Con of Thrones 2018

Posted: June 2, 2018 by patricksponaugle in Diary, Game of Thrones
Tags: , ,

For three days at the tail end of May (May 25th through May 28th) Dallas, Texas played host to the second ever Con of Thrones.

I attended last year’s inaugural convention (I wrote about that here) and wanted to update everyone on how things progressed from the first convention to its second event.

For me personally it was a much different convention experience, since last year I was fortunate enough to have been invited as a panelist on one panel – the Night’s Watch panel with the Bald Move podcasters as my co-hosts (and Sue and Oz from Watchers on the Wall.) This time I was on six panels. How did that happen?

In the time in between conventions, I had become a feature writer for Watchers on the Wall (this was a big deal to me) and I volunteered to be on four panels. Somehow I was talked into another one, and then invited to be part of the big Watchers on the Wall live podcast panel.

My wife Lisa, because she’s smart and poised and is also into Game of Thrones, was invited to be a panelist on two other panels. So my convention schedule was heavily set.

I did get to be an audience member for panels that Lisa was not on, but much of my convention was either nervously prepping for one of my panels, or surviving the particular one I happened to be on at the moment. (The panels were uniformly joys to participate on, everyone was incredibly cool. I shouldn’t act like it was a chore.)

The convention had learned some lessons from last year. I think that there was more programming, with more panelists and a bigger variety of subject matter experts to run them. I talked to several people with whom this was their first time presenting anything.

I enjoyed the costume call at last year’s convention, but this year’s simply ran much smoother. (As one would expect – things should get more organized over time, and it looked like they were.)

Last year’s musical concerts and the Saturday night dancing were replaced by two nights of airing Game of Thrones episodes, with a twist. In Chicago, there is a bar called the Burlington that’s known for hosting Game of Thrones watching parties as events, and televising the crowd reactions on YouTube. (I am in no way making this up.)

During the conventions evenings, an episode would be shown on the large main stage screen with Burlington bar regulars and any of the celebrity guests who were up for some fun, on-stage to talk during the episode. This might seem to be a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type vibe, but it really was more like having a loud drunken party with Game of Thrones playing, and people occasionally pointing out their favorite bits.

I am really under-playing how entertaining this was. It was very entertaining. Especially Sam Coleman (Young Hodor) talking about specific apocryphal acting techniques, and Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel) just being a delight – especially during the fight between Arya and Brienne.

The hotel hosting the convention was the Hyatt Regency Dallas and I’ve never been to a hotel that extended such a welcome to convention goers.

Days before the convention, I received an email from Julie, the Guest Experience Manager, a very regal and Game of Thrones-specific email pre-welcoming me to Castle HRD (Hyatt Regency Dallas.) When my wife and I arrived, Julie was greeting guests dressed as Daenerys Targaryen, accompanied by her dog Leo. Leo was dressed as a dragon.

Leo had quite a presence in the hotel.

The hotel didn’t do anything crazy, but there were many light touches that made me feel that the hotel was into the convention being there.

Besides the guest experience manager and her dog in cosplay, there was a large map of Westeros and Essos installed on the floor, candy in Major House sigil containers (with red candy for Targaryens, black licorice in a Baratheon bowl, etc.) and specially named drinks at the bar.

I’m not good at counting crowds, but the attendance seemed roughly the same as previous year’s. Like last year, the final programming of closing ceremonies late Sunday was very well attended. Most convention goers had stuck around for the very end.

Like last year, the convention had a dedicated application: CoT 2018, available for download. The convention ended last week, but the app is still active, with people chatting, exchanging contact information. One of the YouTube attendees just messaged me, asking for a video of me answering some Game of Thrones related questions (you know, who I think will be on the Iron Throne at the end, who would I “Wed, Bed, or B’Head” – those questions.)

It was a solid second year for the convention, and I’m looking forward to next year’s. It’ll be interesting, since I assume that the show will have just ended with its final season when Con of Thrones 2019 rolls around.

The lack of the show doesn’t mean that fan gatherings will necessarily not happen, and of course more of the cast should be available to attend conventions, since there will be no more plot details or secrets to accidentally spill.

With any luck, the proposed successor shows for Game of Thrones (not necessarily ‘spin-offs’) will be able to keep excitement among the fans, so they’ll continue to want to get together at gatherings.

Because the gatherings this year and last year was very special.

Besides being able to meet my favorite podcasters, I got to meet in real life more of my Twitter comrades than I was expecting. There was quite a sense of community and family at the convention, and I appreciated the positive and collaborative aspect that everyone brought with them.

The closing ceremonies featured a brief segment of convention goers giving some quick testimonials of their weekend experience, and it was surprising moving and emotional for me.

So I hope we can keep this up.

(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)

I try to provide attribution for images when I can, unfortunately some of the images used came from Facebook where they had no doubt been aggregated from other locations, like the CoT 2018 app, or from articles written about the convention.

I took the photo at the top, with my wife joining Watchers on the Wall writers and Michael from the /r/asoiaf subreddit in discussing Theon.

My wife took the picture of the image of Leo the Hyatt Regency Dog.

I don’t know the sources for the cosplay gathering or the Burlington presentation of the Spoils of War episode of Game of Thrones.

The last photo, of Myrcella laying dead in Dorne, and Prince Oberyn laying dead in Kings Landing was taken by Madison Ray, one of the convention cosplay judges.

If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2018 Some Rights Reserved

  1. Lovely summary! Gosh, I wish I could go back and do all the things I didn’t get to. And how did I not even notice the Westeros/Essos map?! Excited to see where the con takes us next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very much enjoyed the report Patrick even though, as I’ve said before, I have never, ever seen GOT. The more I read, the more I think I may be missing out!
    You obviously had a great time!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haylee says:

    So glad I held on to this for reading – sounds like you had a fantastic time. And I love that the hotel was in to it, the little touches often set things apart (and that dog is adorable!)
    Is there a West(World)Con? Or do you think there’ll be one, given the interest and fan theories?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know if there’s a full blown Westworld convention. If there were, there would be a lot of people wearing cowboy hats. (But probably not allowed to carry six shooters.)

      For proper effect, the convention’s schedule of events should be organized as odd and confusing as possible

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haylee says:

        Haha, you mean multiple disjointed timelines of recurring panels that only make sense if you attend each one. But the map to their location is a maze hidden in random places around the venue, but if you ask for directions the staff talk in riddles and you don’t actually know whether they work there or they’re a guest? Something like that? It would totally work…!

        Liked by 1 person

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