I’ve gone to Dragon Con for well over a decade. Over the years, I’ve found little tips and tricks to survive the con, make it easier to navigate, and just how have a good time for you and others. Some of these are tips you’ll find on any convention list, but some of these are true to Atlanta.
This bridge is the fastest way across the convention.
Highlighted in red, this bridge is the fastest way to get from one side of the convention to the other and avoid all the crowds. It connects the Peachtree Center to the Peachtree Center Parking Deck on Courtland Avenue. The bridge is connected to the 10th floor of the parking deck.
This bridge can get you from the Sheraton to the Westin/AmericasMart in less than 10 minutes if you’re booking it. This path makes it easy to get to every single hotel if you know the way.
The parking deck is right between the Sheraton, and the street between the Marriott and the Hilton.
Once you cross the bridge heading towards the Peachtree Center, there are stairs to your right that leads down to the street. Those stairs come out right at the Marriott and the Hyatt.
The Peachtree Center has sky bridges to the other hotels too, but they can sometimes get crowded especially around meal time. The Peachtree Center is where the food court is located, so grab some food while you’re there.
But if you cut through the Peachtree Center to the CVS, you can either take the escalator up the street or go up to the second floor of the CVS. Both exit you to the sidewalk that can lead you to either the Westin or the Hyatt.
Just follow the blue line as drawn.
From there, you’re only a block away from the AmericasMart where the dealers room, artist alley, and more are.
The Courtland Street bridge is such a great asset if you’re in a hurry. The last few years, I was a vendor in the AmericasMart, but I was rooming in the Hilton. Once I found this path, I was able to cover the distance quickly while avoiding the crowds. This also allows you to avoid waiting at crosswalks as you move above them on the bridge.
I can’t recommend this enough.
As a follow up:
Walking around the buildings is faster than going through them
With so many people crammed into five host hotels, the sky bridges get clogged up really fast. It’s even worse if it rains. But if it’s sunny, walk around those buildings. It might seem out of the way, but I promise you it’s faster.
Invest in running socks
You’re going to be on your feet a lot during Dragon Con. Good shoes are a must. But thanks to my stepmom who runs in marathons, she gifted me a pair of running socks. They changed my (work) life, and they have now become a staple for conventions.
There are all kinds of running socks, but the ones I love most have extra padding around the bottom of the feet. That extra cushion paired up with a great pair of tennis shoes will give you very happy feet. Some even have extra padding on the back of the heels.
I personally use Balega which comes in many different styles to choose from. Find one that fits your needs. You can find good socks at most running stores.
The CVS in the Peachtree Center
There’s a CVS in the Peachtree Center, and it’s your best friend! Open 24 hours a day, it’s fully stocked with everything you might need or have forgotten for a good weekend in Atlanta.
Snacks, pre-made meals, water, hygiene items, and they even have cases of beer. It’s not expensive beer, but it’s beer. The staff is a well oiled machine, friendly, and ready to take on the craziness of Dragon Con.
Please thank the volunteers, hotel staff, food court employees, etc.
Last year Sunday night, I had just left my shift working in the vendors hall. I was meeting friends later for dinner, but I wanted a snack to hold me over. So, I went to the smoothie place in the food court.
After they made my smoothie, I said to them, “I really appreciate all of your hard work.”
The man looked at me and replied, “You’re the first person to tell me that this weekend.”
This crushed me. The con had been going on for three days (four if you count the Thursday crowd), and no one told them that they appreciated all the extra work.
There are so many people at Dragon Con. The food court workers are doing a huge amount of overtime, many staying open well past their normal hours. The hotel staff is ready to help. I never met a Dragon Con bellhop that wasn’t smiling. Even the Dragon Con staff of volunteers are putting in their time at the convention to make sure we all have a good time.
Take a moment and tell these people that they’re appreciated. They’re just as important to the convention. Even if it’s the lady taking your Starbucks order, the bartenders making your drinks, the maid bringing you extra toilet paper, or the man who runs the noodle place, they’re just as important to the convention even if they’re not officially Dragon Con staff. AND TIP THEM IF YOU CAN!
And thank all of the Dragon Con staff too! As well as your Uber, Lyft, and taxi drivers!
Vendors: Bring a sweater
I’ve worked in the vendors room the last few years. It’s hot in Atlanta especially late August. When you first walk into the AmericasMart, it’s so refreshing to feel that AC hit you.
But they keep it blasting at all times. My first year as a vendor, I regretted not bringing a sweater. Because while it’s nice at first, it gets cold really fast when you’re just sitting or standing there for hours. I would be shivering within ten minutes of being in there. So you might want to bring a hoodie or something just in case.
The Sheraton’s “secret” bar
Fandangles is not really super secret, but it’s not really easy to find in the Sheraton. When you walk into the main entrance of the Sheraton, walk past the check in desks and on the left is a flight of stairs. Do NOT go up the stairs in FRONT of you. Go up one floor, turn left, and there’s an open area. Walk all the way to the back, and you’ll find Fandangles. It overlooks the pool area, so if you get lost, one of the hotel staff can point you in the right direction.
Fandangles is busy during Dragon Con, but not as busy as some of the other spots around the con. It’s nice if you want to have a more quiet conversation to catch up with friends.
You have to go up to go down (and vice versa)
The elevators… They’re a journey in themselves.
With so many people trying to use all the elevators at the same time, you have to snag a spot in an elevator when you can get it. That means if you’re going down, you probably will have to go up a few floors. If you’re leaving your room, you might have to ride to the top of the hotel before you can make it down to the lobby. It’s become a convention joke that you have to go up to go down.
And for the love of goodness, make a spot for people in wheelchairs. They can’t take the stairs. If it’s hard for you to get a spot on an elevator, it’s even worse for them.
What should be always said
The point which is probably on every single convention list: drink water, especially in Atlanta in late August. I can’t stress enough how hot and humid it is. Drink all the water.
Also, don’t be a jerk. Ask permission for photos. If a cosplayer is sitting, they’re resting. Don’t ask for a picture. Be nice to children. Let them enjoy the experience. Respect each other. Clean up after yourself.
Go out and have a great Dragon Con, my friends!
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