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If there's one thing to know about Dragon*Con, it's basically a 72-hour long party with a huge side of fandom. As such, the convention hasn't changed much in its recent history. The merchants, panels, and events are much the same as any other previous year. Of course, one of the big draws for many are the guests, and this is once way in which Dragon*Con really shines. Because the convention covers a wide swath of fandoms -- pretty much anything related to scifi, fantasy, horror, science, comics, cartoons, anime, martial arts, etc. -- the convention is huge, and can pull appropriate guests. A good indictor of who to expect at Dragon*Con is to look at San Diego Comic Con, the large industry-sponsored convention covering a similarly large slice of fandom, in the previous year, and see which guests were promoting their projects there. Once the big promotional period is over, they'll often head over to Dragon*Con for the fans.
It's long history has also established Dragon*Con as arguably the best east coast convention. Each of the con's many tracks is the size of many smaller conventions, and each is run somewhat separately. Each track has enough programming to spend the whole weekend at, though panels are generally chosen by popularity, not quality. Along with a number of good panels are a number of lesser panels, too. But, what it may lack in quality is made up in quantity, and there are certainly plenty of very good panels to go to at any given time. The many other events are similar; you can always find something to do.
Unique to Dragon*Con is the Saturday parade, through the streets of downtown Atlanta. This is perhaps one of the most popular events due to its novelty. Much like any parade, though, there is little to see other than a huge group of various costumers walking through the streets. The floats are a great addition, but even they don't make the parade particularly unique from year to year. Instead of crowding along the streets, it's probably a better idea to try to get a view from a hotel room.
But in the end, all the day-time activities are just a way to pass the time until the evening, when the alcohol flows freely. Booze is such a big part of Dragon*Con that most local establishments -- not to mention the many hotel bars and restaurants -- violate their liquor licenses and stay open, selling drinks, well after supposed "last call." Despite incurring huge fines, the convention brings in plenty of money to make up for it. The hotels and even the streets surrounding the hotels become a single giant, loud party after about 8 pm on all three evenings.
This makes Dragon*Con a very adult convention in all meanings of the word. Those attendees who are underage will be essential confined to their hotel rooms (likely with their own stock of liquor) for the evening. With the older crowd comes quite a bit of maturity, but also quite a bit of stubbornness. Older, "established" fans seem to build cliques, leaving newer fans to face an occasional bit of hostility. And, many of the Atlanta locals are openly hostile to Dragon*Con attendees, though in recent years extra security measures have prevented the kinds of assaults and fights that reportedly happened in the past.