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Dragon Con parade by Takesi Ken Akamatsu

Event Review: Dragon Con 2018 From a Disabled Perspective

Dragon Con parade by Takesi Ken Akamatsu

Dragon Con 2018, Atlanta’s huge media convention, has now come and gone, leaving only memories, plus posters, collectibles, and signed photos in its wake. It was, as usual, the best of times and the worst of times for the disabled and the abled alike. The hotels are so expensive that most of us can only manage by sharing a room with at least 3 other people, and the parking prices double, averaging around $30 a day. If you can ride MARTA, you should. A number of the stations offer overnight parking for less than $10. If one of you is disabled and does not want to ride the train, maybe you can stay at the hotel while the able-bodied partner takes the car back. That is the option we took.

Anyway, these are things we share with fellow con-goers and they are bonding experiences, as is the difficulty of just moving around with 80,000 other people, somewhat more difficult with a wheelchair or scooter because of the problem of fitting into elevators. But here is the Dragon Con miracle: people, even the inebriated ones, want to help! They are so friendly and determined to be of assistance, that several times they held elevators and insisted there was room when I was not so sure. But sure enough, they would make room! This happened all weekend, over and over, in the Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt. I did not go to the Westin or Sheraton, but I bet it happened there, too. Out of 80,000 people, not one was rude to me during the entire convention. And the Disability Services people were wonderful, getting us in and out of panels efficiently and with flexibility and humor.

Highlights of the show are different depending on the fandoms you embrace. For nearly everyone, all the colorful costumes were certainly delightful. Favorites this year included handmaids from A Handmaid’s Tale and many fairy tale characters due to the presence of Jennifer Morrison from Once Upon A Time.

Handmaids by Takesi Ken Akamatsu

A perennial favorite guest is the divinely unpredictable John Barrowman, of Doctor WhoTorchwood, and f Arrow.  Dr. Who fans were also able to see the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and three actors who played Companions to various incarnations of the Doctor: Catherine Tate, who is incredibly funny, Karen Gilliam, also from Guardians of The Galaxy, and the most recent companion, Pearl Mackie, who appeared with Capaldi.  On Monday, when Catherine Tate and John Barrowman appeared together, hilarity prevailed!  Other entertaining guests included Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage, and two of the boys from Stranger Things, Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo.

Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie by Takesi Ken Akamatsu
Dragon Con Space Track

If you prefer real-world subjects, don’t think there is nothing for you here. The Science, EFF, Skeptics, and Space tracks were always packed with dedicated fans and full of fascinating programs. The Space track also offers solar astronomy outside on one of the Hilton decks!!

Add to this concerts, wrestling, parties, and more and it was a wonderful experience like nothing else in the everyday world

If you have a disability, don’t let that stop you from experiencing Dragon Con. I have gone for several years now with limited mobility, and I have enjoyed it nearly as much as I did the 19 years I was a Dragon Cob volunteer. There are interpreters and other types of helpers available every year too. This year as every year, Dragon Con proved it is for everyone!

About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.

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