Conventions, Convention Reviews

DragonCon 2023 – Weekend in Review

Posted: September 8, 2023 at 2:51 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Our adventure began months ago. Meticulous thought, plotting, and scheming went into planning the perfect con experience… Nah, just kidding. It’s DragonCon! No matter our plans, we’re going to have some great stories. 

Before I get into the daily recaps, I have a bit of advice for people trying to budget for this massive event. If you plan to stay at the Marriott, be ready for room upgrade charges. If you read last year’s article, you’d know that the Calamity Crew and a bunch of our friends stayed on the first floor. It was about $100/night extra. This year, floors 1-3 had doubled! Some of the con-goers were kind enough to share the information about upgrade charges to the main DragonCon group on Facebook. For this year, we decided to stay on the 4th floor.


After making the switch to driving down on Wednesday, I don’t think we can do it any other way. Even a full day before the con, arriving is still a waiting game. A line of cars snakes its way from valet out into the street. The increased staff numbers help alleviate some of the pressure, but you should still expect at least 30 minutes from arriving to getting your room. Hopefully they get your room request right!

When Harry and I arrived, we were immediately greeted by a portion of our North Carolina con crew. Ted (@tengutri) and Stormy (@tiny_villain_cosplay) led the effort to keep us company while we waited in line. It didn’t take long to get our first room. I say “first room” because they assigned us a single king bed. I’m not opposed to cuddling, but that’s a BIT small for four people! I opened the door, took one step inside, then immediately noped my way back down to the lobby to get another room. Luckily they were able to provide another one very quickly and reassigned our keys within seconds.

We parted ways with the NC crew as we went up to the second room to unpack. Surprisingly we were the first ones to make it to the hotel from St. Louis. The other parts of the STL con fam lagged behind. A drive that took us 9ish hours somehow took them closer to 12. They may have gotten lost in time and space…

It wasn’t long before Sammie (@bonedaddyds) and Niki (@feistyhufflepuff) arrived at the hotel. Niki immediately fell asleep on Harry’s bed exhausted from the trip as Sammie assembled her battle station. Nick, one of our STL newbies for this year, walked over to our room to join us for the first drink of the con. He and his partner Annie (@tobefaaaaaai) stayed only a few doors down from our room. Sammie and Niki left to get groceries while Nick went to help Annie move into their room.

As we received word from Justin (@justbryyce), we descended to the lobby to find the boys lost in the warp. I spotted Art (@apitch85) first, checking into his room. Then came Justin, Mike, and Chris (@carrbrosprops) helping push two fully loaded baggage carts toward us. The Carrs usually bring some big boxes to store their costumes and this year was no exception. 

After helping them get up to their rooms, a wild Alex (@aleestudios) appeared! I only got to see her once last year. I’m sure I’m not the only one that peer pressured her into not being a total photo goblin this year and book herself solid. We kidnapped her for a few moments and caught up in our room while Justin unpacked. 

Over the next few hours, we set up our room (mostly food stuff and a half dozen different hydration solutions for the weekend) and met up with more of our North Carolina crew, including the illustrious Chris Moore (@ilikefilms). Nathan ( and Sergei (@sergeikay) also introduced us to their roommate Brie (@breezychu_cosplay), who was an absolute blast to hang out with over the weekend. In the dark depths of the Marriott, Chris informed us that his new movie Worst Laid Plans will be screening at the Haunted Garage Horror Festival in St. Louis! He may even be flying up to attend a screening with us.

Plenty of our friends were already there, including Will (@dlc_props) who’s helping my brother with a revolver prop for his NCR Ranger. Mikey (@nighthawk7785) wants to join us for DragonCon next year, so he’s getting ready to walk the wasteland with us!

As night fell over DragonCon Eve, I took care of my last bit of business. Justin and I delivered a case of Quirks (the only seltzers Stormy likes) to Ted and Stormy’s room up on the 19th floor. There we got a chance to really catch up with the NC crew and hung out until the countdown to DragonCon. This only being our second year there on a Wednesday, I didn’t realize it was a thing. The crowd rang through the entire atrium as they counted down to midnight.

I’ll be honest, post-midnight was a bit of a blur. Lots of friends, lots of laughs, and lots of “party potions”. I drank most of the Growth Potion myself, which was a melody of melon and citrus flavors with the tiniest bit of mint on the tail end. If I had only written down the recipe…


Thursday had the earliest start time, with Sammie and Harry leaving to meet Nick and Annie at the badge line. It moved quick! By the time I was ready to leave the room, they were already on their way to Metro Diner for brunch. I met up with them for the first actual meal of the convention. The combination of breakfast foods and chili cheese fries gave us plenty of fuel for the day. And if you like weird food combinations, try dipping the fries in maple syrup. I can’t remember if it was my idea or Sammie’s, but it was surprisingly good.

We made our first CVS stop after brunch, looking for a few forgotten items. CVS was poppin’ all weekend. Their staff increase made it feel like a Black Friday sale. They moved people through very quickly, so we never had to spend much time looking for things or waiting in checkout lines. It was great considering how many times we had to go back for more water and supplies.

After the supply run, Harry and I put that brunch fuel to good use with a quick workout in the Marriott fitness center. Our main plan for Thursday is always the Bunny Hutch party, so the STL con crew likes to get a good pump for our sleeveless costumes. Justin and the Carrs would work out later in the day, but we wanted to get ours in before going to the pool. Sammie was already soaking up the sun when Harry and I arrived. The cool water felt so damn good after working out. Harry floated around the pool while I watched Pokemon cosplayers assemble for a pool photo shoot. 

I noticed Harry unknowingly float into bumping range of a couple across the pool. I was about to say something before they swam over towards me. They looked familiar, but I didn’t think I knew these vikings. Turns out, I had already met them! I met Rachel (@ahhchewcosplay) and Matt (@twicehalf) through Annie Graves (@anniegraves.cosplay) last year, who sadly couldn’t attend this year. They had been following my mini painting on Instagram over the last year and complimented the progress I had made. Looks like I should start posting those photos more! We shared some of our plans for the weekend, enjoying some quality chill time in the pool. We all run in the same con circles, so we would see each other plenty of times during our DragonCon adventure.

Brunch, workout, and pool time left me in a very relaxed state. Once in the room, all I wanted to do was sleep, but it was time to be productive! Badge pickup for press is always so quick and easy. It’s one thing about DragonCon I will never take for granted. Unfortunately they didn’t have any lanyards, so I had to return to the room to retrieve mine.

I wanted to take photos, but the wear of the previous day prompted me to take it easy with a casual stroll around the 4th floor balcony. I took a few shots of the crowds gathering in the Atrium. I tried to do this every day to show the progression of the Marriott Atrium. I also should have taken the temperature of the room each day because it got HOT in there. There was easily a 15+ degree difference between our room and the Atrium. After a few hours hanging out in the crowd, you BECOME THE SWEAT.

A short rest ended with Nick and Annie showing up at our room in their Krillin and Android 18 cosplays, all ready to go for the Bunny Hutch party. I quickly got into my new Vault Daddy costume, which finally uses my Fallout 76 Pip Boy that I’ve had in the box for years. It features a sleeveless Vault 76 top, a pair of matching blue booty shorts, and a magnetized yellow bowtie. Elea (@muddywaterscosplay) did a great job of tailoring it for me just right so a “boob window” forms over my chest.

The few hours leading up to it were fraught with anxiety. I’ve seen this same anxiety in countless con friends about wearing new and revealing cosplays. As soon as I saw everyone in their sexy costumes, all the bad feels melted away. Being surrounded by equally revealing costumes made me feel at ease. Many of us ended up not going into the Bunny Hutch party this year. It moved from the Hilton to the Marriott’s Atrium Ballroom (not entirely sure why, but I heard it was a size issue). Since most of our friends were in the Atrium anyway, we still had plenty of fun!

Will debuted his expertly detailed Baylan Skoll, which looked so badass but unfortunately didn’t survive the weekend. We partied with Wulfgar’s (@wulfgarprops) Beerfest crew and our photo buddies Eddie B (@eddiebphotos) and Rob (@happynerdphoto). Wulfgar’s party kept getting moved around all weekend, so I saw them in a different spot each day. Sometimes the jams are just too powerful for one location.

Thursday night held moments with so many friends, bringing the DragonCon vibes back in full force. Brittani Ginoza (@ginozacostuming) handed out copious amounts of swag. I caught our Critter buddy Joe (@musclesuitnotneeded) in passing for a quick photo. Rob let me use his new modular magnetic flash cover, which gave me some wonderfully diffused light. 

And just like every con, there were plenty of friends I didn’t get photos with. Sometimes you just have such a good time talking to people that you forget you’re carrying two cameras! Like our new friends, the twins Rachel and Lauren (@palom_26 and @parom_26). We were too busy talking about our shared zodiac signs, con friends, and experiences to stop for even a selfie. I promise to fix that next year.

I even caught Arcee and Hot Rod, the lead singers for Cybertronic Spree (@cybertronicband) on their way through the lobby for a quick selfie. In my sheer excitement, I forgot to ask them what they use for the white makeup. I would really like to know, because it always looks so good! Until they told me, I had no idea they were playing a show at DragonCon. That knowledge certainly solidified my plans for Saturday night.

Somehow even more exciting than meeting two members of Cybertronic Spree, Tim (@hdcfabrication) finally made it to DragonCon! We have talked about him coming down to DC for several years and it finally happened. It was great to hang out with him at a con where he’s not a big ball of stress like at C2E2.

Thursday night ended with hot Takis, Uncrustables, and plenty of Liquid IV.


Trigger warning for the next two paragraphs: aggressive bodily functions. Justin and I were unfortunately stricken by stomach issues for most of Friday morning and early afternoon. We were taking turns in the bathroom. We got lunch in the food court in an attempt to replenish ourselves. Looking for a free table led us to a great photo spot that gave big Coruscant vibes. The ground fountain and arrangement of buildings in the courtyard above the food court is VERY photogenic at all times of the day.

Sammie was ready to rock a fighting ring as Ivy from Soul Calibur when we returned. Since I had a couple more hours before I had to get into Malak, I accompanied her and Justin down to the floor for some photos. I got 5 photos before I felt disaster coming. My photo walk was cut short as soon as it began. I was forced to retreat to the room to have any chance of becoming a Sith Lord. The crew had a common phrase throughout the weekend: “People be poopin!”

After a much needed nap, I started to put on Malak’s makeup. About ⅔ of the way through, Sammie arrived to help smooth me out and finish the back of my head. Using a combination of Body Color Cosmetics and Mehron products, Malak’s application was so much easier than last year. As time started to run short, Justin told me that Chris and Mike were already heading to the Hilton for the Star Wars shoots. Luckily the suit is a lot faster to get on than the makeup. Once the white was smooth and the tattoos were clean, I put on the suit in a crimson flash. 

Despite stopping for several photos, I made it over to the Cosplayers of the Old Republic shoot in just a few minutes. The collection of Sith Lords, Jedi, soldiers, and mercenaries filled me with energy. I think it was the Force? After standing toe to toe with Chris as Darth Malgus, I was greeted by our friend Christian (@shadowkillion) who was helping to run the show as usual. This time, I got to meet the man responsible for organizing the COTOR meetup, Andrew aka Ash Blackstar (@blackstarcosplay). Andrew and Christian facilitated a great time, even setting Chris and I up in a photo op with Ashley (@ashleyruls), the Narrative Director for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I know Justin got a couple of shots at the fully-loaded Star Wars shoot on the opposite patio. Sweet Bendu, that shoot was overwhelming. It has certainly hit critical mass and cannot be contained by any single staircase at DragonCon. Members of the 501st and Rebel Legion helped coordinate the flow of people on and off the stairs, but it was still a bit uncomfortable. The Star Wars groups are going to have to look for a different option soon if they want to capture the entirety of Star Wars in one photo. If anyone can make that happen, it’s Star Wars fans.

Justin, the Carrs, and I left after the first photo to avoid further stress. It happened to lead me into a chance meeting with another Malak! Joe (@heatmando) and I took photos with Revans and Sith Troopers as he told me about his build process and how he was inspired to build his Darth Malak after seeing mine last year. It was a very proud moment for me. I’ve always felt like Malak was an underrepresented character in cosplay format. I was extremely happy to help bring about more Malak. Andrew caught up with us to grab a photo of both Malaks and the expertly crafted Sith Troopers. I really hope we see some more KOTOR characters next year. I need to see a Zaalbar/Mission combo!

After the group meetups, the Carrs returned to their room to ditch Darth Malgus while I took a lap around the Marriott atrium. One of the biggest problems with Malak is the restriction to talking AND hearing. My next mask will hopefully solve those problems. The sweating though… that’s a makeup sealing issue. I didn’t have time to seal the Mehron tattoos before leaving earlier, so they were suffering under the rising heat of the crowd. As I stopped for a quick few photos with Rachel and Matt, I could feel a trail of sweat go down my left tattoo. They offered to help, but it was inevitable. The sweat took some of the Mehron right into my eye. It was a bit painful, but walking back to the room with one eye closed was pretty funny.

Malak was done for the day. I should have just stayed on the Hilton patio where I was cool enough to avoid sweating. I apologize to all of my friends that didn’t get to see it in person. You may see him again at C2E2! After spending way too much time scrubbing my face, I wasn’t making a whole lot of progress. My method of removing the BCC white just wasn’t cutting it. Sammie swooped in to save the day yet again. She was able to help me get it off in just a couple of minutes with an oil based makeup remover. It gave us plenty of time to get ready for the ensuing parties.

Once we got down to the atrium, I parted ways to look for friends and photos. Just around the elevators, I found Rob drinking mead with our mutual friend Jill (@bodydoublecosplay). Jill and I recounted our experience meeting last year while Rob gushed about how good and strong the mead was. After hearing about his lack of food in recent hours, I realized I had forgotten to bring any water or snacks down to the floor with me. 

For this journey, we played the elevator game. Impatience got to us, which led to Rob and I taking an elevator up to the 10th floor, then switching banks to take one down to the 4th. After passing a couple of full elevators, we got into one that was going up hoping to go back down. We stopped at EVERY FLOOR up to 17 before going back down.

I provided Rob with some food and water to replenish his energy, then loaded up a bag for myself to go to the parties. We returned to the atrium to bounce around with a variety of friends until the first round of dance parties ended. Sammie called it a night. She thoroughly enjoyed the K-pop rave, despite dying on the dance floor in the wake of an extremely awkward incident. If a man approaches you and calls himself “the MILF hunter”, Sammie has the correct response for you. Push the man away, find the nearest woman, and tell her about how absolutely ridiculous that man is.

I reunited with the rest of the Calamity Crew for a night of dancing our faces off at the rave and hanging out with friends in various lobby spaces in the hotels. Before the evening closed out, I ran into Ming Chen (@mingchen37) again! The Comic Book Men star called me out, remembering our past experiences at DragonCon and Archon. I told him about some of the mixed cocktails I brought with me, offering to give him a potion if I saw him again. Despite spotting him twice around the con before this, I didn’t see him again for the rest of the weekend.


Saturday morning was a bit of a blur. We woke up relatively early, but just hung around the room snacking on various breakfast foods while we assembled ourselves. Since I’m not cosplaying as a Critical Role character at the moment, I dedicated Saturday to photography. I put on my best spooky photo boy clothes and accompanied Sammie down to the Hilton patio for some photos.

Sammie brought her newest costume, Paine from Final Fantasy X-2, and once again looked absolutely fierce. We made jokes about the most common response to seeing her costume. Several people said “I love your Paine.” which sounds like something you’d overhear at a BDSM party. Fitting for DragonCon. It was about this time that I realized I forgot a crucial ingredient to an outdoor photo shoot… a method for covering my head.

In those moments, I didn’t care that the sun was absolutely roasting my head because the Critical Role shoot was a ton of fun. Codence (@cecikells) did a fantastic job of organizing the event and wrangling all of the Critters through a maxed out photo group timeslot. Eddie B and I took tons of photos. I kept track of Christian’s bag while he bounced around passing out swag. He just kept pulling more out, like a Gilmore Santa Claus.

Similar to the Star Wars shoot the day before, there was just too much awesomeness assembled to get through all of it. This time I stayed for the entire shoot though, hanging out with Eddie and the other photographers in the firing line. I spotted Rachel up in the crowd, but wasn’t able to get a solo shot of her new Beauregard cosplay before she had to retreat to the Marriott. I captured plenty of awesome cosplayers in the following hours, including Mike Carr in his incredibly intimidating Sabertooth.

Hopes of having lunch vanished as Justin and I realized we were well into the late afternoon. The day before, I found another of our St. Louis friends Des (@desireecosplay). She and her friend Christine (@pattern.pixie) wore some adorable mushroom hats, a theme that followed them into Saturday with their Alice and Mad Hatter cosplays. Justin and I met up with them in the Hyatt lobby and headed toward the Hardy Ivy Park for a tea party photo shoot. We went to several spots around the block, taking some wonderful photos. Christine played the part of Alice so well, reacting gleefully to Des’s wild faces as the Mad Hatter. 

Once the tea party was over, food was the number one priority. Justin and I met up with Harry at the Tin Lizzy’s Cantina on the opposite side of the food court. I picked the location because it was the closest place with margaritas and we had just heard the word about Jimmy Buffet’s death. A tribute of spicy margaritas and fried chicken skillets were so very appreciated. With the night creeping in and food finally in us, it was time for a quick recharge before the parties.

At this point in the weekend, I was about half way through the various potions I had brought. We resorted to mixing cocktails to get ready for the Spectrum dance party in the Hyatt. We left the room in search of good friends and good vibes, splitting between the various events. I found the famous STL builders, Scott (@wildkarde) and Steve (@sksprops). Steve was suddenly ambushed by our North Carolina crew in their Psycho costumes from Borderlands. Each of them wielded a buzz saw axe crafted from HD Foam with Steve’s tutorial. I captured a photo of his proud cosplay dad moment.

After spending some time with several friends in the Marriott, I went over to check out the line for the Spectrum party. Walking into the Hyatt from the skybridge, I didn’t notice the mass of people wrapping around the north side of the building. Once inside, I found the exit of the party first and Joe walking out covered in sweat. He confirmed that the party was indeed bumping, and that I needed to get in there. But one look at that line and I was forced to bail. Cybertronic Spree was starting soon.

Harry and I met up in the atrium and followed the line back outside, around the west side of the Marriott. It felt like a massive line, but went very quickly once it got moving. It was so quick, that I could barely react to seeing Dan Fogler and Cooper Andrews hanging out on the patio! I didn’t even get a chance to say hi.

The audience assembled in the huge ballroom as I went up to the front and requested access to the pit. While waiting for the show to get started, I got a chance to talk to a couple of cosplayers that were huge fans of the band. Matthew (@birminghambumblebee) was in an incredible Bumblebee costume, while Cortney (@cocoscosplays) told me about their experiences with the band and how many shows they’ve seen. I spent the next hour crawling around on the floor, coordinating with the other photographers as we tried to capture all of the awesomeness. I’m going to need some knee pads if I’m ever going to do that again!

I was really dragging before that show. I figured it would be the end of my night. Cybertronic Spree pumped the crowd with plenty of energon! It gave me all the power I needed to party for the rest of the night. For me, that meant simply roaming the hotel lobbies until the rave, then popping in for a quick dance before calling it a night. Sammie was the first to end her night, followed by me a couple hours later. Harry called it shortly after me, but Justin stayed up much later. He was dragging much harder than I was after the Cybertronic show, but a couple of Uncrustables made him rally until well after the sun rose. Sunday ended up a bit rough for him.


It’s funny that we saw two cast members of the Walking Dead the night before, because some of us definitely felt dead on Sunday. My first obligation wasn’t until the afternoon, so I was in no rush to do anything other than get lunch. Niki came to our room to wrangle us up for a trip to the vendor hall in the early afternoon, but I didn’t want a repeat of the foodless day before.

Part of me wishes I had gone to the vendor hall, because this turned out to be another year that I had to skip it. After the extra hotel fees and other unforeseen expenses though, it was probably for the best that I avoided shopping. There’s always so much to do at DragonCon.

Niki led Sammie, Harry, and Justin to the vendor hall while I went back to the food court for some revitalization. Noodles and spicy chicken certainly did the trick! It also gave me an opportunity to say hello to a few friends and grab some more photos while walking around. By the time I finished eating, it was time to get bloody. After making a crime scene in the bathroom sink, I was ready to walk the wasteland. This time, I made sure to remember the sunscreen.

As I finished my makeup application, I got messages from Justin and our NC friend Jenn (@jenna_say_what) asking for help with photos. Jenn was organizing a group shoot for some of her horror OC friends but their photographer bailed out. Justin was already entangled in other obligations, so I agreed to go assist. By the time I got down there, another photographer had been kind enough to take care of them. Sometimes the kindness of strangers can surprise you!

The Fallout group meetup was fantastic as always. Just like the other group photoshoots I attend, these wasteland weirdos are very welcoming. We shared build tips, leads on vault suits and props, and complaints about how difficult the Fallout 76 Pip Boy can be. Des and Christine showed up to play, with Des ready to rage as Grognak the Barbarian. Although not in costume, our friend Josh (@thehypnorealm) joined us for a few moments to enjoy all the Fallout vibes.

When the group assembled to start the shoot, I linked up with the coordinator Jack (@escapethevault) and lead photographer Bobby to get a quick rundown on the plans. Like always, the Fallout Tacticians earned their name with an efficient session and a great experience.

After the shoot, I roamed around to talk to a few other friends. I met up with Belle (@wildcardcosplay) for our annual photo together. I got stabbed by both Ted and Stormy with their cultist dagger. After realizing there were very few raiders in attendance, I had to shame them for not finishing their cultists. Next year though. I’m going to get plenty of photos of those costumes! I stopped for a quick chat with Ash, recounting a few Star Wars experiences from the past couple of days. 

As I was talking to Ash, the topic of Warhammer 40k came up and we were approached by a couple. One dressed in a very detailed vault suit and the other in a well crafted set of Starship Trooper Mobile Infantry armor. The vault dweller Jen (@jeracosplay) and I nerded out about 40k costumes and she showed me her incredible Battle Sister armor, which she even converted into a bunny version that won a past year’s Bunny Hutch costume contest! She gushed over her partner’s impressive armor, because it was his first ever foam cosplay build (using HD foam of course!).

After the shoot, Harry linked up with Des, Christine, and I to look for boozy ice cream in the Hilton lobby. This year the ice cream stand featured a variety of Mario themed options, but unfortunately they were mostly sold out by Sunday evening. Des instead led us to the front lobby where we found some other frozen cocktail options. The four of us sat in the Hilton lounge, chatting about the con and life in general while enjoying some frozen Coke slushies and margaritas. Post-Fallout frozen drinks are definitely going to be a yearly thing for us.

I got a few photos of Des’s Grognak costume before Harry and I headed back to the Marriott to find the rest of our crew. Justin was in the room trying to recover from lack of sleep and food, waiting on Chris to get suited up in Malgus once again. We took him through the food court and up to the courtyard with the ground fountain for some seriously epic shots. They let us walk out onto the fountain and position Chris over a purple light that gave Darth Malgus such an eerie glow. Justin and I got so many photos there, we’re going to have to build a separate album for them! Keep an eye out for that in the next couple of weeks.

By the time we finished shooting, Justin was on the struggle bus. Skipping lunch to go to the vendor hall was not treating him well, which made me switch into “con dad” mode. We went back down to the food court and got a couple of boxes loaded with fried rice, chicken, and vegetables. Upon returning to the courtyard upstairs, we saw part of a DC night shoot with Joe as Superman. That spot really is great for shooting ANY time of the day.

As we returned to the room, Sammie had told me that our other STL friends were assembling in Niki and Art’s room to kick off the evening. I postponed my shower and walked over to join them while Justin laid down for a short rest. We shared a rum cherry shot together, celebrating both another DragonCon together and Niki’s recovery from her battle with cancer over the past year.

Once I had showered all the blood off my face and arm, I was ready to join the others at the Yule Ball in the lower level of the Marriott. Justin, Harry, and I met up with Mike and Chris in line and quickly made it into the dance party. United with the rest of the STL crew inside, we danced until Niki had enough of her Raven costume. I accompanied her outside for a quick break and a little vent session about some stressful encounters. It’s good to have friends to support you through this convention. It can be a lot to handle solo. 

After Niki changed into an arguably more powerful look than Raven, we went back down to find most of our friends had already left the Yule Ball. There was still plenty to do, considering it was the last night of the con and we had MANY people to say goodnight and goodbye to. Ginoza was being a menace in her massive Wonderlands wizard hat, Tim tagged me with the #DCCONTAG clothespin, and Amie turned faces into works of art with various glitters. Our cosplayer friend Danny (@dannymcfly_cosplay) shared the last of the candies and liqueurs he brought over from Austria. Jasmine (@jajacosplay) was working her quest-giving magic, which I participated in to score a sweet “Quest Completed” coin and badge ribbon.

During one of my restock trips up to the room, Sammie told me about her reign of destruction. She accidentally deflated a massive Eevee costume, which also took her to the ground. Christina (@maddenpants) captured the entire incident. There’s a GIF floating around on social media, which finally reveals the artist inside the impressive adorable costume.

I found some of our North Carolina crew in the Hyatt to deliver a tribute to our overlord Stormy, then bounced all the way back to the Hilton to meet up with the twins Lauren and Rachel for a few minutes of hanging out and chatting. The twins were very happy to get to know us and join our growing con crew. Rachel told me they didn’t know a whole lot of people coming into DragonCon, but are glad to know they have a solid lifeline to new friends. It made me realize just how lucky I am to know so many amazing and talented people. Between myself, Justin, the Carrs, and the rest of our STL crew, we know a staggering amount of people at DragonCon. Not only from around the US, but from multiple countries!

After a wave of exhaustion hit me, I said a few final goodbyes and went back upstairs to look for respite. I struggled with the urge to return to the lobby, desperate to squeeze out a few more precious moments of DragonCon… but I hadn’t done a great job of keeping track of my stuff in the room. I figured I should start packing up so I didn’t have to wake up early and do it the next morning.


As usual, Monday morning was a flurry of packing bags and throwing away the leftovers we couldn’t take home. We managed to get through just about all the food I had brought as well as the potions. The only one left was Johnny Silverhands, which was basically a spiced tequila Old Fashioned.

Sammie was the first to leave, meeting up with Niki to head to the airport. Then Justin went over to join Art and the Carr Bros to start loading up their car. Harry and I waited around for a bellhop to help us with our bags, which showed up much quicker than the 2-hour wait we were told by the front desk. Stormy and Ted told me that they were planning to head out for lunch about 11am, which we were all on board for. 

I had hoped to stop by the vendor hall before leaving like last year, but Harry and I were quite hungry and we wanted to see the NC crew one last time before next year. In what is surely to be a DragonCon tradition for us, we all met up at Roasters on our way out of Atlanta for some fried chicken. The Carrs, Art, and Justin joined us as well. After a much needed meal, we said goodbye to Ted, Stormy, Sergei, Nathan, and Bri as we hit the road to come home.

This has been a fantastic year of cons. Super MAGFest, AnimeSTL, C2E2, and DragonCon. For next year, I’m planning for C2E2 again of course, but am also trying to add Adepticon and ACEN to the list!

Thank you so much for reading my recap of DragonCon 2023. And a huge thanks to everyone I saw during this wild journey, whether it was to take photos or just share a laugh. Thanks to Stormy and Christian for capturing some of the moments featured in this recap. Stay tuned for links to multiple photo albums from myself and Justin.