What we saw at Dragon Con 2017

Game of Thrones, 90s kids, and a lot of inflatable dinosaurs
What we saw at Dragon Con 2017
A group of Star Wars characters poses for photos at Dragon Con 2017

Photograph by Matt Walljasper

This year’s Dragon Con brought a whopping 80,000 people to downtown Atlanta, and as usual, the costumes were impressive, the skybridges were jam-packed, and the Peachtree Center food court was chaotic. There wasn’t much sleep to be had. In the four days we spent at the convention (walking nearly 30 miles, according to our phones), here are just a few of the things we noticed.

What we saw
99 Game of Thrones characters, and that certainly wasn’t all of them. The HBO fantasy drama was by far the most popular costume choice this year. Special props to the elderly woman who dressed as Lady Olenna in a wheelchair-turned-Iron Throne, wearing “deal with it” shades and a sign that referenced her most famous kill.

43 Wonder Women, another of the year’s most popular costumes thanks to this summer’s blockbuster film

18 stormtroopers, 28 Princess Leias, and 6 characters from the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi (sadly, none of those six were Porgs)

12 characters from Westworld—we watched Teddy add creamer to his coffee at the Hyatt Starbucks

2 Donald Trumps

23 service dogs, including an in-training puppy and a husky that had been dyed green (The three-legged dog we saw last year also made another cameo.)

50 shoulder pets, including dragons, Pikachu, a blue Macaw that we swore was an animatronic but ended up being a live bird

11 characters from Stranger Things, mostly Elevens—down in popularity from last year

18 Links dressed in blue from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

1 Tony Stark—and by that we mean Iron Man dressed up like he was from Winterfell. Stark? Get it?

11 Luke Cages, by far the most popular Defender, although we also saw some people dressed as Daredevil and Jessica Jones. (Iron Fists were hard to come by—not surprising considering how much that Netflix series was panned.)

7 characters from Baby Driver

2 Puddles Pity Party clowns, both of whom were quite tall but neither of whom were actually Mike Geier (we think)

Want to see for yourself? Check out our Dragon Con 2017 gallery, with 60 photos of our favorite looks.

Or check out the super adorable kids of Dragon Con for your daily dose of cute.

Dragon Con 2017 Superlatives
Instant party starters: We saw plenty of inflatable T-rex costumes last year, but this year took it to another level. Groups of the dinosaurs started lively, hilarious dance parties on the hotel floors—we watched them groove to “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” in the Hyatt on Friday night.

Most nostalgic: You can tell Millennials are missing their childhoods from the amount of 90s-themed costumes. We saw plenty of Rugrats (including an inflatable Reptar dinosaur); Animaniacs; a Domino’s Pizza Noid; Johnny Bravo; tons of contestants from Legends of the Hidden Temple, Double Dare, and Global Guts; and even Pierre Escargot, one of Kenan Thompson’s characters from the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That.

Most advertising: Everyone tried the Maltesers, right? Fun-sized packets of the British malted milk balls, which made their way to the U.S. this year, were passed out all over the convention hotels.

Most epic guest: For the past year, conventions have been announcing each appearance of Stan Lee as his last, but the 94-year-old comic book legend was the grand marshal at the Dragon Con parade, hosted a panel, and took photos with fans. If this ends up being his last Dragon Con, he made it count.

Most upsetting moment: When someone(s) started throwing chairs off of the 10th floor skydeck of the Marriott Marquis around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. One woman, who ended up with two staples in her head when a chair landed on her, credited her Loki horns for saving her life. A woman visiting from Louisiana was also injured. The 10th floor was subsequently blocked off Sunday evening. The event was terrifying and extremely upsetting, but the skydeck has always been great spot for hanging out and getting a cool view of the crowd below. We hope that the hotel will bump up security there rather than close the 10th floor indefinitely.

Most surprising absence: The entire advertising campaign for the new Nintendo Switch video game console revolved around how easily the systems could be transported to parties and public spaces so you could play your favorite games with friends. That meant there would be Switches all over the con, right? Nope—if con-goers had Switches, they must have kept them in their rooms because we didn’t spot anyone playing.

Best overhaul: The Hilton’s recent renovation made it a much more popular spot during the con. The DJ on the ground floor, turning the open area into an additional dance party, was a nice touch.

Evidence of how insane the lines can get: A half-hour before Alton Brown’s Sunday panel, we followed its line from the start of the steps near the Marriott Marquis’s check-in entrance, all the way around the entire hotel building, and back to another staircase near where the line started—roughly a half-mile in length. Fans who waited, however, were the first to hear a very cool announcement—a revamped version of Good Eats, titled Return of the Eats, is coming to Food Network in 2018.

Most needed improvement: And on that note, Dragon Con’s queuing system needs some work. Per the convention’s guidelines, lines for the next panel begin immediately after the previous panel starts, but fans often start lining up early, which can cause a ton of confusion and miscommunication among volunteers and con-goers. We’re not exactly sure what the solution is, but more organization would help ease crowd tensions.

Wednesday is the new Thursday: With Thursday finally officially part of the Dragon Con schedule, con-goers are arriving even earlier. We spotted our first stormtrooper helmet on Peachtree Street at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The convention is already five days long—will it eventually become a full week?

(Costume statistics are approximated and exclude the parade.)