Atlanta’s largest pop culture convention will return in-person this September after the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel it in 2020. 

Dragon Con brings tens of thousands of people to downtown Atlanta to celebrate all things sci-fi, fantasy, and pop culture. Spokesperson Dan Carroll said convention organizers made the decision after hearing updated guidance from the CDC and after having discussions with hotel partners.

GPB's Sarah Rose spoke to Carroll on the decision.

SARAH ROSE: So it looks like Dragon Con is on for an in-person year. What decision led to that?

DAN CARROLL: Well, we're not the first event that's going to be held here in Atlanta. Other events have been opening. But what's most important with Dragon Con's decision making is to make sure that we can have a fun, enjoyable convention that's also safe for our attendees.

SARAH ROSE: What changes should people anticipate, given everything that's happened since COVID?

DAN CARROLL: Well, there's no doubt we're definitely going to be looking at making sure everyone's going to be safe. First off, we're working with our hotel partners who are working with the city. We're working with the state, and we're following guidance from health officials throughout the United States, coming down from the CDC down to our local folks who have the scoop. And we are going to be providing a list of guidelines that will be official 30 days before the convention. So there's enough time to understand them and comply with them. But it also makes sure that we're working with the most recent data on the crisis.

SARAH ROSE: Are you anticipating having a lower attendance cap?

DAN CARROLL: We have made no secret that we are expecting a smaller-than-average Dragon Con, but that still makes it a fun Dragon Con. We want to make sure that people are able to maintain safe distances, but also enjoy themselves and have that Dragon Con camaraderie.

SARAH ROSE: What kind of conversations have you all had with the host hotels so far? How are they feeling going into this?

DAN CARROLL: Oh, there is no doubt that the hotels are very strongly in favor of Dragon Con returning because they are our partners. They they have been with us since early 2020, coordinating our actions and and making sure that we are working together in partnership because Dragon Con could not take place without those host hotels.

SARAH ROSE: I do want to ask you about the online side of this, because you mentioned that there's going to still be an online component similar to what happened last year when people weren't able to attend in person. What going to be going into that? Will it be the same kind of structure as last year? 

DAN CARROLL: Well, the Digital Dragon Con event was so successful, we had over 600,000 panel views over the course of it. Even if we had a full show where everybody showed up, it was just impactful around the world. But here we are going into Dragon 2021, bringing that digital content and we will share as much as we can. We're going to learn some lessons from last year and how to improve things. And we learned some valuable lessons about what we did right and plan to continue that.

SARAH ROSE: Should we anticipate that Dragon Con TV is going to be appropriately snarky about the last year in the pandemic?

DAN CARROLL: I believe if you look on the Internet, Dragon Con TV has already been appropriately snarky about about the pandemic. (laughs)