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Dragon Con 2018: from Stranger Things to Y’allywood

It is almost Labor Day, which means it is time once again for the yearly feast of science fiction and fantasy that is Dragon Con.

This celebration of the strange in movies, television, comic books, video games, animation, puppetry, horror and fairy tales will bring an estimated 92,000 fans to downtown Atlanta.

More than 400 guests—actors, writers, creators, artists—will appear in panels, lectures, parties, signings and photo-ops at the convention. That’s 3,500 hours of programming, spread over five days, staged within five host hotels: the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the Marriott Marquis, the Hilton Atlanta, the Westin Peachtree Plaza and the Sheraton Atlanta.

Among the hotels’ hundreds of thousands of square feet given over to Dragon Con will be three acres of floor space devoted to round-the-clock video games (and table-top games) alone.

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There are also concerts, wrestling, a “glamour geek” burlesque show and the super-popular Dragon Con Parade on Saturday, free for the whole city to watch (on TV or in person).

Thousands line the sidewalks of the cosplayer filled streets as the 2017 Dragon Con parade gets underway.

And, of course, there are the fans. “They are passionate,” said Jennifer Morrison, star of the ABC television series “Once Upon a Time,” “and I’m so grateful for that. Those are the fans who make it possible to do what I love every day.”

Jennifer Morrison, star of the ABC television series “Once Upon a Time,” will be a guest at Dragon Con 2018. PHOTO: THOMAS  WHITESIDE/ (Thomas Whiteside / trunkarchive.)

There’s a lot to take in, and we’re here to help you sort 

through the offerings. But first a few highlights:

• As always, the Star Trek game is strong in this con. Along with Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov from the original series), fans will see appearances by Jason Isaacs, Kenneth Mitchell and Mary Chieffo from the latest Trek incarnation, “Star Trek: Discovery.”

Isaacs, Capt. Gabriel Lorca from “Star Trek: Discovery,” has visited Dragon Con before, due to his role as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.

Jason Isaacs plays Captain Gabriel Lorca from the latest incarnation of the Star Trek franchise, “Star Trek: Discovery.” He will be in Atlanta Labor Day weekend for Dragon Con 2018. CONTRIBUTED: DRAGON CON (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

• Five actors from the ABC television series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will make the trip to Atlanta, including Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Adrian Pasdar, Maximilian Osinski, Dichen Lachman and Brett Dalton, who plays the traitor Grant Ward.

•Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the greatest children’s educational television program of all time, Dragon Con will welcome it’s tallest star, Big Bird, also known as Caroll Spinney. Spinney, who will not appear in his bright yellow feathers, will be joined by Sesame Street cast members who appear on the show in their own skin: Bob McGrath (“Bob,” since 1969), Emilio Delgado (“Luis” since 1971) and Roscoe Orman (“Gordon” since 1974).

•Two wrestling superstars will be on hand, Rick “Nature Boy” Flair, considered one of the greatest performers the sport has known, and his longtime rival, Steve Borden, better known as the face-painted Sting. Both have been babyfaces, both have been heels, and both have dealt with health scares. (Sting retired due to a neck injury in 2015, and Flair was hospitalized last year with kidney failure and came close to tapping out.)

Odds are that any encounter between the two will be of the peaceful variety.

The biggest cast reunion at Dragon Con may be for the crowd from “Lost Girl,” a Canadian supernatural drama that ran for five seasons, from 2010 to 2016. Nine cast members will be on hand in Atlanta–Anna Silk, Kris Holden-Ried, Zoie Palmer, Rick Howland, Ksenia Solo, K.C. Collins, Rachel Skarsten, Paul Amos and Emmanuelle Vaugier, along with producer Jay Firestone.

“It will be nice to reconnect,” said Silk, who played the lead character Bo Dennis, a “succubus,” in the fantasy series, which ended in 2015.

Georgia movie-making will also be on the minds of the participants, many of whom have spent time in Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia shooting television and theatrical films.

Some of the biggest summer blockbusters were filmed locally, including “Ant-Man and The Wasp” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” as well as the ongoing Netflix series, “Stranger Things.” For some guests who are temporarily lodged here, getting to Dragon Con might as easy as getting on MARTA.

Evangeline Lilly, star of “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” and a trio of actors from the “Avengers” movie — Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Benedict Wong–will be at the convention. (Gillan and Klementieff also appeared in 2017’s “Guardians of the Galaxy 2,” and portions of all three Marvel movies–as well as Gillan’s “Jumanji”–were filmed in and around Atlanta.)

China Anne McClain, an Atlanta native who plays a somewhat supernatural daughter in the Atlanta-filmed “Black Lightning,” will be coming to Dragon Con for the first time. “I’m really excited because I heard the fans are SUPER hype,” she wrote in an email.

How do you consume this smorgasbord? Three things can help.

•Plan and prioritize. Know which autograph is the most important and which panel you can’t miss.

Download the Dragon Con app; it will help organize your events and get you to the bridge on time.

•Get a Dragon Con TV streaming membership, which lets you watch the action wherever you are.

The five host hotels will broadcast Dragon Con TV in-house. Outside of the hotels, people can buy a streaming membership for $30 at dragoncon.tv; Dragon Con members can get a discounted rate for as little as $10. Dragon Con memberships are available at store.dragoncon.org/ 

The Dragon Con app is fully searchable and contains every event; it’s available at the iTunes store and Google Play.

Finding the full schedule on the Dragon Con website is difficult, but the “featured” tab gives you a good starting place. (dragoncon.org/?q=featured_list)

For more information go to: dragoncon.org

EVENT PREVIEW Dragon Con

Aug. 30-Sept. 3. Five-day membership: $160 online until Aug. 28; then available for $140 beginning Aug. 30 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Three-day, two-day and single-day memberships: $10-$120 depending on number of days and which days. Tickets available on a day-of basis at the Sheraton. Free, ages 6 and younger. Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, 165 Courtland St. NE, Atlanta. dragoncon.org.

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