Thursday, July 7, 2016

So Dragon Con 2016 is 56 Days Away…

We are officially less than two month away. The countdown clock is in that zone where it seems to speed up, and in the time it takes to blink you’ve gotten five days closer. Let’s talk a few steps you might want to be taking about now; especially if you’re newer to Dragon Con.

Repeating what I mentioned a few weeks back, you might want to start checking in and making sure your hotel reservations are all okay. There have been a few hiccups with room reservations this year. It’s largely been reported that the major issues have been with just one hotel in particular, but better safe than sorry no matter what hotel you’re using. The closer the convention gets, the harder it will become to make alternate arrangements if you wait until the last minute to discover that there is a problem with your reservations.

While you’re waiting, check out DragonConTV and the Dragon Con Live broadcasts that are being done this year. In the months and weeks before the big event, they’ll be broadcasting on various dates or from events (as was done from MomoCon this year) and including updates and announcements to prep everyone for the show.

Other places you can look for updates and news include places like (Duh!) the official Dragon Con website and social media pages, but here are a few others to look into.

Yeah, I always plug this one, but I do it because it’s a great resource anyone- first timers or long time con goers –to check out. This would be the ESO Dragon Con Khan Reports. Lots of news on the convention, the occasional guest connected to the convention to give you some official updates, and a lot of gusts who can point you to the information you need on a wide range of preparation needs.

The Khan reports this year have included guests like Michelle Biddix-Simmons of Drop by Dragon Con (with very good advice and tips for anyone looking to safely drop some weight before the con or anyone looking to just get in a little better shape before leaping into four days filled with miles of walking) and Kevin Bachelder of Dragon Con Newbies (a group that specializes in helping first time attendees out with just about anything they might need to know to handle their first four days at Dragon Con) among others. The show I link to has both of them plus others as well as handy links. The Khan report can be found at the ESO website as well as on platforms like iTunes as a part of the Earth Station One Podcast.

Another favorite podcast of mine that will fill you in on what’s going on, occasionally give out some really good tips, and is just a blast to listen to in general is The Unique Geek’s 50 Days of Dragon Con. Most of the 50 days will be in the form of a podcast, but there will occasionally be updates that are text only on the website. If 2016 follows the annual tradition of the last few years, you will hear a lot of people from the convention itself (such as track directors) popping in as guests with updates on their programming tracks, events, and guests. The podcast starts out just about (Duh!) 50 days before the start of the convention and can be found on iTunes under The Unique Geek and on their website. They also have a Facebook page you can use to keep track of the daily updates.

Here’s another bit of preparation for newbies that you can do right now and use as a bit of a study guide whenever you have time in between now and the official start of the convention. Get the app.

Right now the app is still showing the 2015 schedule, events, and panel and guest information, but that’s not too big of an issue here. For one thing, the app should update for 2016 a bit out from the show, so having it in place on your phone or pad now will have you set and ready when it updates. But the main thing here is what it’s got on it that will be largely unchanged- generally information on the locations in and around the convention, links to the convention’s social media platforms, and- most importantly here –maps.

Odds are that a lot of first time attendees have never been to an event like this that’s as large as this one is. The size I’m talking about here isn’t even in reference to the ever growing attendance numbers. Dragon Con is spread out across multiple major convention hotels and buildings nested closely together in downtown Atlanta. Then there’s the unofficial convention canteen, the Peachtree Center Food Court which is conveniently connected directly to two of the convention hotels via sky bridges.

The app has some very well laid out maps of the central area downtown where all of the Dragon Con host buildings are located. More importantly, you can then check out floorplan maps of the interiors of the convention floor areas of the host hotels and other locations. As you can see below, some of these can be quite enormous. A little bit of study prep now to familiarize yourself as best you can with general layouts and locations (and practice on using the app) might be a good thing. Plus, play around in the rest of the apps offerings and see how the listings for events, panels, and daily news are handled. It will help you better navigate the app at show time, and you’ll get a better idea of the huge variety of events and topics you’ll encounter while there. 

Oh, when you show up this year, think about helping out with some charity causes. Dragon Con announced back in March that the official charity for 2016 will be the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency. While this isn’t the type of charity that gets the fanfare of some others, it’s a very worthy charity that tries to help people basically put their lives back together. If you don’t have issues around it, think about donating some blood as well. The Robert A. Heinlein "Pay It Forward" Blood Drive with LifeSouth will be up and running again in 2016. In 2015, the drive’s totals included 3,171 donors and the collection of 2,678 units. As big as 2016’s convention will be, it’d be awesome to see those figures topped this year.

And of course, CHECK BACK HERE! Needless Things will be doing the traditional, annual Dragon Con prep in the weeks before the show both on the site and on the Needless Things podcast. The Needless Things Irregulars will be working their hardest to bring you something fun and entertaining (and maybe even informative) for you, and The Big Boss has some fun stuff up his sleeve as we head into Dragon Con and the Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show at Dragon Con. Oh, for those who have heard the legend, the Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show, like Dragon Con itself, is looking to be bigger and better this year, so you should probably add that on to your schedule when the app updates for 2016.

Lastly, for those of you who play that particular drinking game… Say, anyone know when the app is going to be ready this year?

You’re welcome.

Jerry Chandler is a Dragon Con volunteer, and has been since 2014. At this year’s Dragon Con he will mark his tenth year attending. If he hasn’t made it clear enough in the past, he’s immeasurably grateful for the great Dragon Con family he’s acquired over the years, and for the opportunities some members of this family have opened up for him.

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