Here I am walking up to the Anaheim Convention Center to experience my first convention as a fan. I can’t help but be mesmerized by all of the costumes and overhearing the reciting of lines throughout the area.
“Move along….move along” as I was passing the food truck courtyard.
“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” whispered a young man near the fountain.
“I don’t think the Empire had Wookies in mind when they designed her, Chewie” was overheard while waiting in the Queue Hall minutes before doors opened.
I’m talking about Star Wars Celebration Anaheim; the place to be if you’re a Star Wars fan. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Opening Ceremony (a panel featuring The Force Awakens Director J.J. Abrams and the CEO of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy) due to me flying in later that day. That panel was the talk of the convention and hearing everybody’s reaction made you feel just how excited everybody was during the Opening Ceremony.
Celebration had everything you could have ever wanted from a Star Wars convention.
Cosplay contests, behind the scenes photos, autograph sessions, panels featuring people who are/have worked on the Star Wars movies, video game flight simulators, limited edition memorabilia that was specific to Celebration.
On my first day there, I followed John, a 6’5” gentleman from St. Louis who has been to multiple Celebrations prior to Celebration Anaheim, up to the third floor to try and get a sneak peak at the new Star Wars Battlefront game that’s coming out in November. We made it to the back of a very long line and after waiting 30 mins and moving what seemed like 10 feet, the Digital Stage had reached capacity and were no longer letting anybody in to see the trailer.
I realized that this was a common sight at Celebration.
Want to watch Mark Hamill’s panel? Better line up 2 hours prior. Ok well Carrie Fisher has a panel at X PM better line up 2 hours before that. Want to buy merchandise from the official Celebration store? Gotta wait in a line to get into the line that gets your into the store and then wait another 2 hours just to check out.
Lots of waiting with no guarantee that you were going to see/experience the event of your choice. Everyone at the convention kept blaming Disney for them wanting to host Celebration about a mile away from Disneyland. Now, I get it. I understand why Disney would want to host Celebration so close to their parks and Downtown Disney. It’s the same reason they host D23 at the same convention center.
What I, and I’m sure everybody else who attended Celebration, would like to see is Disney take the technology they use for time/line management and use this to make Celebration lines more about interaction and less about waiting. I’ll give Disney a pass on this Celebration as this was their first one since the Lucasfilm acquisition but hopefully the next stateside Celebration will be better.
All in all, I had a blast. From hearing everyone’s Opening Ceremony’s stories to seeing all of the costumes and watching the new Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One trailer (which hasn’t been released anywhere), this has been a convention that I’ll never forget and I’m already planning to go to Celebration next year in London.