Lee Roberts's picture
By Lee Roberts

The Good, The Bad, and the What Just Happened of Star Wars Celebration Orlando

I'm a Star Wars Celebration newbie.

I have went to my first Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, FL during the weekend of April 13-16 and I got to say I was most impressed. Though I was also disappointed. I'll get that part of my adventure but I want it be known that I did really enjoy myself at the convention. Would I change things? Yes of course I would change some things. After all, anyone that has been to a large convention like this knows that there are always more things to do, more people to see, more collectibles to get, and so much more. It's impossible to do it all, see everything, and own all that you want to own (unless you are George Lucas), but while you are at the con you make do with what you can and you enjoy it.

That's exactly what I did while I was at the convention, make do with what I could and what I did I made sure I enjoyed it. It's crazy to believe that it's now been a week since the convention. Last week at this time I was feeling sad because the convention had been over for 3 hours and I was then looking ahead to having to go back to work and to real life.

Now after a week I look back on my time and experiences at Celebration thinking about how I wish it could be the night before the convention was starting instead of a week after it has ended.

So what where some of the things that I enjoyed while there?

Seeing the cast of the movies and George Lucas (well seeing him on stage on a screen, I missed out on seeing him in person during the panel), is one of the more fun moments from the convention. I've been to a lot of conventions over the years and for the most part there will be a smaller stage located somewhere on the convention floor. For the most part this smaller stage is used for the more local guests such as podcasts or maybe some workers to talk while entertaining the fans on the floor. Sometimes they would have a celebrity guest appear on the stage but those are rare times and they usually was the featured guests.

At Celebration the stage was used for everything from showing the fans on live stream to having the “maker”, George Lucas, appear on stage to do short interviews. I was able to get to the front of the stage for when Felicity Jones and Forest Whitaker came out on the stage to talk some to the crowd. It was very fun to see these two as Forest Whitaker talked about his voice of Saw and Felicity was shown the doll of Jyn Erso.

 

A lot happened while at the convention that was so much fun. There was a group of cosplayers dressed as the character from the show, “Star Wars Rebels”, who looked so good that it looked like they had been pulled from the show itself. There was the large Jabba the Hutt that you could sit on to get a photo with. Which I think everyone did, I know I got my photo taken on him, (too bad couldn't find me a slave Leia to get a photo with). I saw a life sized Rancor, by the way, this thing is really cool and if I had seen in real life I would be running away as fast as I could.

There was a Snow Speeder, AT-AT, Rey's speeder, two speeder bikes, and even a life size Tie Fighter. I got to say the the Tie Fighter and AT-AT were the most impressive of them. I could still be standing there staring at them, taking photos, and still be as impressed with them as I was when first seeing them. Whoever built these models did an excellent and most impressive job.

Not to be outdone by the life size models, there was a very large Lego Millennium Falcon that was on the convention floor that was really cool. Though, there were quite a few Falcons spread out around the convention floor at exhibitor booths.

Speaking of the booths. There were a lot of the exhibitor booths spread out around the convention floor where each had some very cool items. Most I could see at any convention but there where some that had new and different things. My main goal was to get Celebration exclusives. Items like the pins that some booths had and for some of them, like the Hera and Thrawn pins, turned out near impossible to get. There was also the patches, the books (ugh), and the toys (double ugh), that had exclusives that were actually impossible to get.

Ok, time for the down side to the convention. The impossible where items like the Timothy Zahn book, Thrawn, that was sold out just a few hours after Celebration first opened. This book was impossible to get for most fans for a few reasons. One is that Del Rey booth sold them all on the first day without holding any back for other days. Another reason, and this was not confirmed by Del Rey, but I was told that they allowed fans to buy as many copies of the book as they wanted. This is not good for a convention of thousands of people who all want that exclusive because there are going to be people that are there just to get the items to sell on eBay for insane high prices. Guess what? The book is going for $150-$250 on eBay. This one book became a huge disaster at the convention. With first selling whole inventory on the first day, then not bringing enough, and then to make matters worse there was a raffle that was done on Saturday that became such a mess that security had to be called in to help. Most people, including myself, thought that the exclusive items that would be near impossible to get were the Lego set and the Funko Pops. The items I thought would be more of an ease to get were the Hasbro Luke figure and the Thrawn book. Instead I ended up with some of the Funko Pops (which where still extremely hard to get and without the help of a friends wife I wouldn't have had the Rey), and I got the Lego set, (again only because I had a friend who got it for me). Then the two items I thought I would be able to get turned out I couldn't get even when I was there at the table asking for it.

One reason the book was impossible to get was also one of the worst parts of the convention, the lines. I got there early on Thursday to get in line thinking that I should be able to get on the floor no later than 10:30AM, half hour after the convention opened.

Nope!

There was only one entry point being used for the convention and they didn't start doing the security checks to let people in until 10AM. Nevermind that there was 2 whole convention floors set up with line markers for the fans to go line up in after the checks so that when it became 10AM they could just go in. What happened instead was the security held people out and didn't start until 10AM so a lot of fans, myself included, didn't get onto the convention floor until 5 hours later.

Think about it this way, The convention closes at 7PM, I get in around 3:30PM, that gives me about 3 and half hours to go around the convention but it really don't. Because I had a autograph to get to at 3:30 so I went from waiting outside to get in for 5 hours to go straight to another line where that one ends up being messed up and I didn't get out of that line until about 10 till 7PM. So my first day of my first experience of Star Wars Celebration was standing in lines.

If I was someone that had an earlier signing or photo op that was at noon but I was still outside in the line waiting to get in and missed it, well, it's not surprising as to why there are so many angry fans. When you spend thousands of dollars to do this, you expect that there will be a better system. I can understand if the company said, this is our first convention so wasn't prepared. This wasn't the first and this was a convention that is for Star Wars and is known to bring thousands of thousands of people to. There was no reason why they wouldn't know it would take a long time to a security check, this is not the first time this happened, so decide to have fans hating you by doing what was done, or do a little research to find out that there were 2 floors, one being enough to hold 80% of the fans, start doing the security checks early and then letting people go into the empty room to wait to get in. What was done ruined and I've heard have turned off first timers from going again.

Anyways, I could go on and on about the horrible debacle that was the first day. It really was the worst I've seen any convention handled. But there were other things that turned out not so well. Like the lottery ticket system for Funko and Lego to get their exclusives. A lot of people, myself included, didn't even receive an email to confirm or deny if I won a ticket after I had entered. I had to send them an email asking about it. The answer I got back and everyone one else that I read and asked who didn't get an email was a big fat no. I get that they have a limited amount but I went to this convention for 2 reasons, to see the cast of the movies and to get the exclusives. What happened on that first day was I saw people who didn't even come to the convention posting about getting all the Pops from stores and online because they where shared. So, in reality the Pops where not actually exclusives. Sure they have a different sticker on them but the Pops themselves are all the same.

Now it may sound like I didn't have much fun but I really did. I just want to let it be known that while going to a convention there are always going to be problems, sometimes if you are lucky it will be small problems, but sometimes, like this time, they are large problems that can really hurt the experience and for some completely destroy the experience. I understand the need for the tickets but it also guaranteed that people there to get items to scalp also got theirs while fans like me who just want to have in collection end up with nothing except the decision to have to spend even more money then already done to get there to get the exclusives online from scalpers.