Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta (Georgia)
2016 – Microsoft decided to kill the famous TechEd Europe conference after many years and only hosted the USA one. Known as Microsoft Ignite. I had the chance back in 2016 to join this conference with an attendance of 23.000 people.
When I arrived on Sunday early morning I had the day free to visit Atlanta Six Flag. To go to the theme park I booked my first Uber ride ever. Fast, convenient and cheap. Since this moment we always chose Uber when available.
I had read about long queues so investigated the different options for a fast pass. There were 3 levels and their price ranged form acceptable to expensive. Certainly on top of the regular entrance price. However, being afraid to be more in a queue than in some attractions I decided to go for the highest option. The prices vary per day and there is a limited availability. I was shocked that the Dare Devil was not included in the price and they charged yet another fee for that. This option I did not take.
- The Flash pass: Virtually in line
- The Flash pass Gold: Reduce 50% of queue time
- The Flash pass Titanium: Reduce 90% of queue time and have option to ride twice without leaving your seat.
The pass was very convenient but looking at the time you need to move from one attraction to another, I think the mid class option would have been fine as well. An important tip is to claim your next right immediate after they clear your device. With this approach I had to wait in no single attraction. I could use a special entrance and most of the times I was the only one using this option. You are also allowed to pick a seat before the other guests. Quite decadent if you ask it to me, but it’s fun! Like this you can chose if you want to be in the front or in the back which is depending of the attraction a huge difference.
When you do the Superman roller coaster where you are lying down and having 1 hand in front of you, the front seat really gives you the impression to be Superman. If you are in any other row, your view is always blocked by the people in front of you.
Must do attractions
- Goliath (front row is insane!)
- Georgia Scorcher (standing up while doing looping)
- Superman (front row to experience flying behavior)
Disadvantage 1: I moved around between attractions so quickly, never had to wait, and sometimes claimed my second ride that after 3.5 hours my body forced me to take a break. I had done probably over 40 loops and it was just too much to take. My head started to hurt and in the mind bender I was almost fainting. After some rest I took some more rides, but no more rides with looping.
Disadvantage 2: The fact that I was alone in the park made I could not share the fun. I learned that when travelling it’s important to be able to share your feelings. If you enjoy something on your own, it’s not the same. I reduce now the period I travel alone as I prefer to share my experiences.
Georgia World Congress Center
The venue was huge and going from one side to the other could easily take you 10 – 15 minutes. There were also “traffic jams” at peak moments at the staircases. So it was key to move smart or take alternative routes. For the rest it was a big conference center like you have many. Big hall for lunch and lots of rooms for sessions
Ignite Country party at Millenium Olymic Park
At most conferences there is one or more organised evenings for all attendees. This year it was situated in the Olympic Park next to the Congress Center. They offer plenty of food and drinks around several eateries and there were all kinds of games to play. Ranging from playing with a radio controlled boat, human soccer table, rope pulling and many many more.
Base ball game
On Thursday evening I joined a base ball game. The Atlanta Braves vs Philadelphia Phillies was one of their latest matches in the current stadium. Soon they would move to the new one. I was told these games are typically attended by families and that they may take hours. That is really true. The last forever, and I left after 2.5 hours. I was also surprised about the tactics, the changes and a bit disappointed as they don’t hit that many home runs as I expected. They also just often the ball. Luckily I saw one home run which was cool to see!
Birthday at the hotel bar
During this conference it was also my birthday celebration, which I started alone in the hotel bar. Soon after ordering the first drink I got to talk with my neighbor who insisted in paying my drinks as it was his opinion that on your birthday you should not buy your own drinks. That was convenient. Also the lady in the bar insisted in offering a drink of the house. We got to talk with yet another friendly neighbor and like that my evening quickly passed and I had quite some fun. So, Scott, If you ever read this. Thanks again for paying the drinks that evening 🙂
Hotel Indigo Atlanta Airport College Park
As this hotel had a metro station around the corner it was well located to reach to the congress center. The room was big and had all amenities needed. There was also a nice hotel bar where you could eat either at the bar or at a table. The rate was around $ 200 per night. Still within budget for our company, but for private trips I would search for a cheaper alternative.