So, I finished my Friday post having finished Camp Nanowrimo and just about to rush off for my first day of Dragon*Con panels for this year, right?
First, a little Dragon*Con 101, to help you understand what I’m talking about, and maybe give you a feel for what going is like. Dragon*Con is organized into dozens of fan tracks like WeyrFest, Whedon Universe, BritTrack, and American Sci-Fi Media – those are the ones that I’ve been mostly following. Each track has a ‘home room’ in one of the hotels, where the smaller panels and events will be held, and will reserve a larger ballroom for bigger events, like when they have a celebrity guest Q&A. Often the larger room will be in the same hotel as the home room.
Whedon Universe and BritTrack are very ‘big’ tracks, with a lot of people attending at least a few of their events; bigger rooms, longer lines, and bigger stars, which often does mean bigger fun. Weyrfest is a lot smaller, and doesn’t often leave the Vinings room on the lowest conference level of the Hyatt hotel.
The second thing you need to understand is about the schedule. Each track sets its own schedule, and though there are exceptions, generally the schedules are synchronized on a pattern of one hour for an event, then half an hour for people to get to their next event. So you have panels from 10am to eleven, and then the next panels start at 11:30, and so on through the day until 8:30pm, and then 10pm. Each track generally runs one item in each time slot, though occasionally they’ll have a gap or two choices at the same time, and they each make their own decisions about how early they start or late they go on a particular day. There are often some late parties that run longer than an hour.
Finally, a map! I never found the maps they have in the DragonCon program to be too easy to understand, and sort of learned the layout by trial and error last year. Here’s my own map, not to scale, but it clearly shows everything important, and also gives a few street names: