View from my room at the Residence Inn.
Well, my fifth DragonCon is in the books. DragonCon is megacon, over 80,000 people this year, I believe. This, as said above, was my fifth con, and I didn’t go to any prior to 2013. I really didn’t know what they were or where they were held. I was the kind of fan who read books and watched TV/movies. I’m sure a lot of my readers have never been to one as well, or if they had, it was a small regional con. So here you go, my experiences. Great time, though I tried to avoid some of the more onerous events, like standing in long lines or fighting my way through the Habitrail walkways. I’m going to do this blog in stages, so let’s start off with first things first.
Giant Ferris Wheel in downtown Atlanta.
Last year I tried to book a room at the Marriott Marquis, where I had stayed for 2015 and 2016. They had a screw up the morning that they opened booking, so my surefire method of getting a room failed. Instead, I booked at the Marriott Residence Inn, about two blocks down from the Weston. I also was able to get Attending Professional status this year, after a little bit of a battle. I had thought I would get a bunch of panels, without having to do anything. Wrong. I got two in scifi lit, because the director, Sue Phillips, knew me. I found out from others that you have to contact track directors with your qualifications, and in some cases even suggestions for panels. So that is what I will be doing next year.
The Marriot Marquis before the storm.
The drive up was pleasant, a little over five hours from Tallahassee. US 319 in Thomasville, then a series of four lane roads, including GA 300 to Cordele. From there it was up I75 to Atlanta. Clear sailing all the way until Atlanta, where the interstate was again broken and traffic moved at the pace of snail mail. Probably an hour stuck at less than 10 mph. I got over just in time to take my exit, then followed my GPS to the Residence Inn. Which had no place to pull over in front, WTF. I drove around a couple of times before I saw the sign that said Valet Parking in the back. Once I was there it was no problem, the Valet, who was also the Busguy (I’m not sure we’re supposed to say boy anymore). Took my bags to my room and parked my car. I was on the 16th floor and had a great view of the city, including the Weston and the huge Ferris wheel that was five or six blocks away. I went out looking for someplace to eat after a short nap, and almost everything nearby closed at 8PM. Another WTF moment. In Tally, everything stays open to at least 9, often 10 on weekdays. Found a place and was able to fill my belly.
VIP badge pickup.
The next morning I was up and had the complimentary breakfast on the second floor, which was actually quite good. Scrambled eggs, several different meats, grits and oatmeal, and a variety of breads and pastries. Then it was time to get my badge. I parked in the public garage beside the Hilton, $20 for what amounted to less than an hour, then into the Marriott and to the VIP badge pickup. No lines, just walk up to the front, show your ID, and get your badge. That in and of itself was worth getting professional status. Learned that I wasn’t much of a VIP, since I couldn’t get into the VIP lounge. Maybe a few years from now, if things keep going the way they are.
Whale shark at the Georgia Aquarium.
I next went to the Georgia Aquarium. Not bad, but I’ve been to aquariums all over Florida, including Marineland and Seaworld, and I didn’t think it as good as those. Still, they had whale sharks (juveniles), dolphins, seals, otters, and a lot of different fish and rays. Still a good way to spend a couple of hours. They had a VR ride through prehistoric seas, but you had to wear the headset, and I remembered how horrible the one I had at home had been until I bought the lens inserts, so I passed on that one.
Though not the largest, the otters were one of the most enjoyable attractions, though very hard to get a picture of.
There were people in FSU and Alabama shirts all over town, many at the aquarium. The game was Saturday, and I had an interest since I had studied at both schools. But not enough to miss DragonCon. This was time for learning and networking, and it was planned as a packed weekend for those activities. Ate at Quiznos that night, which is right outside the front entrance to the hotel, then went up to my room, did some writing, and went to bed.