The organizers capped attendance and sold out Sunday and Monday day passes.

Dragon Con managed to survive a COVID-19-impacted convention, drawing 42,000 people who either paid for a five-day pass or a single-day pass.

“We sold out Sunday and Monday one-day badges,” said Dan Carroll, spokesman. “As a result, attendance came in about where we expected it to.”

People came from all 50 states and several foreign countries.

The convention did not sell out Thursday or Friday passes or the full five-day pass. It did not offer a Saturday one-day pass.

In 2019, more than 85,000 people attended the sci-fi convention, the most in its 34-year history. The convention went virtual last year.

The Saturday parade this year, which normally draws thousands of people who don’t pay for the convention itself, only allowed badge holders as spectators this year and Carroll said there were few problems.

“Compliance was very high and we appreciate people watching from home,” Carroll said.

caption arrowCaption
The start of the Dragon Con Parade heads up Peachtree Street on Saturday, September 4, 2021, in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The start of the Dragon Con Parade heads up Peachtree Street on Saturday, September 4, 2021, in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
caption arrowCaption
The start of the Dragon Con Parade heads up Peachtree Street on Saturday, September 4, 2021, in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The convention required masks and either vaccinations or proof of a recent COVID-19 test. It also reduced capacity in its panel and Walk of Fame celebrity rooms.

The virtual option, which cost $10, drew a modest 22,000 views through the weekend. Carroll didn’t know how many people actually spent the $10.

Henry Hanks, a regular Dragon Con attendee who moderated several panels, thought the weekend went well. “I was comfortable for the most part,” he said. “I only recall seeing one person indoors without a mask and he may have been eating or drinking.”

He did notice the smaller crowds, which he actually appreciated.

Jeanette Stout purchased a $100 five-day pass in 2019 that was still good this year. “It was use it or lose it so I went Friday and got my pass quickly but by the time I went in, it was so crowded, I didn’t feel comfortable so I left,” she said. But she did buy her 2022 pass Tuesday at a discounted price of $90.

Joseph Lavender, a 40-year-old filmmaker who lives in Norcross, loves Dragon Con and has gone several times in recent years. He recently got married to Anna, who came for the first time. He said they started dating before the pandemic but didn’t get to do many “normal” dating activities.

So for him, “I desperately needed this experience for my mental health.”

They did couples cosplay, playing characters from “Power Rangers,” “Loki,” “Beetlejuice” and “Ghostbusters.”

He said the biggest complaint in recent years has been overcrowding. “It was sometimes miserable, especially on Saturdays, he said. “It took forever to get from one place to another.”

This year, at half capacity ― or about where Dragon Con was 11 or 12 years ago ― he said it just felt more relaxed.

“There was less of a party atmosphere,” he said, noting that it used to feel like a 24/7 rave but DJs this weekend shut down at 2 a.m. At age 40, he was fine with that but some of the more inveterate partyers, he said, complained.

About the Author

Editors' Picks