Friday, August 21, 2015

Dragon Con 2015: "It's The Final CON-Down"

Do dee dooo dooo…. Do dee do do dooo…

Ahem.  Sorry.  Child of the 80’s.  But hey, who doesn’t love Europe right?

I’m here to talk to you about something very serious, everyone.  A matter of grave importance to us all.  Something not to be taken lightly, so I ask you all to pay close attention.  I want to talk about…CON PREP.


Okay, so it’s being serious about having fun, but what could be more serious?  Come on!

DragonCon is more than just an almost week long extravaganza of geekdom galore.  It is art, music, books, shopping, singing, dancing, acting, costuming, gaming…the list goes on and on.  You have a great time and you leave exhausted, yet refreshed and stress free!  But days later you end up with a cold or worse.  You realize that fifty dollar camera of yours is lost or those earrings you got from dear old Mom are missing.  Halfway through the Con you’ve ran out of bottled water and they charge out the rear for it in most placed during Con time!  Has this ever happened to you? 

Never fear!  I’m here to point you in the right direction for some great Con survival guides!

As a ten year veteran I have tips that I hope are worth sharing, but I would be crazy not to pass you on to others that have a wealth of knowledge themselves.  So I’m gonna do both.  Make use of what you read here.  Follow the links, listen to the podcasts, read the threads.  They’ll help you get prepped for the Con and help you make many new friends in the process.  From Con newbie to Con vet, you are never too green or too well-versed to learn a new trick or two.

Packing:  We all know the essentials, so I won’t go into clothes, toiletries, cameras and chargers, blah blah.  Everyone who has ever taken a vacation gets that.  There are specific Con essentials that you might not be aware of as a newbie that I would recommend as well:

1:  Laptop and phone/camera connector:  Your camera/phone will fill up.  Fast.  People watching at DragonCon is an addictive business.  Empty your phone of pics nightly on your laptop in your hotel room and delete the pics.  That way you save space.  If you have a camera with an SD card this is especially necessary.  PLUS be sure to check the charge nightly, especially if you are staying at a hotel away from the hosts/overflows and can’t just jump up the elevator to your room for a quick charge.

2:  Shoulder bag:  Three words, guys.  SIX.  BLOCK.  RADIUS.  Don’t carry around half your life on your shoulder for this week.  Keep it relegated to a wallet, your Con badge, sunglasses, and a small shoulder bag to carry snacks and your water bottle.  Light and portable, otherwise by day three you will be hunched over and people will be asking for you picture screaming “Hey!  Say, SANCTUARY for us!”   Bleh.

3:  Tennis shoes, sun block, and sunglasses:  If you are not in costume, be ready for the walk of a lifetime and come prepared.  Get comfortable walking shoes.  Plus they have extended the parade route.  More like doubled it.  If you are not wearing face paint, a full body costume, or latex, have the sun block ready.  You stand and wait for hours in the hot Georgia sun when lining up at the parade route, and it is a near two mile walk for the route since they extended it.  You will be glad that you heeded all of this advice.

4:  Water bottle and snacks:  My first year of Con I wasn’t aware of how to prep.  I brought no snacks or bottled waters.  In the middle of the night during a midnight munchie craving a friend and I went to the one all night store that they had in the Marriott before its remodel.  Three dollars for a soda and six for a hamburger.  I learned my lesson that day.  Ten dollars at any Dollar General will get you all the snacks that you need to carry you for the munchies between big meals.  As far as water, can either invest in a twelve pack of water for five dollars from the store, or simply bring a filtering water bottle and fill it up at the many water dispensers that they have in every single panel room.  They keep em’ stocked up daily with ice cold goodness…and it’s FREE.  Free is always good.  Yes, there is the Con Suite, and you can feel free to partake in it…but as it has become the running joke amongst DragonConners (even on DCTV) that eating from there causes you to “Hear colors and see sound,” I would go with your own snack concoctions. 

5:  Con Crud:  Ah yes…the one thing we all fear.  It’s this simple, guys.  Buy a travel bottle of hand sanitizer that clips on to your lanyard; you can get them in three packs at Wal-Mart rather cheaply.  Lots of Con rooms (for example, the Filk Track) keep bottles of hand sanitizer on hand that you can refill your lanyard bottle with.  Also, buy a travel bottle of Lysol wipes and a travel bottle of Lysol spray (both are ALSO in the Wal-Mart travel section) to wipe down tables and chairs in the food court before and after you sit down.  And hey…be courteous when you get up from eating and shout “EMPTY TABLE!”  Those seats are hard to come by.  Pass the table on down while you’re staying crud free!

6:  Social Media:  I am not an advocate of it, believe it or not.  I have a Facebook page I use to keep up with writers and to add people who want to keep up with my writing, and a Twitter account that I use to keep up with DragonCon’s many tracks and accounts.   Otherwise, I pay no need.  If you are a social media-phobe, I suggest you connect to it if only to keep up with DC.  Facebook and Twitter has not only the Dragoncon pages, but each track has them as well.  Plus, the DC Lost And Found and a DragonCon group for helping members with finding cheap hotels exist as well.  You lose something?  Check back on the L&F group when you get back!  Want to keep up with openings in Security or Tech Ops?  Check in with their members or pages when they post.  The pages update closer to con with schedules, calls for volunteers/panelists, letting you know when the app is ready for update, when the track meetings are ready to go…some even live tweet updates from the track meetings for those that can’t attend.  If anything, social media is worth it just to check in close to Con time.

Here are some other resources that I recommend to expand on my suggestions:

DragonCon forums:

This forum was a revolutionary idea.  Con goers who decided that we needed a place to organize, help newbies, and meet and greet formed this board, and it has grown into something amazing.  It contains a packing list to help newbies, an FAQ section for everything DC, a detailed Google Map of the Atlanta DC area, even a Room/Ride share forum for people looking for Rides and Rooms at DC.  You name it, this place has it.  One awesome community.

Debriefing DragonCon: 

The must for all DC newbies.  Podcasts full of essential tips and tactics to not only help you prepare pre-DragonCon, but help you navigate it when you get there.  Listen and enjoy!

 DragonCon Newbies:

Founded by Kevin Bachelder, this group is, in my opinion, one of the best you will find in helping to prepare anyone new to DragonCon for the best experience that they could have.  Full of links and podcasts- including a link to the DragonCon newbies Facebook page- you'll find many helpful resources here to prepare you.  Kevin's group even has walking tours on the Thursday before the Con for any newbies that want to get familiarized with the area and how DragonCon rolls.  Tell me that isn't awesome?!

Now go!  Prepare for thy adventure!  Go forth, young Padawan, and prepare thyself for the Con of the Dragon! 

Ok enough of me.  Just go get ready and go have fun. 

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