| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Introducing Dokkio, a new service from the creators of PBworks. Find and manage the files you've stored in Dropbox, Google Drive, Gmail, Slack, and more. Try it for free today.

View
 

History of Dragon*Con

Page history last edited by Garand 5 years, 5 months ago Saved with comment

The bulk of the contents of this article, leading up to 2008, were pulled from the Internet Archives via the Wayback Machine. When this article was originally written, this information had not appeared on the Dragon Con main page for quite some time. The Dragon Con site once again has the official history. Everything in this article relating to events after 2008 is unofficial. Information prior to 2008 has been transcribed here, with edits made to change the perspective to 3rd-person, for readability, for relevance to the scope of this wiki, and to add extra details not originally presented. This page should continue to be updated to provide other details that may not appear in the official history and as a running history to this year's events. In 2013, the asterisk (*) was dropped from the name when a buyout of controversial founder Ed Kramer's shared resulted in a legal name change of the convention. The asterisk shall be left in the name for all references to the conventions from 1987 to 2012.  

 

A Brief History of Dragon Con

 

Origins & the late 1980s    

     Dragon Con was launched in 1987, under the name Dragon*Con, as an outgrowth/evolution of a local SF and gaming group, the Dragon Alliance of Gamers ad Role-Players (DAGR), founded by Ed Kramer. The name "Dragon" for both the club and the convention was derived from Ed's Dragon Computer (a European version of Radio Shack's venerable Color Computer), which hosted a local Bulletin Board System ("The Dragon") that initially served as a central hub for both organizations. Through months of initial planning, club members John Bunnell, David Cody, Robert Dennis, Mike Helba, Pat Henry and Ed Kramer formed the original Dragon*Con Board of Directors; most remain an integral part of the convention to this day. In fact, nearly fifty "ten-year" staff and guests were honored at Dragon*Con '96 and nearly that many have since been honored at the fifteen-year mark!

 

     The inaugural Dragon*Con fliers debuted at the 1986 Atlanta Worldcon, ConFederation. However, by the following year Dragon*Con had been selected to be the host of the 1990 Origins convention—the US National Gaming Convention—and so had penned a seven-year contract with the Atlanta Hilton (for 1990 through 1996)—all prior to the start of the first event!

 

     Dragon*Con '87 featured Guest of Honor Michael Moorcock (his first US convention appearance in twelve years), Robert Asprin and Lynn Abbey, the late Robert Adams, Richard "Lord British" Garriott (creator of Ultima), Gary Gygax (co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons) and Toastmaster Brad Strickland. Just over 1,400 fans joined in on the fun—a remarkable number for a first-year convention. Miramar recording artist Jon Serrie delivered his keyboard arrangements from within a real NASA flight suit (with helmet) during the Masquerade/Costume Contest. Michael Moorcock and longtime friend Eric Bloom, Blue Oyster Cult's vocalist/guitarist, even jammed onstage, performing the Moorcock-written BOC tunes "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" and "Black Blade" — thus launching live concerts as an annual Dragon*Con tradition. Starfire Swords donated a broadsword to be presented to Michael Moorcock by the convention. Thomas E. Fuller and the Atlanta Radio Theatre, who've become another annual tradition, performed H.P. Lovecraft's Call of Cthulhu live at the con and on the air.

 

     Dragon*Con's 1987 and 1988 conventions were held at the Piedmont Plaza Hotel (now the Meliã), at the corner of Spring and Linden. However, with Anne McCaffrey as Guest of Honor in 1989, Dragon*Con relocated to the Omni Hotel and Convention Center to accommodate the 3,200 fans who attended.

 

1990s

     As host of Origins '90, Dragon*Con moved to the Atlanta Hilton and Towers and more than doubled in size with Guest of Honor Tom Clancy, providing the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) with one of its largest and most successful conventions

Dragon Con Location and Attendance Over the Years   

Year

Venue

Attendance

1987

Piedmont Plaza Hotel

1,400

1988

Piedmont Plaza Hotel

1,700

1989

Omni Hotel & Convention Center

3,200

1990

Atlanta Hilton & Towers/Atlanta Radisson Hotel

6,900

1991

Atlanta Hilton & Towers

5,200

1992

Atlanta Hilton & Towers

6,100

1993

Atlanta Hilton & Towers

8,000

1994

Atlanta Hilton & Tower/ Westin Peachtree Plaza/

Atlanta Civic Center

11,000

1995

Atlanta Hilton & Towers/ Westin Peachtree Plaza/

Ramada Downtown/ Atlanta Civic Center

14,000

1996

Atlanta Hilton & Towers/ Westin Peachtree Plaza/

Atlanta Civic Center

13,400

1997

Inforum Convention Center/ Westin Peachtree Plaza/

Atlanta Civic Center

18,000

1998

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ AmericasMart

18,000

1999

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Atlanta Merchandise Mart/

Atlanta Apparel Mart

19,000

2000

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Atlanta Merchandise Mart/

Atlanta Apparel Mart

20,000

2001

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis

20,000+

2002

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis

20,000+

2003

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis

20,000+

2004

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis

20,000+

2005

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/

Atlanta Hilton

20,000+

2006

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/

Atlanta Hilton

25,000+

2007

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/

Atlanta Hilton

30,000+
2008

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/

Atlanta Hilton/Sheraton

 
2009

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/

Atlanta Hilton/Sheraton

 30,000+
2010

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/

Atlanta Hilton/Sheraton

30,000+ 
2011

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/

Atlanta Hilton/Sheraton/Westin Peachtree Plaza

46,000+
2012 Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/
Atlanta Hilton/Sheraton/Westin Peachtree Plaza
53,000+ 

 

2013

Hyatt Regency Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/
Atlanta Hilton/Sheraton/

Westin Peachtree Plaza/Americasmart

 

 

2014

Hyatt Atlanta/ Marriott Marquis/
Atlanta Hilton/Sheraton/

Westin Peachtree Plaza/Americasmart

 

62,000+

ever. Dragon*Con '90 also marked the inclusion of an entirely new facet of the convention, the Atlanta Comics Expo, which was held simultaneously with Dragon*Con at a nearby hotel. The Expo proved so successful even in its first year that they retained the moniker and incorporated it into Dragon*Con itself, a marriage "made in heaven" - especially with so much more-recent "crossover" of comics into SF and fantasy (as well as gaming).

 

     At the 1992 Worldcon in Orlando, Florida (Magicon), Dragon*Con won its bid to host the 1995 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC). Later that year, Dragon*Con also received the bid to host the International Starfleet Conference as part of its 1995 convention. The combined event set a Dragon*Con attendance record with 14,312 fans participating. The program book, edited by staff writer, editor and webmaster Paul W. Cashman, won the Georgia Printers Association's Award of General Excellence for that year.

 

     In 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell presented the convention with a certificate of acclamation for hosting its tenth Dragon*Con in the city. By the time Dragon*Con departed the Atlanta Hilton as its host hotel in 1996, the Westin Peachtree Plaza  had already been annexed for game tournaments, the Atlanta Civic Center for the Masquerade Costume Contest, and nearly a dozen overflow hotels for fans to use. The Atlanta Business Chronicle listed Dragon*Con as the city's 12th largest annual convention of any kind based on the 1996 attendance and room block.

 

     Dragon*Con 1997 marked a shift in hotels to the Hyatt Regency, whose staff have been extremely supportive. Dragon*Con also made use of the Inforum, a convention facility two blocks to the west which has since been closed for convention use.

 

     A new chapter began in 1998 for Dragon*Con, as they shifted their large-scale operations (Exhibit Hall, Dealers Room, etc.) to a modern convention facility called the AmericasMart (consisting of the Atlanta Apparel Mart, Gift Mart, and Merchandise Mart), ranked as the fourth largest producer of conventions in the United States. The Hyatt remained the convention HQ. These facilities were retained for 1999, when attendance spiraled toward 20,000; the "Atlanta Comics Expo" moniker was dropped while retaining comics programming and guests.

 

New Century, 2000s

     Dragon*Con used the same facilities in 2000 and finally topped the 20,000 mark, Atlanta's largest volunteer-run event and significantly larger than any SF-oriented convention on Earth. Some comics shows, like San Diego Comic-Con, remain the kings of that genre.

 

     For 2001 Dragon*Con shifted their location slightly, keeping the Hyatt as the headquarters hotel while making use of the celebrated Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, one of the Southeast's true architectural masterpieces. In a sense they have come full-circle; back when the first fliers debuted in 1986 at the Atlanta Worldcon, Confederation, acclaimed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury had said of the then-new Marriott, "This hotel is science fiction!" Fifteen years later, it's still one of the most unique structures in the Southeast. This year also marked the debut of the Parade. Alas, Dragon*Con's growth came at a cost, as they had to shift the dates to Labor Day Weekend to make use of both hotels (back then, it was the slowest weekend of the year in the hotel business).

 

     In 2002, in recognition of the tenth year of one of Dragon*Con's most successful fan tracks, Mayor Shirley Franklin proclaimed September 2, 2002 (the last day of that year's convention) as 'TrekTrak Day' in the City of Atlanta.

 

     2003-2004 saw little in the way of changes to the overall convention space, but several new tracks were added to the line up, including Gothic/HorrorCostumingIndependent Film, and Young Adult Literature.

 

     In 2005, Dragon*Con expanded to meet growing need for convention space into three hotels by adding the Atlanta Hilton as a co-host hotel. 2005 also saw the return of the Masquerade to the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

 

     Labor Day 2006 (September 1-4, 2006) marked the 20th year anniversary! It's hard to believe it, but in 2007, Dragon*Con surpassed the blow-out 20th Anniversary year, and reached an all new high of 30,000+ members! The Sheraton was added in 2008 as the convention grew. Star Wars and Star Trek tracks were move here along with registration. Also in 2008, Dragon*ConTV began airing and re-running popular panels and the parade.

 

     2009 drew in a star-studded guest list. Star Trek legends William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Patrick Stewart made their Dragon*Con debuts. Star Trek Voyager actor Garrett Wang took over Trek Track around this time. Dragon*ConTV debuted the Late Show to supplement the Daily Dragon, since reading is hard with blurry, post-con-party, vision.

 

2010s

     The century's 2nd decade saw comic book visionary Stan Lee on the guest list in 2010. Also debuting in 2010 was Dragon*ConTV characters Bob & Carl, whose popularity led to the duos appearance at other conventions leading into 2011. This year also saw various panels moved to the Westin while other host hotels renovated. This was also the year when the Wyndham and Baymont hotels suddenly closed just months prior to the convention, having been sold to the university to be used as dorms. 2010 also marked the debut of the Dragon*Con Photo Hunt.

 

     2011 included the return of William Shatner, Stan Lee, and Richard "Lord British" Garriott. Also, a new track, Kaleidoscope, aimed at the 9-13 year-old Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network crowd, was founded. This year the Dawn Look-Alike Contest was replaced with the Comic Book Babes Costume Contest. In conjunction with Comcast and BBC America, BritTrack was able to host the premiere of the Doctor Who episode "Night Terror", with special introduction by Matt Smith, several hours before aired elsewhere in America. Speaking of The Doctor, 7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy made his Dragon*Con debut. The Westin also returned as an official host hotel. With 1800 participants, the parade became Atlanta's largest. In honor of the 25th anniversary, a Proclamation of Commemoration was issued to Dragon*Con by the City of Atlanta.

 

     2012 started off with a bang, in 2011, with what was described on Twitter as Roomagedon 2012. The Hilton sold out before the Marriott Marquis even started booking. When the Marriott began taking reservations, it sold out in minutes. On October 17th, 2011, The Hyatt Regency opened reservations and sold out in the same day. In what can really only be accurately compared to a land rush, once the Hyatt filled, all rooms left at the Sheraton and Westin were sold out on the same day. Four hotels were tagged on the wiki as sold out that day, one of them, the Hyatt Place, wasn't even affiliated with Dragon*Con. The Puppetry and Digital Video Gaming tracks were new this year. Richard Dean Anderson, Gillian Anderson, and Adam Baldwin attended. Yes, this was the year Adam Baldwin actually made it. The Wheel of Time track ended this year.

 

     2013 marked the return of the AmericasMart facility as host to the Dealer rooms and Exhibition Halls. The Fantasy Literature track was created this year, merging the Wheel of Time and Anne McCaffrey’s Worlds tracks, and focusing more on the entire genre. Two Doctors visited the convention this year. Sylvester McCoy returned and Colin Baker was a guest for the first time. Brittrak officials assured us that the convention exists in a state of temporal grace and having 2 Doctors will not bring a catastrophic end to our universe. Through a merger/buyout, controversial founder Ed Kramer was removed from the convention in a buyout of his remaining shares. This prompted the name change from Dragon*Con to Dragon Con. Kramer's stake in the convention was a sticking point for many and the cause of much grief for the convention. The editor and contributors of the Wiki are still hunting down and removing asterisks in articles over a year later. 2013 also saw the parade re-routed, due to constriction of a street car system.

 

      2014 started off with the mess created by the Passkey reservations system the hotels used. They Hilton and Hyatt were overbooked. Guests of the Hilton had a much different experience that those of the Hyatt as the former appeared to have handled it better than the latter. The Hilton handed out vouchers first come, first serve, to guests as they checked in guaranteeing them a room until the 2015 block filled.  The Marriott would go on to ditch Passkey for 2015 bookings. Adam Baldwin returned. Guardians of the Galaxy, which had released to theaters just months prior, director James Gunn made an appearance at a Marvel cosplay photo shoot. Brittrack once again hosted the first (U.S.) showing of that weekend's Doctor Who episode. John Ratzenburger, the guy who's voice is in every Pixar movie somewhere, made his debut.

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.