Another Dragon Con is in the books and downtown has returned to normal after roughly 85,000 fans descended to show off their best costumes and celebrate all things geek. In the four days we spent the convention floor (walking nearly 30 miles, according to our phones), here are some of the things we noticed.
Costumes (and trends) by the numbers:
144 characters from Netflix’s Stranger Things, the largest cosplay outpouring we’ve ever seen for the metro Atlanta-filmed show, which premiered its third season on July 4. Most of the costumes were inspired by season three—Eleven’s geometric romper, Hopper’s pastel J.C. Penney button-up, and of course . . .
72 people dressed as Steve and Robin in their Scoops Ahoy uniforms, and that certainly wasn’t all of them. The blue-and-white sailor suit was arguably the most popular costume at the convention; it was even turned into a meme.
42 characters specifically from Avengers: Endgame, 20 of which were the disheveled “Dude” Thor from the film’s second act. (Only 5 of the Thors we spotted carried a can of Tropicalia, as the God of Thunder actually did in the movie.)
6 people dressed as Dark Rey, fresh from the new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer that debuted last week. (Speaking of Star Wars, Slave Leia, once a convention cosplay staple, has decreased immensely in popularity. We spotted a ton of Reys and Leias in other outfits, but only two sporting the infamous gold bikini. In contrast, we spotted 22 in 2014.)
6 people dressed as the late, great Mr. Rogers
5 people dressed as Flavortown Mayor Guy Fieri
8 characters from Amazon’s Good Omens series, which likely got a boost from star David Tennant attending the convention this year
25 Cult of Marriott Carpet outfits
21 inflatable T-Rexes, which were as entertaining as ever on the dance floor
3 people dressed as Walt Disney, all of whom had a toy Mickey Mouse in tow
3 people dressed as Game of Thrones‘s Daenerys with her dragon, Drogon. Thanks to the widely panned series finale, GoT cosplay was way down this year, but we still saw a good amount of folks from Westeros.
19 portable Bluetooth speakers
16 service dogs and 1 cat
4 broken escalators (all of which were fixed pretty quickly)
2 people wearing Orlando City soccer jerseys, by far the most offensive outfit
We also noticed:
• A surprisingly small amount of people wearing Area 51 raid-themed outfits, only about six or so. Internet memes generally have a strong showing at Dragon Con, but apparently this one had already (Naruto) run its course.
• There was a bar set up underneath the Marriott Marquis’s Pulse lounge devoted to selling Tropicália, encouraging Avengers fans to “drink like the gods.” This was a great opportunity for out-of-town fans to learn that the beer Thor drinks is indeed real and made right here in Georgia by Creature Comforts.
• According to Dragon Con officials, attendance jumped up to 85,000 after holding steady at 80,000 for the past two years. Luckily, for whatever reason, this didn’t lead to a more jam-packed feeling on the convention floor.
• For the second year in a row, Dragon Con’s Atlanta United faithful turned out for Saturday’s away match against Philadelphia on Saturday evening, leading a march from the Westin to the Hyatt, where they gathered to watch the game at the hotel’s Twenty-Two Storys bar. The crowd was essentially a mini supporter’s section, with flags made from recycled tifo foils, a plastic crate-turned-drum to keep the beat during chants, and even an inflatable T-Rex dressed in a custom “kit” made from a black t-shirt and duct tape.
• You might not have recognized him in his cosplay of Leroy Smith, a soon-to-be-released downloadable fighter for Tekken 7, but T-Pain attended Dragon Con this year along with his daughter, who sported Red Dead Redemption cosplay. The rapper, who is also a Twitch streamer, posted several videos and photos to Instagram documenting his experience.
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@dragoncon was my daughters first con AND the first con where I actually got to enjoy the event and I wasn’t stuck at one booth working or performing and leaving immediately after so We had a super blast. Thank you to everybody that let my daughter and I be fellow fans and cosplayers. We really really enjoyed ourselves and I really love cosplaying. Who should I go as next time??
• A new character has joined Dragon Con lore, Jon the FedEx Delivery Man. Jon was a cardboard cut-out that stood in the hallway that connects the Peachtree Center food court to the Marriott, advertising the hotel’s FedEx shipping center. On Thursday, the first day of the convention, someone stuck a pair of plastic googly eyes on the cut-out. By Friday evening, Jon had picked up a few stickers, a pair of bunny ears, and a trail of fake blood running from his mouth. But by Sunday night, Jon reached his final form, sporting a yellow floral lei, a handlebar mustache and a unibrow, and countless stickers and badge ribbons. Jon had disappeared by Monday morning, but the cut-out became so popular that we fully expect to see Jon cosplayers next year.
• Speaking of badge ribbons, while the little flags that hang from the bottom of convention badges are not new, they’ve surged in popularity, with some convention goers this year sporting a train of ribbons taller than they were. Many fans order custom ribbons prior to the con and distribute them for free as a collectable—even the con’s official charity for this year, the American Heart Association, gave out their own ribbons. (If you want to learn more about them, there’s a Facebook group: Dragon Con Loyal Order of the Ribbon.)
• As if the Sheraton didn’t have a bad enough year already, a small speaker fire during an Aly & AJ concert caused a partial evacuation of the hotel on Saturday night. (And in true Dragon Con fashion, somebody dressed as the speaker the next day.)
• For the first time that we can recall, the Marriott turned several multi-stall bathrooms into gender-neutral bathrooms for the duration of the convention. As Dragon Con strives to be an inclusive space for all fans, it was great to see this addition.
• Sadly, the beloved Lady Olenna cosplayer, who previously attended the convention in an iron throne-decorated wheelchair while sporting “deal with it” shades, has died, according to a post shared on the official Dragon Con Facebook page. Her wheelchair was adorned with a wreath and marched in the parade as a tribute.
(Costume statistics are approximated and don’t include the parade.)