dinner at Pacific Rim Bistro. Afterwards we enjoyed an evening and drinking in costume in the Marriott lobby, and just missed Joey Fatone who showed up at the Pulse bar right after we left!

Friday morning we slept in, got dressed in regular clothes, and walked a few blocks, coffee in hand, to the AmericasMart to get in line for the dealer’s room complex. Once the line moved to let us in, we made a beeline for Yaya Han's booth to pick up orange horns and wings for Scarlet, who was flying in tomorrow and needed them for her Figment costume. It was a good thing we went early; we bought the only orange ones they had! We then headed to Arda to grab a wig for Shiva's Lenne costume, which she realized she didn’t have one for while packing despite a bin full of brunette wigs. Essential shopping complete, we decided to come back to browse later and instead hit up the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine panel which was also being held at the top level of the AmericasMart.

That afternoon we grabbed some lunch and then got into our Han and Leia costumes for a photoshoot with ChezPhoto, who was amazing! Afterwards we wandered the Marriott and checked out the Walk of Fame before meeting up with the crew and trying the Mediterranean place inside the food court for dinner, which was absolutely delicious. Later that night we pre-gamed with cocktails in our room while Majodere and Shiva got into their Songstress Lenne and Yuna outfits from Final Fantasy X-2. Sketch was pretty drunk at this point, and it was hilarious watching him try to help them fashion tape their arm ribbons. We headed to the lobby and did a photoshoot by the fountain before going back inside and partying. Someone had some awesome dance tunes blasting and someone else had rigged up a remote control stripper pole on a hoverboard in the middle of the lobby, and a circle had formed of people taking turns dancing on it - Shiva and Majodere had a go, obviously. Overall a great night dancing and hanging out with friends.

Saturday morning Sketch was super hungover, but the rest of us got up and watched the parade on TV as we ate breakfast. This was the first year they were broadcasting the parade on network TV in addition to Dragon*Con TV and the announcers were excellent - we actually thought they did a much better than the DCTV ones. Scarlet arrived from the airport and we all got dressed in our Sailor Senshi winter school uniforms and met up with Lionel at 2pm for a fun shoot ourside of the Hyatt. Once we were done Sketch was feeling better and joined us as Richard Castle, and we all grabbed some lunch and took some more photos in the Hilton. That afternoon we all took a nap before getting pumped up to go to the Aquarium Party. Shiva got into her Emerald Empress costume while Scarlet wore Figment, Sketch Castle and Majodere got into Keith from Voltron and we walked the few blocks to the aquarium at 8PM. We had an absolute blast taking photos, drinking, and dancing our butts off to the awesome tunes until the party wrapped at 11PM. It had been several years since we’d gone to the Aquarium Party and we had forgotten how much fun it was! The line for the bus back to the hotels was huge and we were exhausted, so we caught an Uber back to the Marriott with a very entertaining driver who got a kick out of Shiva's Eye of Ekron. We hadn’t eaten dinner and were starving, so we all chipped in for horribly overpriced Marriott pizza and ate it in the room at 2AM AND IT WAS DELICIOUS.

Sunday Shiva got into her childhood dream costume: Belle’s yellow ball gown from Beauty and the Beast. It was a last minute idea so she had to improvise the hair out of three different wigs but it came out pretty well. Sketch was dressed as Prince Adam and we headed downstairs with Ellystar as Snow White. It was our first time cosplaying Disney characters on Dragon*Con's unofficial “bring your kids to the Marriott and get a free Disney Experience” day, otherwise known as "its Sunday morning and the party crowd is sleeping it off." We got a crash course in being “on" for the morning; Shiva had taught little kids for her high school summer job so it wasn’t totally out of her wheelhouse and we both quickly got the hang of it. While we were taking pics with some kids one little girl ran at a Cinderella coming down the hall, and knocked her flat on the floor with a hug. Another five-year-old girl came running over to Shiva saying “Belle! I’m so happy you’re here!” which was adorable. After a few hours of working the floor we got a smoothies at the food court and did a photoshoot at the columns before hitting up the vendors at the AmericasMart.

By 4PM we were both struggling and changed into regular clothes. We enjoyed checking out the costuming museum at the Hilton set up by the costuming track, and got a late sushi and milk tea lunch before checking out a 3-D printing panel which was really informative. That night we changed into Disney 50s-style Disneybound for Ellystar’s group and hung out with the crew in the room watching the masquerade on TV while drinking. Once that wrapped up we went to Metro Café for dinner in our sock-hop wear before partying in the Marriott lobby. Around midnight Shiva didn’t feel well and went back to the room while we stayed out for another hour or so; she woke up Monday with a slamming case of con plague that knocked her out for the next week, but we had a blast so it was worth it.