I never really considered myself claustrophobic. I don't mind crowds within reasonable sizes that are manageable. However with an event like Dragon*Con the crowds come in huge amounts? I've come to realize that I am indeed very claustrophobic if I stay in a crowded area longer than necessary. I wouldn't have minded if there was more crowd control, or at least some kind of organization of how they were to manage a massive crowd such as this, but I didn't see much security other than the handfuls here and there. While nothing rowdy happened (that I could tell, I didn't stay out that much and didn't enter the nightlife of the con at all so idk how drunk and rowdy people were then) but they needed more ways of controlling the crowds or having a different system than what I've seen. Aside from crowded sidewalks getting from one hotel to another and getting out of panel rooms that only have one door to go out of, the vendors was the worst. There was literally no space to get through and it was hellish. There just needed to be more space in general, imo.
As for the panels themselves, there are both good and bad things about them. I am obviously very happy that I got to get good seats for the majority of the panels I went to (six in total), but only because I either got in line two/three hours ahead of time or that I had a friend saving a spot for me. However they definitely needed better time management because after one panel and there's another happening in 30 minutes, you will have to race to get there (which is hard due to the massive crowds) and it doesn't matter whether it's on the opposite side of the room or at another hotel several blocks down, you will still be at the back of a really long line for that next panel regardless and to me, what's the point of playing that game if all you're gonna get is shitty seats?
That is why I didn't get to see Misha or any of the Whedon panels, because they either were conflicting with another panel I was seeing or it wouldn't be worth racing to and from just for the slim chance of at least getting through the doors. I really had to make a lot of difficult decisions on this, and believe me if I could have gone to all of them I would have. But time management wise it just wasn't possible.
I didn't do any photo ops or autographs. As much as I wanted to for the people I desperately wanted to see, I felt more like I wanted to experience rather than spend, you know? (most of the money went to food anyway, lol)
I also didn't dress up, even though I mentioned I was going to. The costume wasn't perfected and it was at the last minute of deciding, but I realized I'd rather experience this con and see how the atmosphere was like before I did anything, and believe me, I learned a lot about the costuming even without dressing up.
In the general sense, in the areas of time management and crowd control they definitely need a lot of improvement. I know that sometimes it's hard to manage and maneuver a large number of people and the insanity that comes with it, and as I recall each year the crowd grows in number, and in the earlier years they didn't have this much of a security problem. Nevertheless, I feel like instead of just having Plan A and Plan B, they need multiple back-up plans when they're anticipating a big event like Dragon*Con. Also, understanding the popularity of certain actors who come and trying not to force certain rules when you know there is going to be disagreements and people arguing with the organizers over it.....but that is a story for the second entry I will make, because this was an interesting experience to witness firsthand at how disorganized they were, even if they were trying to be organized by the size of the crowds. :S
But overall, I certainly enjoyed myself. It was fun and despite the massive crowds and certain issues, I definitely would like to attend again. If not next year then the year after that. Dressing up is definitely on my list of things to do if/when I do go again, because after seeing the many amazingly phenomenal and elaborate costumes at this event, I got so inspired that I'm already planning for that next trip.
Coming up will be the panels, including pictures. :)