Have your own Star Wars Celebration

by Todd King, contributing writer
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Star Wars… coming soon

There's a lot going on with Star Wars… in April. As for this month (March), it seems to be the revving of engines before the Pod Race. For now, things are building up to a great deal of activity at the start of spring. Here in the closing days of winter, however, it is quiet. Rogue One has been out of the theaters for a little while, next to no news has issued forth from Lucasfilm, the actors in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi keep mum, the Han Solo movie is only beginning production, and Disney has been focused on the opening of "Pandora: the World of Avatar." So, Disney is careful not to overshadow it with any announcements of Star Wars land. So it is pretty quiet out here in the Outer Rim.

Looking ahead to April, there are a two events to anticipate:

  • The release of Rogue One on DVD and digital on the Tuesday, April 4.
  • A little something called "Star Wars Celebration" in Orlando, Florida April 13–16.

This year's Star Wars Celebration will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars itself; the original movie was released in May 1977 at which time the franchise and the fandom were born. Like celebrations past, it will be a festive occasion with the cosplaying fans and with the magic-makers from Lucasfilm. I only wish I could be there in the midst of the Star Wars fever and be in the vicinity of Walt Disney World, too. Without that chance, I must have my own celebration from a distance, all the while watching Rogue One on my own home TV.

During the events of Star Wars Celebration, I anticipate a few noteworthy happenings:

First, I'm fairly sure they will premiere the first trailer for The Last Jedi. What better time to release it and get the hype started in high gear?

Second, we may receive some news about Star Wars lands in Disney parks; perhaps they'll reveal the name of it, show off more concepts, or offer details on the major attractions.

Third, I expect they will display some of the new toys coming out for the new movie—perhaps including some action figures and LEGO sets.

Fourth, maybe we'll see some new video games or an app.

I reckon this will be a special extravaganza because of the anniversary, so I believe some surprises will be in store. Sigh, if only I could be there in person. Which brings me to…

How to have your own Star Wars Celebration

Can't be in Orlando?

Catch the livestream! The past couple Star Wars Celebrations have had livestream content and it has been handled quite well. Without being an actual attendee we won't get to see all the panels. However, the Star Wars web team has put some exclusive content in the stream before such as interviews with staff at Lucasfilm and other makers of the movies. If any trailers come out, they'll be up for viewing, too, along with some commentary. I hope they continue to utilize streaming technology to share the love of the galaxy from not so far away.

Can't meet the celebrities?

See what they're tweeting! Most of the celebrities and guests of Star Wars Celebration are on social media, and it might be a good time to look them up and give them a follow. I bet they'll be sharing their own stories on Twitter and Instagram so that we can get an inside look. I highly recommend Mark Hamill (@hamillhimself) on Twitter, and not just because of being Luke Skywalker, but because he is a genuinely funny man.

Can't see the new merchandise? 

This desire is not so easy to comfort. You can't just get your hands on the new toys and stuff (and neither could anyone else in April since most of the stuff will come out until "Force Friday" September 1). As for me, I may get a few pieces of things out from storage and maybe find a home for them on a new display in my house. I have a few older Star Wars LEGO sets that I would love to take the time to rebuild like my favorite, the Imperial Shuttle; building it again (since it is currently in pieces) would be fun during some of the livestream lulls.

Need the feeling of Star Wars?

Easy. Pop in the movies, especially Rogue One since it will be new to home release. Perhaps take this a little further and coincide it with those New Year's Resolutions and put any of the Star Wars soundtracks on while exercising! In either April or most certainly by May I plan to watch Star Wars (Episode IV, A New Hope, the very first one… you know, the one originally simply called Star Wars, perhaps the original cut) to mark the occasion of the 40th anniversary and wallow in nostalgia to push back those feelings of getting old.

Desire some new Star Wars material before December?

Well, it's perhaps time to watch (read: binge watch) Star Wars Rebels and see for myself this entry into the new canon to find out what everyone is talking about. It just so happens my esteemed older brother got me the first two seasons on DVD for Christmas, so I no longer have an excuse not to catch up. For those who have already been following the series and still need more new material, the place to go is definitely the novels, such as the newly released Empire's End, and the plethora of comic books.

Need some Star Wars grub?

Follow a recipe and make some blue milk (or this version from Disney). I've mentioned before when thinking about the kind of food we may get in Star Wars Land that Star Wars really isn't known for its food. That means you can just make up stuff like Wookie Cookies, Yoda Soda, Edible Ewoks (gummy bears or Teddy Grahams) and Vader Taters (potato chips or fries) all served at your own Ackbar's Snack Bar. Then, play the cantina music in the background for a unique party. Speaking of party…

Need to be with other fans?

Call 'em up for a party! Said party could include all the above activities or some combination of them. At the very least I will text "May the Force be with You" to my friends if a Star Wars shindig isn't possible in these busy times.

Whatever we may do, I believe we owe it to ourselves to take a little time and get back to the source of our fandom, back to the point where we first met these characters and first felt the impact of these stories. Leave alone the speculation for a while, step out of the discussion forums and comments just to experience again the personal journey on which Star Wars took us.

Will you be having any sort of Star Wars celebration of your own? Will you be attending the official Celebration event in Orlando? Please comment and share since it is a communal activity to share the passion we have for Star Wars with each other and take heart in that common ground of a franchise that values courage and peace.

Comments

  1. By Dave1313

    I very briefly considered trying to organize a combination WDW and SW Celebration trip next month, but I didn't really plan far enough in advance to do it and the fact that it runs partially over Easter weekend also dissuaded me. Still going to sneak in an Epcot F&G WDW trip, but it' won't involve SW other than making sure I see the new fireworks show at DHS (as well as a few trips on Star Tours, of course! ).

    I did go as far as trying to look up details on StarWars.com, but all I could find in terms of schedules was the days and ticket prices. I've never looked seriously at an event like this before, so I don't know if there are schedules of all the different panels, etc. posted before the event or not. Not knowing what I was doing, I wasn't comfortable buying a one day ticket for Thursday, not knowing what exactly what might be going on on Thursday (just an example day).

    I'm sure I'll be at the local Best Buy on April 4th to pick up the Rogue One DVD, so maybe I will watch it one of the days Celebration is going on!

  2. By cstephens

    We'll be in Orlando for Celebration and also spending some time at WDW. We also have tickets for the Friday night party at DHS. Really looking forward to seeing the new fireworks. I thought the last version was spectacular.

    I usually tweet during Celebration in case anyone is interested (@cstephens2).

    We're expecting a teaser trailer for The Last Jedi, especially since they did release some footage at the recent shareholders meeting. And then we're figuring they'll release a full trailer at the D23 Expo in August.

    I also expect there will be a lot of tears at various points at the convention, as I figure there will be many tributes to Carrie Fisher and many of the panelists will likely share remembrances of her.



    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1313 View Post
    I've never looked seriously at an event like this before, so I don't know if there are schedules of all the different panels, etc. posted before the event or not. Not knowing what I was doing, I wasn't comfortable buying a one day ticket for Thursday, not knowing what exactly what might be going on on Thursday (just an example day).

    Unfortunately, no, they don't tend to release much of the schedule beforehand. They're still releasing information about additional people who will be attending. Some celebrities attend actual panels and some are just available at the autograph sessions, which have a fee. We've been going since Celebration III, and they always have amazing guests, pretty much because it's the only official convention. And, since Disney bought Lucasfilm, now they have even better access. I think they announced that Kathleen Kennedy is attending again this year.

    I had heard about "Rogue One", and then at the last Celebration, they were having a panel with Gareth Edwards (the director), and I think Felicity Jones was there too. I went to the panel, and they showed the teaser trailer. We gave it a standing ovation, and I was in tears, and when they asked if we wanted to see it again, we screamed "YES"!!!! It was a seriously amazing moment.

    Most of the big panels happen either on Friday or Saturday. Saturday, as you can imagine, is generally the busiest day. Sunday is usually a fairly light day, but it's a good day to look for deals in the dealers room because many of them are trying to sell as much as possible rather than have to pack and ship it back home.

  3. By Dave1313

    Thanks so much for the general info on how the conventions work! I've been a SW fan since I was a kid, but never to the point of attending a convention (SW Celebration or otherwise). I've seen various fan pics over the years (I'm a regular reader of Star Wars Insider magazine), but never had a strong urge to make a trip myself. (Aside from Star Wars Weekends at DHS, which I did attend for the last 4 years they ran)

    If I recall SW Celebration tends to occur either in Orlando or Anaheim every so often, so I'll keep my eyes peeled for the future if timing makes a combination SW and Disney trip viable for me. I'd make sure to plan early enough that I could go for the multi day discounted ticket (assuming the regularly do that and it wasn't something specific to this one) and then refine planning once the schedules are revealed.

    Thanks again for the info!

  4. By cstephens

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1313 View Post
    If I recall SW Celebration tends to occur either in Orlando or Anaheim every so often, so I'll keep my eyes peeled for the future if timing makes a combination SW and Disney trip viable for me. I'd make sure to plan early enough that I could go for the multi day discounted ticket (assuming the regularly do that and it wasn't something specific to this one) and then refine planning once the schedules are revealed.

    They've been holding them every other year since Celebration III, and on off years, they've sometimes held either Celebration Europe or I think they did a Celebration in Japan, but I might be mis-remembering. They had several in Orlando in AUGUST (there was a running joke about Orlando in August being just like Dagobah) and then they moved to Anaheim after Disney bought Lucasfilm. I was kind of annoyed that it's being held in Orlando again this year (at least it's April and not August, but maybe that's because they timed it to be just before the Star Wars Dark Side races, and there's a D23 Expo in August this year, so Disney wouldn't want to compete with themselves), cause I would of course prefer them to be in Anaheim. However, the move back to Orlando this year might be because the Anaheim convention center parking is under major construction. They are still holding conventions there, but parking looks like it's a nightmare, so maybe they decided not to make people deal with it this year, and they'll come back to Anaheim in 2019. I can only hope!

    As I recall, you can buy the full convention ticket (4 days) or a single-day ticket for a specific day. I don't recall there being other multi-day tickets other than the 4-day, but I honestly haven't paid attention to that. They've generally started selling tickets about a year prior to the convention itself, so there's plenty of time to plan.

    Hope you can attend one sometime. They're a lot of fun, and the main problem is that there's too much to do, so you have to plan what you want to do more and what you're willing to skip.

  5. By foxtwin

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1313 View Post
    I'm sure I'll be at the local Best Buy on April 4th to pick up the Rogue One DVD, so maybe I will watch it one of the days Celebration is going on!

    I sense a similar activity for me as well! Time to experience again the greatest heist in the galaxy

  6. By foxtwin

    Quote Originally Posted by cstephens View Post
    I also expect there will be a lot of tears at various points at the convention, as I figure there will be many tributes to Carrie Fisher and many of the panelists will likely share remembrances of her.

    I hadn't thought about that, but you're right - tears of joy at any new SW previews and info, tears of sorrow for Carrie Fisher. Her humor will always be missed.

  7. By Dave1313

    Quote Originally Posted by cstephens View Post
    They've been holding them every other year since Celebration III, and on off years, they've sometimes held either Celebration Europe or I think they did a Celebration in Japan, but I might be mis-remembering. They had several in Orlando in AUGUST (there was a running joke about Orlando in August being just like Dagobah) and then they moved to Anaheim after Disney bought Lucasfilm. I was kind of annoyed that it's being held in Orlando again this year (at least it's April and not August, but maybe that's because they timed it to be just before the Star Wars Dark Side races, and there's a D23 Expo in August this year, so Disney wouldn't want to compete with themselves), cause I would of course prefer them to be in Anaheim. However, the move back to Orlando this year might be because the Anaheim convention center parking is under major construction. They are still holding conventions there, but parking looks like it's a nightmare, so maybe they decided not to make people deal with it this year, and they'll come back to Anaheim in 2019. I can only hope!

    As I recall, you can buy the full convention ticket (4 days) or a single-day ticket for a specific day. I don't recall there being other multi-day tickets other than the 4-day, but I honestly haven't paid attention to that. They've generally started selling tickets about a year prior to the convention itself, so there's plenty of time to plan.

    Hope you can attend one sometime. They're a lot of fun, and the main problem is that there's too much to do, so you have to plan what you want to do more and what you're willing to skip.

    Sad but true on Orlando in August being like Dagobah!

    Yes, the multi-day I was referring to was for all 4 days. It was still shown, but sold out at the late date I looked. It was priced at $150 (pre show) for the sold out 4 day pass, or $65/$75 per day (pre show) for single day passes (at least just now - for some reason I had thought it was an even $75 for any day, but anything but Saturday is showing $65 today.. I don't know if my memory was wrong or if they maybe adjust the pricing if some days are not generating a lot of sales?).

    Looks like it was in Japan in '08.

  8. By cstephens

    For Dave1313 and anyone else who might be interested, a sneak peek of some of the panel discussions scheduled for Star Wars Celebration was posted today.

  9. By Dave1313

    Thanks, that gave me a little bit of a feel for how these play out.

    I would imagine the popularity for some of these would require getting in line long before the particular event is actually supposed to start to ensure you can get in? (I suspect the one about The Last Jedi, the Anthony Daniels talk, etc)

    Is your experience that you need to focus on a few things you don't want to miss and thereby end up waiting in a long line ahead of time, thereby blocking yourself from doing other things? (this is sort of making me think of an analogy of trying to do top headliner rides in WDW all in a row with no FP+! )

  10. By cstephens

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1313 View Post
    Is your experience that you need to focus on a few things you don't want to miss and thereby end up waiting in a long line ahead of time, thereby blocking yourself from doing other things?

    Yeah, that's unfortunately the nature of a convention. There are multiple things going on at the same time, so sometimes, you have to decide among several things that you'd like to do. They usually don't schedule two big things against each other, so for instance, they wouldn't schedule a Mark Hamill panel at the same time as an Anthony Daniels panel. And yes, you have to build time not just for the panel itself, but for the wait before and the time it takes to get out after, so if a panel ends at 3pm, and you want to attend another panel that starts at 3pm, chances are that's not going to work out. If you're in one of the bigger rooms, it'll take a little time to exit, and then it depends on how close the rooms are to each other, and the other panel might be full, and even if you make it, you'll likely have missed the first 15 minutes at least.

    For some of the most popular panels, they will hand out wristbands, so you line up for the wristband, which guarantees you entry into the room. Some people will get a wristband and then get right into the line to wait for entrance because they want great seats. If you don't care about that, you can come back later to get in line, and are just guaranteed a seat somewhere inside. A few years ago, it was George Lucas' first time having a Celebration panel, I think, and the line started I think around 5pm the night before. We went out around maybe 3am, and they were going to start handing out wristbands at 5am. Once we got our wristbands and confirmed that it guaranteed entrance into the room (like at least one of the panels this time, they had the George Lucas panel on the main stage, but they were showing a live feed into a few of the other big stages so that more people could experience it the same time, live), we went back to our room to sleep for a couple hours and then got back in line maybe around 8am. We were trying to time it to at least be in the same room as George but decided we weren't willing to sleep outside on the floor (even though the weather was comfortable) all night to do it. We did manage to get into the main stage room for the panel. Others got their wristbands and spent all night in line and got great seats to see the panel.

    We set down to plan what panels or events we want to attend a few days beforehand, when the full schedule has been released. The husband and I don't always attend all of the same stuff since we might have slightly different interests within the universe. There have been a few times when, looking at a schedule for a particular day, you're running from one panel or line to the next all day, in which case, we'll pick up a sandwich or something in the morning cause there isn't even time to stop for lunch, and that way, you'll have something to eat while you're waiting in a line. Carrying water and snacks is always a good idea.

    If you've been to a D23 Expo, it's kind of the same idea. I think that was one of the problems with the first Expo, is that you had a lot of attendees who had apparently never attended a con before and didn't understand the overlapping panel thing and that if you don't get in line for the big stuff, you won't get in. I think they only knew about the events that Disney held, where everyone attending all went to the same thing, even if there were multiple things in succession, so there wasn't an issue of getting in. I know I heard a lot of complaints about having to wait in line and not having time to eat, and I was just thinking, yep, that's what happens.

    I think your choice of panels also depends on your specific interests. I love the sound effects aspects of Star Wars and am a huge fan of Ben Burtt, so I will pick his panel (when he's had them - he has kind of passed the torch for the most part now) over most anything else other than the film update panels and big name stars. Some people might be more into the animated series or gaming, so they might pick those first. Or maybe their favorite non-superstar actor has an autograph session, so they'll choose to go to that. And then there's always exhibits and the dealers' room. Seriously, there are a ton of things to see. And that doesn't even count the random fans you'll run into where you might want to chat or see their amazing costume.

    Sorry, I'm finally realizing that I'm rambling. I tend to do that. Hope that helps.

  11. By Dave1313

    No need to apologize for the "rambling", it's very informative! Thanks for taking the time to post.

    I'm realizing from the wristbands/camping out description that I may not have quite the level of dedication to enjoy attending one of these events.

    My only "quasi convention type" experiences have been with the SW Weekends stuff @ WDW, and while it was generally positive, I did get a little frustrated with the autograph thing during those events. Similar to what you described for waiting for wristbands for key panels, I saw quite a few people with lawn chairs and/or tents camped out when I was leaving DHS for the previous night on more than one occasion (wrist bands I think started at 6am each day)!

    Since I am not a die hard autograph seeker, I didn't get terribly upset by it (and I did successfully get Peter Mayhew and Jeremy Bulloch), but it made me realize I was not at the level of uber-fan required to successfully plan for getting the more popular autographs (Ray Park was one I considered but missed). I recall people stating that that particular activity might have been worse during Star Wars Weekends than other conventions due to the fact that there was no charge for autographs, vs. paying a small fee for them at a regular convention.

    Thanks again for your explanations!

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