Science-Fiction Weekly – What It's Like To Go To Star Wars Celebration
Conventions are big, noisy, crowded, and intimidating. I've been to dozens of them – including every Electronic Entertainment Expo – and there is no easy way to navigate them. The feeling that you are an insignificant speck in a huge sea never leaves you, but neither does the sense of awe, especially for Star Wars Celebration. Everywhere you look there's a sight worthy of a picture, whether it's a legion of stormtroopers marching in formation down the hall, or an authentic prop from the film like Rey's Jakku speeder.
Everyone is there for their love of Star Wars. We're seeing generations of families at the show – from children dressed up as Rebels characters to grandparents that make convincing Old Man Ben Kenobis. The growing popularity of Star Wars was one of the big takeaways from this year's Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida. Star Wars' popularity is bigger than the show. Lucasfilm clearly didn't envision this many people would come.
That led to a bit of frustration from showgoers. The big panels that celebrated 40 years of Star Wars history, and gave us our first look at The Last Jedi, were free to all people in attendance, but were filled to capacity well before the show opened each day. Hundreds of fans even camped out in front of the convention center overnight to ensure they could see Mark Hamill in person. Most people didn't get in to these panels, and they were a big reason why most people came to the show in the first place. When Star Wars Celebration returns in 2019, I hope Lucasfilm takes a good hard look at how big the fan base is, and just how few people were able to attend these amazing events.
The other panels that again filled up, but didn't demand you not sleep in a bed overnight to attend, gave first looks at the new season of Star Wars Rebels, Marvel's upcoming comic plans, the debut of Star Wars Battlefront II, and Hasbro's next batch of action figures. If you get into most of these panels, you'll have a first-hand view of the future of Star Wars. That's the full picture of the con, and something few people sadly get to experience in its entirety.
If you don't get in to them, prepare to shop. The majority of the convention floor consists of vendors selling vintage Star Wars merchandise, and manufacturers of toys and collectibles offering exclusive items you can only purchase at the show. It's heaven for collectors like me, but again, the reality of the situation is standing in long longs. Lines that can sometimes stretch on for hours. The official Star Wars store's line had a three-hour wait at one point. This crushes any kind of line you'll find for a ride at Disney World, and then there's another line when you finally want to ring up. Lucasfilm again needs to look at the interest level and adjust accordingly with the next convention. People wasting roughly half of their show hours for a day on a store is ridiculous.
I know I'm painting the show in a fairly negative light, but these are the realities of a convention that is booming in popularity. Is it worth your time? Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes! I had an amazing time talking to Star Wars fans over the show's four days, and my phone's battery died each day due to all of the pictures and video I took. It's fun to just walk around and look at the amazing costumes people make. The energy on the floor after The Last Jedi trailer is something you don't experience often in life. Everyone seemed to have a little bounce in their step, and you couldn't walk too far without hearing someone watching the trailer on their phone or discussing story possibilities.
To reiterate: Star Wars Celebration is big, noisy, crowded, intimidating, expensive, and frustrating, but it's also an amazing outlet to express yourself as a Star Wars fan and meet like-minded people who have made this universe a big part of their lives.
Seriously, where else are you going to meet Jedi Aquaman?