Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dragon Con 2013: Shauncastic Survival Tips!

I had this urge to write something with all of the little odds and ends that just weren’t quite enough to make up their own posts. I didn’t think I could crank out 1,000-plus words (my self-imposed minimum for a regular article) about original tips and I don’t need to do a playlist this year because DJ Spider is awesome and I’m just going to link to some stuff she did that you can download.
This is an awesome mix of nerd-oriented stuff that she put together prior to Dragon*Con 2012 (yes, I will still use the asterisk when I can). Listen while you pack or finish your costumes or count your funds or whatever. It will put you in the right frame of mind.
This is more of the same, because all of that stuff above is going to take longer than two hours.
This is recorded live from Dragon Dance 2012. What she played as she played it and it is badass. This will get you pumped up for Dragon Con. It is perfect for the drive into Atlanta.
           Okay, now that music is out of the way, let’s talk practicality.
I have learned more about Dragon Con in the last five years than I learned about life, the universe, and everything in thirteen years of public school and two quarters (or semesters; whatever – I don’t even remember) of college. Every hour of every day at Con brings some new insight or idea of a way to do things. Here are a few tips of my own that I think are important enough to be Prime Directives:
  • Bring cash. This will make it easy to budget.
  • Make a list of stuff you want to buy/people you want to meet. This will also make it easy to budget. Okay, well, to know your budget.
  • Make a list of your costumes and ALL of the parts you need for them. You do not want to get to Con and realize you have forgotten the leather underpants for your 300 costume.
  • Stop by the store between now and Con and buy these things:
  • Ibuprofen (or whatever your analgesic of choice)
  • Imodium AD (or your poop controller of choice)
  • Condoms (unless you’re a celibate old prude like me)
  • Band-Aids (or the adhesive bandages of your choice – I try to avoid the variety packs because a regular old Band-Aid can take care of pretty much anything while those little fingertip ones and fucking useless and always get thrown out with the old box)
  • Make a schedule ASAP and understand that it will be virtually meaningless. But at least you will have a guide of sorts. You don’t want to have to browse through the entire pocket program every time you want something to do.
  • Download the app to do the above.
And now with social networking the way it is, there are so many people way smarter than me who are offering free advice about cons in general and Dragon Con specifically. I’m going to turn it over to one of those people now – the illustrious Shaun Rosado of Shauncastic! Shaun is a Dragon Con-ning machine and has compiled a list of seventy tips to help you have a safer, happier Con. These were originally single-entry posts on hisTwitter feed, but have been compiled here for the convenience of you, the Phantomaniacs. Thanks, Shaun!
Side Note: I have also added in a few notes of my own here and there because I don’t want Shaun to feel like he did ALL the heavy lifting on this one. Shaun – I am sorry for defacing your valuable tips.
#DragonCon Survival Tip #1: Eat a large breakfast. Load up, and feel great when others are hungry at noon and lose their place in line. Of course, you might lose your place too when you have to run and take that big breakfast poop break.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #2: Shower. Daily. Twice if you're spending lots of time outside. When you can smell yourself, it's too late.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #3: Plan your day to include some downtime. Otherwise you'll miss all the good stuff that goes on at night.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #4: Bring extra socks. Walking around for 18 hours a day can bring an apocalyptic no one wants to experience. Seriously – I buy new socks just for Dragon Con every year.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #5: Con Crud can ruin a weekend. Take your vitamins, drink OJ, Wash your hands, and don't attend if you're sick! And when you do need to sneeze – and you will; whether it’s from a dose of cologne or a Pig-Pen-like miasma of body odor surrounding a Con-goer – sneeze into your elbow.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #6: Make a budget & stick to it. It sucks when you spend your rent money on a C-3PO replica. #ActuallyAwesome

#DragonCon Survival Tip #7: Use the buddy system. It sounds silly, moving in groups fends off local creeps. Plus it makes great photo ops.

#DragonCon Tip #8: Make sure your costume has a "quick escape" built in. The need to use the restroom can come on quick and fast.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #9: Saturday is the busiest day by far, be prepared for large crowds. Carve out a little time to breathe. #NoReally

#DragonCon Survival Tip #10: If possible, wear comfortable pants with many pockets. You'll have pocket guides, wallets, cell phones, & swag to carry. But sometimes you just have to bust out a fanny pack.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #11: Registration is supposed to be quick and simple but it never is. Show up early and make friends. You have lots of time together. You will still spend a lot of time in line, but not nearly as much as you used to. The Con has been amazing about streamlining this process. But I will say that I have met some very interesting people in the Sheraton cattle pen.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #12: Bring a handheld to Registration. A DS, Smartphone, or PSP can make the difference in your quality time

#DragonCon Survival Tip #13: Sleep is your friend. Make sure to set aside at least 5 hours a day. Not all at once of course, things to do.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #14: Real food is key to survival, an all booze or chips repast is just ASKING for trouble! Every year I stop at Kroger on the way downtown and stock up on trail mix – the real stuff, nothing with M&Ms; that’s candy – and other easy but not-too-terrible-for-you non-refrigerated snacks.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #15: Set some goals, not a schedule. If you schedule out the whole day you'll miss the fun random stuff.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #16: Use Twitter hourly. Check the Hashtag DragonCon and see what random events are taking place.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #17: Follow/Build lists of attendees/people you want to meet or hang out with. Twitter is awesome at Cons

#DragonCon Survival Tip #17: Get to registration early. The longer you wait, the longer the line. Remember 30,000 + people annually.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #18: If possible, arrive on Thursday. It maximizes Dragon*Con and allows time for you to familiarize yourself with the area. This is what I call my Sober Time. Before I start drinking I hit the Dealer Room and the Walk of Fame and make a run or two through the main three hotels – Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt – to refresh my brain as to where everything is. I usually do it Friday during the day after registering on Thursday.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #19: Keep your Pocket Guide close. The app is great, but a paper backup marked with favs is ALWAYS a good idea.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #20: While most of your time will be indoors, make a note if you'll be outside. Keep Cool, it gets broiling.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #21: Make a survival kit. Pack sanitizer, adhesive bandages, small tube of ointment, moleskins for blisters, travel packs of pain meds (aspirin), allergy meds, talcum powder, sunscreen and deodorant.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #22: Wear Comfortable Shoes. 3+ Hotels, Multiple Floors, Parades and parties. Do the math.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #23: Keep moving when you get off an escalator. Stopping leads to traffic jams & pisses off the rent-a-cops. There is nothing more humiliating than getting yelled at by one of the Dragon Con staffers. This will make them yell at you. So don’t do it.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #24: Elevators, prepare to wait on them. Be patient. The stairs are your friend if you can handle them.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #25: This Con is VERY different night vs day. If you have kids, make sure they're in bed when night arrives.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #26: Bring Cash. It covers unexpected expenses and it allows you to keep track of how much you spend. Get your cash from a bank early. ATMs will be drained by Saturday afternoon. Keep it in the hotel safe.

#DragonCon Survival Tip 27: Bring a jacket/sweater. It's hot outside but some rooms are FRIGID, if you get cold easily, be prepared. I don’t do this, but ESO’s own Mike Gordon said that he has started setting the thermostat in his hotel rooms at around 77 degrees. He said it helps him sleep better and he doesn’t wake up all sniffly. I haven’t tried it because I can’t sleep unless it’s cold and I have eleven blankets on top of me.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #28: Costumers, carry a Sewing Kit. Include: Needle, Thread, Safety Pins, Spare Buttons and Stain Remover

#DragonCon Survival Tip #29: If you plan on wearing a costume multiple days use Febreeze/Odor Remover. It's as important as Showering

#DragonCon Survival Tip #30: Label your luggage! Saying "it was black" won’t help in the check in/out chaos!

#DragonCon Survival Tip #31: Be considerate for our disabled attendees! Let them have the elevator first. #GoodLifeRule

#DragonCon Survival Tip #32: Your BADGE is essential! Wear it on a lanyard the whole time. If you lose it, you have to buy a new one. If you need a lanyard, go to Offworld Designs in the Dealer Room.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #33: Get familiar with the hotel floor plans. Nothing sucks more than missing an event cause you're lost. You might miss a few minutes of talking, but it is a very good idea to plan out the route to your next event during the last bit of a panel. Once the room lets out it might take several minutes for you to find somewhere to stop and look at your app or Program. And then you have to waste time looking at your app or program.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #34: The Daily Dragon updates you with last minute changes/additions. Keep up with it! @daily_dragon on Twitter

#DragonCon Survival Tip #35: The Con ends Monday afternoon. But it's doesn't have to be over yet! Find stragglers & have an impromptu "after" party!

#DragonCon Survival Tip #36: Have some music on hand to set the mood. Playlists are awesome. Example: courtesy of DJ Spider

#DragonCon Survival Tip #37: Badges are made of a semi-sturdy plastic but have been known to break. Clear packing tape is great for reinforcing the top loop.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #38: Stay Hydrated! @DragonCon has free water refreshment tables on most floors. Use them.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #39: Take Photos! You want the memories! Plus it's great material to convert your friends to attend next year! TAKE MORE PHOTOS THAN YOU WILL EVER NEED. This is a busy scenario and there’s a good chance that a lot of your pictures will end up blurry. If you can snap a couple of shots of something; do it! You will never, ever think to yourself, “Man, I shouldn’t have taken that second picture,” but I bet you have thought “Dammit, I should’ve taken another one,” many times.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #40: Plan for different types of weather. Ruined cosplay makeup can be easily avoided with an umbrella.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #41: Don't forget the exhibit halls. Artist Alleys, Walks of Fame and Panels are great but excellent SWAG awaits!

#DragonCon Survival Tip #42: Check out all the T-Shirt booths. You can buy a year's worth of great geek clothes in 20 minutes. Yeah, and you can also blow through about $500 in twenty minutes. Be realistic – think about whether or not you will be able to get the shirt you want online at a later date; possibly for less money. Remember – there is so much more at Dragon Con that you simply can’t get anywhere else – art, crafts, stuff signed by Famous People.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #43: There are great deals in the Merch/Exhibit Halls but the price almost ALWAYS gets better on Monday. BUT – be aware that the item you want might also be gone on Monday; if not sooner. Be thrifty, but also figure out how much your disappointment that you held out for that Limited Edition Platinum Dalek that’s gone now and you will NEVER SEE AGAIN is worth.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #44: Bring a Con Folder. If you like to pick up celeb signatures, this is key to keeping them safe/dry. I use an 11x17 acrylic sleeve. There is usually a Dealer selling these alone or with miniaturized movie posters in them. Find a print you like and then use the sleeve for your stuff.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #45: bring clear acrylic covers and slips to hold your new items in case you get impromptu swag. Oh – well, yeah.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #46: If you plan to bring, buy posters - bring a poster roll! It makes transportation a lot easier. And chose the biggest poster tube you can reasonably carry. Small posters will fit in big tubes, but big posters, well – you get the idea.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #47: Look Around! You're at one of the largest cons in the world. This is a life experience. Enjoy it!

#DragonCon Survival Tip #48: It's been said before & I'll say it here. "Costumes do not mean consent. Ask before you touch!"

#DragonCon Survival Tip #49: Ask before you photo. It's just polite. You'll go far if you don't randomly blind folks. Also, if a costumed group or individual is already posing for other photographers, go ahead and get your pic and be quick about it. Clearly they have already consented, so don’t be slow and make those nice people re-pose and stuff.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #50: Have the numbers of everyone "in your group". You WILL get separated.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #51: Remember to bring extra batteries and memory cards for your camera, especially if you take tons of pics. I bring three extra batteries for my phone and camera. One in the device, one charged in my bag, and one in the room charging. I also have plug-in chargers for both types of batteries.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #52: The Parade is a HUGE event, make sure to wake up EXTRA early if you want a good spot on the route.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #53: If you get claustrophobic, avoid Saturday afternoon. It's the most crowded time. Instead, get some coffee.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #54: Carry a ICE (In Case of Emergency) card with you. Just in case.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #55: Saving places in line, don't do it. Want to see how fast a Klingon can yell? Let 20 of your friends in.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #56: If a spouse or friend has to leave a line for a moment, tell the folks behind you. Cuts down on drama later.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #57: After using the restroom, flush. Seriously. The sensors sometimes miss it, and that's gross. Especially after your giant breakfast.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #58: Prop weapons are great, but make sure they adhere to @DragonCon regulations for peace binding.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #59: Compare prices! Vendors bring great items, but you could find a better deal. Check other booths first. Again, use your best judgment here. A couple of years ago I found the Rassilon figure at one Dealer for what I thought was a steep price. I went just a couple of booths over to check another Dealer and Rassilon was almost twice as much. By the time I got back to the first place, he was gone and I ended up spending more. So know how hard to find your item is before you spend too much time comparing prices.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #60: When in doubt, improvise! @DragonCon can be overwhelming. Relax, wander, find something interesting. Repeat as needed.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #61: Donate Blood. Every year @DragonCon has a blood drive. Help save a life, you get good Karma and Swag.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #62: Have "emergency money". This is not for spending! This is for food, water, transportation, etc.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #63: The PDF & Pocket Guides are officially out of date. To stay 100% current, get the @DragonCon App! And do not wait until the last minute before a panel or event to consult the app. Every time you open it there will be an update that will take some time to apply depending on what kind of service you have.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #64: Cosplay? Wanna get in a group photo? Ask similarly dressed people. There's usually a group shot planned.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #65: Be outgoing. You're surrounded by over 40,000+ like-minded people. Easiest. Friends. To Make. Ever. Also, be inclusive, not cliquish. If somebody you don’t know comes up and wants to ask you about your costume or events or just talk; be cool. There’s no need for anybody yo be a dick at Dragon Con. We’re all into the dork stuff.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #66: Baby Powder - the secret weapon to shoe blisters and heat rashes. Bring some.

#DragonCon Survival Tip #67: Gum. Keep some on your person. You may not have time to brush after your last meal. #LineWaitingEtiquette

#DragonCon Survival Tip #68: Being a very social event, you should always bring protection in case you make a new "friend". #BeSafe

#DragonCon Survival Tip #69: If you're not native to ATL, bring Visine & Allergy meds just in case. Sometimes you can have a reaction

#DragonCon Survival Tip #70: Before you pack tonight/tomorrow. Make a list of everything you need. Check it off. #GoodPrep

Be sure to check back in tomorrow for an excellent Q&A with Mr. Rosado.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s my panel schedule as of this writing:
1 PM – Kung-Fu Grip: Action Figures and Toys of the 70s to 90s and Beyond!
This is my panel. It’s big. It’s gonna be great. Also, I will be giving stuff away. It’s
in Marriott M-303-304 (The Marquis level where they keep the Famous People).
10 PM – Earth Station Who: The Past, Present, and Future of Doctor Who
We’re recording a LIVE ESW episode. I think some of the folks from The Forgotten Doctor will be joining us. Director Faber may end up ejecting me because, let’s face it – I am not going to be sober at 10 PM at Dragon Con. That’s just ridiculous. This one is in the Sheraton Grand Ballroom.
5:30 PM – Masters of the Universe: 30 Years of the Power!
This panel is also mine, all mine! Come see me, Mr. Beau Brown, and William Stout(!) talk about the greatest sci-fi/fantasy toy franchise of all time. There will be fabulous prizes here, as well! It’s in Marriott M-303-304.
7 PM – GI Joe Anniversary: Celebrating is Half the Battle
Me, Gary Mitchel, and Gnoll will be talking GI Joe: A Real American Hero. Expect an awful lot of nice talk about Larry Hama. I have prizes for this one as well. Because I feel it is important to bribe your audience.

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