Saturday, September 1, 2012
Unfortunately, the freeloading potential wasn't as good as it used to be. Most years, the hotel lobbies didn't check for badges. Sure, you needed a badge to go into the vendor areas, symposiums, or other con event areas, but pretty much anybody could walk through the hotels. I don't know if this was intentional or the security had just gotten lax, but we'd often mosey through the lobbies in the morning before finally buying our badges. But this year, every possible hotel entrance (the more important hotels, anyway) was blocked by the con police, demanding badges or room keys to enter. This is sad, because it's so hot, that a lot of the better costumed characters congregate in the hotel lobbies. So I wasn't able to take as many cool pictures as I used to. All my pictures were pretty much from the parade and the sidewalks.
It was a lot more crowded this year than last year. I don't know if it means the con is getting more popular, or if it was just because there's so many events going on in Atlanta this weekend. Usually we get to the parade an hour early, and have no problem finding a good spot on the curb to sit while the crowds form around us. This time, we got there just as early as usual, but it was already standing room only all the way up and down the street. Eventually we did manage to find a nice spot to sit, but it wasn't easy. So now I wonder if I should start getting to the parade two hours early. My back is not going to thank me for that.
So, is it worth going to DragonCon without buying passes? Well, not as much as it used to be. The only free thing is the parade, and you'll be spending so much time outside you're going to get very hot. If you do go just for the parade, don't get a hotel room. Instead, assuming you live close enough, just make a day trip of it. Maybe try to find cheap overnight bus fare. Or if you do get a hotel, make sure you also do some other touristy stuff in Atlanta like the aquarium or something, and make a full vacation of it.
Anyway, after going two years in a row, we're probably not going to go back for a few years. This is not a reflection on the con itself; we'd just like to spend our vacation budget on other places for a while. Next time we go to DragonCon, I want to save up so I can spend lots of money on stupid things.
I've got more pictures up on Facebook.