Our first time back to Dragon Con in 2019 was filled with good memories, crowded hotels, and questions about how the convention will continue to manage the changing landscape moving forward. Dragon Con, Atlanta’s internationally known pop culture, fantasy, sci-fi, and gaming convention, attracted 65,000 attendees for the five-day celebration and raised at least $190,000 for its official 2022 charity, Open Hand Atlanta.
Initially estimated at 60,000 people, fan attendance reached 65,000 and sold out all five days. Fans traveled from all 50 states and a handful of foreign countries, including Canada, Brazil, Australia, and several western European nations. Weather held out for the first 2 days, with a bit of rain late on Saturday and heavier rain on Sunday. However, the parade was able to go off without a hitch and allowed the public back to watch for the first time since 2019 (they were not able to last year).
Dragon Con capped attendance again this year as it slowly works to bring back the original crowd sizes that it had back in 2019. However, it appears that even that cap was softer than rigid as the original cap of 60,000 in attendance surpassed 65,000 according to official numbers from Dragon Con. This was certainly felt on Friday and Saturday nights in the hotels as the crowds grew and caused congestion in several areas.
Let’s talk about favorite cosplays. This year, like all previous Dragon Cons, revealed the trends of popular culture throughout fandoms by seeing what was new and popular among attendees this year. The Sandman made a strong debut so quickly after it aired at Dragon con with many Morpheus and Lucifer cosplays, including a few others.
Now for the discussion around safety and issues with the hotels. This year, vaccines were not required but the convention had asked people attending to wear masks. Mask enforcement was pretty much what you expected would happen, it simply didn’t. At least not in any consistent fashion. Specific panel rooms did their best to request and enforcement masks, but in the hotels themselves nobody was enforcing it and overall mask wearing was at 40% at best. Time will tell if that has any impact on those leaving the convention in the coming days. The dealer hall also had signs but nobody from Dragon Con enforced the masks.
It was also noticeably hotter this year, not just outside but inside the hotels. Airflow has always been an issue for them when the crowds are this large, but this year it was even worse and it made things a bit less comfortable to spend long hours out enjoying people-watching. But that wasn’t the only thing that had people heated with regard to the hotels. In the early first days of the convention, the Hilton created an uproar when they bag-checked everyone going into the hotel to prevent outside alcohol from getting in. This created issues for those staying at the hotel and those coming and going through the sky bridges, and meant many didn’t even bother to spend time at the Hilton. They also had a lounge that was selling tickets for at least $125 and up to $600 for a table. By the weekend, some of these restrictions, specifically the bag check, seemed to have disappeared.
How was your Dragon Con experience? Let us know in the comments below.