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By Lee Roberts

DRAGON CON 2017 HIGHLIGHTS

Dragon Con 2017 is officially in the books with another year of record numbers. Here’s an overview of those numbers from the con.

80,000+ attendance for 2017.

Attending this year brought people from all over the United States as well as from New Zealand, Pacific Rim, and Japan.

The blood driver done by LifeSouth had 3,000 donors that gave nearly 6,000 units of blood and blood products.

Along with those great numbers Dragon Con was just a lot of fun with all the events, panels, photo shoots, and everything else going on. Every year I try to do as much as I can but as usual, every year I do a lot and miss a lot. That’s the nature of Dragon Con, which is great in my opinion, that there is so much that goes on there that it’s impossible to do it all. This year was an exceptional year for not being able to do it all.

First of all there were the guests that appeared there. Stan Lee, who has made the announcement of retiring from the convention scene, was there to sign autographs, do photo ops, was the grand marshal of the parade, and had his own panel. Which check out my blog about the Stan Lee panel. Alton Brown, star of the Food Network, will bringing back “Return of the Eats” in 2018.

If you are a Doctor Who fan then this was the place to be. Showing up was Karen Gillan, John Barrowman, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, Matt Smith, and Billie Piper. I tried to go to these panels they had but I think I was number that one that pushed the line from 49,999 to 50,000. Yes, those lines where very long. How could they not be when you had such talent on stage and together. The Pond Family Reunion panel, the Matt Smith panel, and one with John Barrowman with Billie Piper. If you haven’t seen a John Barrowman panel then you are missing out. There are a few people that are just natural entertainers on the stage. John Barrowman is one of those people. This year his panel was once again insanely great and funny. He shocks, wows, awes, and will make you laugh so hard that you cry.

By the way, if you were not able to attend this year but you have already bought a ticket for the 2018 year, what you haven’t got your badge yet? That’s crazy talk! Now is the time to get it because it’s at a great price of $85 and now is the time to get the badge. I’ll make it easy for you, here’s the link.

http://store.dragoncon.org/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=26&products_id=941

I’ve posted about getting prepped for Dragon Con but I still want to stress the importance of the earlier the better. Don’t, DO NOT, wait and see. This is the worst thing you can do for going to Dragon Con. Getting the badge early means cheaper price, that means more money for you to use on other things, like a hotel room. If you can book the room now, do so. When I go with my hotel roommates we book the room for the next year as soon as we finish checking in at the hotel. If you want to wait, the longest I say to wait is when the host hotels go live on Dragon Con site to attempt to get a room at a discounted rate. This is very tough to do and I did it a few years where I didn’t get a room at all and most sold out in minutes. If you are doing this then the best way to do it is get as many friends and family members as you can trying to get a room at the same time. Odds of having 10 people trying to get a room is better than 1 person.  If you decide to do this and you don’t get a room, then find the nearest hotel you can to the host hotels or call the host hotels to see if you can get a room at regular price and book it. Don’t wait until a month or less out from the con to book a room because you won’t get one.

Alright, back on track, let me do a rundown of this year’s festivities.

Stan Lee was making his possibly last appearance at Dragon Con as well as being the grand marshal of the parade.

Doctor Who actor Arthur Darvill made a surprise last minute add on to the Doctor Who guest list.

Birds of Prey had a cast reunion with all 3 actresses showing up, Dina Meyer, Ashley Scott, and Rachel Skarsten.

Firefly fans got a thrill with Nathan Fillion showing up and Jewel Staite. Nathan Fillion is another one that gives a great panel with his stage presence.

If you are a Star Trek fan then this was another year of great guests with William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, Garrett Wang, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, and Jonathan Frakes.

Making his first appearance to Dragon Con is big geekdom man, Zachary Levi. If you don’t know him, he’s from the shows Chuck and Heroes Reborn as well as being in big screen movies like Thor Dark World and upcoming Thor Ragnarok. This man is huge in the world of geeks, nerds, and just con going fans. He has being going to San Diego Comic Con for years with his Nerd HQ, so it was a big deal getting someone like him to Dragon Con.

Not to be out done, there was also John Cusack making an appearance at the con.

I could go on and on with the list of guest because there are so many but just so you know, there’s really no one that shows up that’s not someone who is cool and fun.

If you think that you can only see the guests while going to the Walk of Fame or in a panel then you would be wrong. One thing you should know is that the convention is held at hotels which means the guests also stay in the hotels. So, yes, you do see and meet the guests out on the floors or most likely in one of the elevators. But they do walk around and almost everyone that’s been going to Dragon Con will have a story or 5 of how they met so and so at this place or that and they did this or said that.

Me I’ve met all sorts of people like Edward James Olmos a few times in the elevators where we had casual conversations about the con and what we had seen and done. One year at the Hilton karaoke I had the cast of Eureka sit and drink and talk to me for a little while. This year Ming Chen was there as a fan just like everyone else where he was walking around talking to anyone that said hi. One year I met Henry Simmons in a hotel where he was very nice and let me get a selfie with him.

 If seeing the guests in the hallways and the Walk of Fame just ain’t enough for you, then there are always the panels. Some of the best this year were Stan Lee, John Barrowman, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, all the Doctor Who panels, John Cusack, Star Trek panels, Stargate panel, Battlestar Galactica, and so many more.

There’s also the parade that’s the largest parade in the nation. That’s right, the Dragon Con parade out does every other parade and it is so great. If you want to see the cosplay and the vehicles without having to hunt them down, then go to the parade. I would say at least 85% of the cosplayers will be in the parade and if you get there early to get a good seat at the front, then you will see them all walk right past you. This is an amazing parade to see.

If you are looking for a more up close encounter with the cosplayers that the parade don’t give you, then there’s the photo shoots. In the Hilton there are always a themed shoot going on. I try to make it to as many as I can and this year I even got to be in the Harley Quinn shoot as a cowboy Joker. These photo shoots are amazing. They have shoots for a particular hero as well as group like a whole Marvel shoot or a Marvel vs. DC. If comics aren’t your thing, they have shoots for movies, tv shows, video games, and almost anything you can think of. Not limited to just the Hilton, these shoots happen every day in all the host hotels as well as out in the streets. Last year I got to do an amazing DC shoot outside. There’s also the random cosplayer that is nice enough to let people take photos of them in places that work well for their character. Like this year I happened upon a shoot with a Catwoman outside the Marriott on the statue at the steps.

On Thursday night you can get you aggressiveness out by going to the wrestling. I done that for the first time this year and I had fun. The wrestlers come out to walk through the crowd, and there is a large crowd. There are wrestling themes but also cosplay themes that made it so much fun. I watched a Kim Possible wrestle, a Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, and a bunch of other costumes. This was the kind that I could enjoy because it took the live crowd experience of wrestling, then took the normal wrestling theme mixed in with Dragon Con cosplay, and it became a lot of fun.

If you want to buy stuff then the comic alley, vendors, and artist alley are all the places to be. Be warned though the crowds of these will be very thick, especially on Saturday, where it might take you an hour to get in and then another 2 hours to walk through. But it’s worth it though. I walk through them all once a day and then spend a little longer on Monday going through when the crowds are thinner. The artist alley is a place you should go no matter what. Don’t think that this is a place just for normal art because it’s not. This is where the creative people have come to showcase and sell their works from paintings to sculptures to anything that can be made by hand.

No matter what you are looking for, Dragon Con usually has it. In my opinion, I think that everyone should experience a whole weekend at Dragon Con at least once in their lives. It’s that much fun and it does offer something for everyone.