Posted by: wildflowerz | September 3, 2013

Blunt the knives bend the forks! Smash the bottles and burn the corks! Chip the glasses and crack the plates! That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!

DragonCon recap!

Day Zero – Thursday

Chris was home from work on Thursday and since he’s gone the past SEVERAL years, I went this year.  I got down there and parked at our usual place.  I didn’t know how the line would be.  I was optimistic, though.  I’d heard that it had gotten so much better with the bar code system.  Still, just in case, I headed to the restroom on the main floor of the Sheraton before I got in line.  I knew where that restroom was.  After, I headed down the interior stairs and got in line.  I didn’t realize until I left, that must have skipped some of the outside line.  Oops.  I asked the people at the front where I should go, since I didn’t know what the line colors meant, but they didn’t mention anything.  Oh well!  I got in line and pulled out my book.  After a few turns, I noticed a friend about 10 people behind me, so I skipped back to hang out with her.  The first half of the line went really quickly.  We got through about half the room in 20 minutes.  The second half?  Not so much.  It took me a total of an hour and 40 minutes to get my badge.  There was some kind of programming error that required a manual adjustment to a LOT of the cards and that was slowing the process down.  Anyway, I headed home after that.

Day One – Friday

We got up and all got ready.  I packed our lunches and we were off…like a herd of turtles.  We dropped off the dog at the kennel and then stopped by Weight Watchers for me to weigh in.  We got down to the con area around 9:30 or so.  Traffic was sucky, but not overly so.  From here on, I’ll separate stuff by panel times:

10am – We went to the Hilton and got in line to see Natalia Tena.  She played Tonks in Harry Potter, among other things, but that’s what this panel was for.  The line for this panel was in a long, empty room next to the larger panel room.  They had one switchback and didn’t use nearly enough of the space they could have for the line.  Still, we got in okay.  It was an okay panel.  She’s cute, but talked an awful lot about her period and for an HP panel, a few of the things she said weren’t very kid friendly.  Still, we’ve got a reasonably mature kid, so we weren’t really bothered.

11:30am – Em and I didn’t have anything for the 11:30 or 1pm slots.  So, we found a seat on the main floor of the Hilton and had our lunch.  Em thought the little seating alcoves were really cool.  We ran into Em’s librarian from school and talked to her for a bit.  Then, we went over to the Apparel Mart.  Okay, first, I had assumed that when they changed the starting time for panels on Friday, they also changed the opening time for the shopping.  We usually don’t go that early, so we’d never tested it.  I was wrong.  We got over to the Apparel Mart around 11:30 and found that it didn’t open until 1pm.  That was the suck.  We had ZERO to do, so we just decided to sit down and read, play games, etc.  Where we sat, they formed a line to go into the first floor exhibit area.  So, we just stayed.  At 1, they finally opened it.  We were very close to the front of the line, so it was empty when we got in.  We looked at the giganto tee shirt place that we never find anything at and then headed around the back.  We ended up making it all the way around the tiny room, but it took about 45 minutes and we couldn’t actually SEE anything.  We bailed and went to join Chris in the line for Adam Savage.

2:30pm – Chris met another friend when the line formed and we got so close to the front of the line that we didn’t have to line up outside!  We joined them, along with the friend’s husband and son.  The wait wasn’t bad and when we loaded in, we were in the second row!  This panel was called But I Play One on TV! and it was about communicating science to the public.  It was moderated by Veronica Belmont (Yay!) and had Adam Savage (Yay!) and Phil Plait (I’d never heard of him, but he was cool).  This was a good panel and we all enjoyed it.

4pm – We headed over to the Westin for the Walking Dead panel.  I wasn’t too hyped about this one.  One of TWD people cancelled a few days before Con and a few of the others that were supposed to be there evidently begged off that panel.  When we got there, the room was full and we couldn’t get in anyway.  We weren’t too brokenhearted.  Turns out, the people that were still scheduled there never showed up anyway.  We went to the Dealer/Exhibit area and it wasn’t nearly as crowded as before.  Em found an Arial necklace at Sparkle that she wanted.  I found an awesome Who shirt, but Chris said to wait and see everything first.  I would go on to regret listening to him. 😦

5:30pm – We went to see a Game of Thrones panel with Natalia Tena (yes, twice in one day), Burn Gorman, and…the guy that plays the Mormont that was on the wall.  It was a decent panel, though not amazing.  Em listened to music and played games and read.

7pm – We met up with friends at Truva for dinner.  It was yum, once again.  We tried this place for the first time last year and liked it a lot.  Chris and I split a couple of kebaps and we did some falafel for an app.  Afterwards, we headed down to the game room to meet friends and play games.  Em and I played Ticket to Ride and Chris played Red November with some other friends.  We got home around 10:30 or so.

Day Two – Saturday

I woke up about 45 minutes before we’d set our alarm and Em was already up.  Since I’d forgotten the day before, we went ahead and dyed the front of Em’s hair purple.  She loved it and it has the added benefit of looking really cool and stripey when she puts it back in a ponytail.  So, we all got ready and left.  We stopped by McD’s for breakfast for Chris and Em.  This will continue every morning.  I had my usual greek yogurt and a banana at home and they had sausage biscuits and hash browns all week.  I felt positively virtuous!

10am – Traffic sucked ass, so while we’d planned on getting there at 9:30, we didn’t get there until 9:55 or so.  Even though we were near the end of the parade route and it hadn’t gotten any where near us yet, they wouldn’t let us cross the street at the end to find a good place to stand.  People were at least 10 deep everywhere, so no one could see.  We ended up heading up to the 8th floor of a parking garage and watching the parade.  It was too high up and it was hella hot up there.  Parade viewing was NOT good.  I got a ton of pics from up high.  They’re still loading to Flickr now.  It’s taking forever.  😛

11:30am – We headed over to the Once Upon a Time panel and got pretty decent seats.  We’d gone through the food court and Chris and Em got blizzards.  Ooh, it was so hard to resist!  They each gave me a bite.  🙂  This had the people that play the Blue Fairy, Jiminy Cricket, and King Midas.  It was a pretty decent panel and enjoyable.  Not fab, but good.

1pm – Chris went off to do something or other and Em and I went down to the bowels of the Hyatt to a tiny room for the AJ Hartley reading.  There were only about 9 total people in there, so very intimate.  Em was the only kid and I’d tweeted Hartley earlier in the week to see if he’d be reading any Darwen.  So, he started with that.  The third one just came out a few weeks ago and we didn’t have it yet, so he read the entire first chapter of that.  Em loved it.  He fielded some questions about how Darwen was very autobiographical and said he didn’t realize that Darwen was an anagram of Andrew (his first name) until someone pointed it out to him.  A lot of Darwen’s details come from his own childhood.  After that, he read the first chapter of his second fantasy book, Will Power.

2:30pm – We met up with Chris and then headed over to the Marriott for Hartley’s autograph signing.  We were second in line and had to wait just a little while.  Em got the first two Darwen books signed and we bought the third one there and he signed it too.  Then we got our pics with him.  He’s very tall!  Em was super excited.  We dropped off the books at the car and went to try the dealer/exhibit area.   It was godawful again, so we fought our way back out and just left.

4pm – We got in line for the Hogwarts vs. Middle Earth panel on the Tolkein track.  The room filled.  It was one of those wide, but skinny rooms (at least, the way they’d set it up), so if you weren’t right in the middle, it was very hard to see.  I sat next to a Walter White clad only in tighty whiteys and an apron!  Em refused.  This panel was SO BORING.  Even the British accents couldn’t save it.  They droned on and on in a monotonous voice.  After about 15 minutes, we bailed and went to get in line for the Mythbusters panel.

5:30pm – We found a line for the panel that was going the opposite way of the normal panels for that room and it was more than an hour before the panel.  Chris was skeptical, so he went to hang out near the door to see if he could see what was up.  They eventually formed the line, so we went to find him.  We met up with some friends and ended up finding him WAY outside the building.  Still, from experience, we knew we’d end up getting in.  It was the Atrium Ballroom and that room is massive.  So, we talked and stood in line and such and eventually they loaded everyone in.  Em fulfilled one of her bucket list items while we were there and asked them a question.  She got a good response from the audience and Adam when she asked too, so that was great.  We had planned on either doing Durango or an mexi place near Durango for dinner, but we were open.  Some other friends were going to this other place and invited us all to join.  I’d never heard of it, so our friend looked up the menu (my phone is shit and wouldn’t work).  Unfortunately, almost all of it seemed heavily fried and was more of the home cooking variety.  None of us are into the home cooking stuff and no one needs that much fried stuff, so we left to do Durango on our own.  We had about a 20 minute wait, but it wasn’t bad.  The food was as yum as usual!  After, we met up with everyone in Open Gaming again.  We played Castle Panic and then headed home.

Day Three – Sunday

Blah, blah, blah…stopped at McD’s and headed in. 🙂

10am – Our first panel was True Blood with Lauren Bowles, Tara Buck, Jim Parrack, and Rutina Wesley.  Em listened to music, read, and played games.  The panel was pretty good.  They were all funny.  The room was only about 1/4 full.

11:30am – We headed over to our only thing at the Sheraton for the entire weekend and saw the Doctor Who Companions:  John Levene, Eve Myles, Noel Clarke, and the adorable Gareth David Lloyd.  They did a short trailer for GDL’s new “I Am Alone.”  I think it’s a small, independent thing.  Might be good, but we didn’t see enough to even really guess.  This panel was freaking hilarious and extremely dirty.  Em had a confused look on her face for most of it, so I think it all passed her by.  After we had our picture taken with the Tardis.

1pm – I was going to do a Dollhouse panel, but ended up going with Chris and Em to the Desolation of Smaug preview panel.  This was a pretty decent one and much better than I thought it would be.

2:30pm – Em and I headed from the Hyatt to the Marriott and Chris went somewhere else.  We tried to do the skybridge over, but it was at a standstill.  We saw a previous day that this was because they were checking badges 3 separate times on that one skybridge.  Including checking people who were LEAVING the hotel.  It made no sense whatsoever.  We stood there for a bit before deciding we’d try going around the hotel on the outside.  It was raining quite a bit, but we did have an umbrella.  We still ended up pretty wet.  We went around the Hyatt and then came up the escalator to the Atrium level of the Marriott.  The room we needed was a track room that was, unfortunately, past where the sky bridges were.  That area was packed.  It ended up taking us about 15 minutes to get 30 feet.  It was awful.  The panel was called Read-a-Likes and was our first visit to the Kaleidescope track.  The description for the panel said it was about how to get your kids to read books and what they’d like based on their current tv and movie likes.  Obvs we don’t need to GET Em to read, but I thought the recs would be good.  Turns out that it was more the former and not really any of the latter.  Still, it was decent.  In the raffle, we got a free book out of it.  We did get a few recs.  I’ll post those separately, along with a long list of ones I got from a Monday panel.  Funny thing, one of the guys on the panel was named Bryan Young.  He’s an author.  They didn’t mention it, but his named sounded familiar.  LAST year at Con, I read his ebook, Lost at the Con.  It was actually set at DragonCon.  And it was REALLY awful.  I said as much in my Goodreads review and then he “liked” my review.  Um, okay.

4pm – We went to the other end of the Atrium level for a Phineas & Ferb panel.  This was a fan panel and it was super kid-friendly.  I don’t mean in content (because obvs it would be), but in execution.  Mostly it was kids asking the panel silly opinion questions about the show and everyone answering it.  Em liked it.

5pm – We didn’t have anything at 5:30, so after the PnF panel, we got in line at the DC store.  The line was REALLY long, but it moved super quick.  Em was REALLY loving DC, so we got memberships for all three of us next year.  Em got this year’s tee.  I really wanted one, but now I’ve come to another problem I’m having.  They were sold out everything but XL and XXL.  Seriously.  I needed at least a L, maybe a M!  Oh well.  😦  I might order one online later if they restock.  Since it was Em’s first DC, she wanted to ride the Marriott elevator up as far as we could go and look down, both inside and out.  So we did that and ended up on the 41st floor.  We looked all around and were about to head back down, when I looked across and saw someone familiar on the other side of the hotel, same level.  Turns out, it was a guy I went to high school with.  I knew he’d be there since we’re friends on FB, but I actually hadn’t seen him since 1994!  So we chatted for a while before we headed back down.

6:30pm – We had reservations with friends at Max Lager’s for 6:30, but we had nothing going on and the rain had really cooled off outside, so we strolled up there ahead of time and waited outside for everyone.  The food was really good!  I ended up getting an Asian chicken salad…or what was described as a salad.  Turns out it was more of a noodle dish.  Oh well. I ate it and it was yum.  I don’t think it was THAT bad for me, but I still limited myself to 3 bites of the monster big and yum chocolate cake that we shared after.  🙂  After dinner we headed to Open Gaming again.  There were a ton of people there that night.  We played Tsuro with a random guy who glommed on to our game.  Then Chris kicked the guy out and they played Small World (which I don’t care for much) and I ended up shoving headphones on my ears (It was SO FREAKING LOUD) and reading.  We left around 11:15 or so and got home around midnight.

Day Four – Monday

When we got up, it was raining quite a bit.  Chris was angling for us to stay home and forget it, but Em wanted to go for sure.  We did the usual and got there around 9:30am

10am – We went to the panel Hobbit Guests Talk Tolkein and Beyond.  It had WIlliam Kircher, Sylvester McCoy, and Grand McTavish.  (Radigast and 2 of the dwarves.)  It was a really funny one and Em got to ask another question, which she loved.

11am – We headed over to try shopping again.  This time, it wasn’t quite so bad. Still, the business then on a light time was as busy as the busiest time in year’s past.  The Apparel Mart was the suck.  Em got a cute Doctor Who necklace.  I searched for the DW tee I wanted. The place I’d found it at only had it in XL.  Grrrrr!!  We found it at another place and they had it in L (which was still way too big) and S (which was just a bit too small).  However, they said we could order it and have it sent to us at no charge for shipping.  So I did. 🙂  We didn’t find any kid’s tees and only a few women’s sizes, so Em couldn’t find anything she wanted. 😦

12pm – We were running out of lunch stuff and tired of what I was packing, so we went to the food court this day.  Chris and Em got pizza.   I went to one of those “pay by the ounce” buffet places.  Not because it looked super, but it was mostly empty and had some healthy stuff.  We ate and then headed to a panel on the Young Adult track.

1pm – We did the Stuck in the Middle panel.  This was supposed to be reading recs for the middle grades (Middle school).  Since Em’s level is from 4-8, we figured it’d work for us.  I got TONS of recs and I’ll post those in a separate post after I’ve looked up some of the info I missed.  At the raffle at the end, I won a lovely necklace from my favorite place:  Sparkle!  It’s square and says “After all this time?” on one side and “Always.” with a doe patronus on the other!  /tear  Em got two more books that are actually not even out yet.

2:30pm – Our last panel was Doctor Who:  2014 and Beyond.  This was a discussion panel.  The track director was randomly going around and giving out swag.  She chose Em to get a necklace and Em got to pick between a Tardis locket or a sonic screwdriver.  She got the locket.  She wore it to school today. 🙂  The actual panel was kind of boring.  We gave it about 20 minutes and then just headed out and went home.


And that was our DragonCon weekend.  We had a lot of fun.  It felt much more relaxed, as far as our schedules this year.  There weren’t a lot of OMGMUSTSEE things for Chris and I and that helped since we had Em.  We mostly stuck together for the entire thing too and that made it a lot better.  I hate doing stuff by myself.  The Apparel Mart was awful and we didn’t buy as much as we normally do because of it.  The lines seemed like they were always in the same place for the rooms and that made navigation a lot better.  They only allowed people to line up an hour ahead of a panel and were strict about it and that made it all easier.  The redundant badge checking was stupid and made everything slow down a ton.  Overall, we had an excellent time and are looking forward to next year.  Except for the Con Crud I’ve caught.  Ug!  Oh, and here’s a link to all my pictures.


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