The Atlanta DragonCon parade, is the largest and one of the best parades in the city. It doesn’t matter how old you are or even if you’re a Sci-Fi fan, there is something for everyone at the Dragon Con parade, Klingons, Harry Potter characters, pirates, stormtroopers, Mad Max back from the ThunderDome, even princesses.
It’s so spectacular, the DragonCon parade draws more than 60,000 spectators. Here’s what you need to know to manage the crowds and have a blast! Plus, if you have little Sci-Fi fans, find out about TinyCon.
He had been plotting the attack all week. The weapon was concealed so well, that I didn’t even know my son had it until it was drawn, a surprise attack on one of the most notorious villains in the galaxy, Darth Vader. So started our morning at the Atlanta Dragon Con Parade. The 2018 parade kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 10 a.m.
The galactic battle above had me rolling with laughter, and proves that the DragonCon Parade is really for everyone. My teen just whipped out his plastic lightsaber, autographed by Jedi Mickey during a Star Wars Weekends trip, and began dueling with Darth Vader. Vader was good-natured about the attack, stopping his Dragon Con parade preparations to duel with my teenager for a few minutes.
Since this is such a popular event, take a minute to read through these 14 tips to help you get the most from your Dragon Con parade experience.
14 tips to help you plan your DragonCon Parade Experience
Get There Early: The Atlanta DragonCon parade steps off at 10 a.m. the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, but the crowd starts gathering well before 8 a.m. 65,000 people are expected to pack downtown Atlanta for the convention and parade. Don’t let that number scare you off, but do prepare for crowds and get there early. Bring your own chairs if you like. Kids often sit on the curb, though it’s important to keep them out of the street, some of the costumes are bulky and have limited vision.
Expect to See Your Favorite Characters: There are thousands of participants in the parade, including a number of special guests and a full complement of superheroes, storm troopers and steampunks too. I had no idea what steampunks are, so I looked it up on wikipedia. Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. I’ve seen these guys before and they are awesome!
Bring Provisions: Makes sure everyone is happy at parade time. Bring water and snacks to stay hydrated, fed and happy. If you get there at 8 am, it can be a long wait. To pass the time, head to the beginning of the parade and watch the characters milling around before the start, but be careful to stay out of the way. Some of these folks are very serious about their costumes.
Get into the spirit: If the kids have a cape or fairy wings, wear them, lots of folks dress up just to watch the parade. We found Elf on the street last year. This is a great time to get some milage out of that Halloween costume too.
Take Pictures: The parade breaks up in front of the Marriott Marquis, so if you want to try to catch somebody to get a picture that’s the place to do it. Most of the people in the parade made their own costumes, and they’re proud of them so they would be happy to take a picture with you and talk to you. But be sure to be polite, ask, and say thanks afterwards.
Stay for Lunch: Plan to stay Downtown and have lunch, walking around after the parade is some truly awesome people watching.
Prepare Small Children. Beware that some of the characters are very real and could scare young children. When my youngest was a toddler, he wasn’t too fond of the Klingons. To determine if this parade is for you, watch the video below from Field Trips with Sue of the DragonCon Parade. This is from 2009, but many of the folks in the video still march in the parade.
Find the Best Place to see the DragonCon Parade. Look for elevated areas along the route (steps in front of buildings, public balconies, etc.) for the best chance of an unobstructed view. Parking garages are great even though you do not have a street level view and there’s the bonus of shade! No matter where you are, please be courteous to those with physical challenges and children who need to be up front in order to see the parade.
Know the DragonCon Parade Route. A 2018 DragonCon Parade route is the same as last year. It launches at Peachtree Street and Linden Ave, going South on Peachtree passing the Hyatt Regency and taking a left onto Andrew Young International Blvd (at the Westin). Continuing one block on Andrew Young and taking another left onto Peachtree Center Ave. and continuing to the Marriott Marquis where the parade ends. The route is almost one mile.
Find the Least Crowded Part of the Parade Route. The blocks between where the parade launches and the I-75/85 overpass have been the least crowded in recent history. Note that being right at the launch point is not a great place to view the parade because it’s mostly people and vehicles standing by and waiting to get on the route. But if you just want to see the characters without the crowds, this could work.
Expect Parking to be Tough: In addition to DragonCon, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is at the Georgia Dome. If you are wondering where to park for the DragonCon parade, the big decks on International or Baker near Williams/Spring may be good choices. If they’re full, you may have to park farther away and walk to the parade route. Parade organizers recommend reserving parking in advance through a company like Parking Panda (not an endorsement, it’s just the one I’m familiar with) so time isn’t wasted looking for a place on parade morning. Long story short – Plan ahead.
Take MARTA. Don’t want to deal with parking? DragonCon encourages parade spectators to consider taking MARTA. The closest MARTA stops are at Peachtree Center (VERY crowded) and the North Ave. stations.
The Parade will be televised in 2018. Don’t want to deal with the crowds? The parade will be televised on Atlanta’s CW69. The DragonCon Parade will also be covered on the DCTV channels available in host hotels, and through the DCTV streaming membership app.
For the Littlest Sci-Fi Fans, There’s TinyCon
If the full on DragonCon parade is a bit much for your little ones, here’s a brilliant alternative. Calling all little wizards, superheroes and princesses! Children’s Museum of Atlanta welcomes families for the TinyCON, celebrating kid-friendly comic books and fantasy world adventures.
On Saturday, September 1 from 11 am – 4:30 pm, little ones can build a lightsaber to prepare for galactic adventure during Jedi training, enter the wizarding world to learn the science behind potions from Harry Potter and more! Visitors are encouraged to arrive in costume. Come during the parade, or visit after it’s over. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is located downtown, near the parade route.
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