Dragon Con Sets Attendance Record

The 2015 Dragon Con drew over 70,000, crushing the record of 62,000 set a year ago, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Charities also benefitted from fan support at Dragon Con.

One of the positives from that assemblage of humanity (and other unidentifiable creatures) is that the con raised more than $100,000 for the Lymphoma Research Foundation, this year’s designated charity.

Final figures are not in yet for those donations, nor for the Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” Blood Drive, which collected 3,292 units from 3,893 donors in 2014.

[Thanks to Don Cook for the story.]

36 thoughts on “Dragon Con Sets Attendance Record

  1. That totally blows away Worldcon attendance..

    A completely irrelevant comparison. They are different kinds of conventions. A membership to Worldcon costs more than twice as much as Dragon*Con. Worldcon is oriented towards written fiction, whereas Dragon*Con is a media event heavily focused on movies and television. Dragon*Con is held in the same place every year, while Worldcon moves from place to place. And so on and so forth.

  2. I wonder if it was helped by PAX Prime moving to a different weekend. (PAX Prime has been the biggest geek draw on Labor Day weekend for several years now; it hit 70,000 in 2011.) I guess we’ll find out next year, when PAX moves back to Labor Day.

  3. Undoubtedly that helps, though our attendance kept growing even when PAX Prime moved to Labor Day in 2012.

    75% of the panels in my science track room were at capacity. One panel we had to turn away more people than we let in. On the one hand: yay, people are interested in science! On the other hand: boo, people didn’t get to see what they wanted to see.

  4. @RAH: CES this year drew 170,000, well over double the attendance of DragonCon. Not only that, but they did it in the first month of the year rather than the ninth.

  5. “Wow!! That totally blows away Worldcon attendance.” He said, assured in his use of multiple exclamation points and mastery of understanding how one number is larger than another would impress any who read his words.

    I am mighty impressed you understand how numbers work.

  6. DragonCon has:
    a] A huge gaming schedule (it has its own 64 page guide).
    b] A huge costume track
    c] A huge comic track
    d] A huge authors track
    e] A huge movies/TV/Anime track
    f] A huge science track

    In comparison, WorldCon is a relatively small con focusing mostly on fiction and costumes. And as the other commenter pointed out – it moves from year to year.

    San Diego ComicCon sells out their memberships almost immediately and seems to be limited by exhibition space. They focus mostly on TV/Movies, Comics and Anime – but they have other tracks.

    GenCon is bigger for gaming – but they have other tracks like DragonCon.

    There are only 2 venues for US Cons that could be significantly bigger than existing venues – Las Vegas or Chicago. If a Con used the full amount of convention floor space in Las Vegas or Chicago – it could be much bigger than any existing US Con.

  7. airboy on September 9, 2015 at 1:34 pm said:

    There are only 2 venues for US Cons that could be significantly bigger than existing venues – Las Vegas or Chicago. If a Con used the full amount of convention floor space in Las Vegas or Chicago – it could be much bigger than any existing US Con.

    Maybe the Puppies should grab one of those for their Con?
    I understand they speak for multitudes of supporters.

  8. In general, cons with a narrower focus are able to draw bigger crowds. (Makes sense that you can get more people if they need to be interested in fewer things.) Worldcon tries to accommodate every little niche of fandom that wants to show up. D*C has a narrower focus. GenCon and PAX, limited mostly to games of all sorts, are bigger than D*C. SDCC, mostly comics and movies, is yet bigger. There are cons in Asia focusing exclusively on anime and manga which outdraw SDCC. And then the top of the pyramid is Comiket, which focuses on one slice of one medium and draws over 500,000 attendees.

  9. Larry Correia reports that this draws a young crowd. If you enjoy costuming but don’t know much about science fiction, would this be a good party for a 56-year-old? Or would I be out of place with all those kids? (If you’re under 35, I view you as a kid. Now get off my lawn.)

  10. @Pogonip — it really depends, I think. Do you have any ergonomic issues that make standing in line for hours or negotiating extreme crowds difficult? Are you interested in current media, not just the classics of your youth? Are you hoping to meet people in a “barcon” or open party type of situation? (Big media conventions don’t tend to have these — Worldcons and World Fantasy Conventions do.)

    Generally, I think the only way to figure out if such a thing is for you is to go to one. You might also try going to a somewhat smaller, local media convention first and figure out if you would like the scaled-up version.

  11. Same place does help grow a fan base. What is CES? A lot of conventions get large numbers but 170,000 is a lot of people to handle.

  12. @Petréa Mitchell:

    Worldcon tries to accommodate every little niche of fandom that wants to show up. D*C has a narrower focus.

    Wait, what? Dragon*Con is a lot of things, but narrowly focused on some subset of fandom is not one of them.

  13. @RAH:

    Never mind I just realized that is the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics show. Big tech show.

    Yooooooge tech show. Yooooooge. If they gave a book award at CES just imagine how prestigical it’d be. That’d be a yooooge, classy award right there. Way bigger than those crummy Hugos. And way more prestigey.

  14. I don’t really care how many people some giant profit-driven megacon manages to attract. It will still never be as fun as a community-driven “family reunion” like Worldcon or a traditional regional con.

  15. If Worldcon grew to 70,000 fans despite globe-trotting every year, I wonder what percentage of the current group of attendees would bail because it wasn’t the kind of con they were looking for any more. There’s something to be said for a con that’s small enough in size for casual fans, long-time fans and pros to develop long-term friendships and renew them every year without being lost in a teeming horde.

  16. I checked in to who was at Dragoncon and there were some of my favorite authors like Janny Wurts. I know she is fantasy but her writing is Hugo worthy. There were a lot of actors from Star Trek and various other SF &F shows so I can see the draw. Looked like a lot of fun. Still 70 K is a lot of people to move through. I am not a fan of crowds. Though the NRA convention generally has similar numbers. 70-90 K.

  17. Can you imagine the BM if Worldcon had 70 K people . Totally unmanageable. As to whether the current attendees would like it. That would not matter if there was a large replacement number. Still 5k is manageable, 70 K is huge. Fun but not the same. Still I would like to attend a Dragon con for the experience. .

  18. As long as we’re making irrelevant comparisons, the annual Internationalen Spieltage in Essen, Germany gets about 150,000 attendees. That’s bigger than ComicCon, and, unlike CES, it’s more geeky than nerdy. (Attracts fans rather than techies.) Maybe the puppies should set their sights on winning the Spiel des Jahres award.

    VD thinks he’s so good at gaming the system–he should try his skills against some serious strategy gamers! 🙂

  19. I don’t really care how many people some giant profit-driven megacon manages to attract. It will still never be as fun as a community-driven “family reunion” like Worldcon or a traditional regional con.

    I dunno, the fun I have at Dragon Con is different in tenor than what I have at Balticon, but it’s not less than.

  20. As to whether the current attendees would like it. That would not matter if there was a large replacement number.

    It would matter to the people who stopped going.

    Worldcon has a unique character among SF/F conventions. I’m not sure how much of that character would survive an embiggening like Puppies say is necessary to make the Hugos properly “prestigious.”

  21. There are only 2 venues for US Cons that could be significantly bigger than existing venues – Las Vegas or Chicago

    You’d need that big a budget, also. I doubt that even big media conventions could afford all of either center.

  22. Lauowolf said:
    “Maybe the Puppies should grab one of those for their Con?
    I understand they speak for multitudes of supporters.”

    Might be overkill. I think if Larry has a two car garage, that would be enough.

  23. Laertes: Yooooooge tech show. Yooooooge. If they gave a book award at CES just imagine how prestigical it’d be. That’d be a yooooge, classy award right there. Way bigger than those crummy Hugos. And way more prestigey.

    *snort*

  24. If you’re strictly interested in costuming, I’d recommend CostumeCon, which is on the small side. For filk, there are a lot of regional filk cons. Worldcon somehow manages to have science and costumes and filk and media along with the books, at least 6 tracks of stuff going on at once. Anything bigger than 8K sounds like hell to me.

  25. RAH on September 9, 2015 at 6:55 pm said:

    Can you imagine the BM if Worldcon had 70 K people.

    Yes. We might get as many as 500 people, which is a bit more than twice what we drew this year. What makes you think that the 70K people who attend DC would have the slightest interest in the Business Meeting?

    This year’s turnout was unusually high, in that we drew about 5% of the attendees. That’s more than twice the usual percentage. And that’s with the biggest BM-related controversy since the last iteration of WSFS Inc. back in 1980 or so, before I came along.

  26. RAH on September 9, 2015 at 6:56 pm said:

    I could see Dragon con as worthwhile for authors for marketing.

    Maybe. My impression is that you already have to be at a certain level of prominence to benefit from such a huge event, otherwise you just get lost in the shuffle.

    I had a booth for Goth House in the indie section at San Diego Comic Con one year. It was exhausting and didn’t seem all that profitable. On the other hand, I had a comic booth at the Seattle Convergence (the net.goth convention) which I think had at most 500 people? I swear, half of them bought a comic. It was my best-ever event by a huge margin.

    My entirely unscientific theory about why this was, is that “be on topic but one of very few in your class” is the winning ticket. So you don’t want to be one comic table of thousands, and you don’t want to be the only comic at the goth con when your comic is about fly fishing. But you do want to be one of two comics at the goth con when your comic is about goth housemates.

  27. This year’s Summer Comiket in Tokyo had 550,000 attendees over three days, pulling in 210,000 just on the Sunday. Some folks do go for two or all three days though. The Winter Comiket is usually less-well attended with only about 500,000 or so.

    It helps that the Comikets are free to attend, if for no other reason than collecting an entrance fee at the door would take too long.

  28. Ray Radlein:

    Dragon*Con is a lot of things, but narrowly focused on some subset of fandom is not one of them.

    Right, so it doesn’t draw as many people as the ones that are narrowly focused.

    It is, however, slightly more focused than Worldcon in terms of types of fandom, and much more focused than Worldcon in terms of almost exclusively about US science fiction. (The notable exception, of course, being a track that focuses on a small part of Japanese sf.)

  29. I checked in to who was at Dragoncon and there were some of my favorite authors like Janny Wurts. I know she is fantasy but her writing is Hugo worthy. There were a lot of actors from Star Trek and various other SF &F shows so I can see the draw.

    As much as some authors like to talk up marketing at Dragon*Con, I doubt most of them get much more audience there than they would at WorldCon, or even a more local con. Most people at Dragon*Con are there for the spectacle, to see panels with John Barrowman in a TARDIS dress, see Felicia Day photographing Codex cosplayers, and see people like Carrie Fisher, Edward James Olmos, and William Shatner at the “Walk of Fame”.

    Authors are shunted off to the side. When I went to Dragon*Con I went to see Robert Sawyer speak. He was in a relatively small room in a quiet corner of the basement of one of the hotels. There was no line to get in. I went to a panel that had Terry Brooks, Mercedes Lackey, and Timothy Zahn on it. They were in a mid-sized room, but it was half-empty.

    In contrast, Felicia Day, Robin Thorsen, and Amy Okuda gave a panel. You had to show up two hours early to get in line, and the room was packed to the gills. To get any of the media celebrities on the “Walk of Fame” to get a picture with you or sign something required you to stand in line and pay some sort of fee. There were no authors on the “Walk of Fame”, but the actors who played the Boondock Saints were there, as were Howard Hesseman and Loni Anderson from WKRP in Cincinnati. If you showed up to an author’s event they’ll sign a stack of books and let you take a dozen pictures, because they just aren’t in enough demand that they can ask for money in those situations.

    Authors are not even second or third bananas at Dragon*Con. They are fourth-stringers, maybe even fifth. There are a lot more people at Dragon*Con than at WorldCon, but most of them aren’t there for books, and most of them don’t and won’t care at all about any of the authors there.

  30. To add to that slightly:

    DragonCon gets more excited about comic book writers than prose writers. Unless you’re a major name prose writer in a subgenre that specifically interests them.

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