Dragon Con, and all of its many celebrities, panels, screenings and Storm Troopers, is back for its 31st year.
The four-day convention draws tens of thousands of people to Atlanta and runs "round the clock" Sept. 1-4 at five downtown hotels: the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Hilton Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis and the Westin Peachtree Plaza.
The ever-growing event is again expanding into the AmericasMart Buildings 1 and 2.
Complete info on memberships is available here. Children ages 6 and under get in free.
Here's what else you need to know if you're attending. (No: You cannot get married at the convention.)
Where to park + stay
Dragon Con has partnered with Parking Panda to sell guaranteed parking passes, including overnight parking. One-day passes start at $5.50. Remember that MARTA is a great way to get to anywhere in downtown Atlanta, use the Peachtree Center station for Dragon Con. Remember also that MARTA stops running at 1 a.m. Check out Dragon Con’s transportation page for more info including parking.
There are dozens of other options outside Parking Panda. Here's an interactive map of downtown options, including garages and covered and non-covered surface lots.
The convention maintains a list of area hotels with available rooms, including rate information, here.
What to do
The convention is huge, encompassing programming from many different genres (science fiction, fantasy, horror, comic book, cartoon, etc.), so attendees are best off planning a personalized schedule.
There are many options: Here's a list of featured appearances (including Stan Lee, Ming-Na Wen, Scott Adsit William Shatner, Charisma Carpenter and more) and a list of the 35-plus performers; and here is a list of events, including a late-night puppet slam, late night DJ dances, a burlesque show, wrestling (?!) and of course, the parade.
Many guests will also host autograph signing sessions.
That's not all: The convention will host gaming events of all kinds (video games, board games, table top games, live-action role-playing games and more); workshops covering acting, special effects and makeup, writing and more; and "tracks" (bundled panels, seminars and other events) on topics such as "Star Wars," alternative history, urban fantasy, young adult literature and more.
And then there is the artwork, which attendees can see and own, while exploring the art show and the comics and pop artist alley, which includes a tribute to Jack Kirby and Will Eisner. Both artists would be 100 this year had they not transitioned to that great comic book in the sky. This year the comics and pop art venues will be in the Americas Mart near the Dragon Con Vendor Hall.
Richard Hallman contributed to this report.