This past April my husband and I attended the Star Wars Celebration conference in Florida. The deal was we would attend this as long as we could spend a few days in Disney World as I was dying to go but have never been. I learned right off the bat that the Star Wars fan community is absolutely incredible, featuring people from all over the world that vary in age from little ones all the way to folks in their 70-80s. The Star Wars stories/characters have deeply touched us and the opportunity to walk among them at the conference tied everyone together. It’s not something I realized until I got there and met fans while waiting in line for a panel which brings me to the first thing I learned at my first “celebration.”
Get there early
At 11AM each day was the main “keynote” panel with the most popular being the last Jedi panel (where they debuted the new movie trailer). The first day we got in line at 6AM thinking that we might be able to get in to the main panel but learned that people had been sleeping at the convention center overnight to get a spot! Luckily two of the big main panels (the opening 40 years of Star Wars and The Last Jedi) had overflow rooms where it was live streamed on huge screens. Initially I was bummed out but since I have no desire to sleep on the convention center floor getting there early was the only way. Being in the streaming room had a major benefit which I’ll talk about later in my post too. We learned that there was some mix-up in the queue too where people that spent the night didn’t even get in due to the staff’s mistake! But they said it was a great experience otherwise wise and when the director of the last Jedi came to greet fans waiting they got free pizza autographs and pictures! Apparently he stayed three hours! So the moral of the story is get there early and be prepare to wait in line. We brought a chair and a blanket to sit on. Once the convention center opened we were led into another room to get into another main queue where we would get wristbands. Then my group took turns getting out of line to go to other queue for other panel wristbands later in the day. This was a great method as we pretty much saw everything we wanted to see. Highlights were the Mark Hamill Carrie Fisher tribute panel where we were about 4-5 rows back from the stage. We got in line 2 hours before the panel! It was such a sweet tribute and noticed quite a few tears in fans eyes. The other panel I loved was the Ray Park (Darth Maul) panel and the Billy Dee Williams panel.
Bring snacks, water, cash, and chargers
If you plan to go to the panels, especially the first keynote ones there is a lot of waiting in line. I ran out of water on the first day and waited 30 minutes to attempt to get to a water from a vending machine behind a patient storm trooper (his card kept getting declined). The moral of the story is bring extra water and cash for these frustrating machines. The snack department I had the forward thinking to make protein balls, trail mix, fruit snacks, RX bars, and Square Bars. We usually didn’t have lunch until 1PM or 2PM each day because we were attending the big keynote at noon and the snacks helped us from getting too hangry. My whole group each brought a external battery cases for our phones AND a battery grid. So key because the battery grid could charge our friends phones and devices!
Utilize eBay and Hotel Shipping
I mentioned earlier about a special treat if you can get into the streaming panels which was limited edition Star Wars posters. I wasn’t expecting these at all and it was a amazing treat which made all the attendees feel special! One poster was of the last Jedi and the other was a numbered Carrie fisher tribute poster. Since my husband snagged these as well decided to list mine on eBay. In about a hour I sold them to stoked fan in Washington! It made me feel happy that someone else that couldn’t be there could enjoy them and I sold them for a fair price. My hotel had a USPS so I shipped them out that day. I noticed many attendees used this usps to ship home collectables and we ended up using it too. Makes a huge difference not to lug items on the plane!
Spend some time on the showroom floor
Star Wars celebration showroom floor is humongous! I think you could literally spend days there and not see everything. There were booths from Funko, Disney, Stance, Hallmark and more which featured Star Wars related items. The are Cosplay groups on the floor like the 501st Legion which is a international organization dedicated to the construction and wearing of accurate replicas of Star Wars costumes! The Legion now has over 10,000 active members worldwide, with over 17,000 approved costumes among them.
There is also another group called Mandalorian Mercs which is is a worldwide non-profit Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans and volunteers. It is the elite Mandalorian costuming organization. This group is a bit different from the 501 legion as they encourage members to make their costumes with their own personal touch to the costume. Example: we saw a Merch with a Chicago Cubs themed costume! Many of these costumes are based on Boba and Jango fet.
Another costume and booth I loved was Stormrunning. He is a fellow from the UK raising money for Make a wish all while running in Stormtrooper costume. He had a treadmill set up at celebration and his goal was to run 4 day back to back half marathon challenge! During celebration he raised $5,100 towards his $10k target. It really shows how amazing and generous Star Wars fans are. He took the time during his break to talk to my husband and I and was a really delightful person!
Meet some cool people… in line
I think you can figure a theme here, there is a lot of waiting and down time at celebration. But, there is a ton of opportunity to meet amazing people during the wait. For example while waiting to get into the exclusive Star Wars celebration store (the wait time from start to finish was over three hours!) we met a family from Indiana. They were regulars of Walt Disney world and since we were spending two days there they unloaded all their tips! While in line we worked on our itinerary and made dining reservations! They were so kind to share all their tips!
All and all I really had a great time at Star Wars celebration and hope I can attend in 2018!