DragonCon Parade: 14 Tips You Must Read or You’ll Hate This Stupendous Spectacle [video]

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 3,000 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.

Dragoncon Parade - 9 tips for a great day

Atlanta DragonCon Parade: What You Need to Know

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 ParadeThe 2017 parade kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m.

DragonCon Parade

The DragonCon Parade is a great place to see some of your children’s favorite Sci-Fi book characters.

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. The stormtrooper wasn’t as friendly. It’s a costume buddy, not the real world. Lighten up.

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.

DragonCon Parade dueling Darth Vadar

My son dueled Darth Vader as he prepared for the parade. What a good sport. We had such a great time, love that even my teen can get into this parade.

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!

Dragon Con Parade

Beware that there are some scary costumes that could frighten little ones. Netherworld Haunted House generally participates and those guys can be truly freaky even in daylight.

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 their 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.

DragonCon Parade

It’s never to early to spread Christmas cheer. These guys were FANTASTIC!

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.  (Beware that stormtrooper, he’s a little too proud (and sensitive) of his costume)

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 2017 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.

Take Lyft. Better yet, take Lyft. To sweeten the deal, we’re giving you $50 in Lyft credits so you don’t have to mess with MARTA or parking. (must be a first time Lyft customer)

The Parade will be televised in 2017. No word on traditional broadcasting (but stay tuned). However, the DragonCon Parage will be covered on the DCTV channels available in host hotels, and through the DCTV streaming membership app.

Tiny Con

The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is hosting TinyCON – a brilliant idea!

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 inaugural TinyCON, celebrating kid-friendly comic books and fantasy world adventures.

On Saturday, September 2 from 10:30 – 4:30 pm, little ones can catch ‘em all during the Pokémon Hokey Pokey, 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.

Here’s what you can expect during the day:

  • Mario Kart Races: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Science Bar with Harry Potter potions: 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Art Studio: Cartooning: 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • Build It Lab: Light Sabers: 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • Pokémon Hokey Pokey: noon
  • Star Wars Jedi Training Academy: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Super Spectacular Science Show: 4 p.m.

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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.

Sue Rodman | Managing Editor & Business Development

Sue Rodman is a mother of three boys, a PR professional, writer, and ice cream lover. For eight years, Sue published an award winning family travel blog called Field Trips with Sue, and produced a TV segment with the same name on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta. In Sept. 2016 Field Trips with Sue merged with 365 Atlanta Family. In addition to writing blog posts and managing the advertising and public relations for 365 Atlanta Family, Sue does freelance public relations and her writing has appeared online at TravelingMom, Trekaroo, Minitime Family and other family travel sites. She has contributed to print publications such as Family Fun, Simply Buckhead, BuckHaven and Publix Magazine. In addition, Sue has appeared on local and national news talking about family travel. Sue believes anytime is a good time for dessert and there are no bad field trips, just better stories.

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