Nov 132014

It’s been a couple of months since Dragon Con, and I have to say that I had a blast as always. I think Dragon Con is one of the best geek/anime/sci-fi/etc. cons in the country, and one of the primary reasons is that it’s run by fans for fans. It’s not one of those cons that have been taken over by tv networks or movie studios just to promote their products. Dragon Con is honestly the highlight of the year for me, but I do think that there are ways to improve the convention experience. That is why I offer this Dragon Con constructive criticism.

dragon con panel

There’s no need to wait until ten minutes before a panel to start letting people into the room.

Let’s start off with entering and exiting a panel. The staff do a good job of getting people out of the panel room as soon as the panel ends. The problem lies in that once the room is cleared, they don’t immediately begin to file people in. There’s a total of thirty minutes between panels, and it normally takes around five minutes to clear the room, ten if the room is really large. At that point, the Dragon Con staff should do a quick check and then allow the next group to come in. Far, far too often, people are not allowed to enter the panel room until ten to fifteen minutes before the panel (normally ten). When you have a large crowd, such as a Venture Brothers panel, it can take up to thirty minutes to get everyone in that’s standing in line. I’ve lost track over the last few years of how many panels have people still filing in fifteen to twenty minutes after the panel has started. As soon as the room is cleared, the next group should be allowed in.

As for the panels themselves, the actual start time can vary quite a bit. It’s surprising to see the number of panels where the guests aren’t ushered in until fifteen to twenty minutes after the original start time. I’ve had some guests say that it took longer than expected to get to the panel room, and it’s not their fault. The staff should allot extra time to allow for such contingencies. Going to Dragon Con costs a lot when you factor in the hotel room fees, food, and travel expenses. It’s honestly the only trip I take all year and I save up the entire year to afford it. All I ask is that the panels start reasonably on time (five minutes late is ok). We all know that it takes forever to get to the Hyatt from the Marriott, so there’s no excuse for the staff to be surprised by this.

Another thing to consider is to station a staff member at the top and bottom of escalators. For some reason, a lot of people have their brains seize up on an escalator and they’ll just stop moving once they step off. There were a number of times that I was sure a major disaster was going to take place and people were going to pile up because some idiot just stopped. I always leave a four to five foot gap between myself and the person in front of me to avoid this, and even then I had to yell at some people to keep moving. I think that only the Marriott and the Hyatt escalators need to be attended this way as I’ve never had a problem at the Hilton.

dragon con

The escalators can become an exercise in danger when it gets crowded.

One last Dragon Con constructive criticism. Staff members that are assigned to direct traffic at panel rooms should have a sign on a stick that they can hold up and also a bullhorn. There were two rooms that had lines starting in the same general area in the Hyatt and most people had no clue of where to go. The Dragon Con staffer who was trying to direct one line could not be seen or heard over the crowd. I’m sure she did her best, but having a 5’2″  woman with a soft voice trying to get people to line up on one side of a crowded and loud room is doomed to failure. Give them the tools to make it easier for convention goers to identify them and what line they’re starting. Just a large sign that says “Regency VI-VII” that can be held up high will do the trick. It’s little things like these that can go a long way.

I have to stress that I love Dragon Con and enjoy going there immensely. These Dragon Con constructive criticisms are aimed to help the con experience be even better. I admit that I don’t have the most patience and I get frustrated when I see a perfectly empty room and yet we’re not allowed to enter it for another ten to fifteen minutes. I have a lot of interests so I try to catch a lot of different panels. This means that I normally only have one shot at a particular panel, so having that panel start really late just kills me. Still, I can’t wait for next year, and I’m sure that the staff will do their utmost to put on the best convention possible.

  One Response to “Some Constructive Criticism for Dragon Con”

  1. What’s smellier than a room full of nerds? A room full of nerds at a Sci-Fi convention of coarse! This DragonCon needs more jesters like me to spread an atmosphere of cheer and chaos! But I’m afraid the only atmosphere they’re spreading is paint stripping B.O. and Cheetos flavored farts! Hee hee! Ho ho! Ha ha!

    ‘The jester is an annoying fellow…’

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