On Station At Celebration: Day 1

April 14, 2017 at 7:34 am | Posted in Celebration, Conventions, Star Wars | Leave a comment

Here’s our recap of day 2 at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017.

So, the big question was to sleep over at the convention center or to spend the night in my comfy bed and wake early to get in. Short story, comfy bed won.

That said, I did get up early. Per the convention website, people would not be allowed to lineup before 5:00 AM. I got their ten minutes early and the line was already a couple blocks long outside the building. In fact there was three lines struggling to merge which created a little chaos since there were no staff members outside the building to corral the line. After a short wait outside along the curb of the street, the line started moving as they processed people into the security check point. You see the first line, the one stretching out the door, was just to get through security. When you step inside the building they broke everyone into four lines to process us through the security scanners. Everyone had to empty their pockets and open their bags. It wasn’t too bad as the bag check was very cursory, so as long as you didn’t have too much stuff shoved in your pockets, it wasn’t much of a hassle.

The security queue.

Once through security, everyone entered the main queue hall. Here everyone had a choice of what lines they wanted to get into to get their wristbands for the big panels. There was a little bit of chaos first as people had to decide whether to go for the humongous 40th anniversary panel line, or to wait in one of the empty queue lines for them to start handing out wrist badges. I decided to queue up for the Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo “Animated Origins” panel. Unfortunately a poorly informed staff member directed the handful of people there that this was actually the Billy Dee Williams panel line and that we need to go over to the other side of the queue hall. We did as instructed and found ourselves in the 40th anniversary line. Eventually we snagged another staff member and found that the Animated Origins panel was back where we were.

The queue hall.

At this point they were handing out wrist bands for the other panels, so we snagged the wrist band for the Animated Origins panel, then headed back over to the 40th line. After a bit of waiting, they started queuing up the people who already had wrist bands for the Galaxy Stage to the end of 40th line. This was creating some confusion. I was also starting to doubt if I would be able to get into the Behind the Scenes stage livestream since the line in front of us waiting to be wristbanded was huge. A staff member showed up and tried to get the Galaxy Stage people in the correct line (which was not our’s), and I decided to break off and pick a different panel. I ended up going with the Ian McDiarmid panel, which didn’t have much of a line at all. Pretty much 99% of everyone was in the 40th line which meant half a dozen people at anytime where rapidly moving through the other lines for the wristbands.

With my two wrist bands secured for the day (the limit) I decided to queue up for the main show floor line all the way at the front of the queue hall. The first lane was only half full so I had a good spot and I was starting to get my game plan together for Plan B: rush to the Celebration Store.

Last time I went to Celebration was Anaheim and by the end of Saturday the Celebration Store was picked clean. This time I’d make sure to get in there to grab a couple shirts I wanted. The show floor opened at 10:00 AM and we began the rush, navigating around camera people trying to capture the flow of people, and snatching glimpses of some of the things on display on the show floor. There was the Star Wars cars, the dioramas, the big plane display, and then the booths. I made sure to stop by Cardamundi for the daily free card, saw a line already at the Del Rey booth for the exclusive Thrawn novel and pin, and decided to head straight for the Celebration Store with no more stops.

The Celebration Store was located all the way at the back of the show floor, at least in relation to the queue hall entrance. Surprisingly, this was the best staffed area of the entire convention center. There was a staff member at the line entry directing people to the VIP/medical line or the normal line, and there were two staff members at the other end of the line letting people know when they could go in. We were let in in groups so as not to swamp the store with too many people. They had a large, spacious area blocked out for the store and just about everything was still in stock. I say that because the Star Wars polo I wanted was all gone except for the small sizes. Regardless, I got the other two shirts I wanted, the AT-AT Walker shirt and the Rogue One teaser shirt.

Celebration Store when it was full.

Even droids need merch.

However, there was another line: the checkout line. This is were the store slowed down to a crawl. Even with 20 cash registers and lots of staff directing people to open lanes, it was still painfully slow. Some of the cashiers were slow, and some people just took forever to check out with their piles of stuff all being carefully bagged and some people just chitchatting. No joke, I watched one guy on the cash register for 15 minutes. I think putting the pins and badges back at the cash registers really slowed things down as people were trying to decide what they wanted. I didn’t want any of that, so once I finally made it to a register, I was done very quickly.

With that checkbox fulfilled on the to do list, I wandered a bit and made my way to the Barnes and Noble booth. Their line was much short than Del Rey’s, so I grabbed the Celebration exclusive version of Thrawn there. They handed out a voucher so you could cut to the front of the line at Del Rey to get the free Thrawn pin, which I got. Very nice looking pin.

I noticed author Jason Fry was signing, so I got his autograph, and then it was off to get in line for my first panel of the day; the Animated Origins panel.

So here’s the thing, the panel was at the Galaxy Stage. It was scheduled right after the 40th Anniversary panel. This meant that where I was in line, I was leaning up against a wall and on the other side of that wall was the Galaxy Stage for the 40th Anniversary panel. Each time the crowd went wild, we could hear it. A quick check on my phone and each sound was interpreted. Oh, George Lucas showed up. Oh, Harrison Ford. Then I heard them playing Star Wars music. Then I checked Twitter. John Williams was on the other side of that wall playing the music. It was a little tortuous.

Eventually we got in for the Animated Origins panel and I had a prime choice of seats, just a couple rows from the front and dead center. The panel was great. It was hosted by David Collins with guests Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo. Dave and Pablo went through a series of slides showing concept art of how some of the characters were created, like the first sketches of Ahsoka and Cad Bane, and artwork showing the character design evolutions. Dave shared stories about George’s feedback on the characters and how that helped shape them. They teased some things, got into a pretty funny dialog with Kanan and Hera shipping, and showed some of the Rogue One/Star Wars Rebels tie-ins and CGI models. Dave showed a sneak peak at the Rex design for Star Wars Rebels season four which had Rex in an Endor outfit very similar to the old guy in Return of the Jedi that everyone wants to be Rex. Dave deliberately withheld any info on Ahsoka’s fate. The highlight of the panel was another animatic from Star Wars: The Clone Wars of a bounty hunter story arc that had Cad Bane showing Boba Fett how to be a real bounty hunter (Dave’s words). They didn’t show the whole thing, but they showed a clip of the two of them having a wild west showdown with the two of them quick drawing and gunning each other down. Boba got shot in the head, hence the origin of the dented helmet. But it was not revealed if Cad Bane survived. Unfortunately there was not time for questions, so the panel ended right there.

Getting in line for the Animated Origins panel. On the other side of this wall was the 40th anniversary panel.

And it did fill up.

After that, I went right back into the queue line, but this time for the Celebration Stage and the Ian McDiarmid panel. Now initially the Celebration website advertised this as an Ian McDiarmid and Ray Park panel, reuniting master and apprentice on stage. At some point this changed and it became two separate panels, which was kind of disappointing. Otherwise, it was a great panel. Ian shared stories, pretending to shoot Force lighting, and did the Emperor’s cackling laugh. Warwick Davis was a great stage host and they kept it very entertaining. Solid panel.

From there, I had to walk all the way to the other end of the convention center in order to get to the University Stage for author Chuck Wendig’s panel. I got there pretty early, but I wasn’t the first in line. I met Ash from Skyhoppers Podcast (be sure to give it a listen) while there, and the panel turned out to be really good. Chuck made a lot of jokes that had everyone laughing through the whole panel and he covered topics on writing, character development and how it all came together for the Aftermath trilogy. He also revealed that he had written a Luke Skywalker interlude for Aftermath’s End as they initially gave him the green light, but they eventually had to take it out with no explanation given. We were that close to our first bit of Luke story in the post-ROTJ era.

Chuck Wendig Panel – note: I did get the audio for this panel, I’ll post it up next week.

At this point it was 6:00 PM. The show floor closed at 7:00 PM, so I decided to go down there and take a look around. I was closing in on the idea of getting an art print and finally decided to get the Ahsoka japanese scroll print by Lin Zy Busch. It looks even better in person.

Awesome animatronic Jawa on the show floor.

Live Yoda sketch on the show floor.

Some great Luke, Han and Leia cosplay.

Some great Star Wars Rebels cosplay.

Afterwards I was off to my last panel of the day, the Tarkin’s Topshelf/Idiot’s Array podcast stage panel hosted by Becca and Ryder. That panel turned out great with some excellent discussion focused on the new canon. They talked about how the new canon was making connections between the films and the shows, the best entry points for new readers, and the ways the new canon is exploring and developing the characters way beyond the films. They also addressed the shortcomings like how there is no wow factor yet with any books blowing our minds. We haven’t gotten a book with say a revelation on who Rey’s parents are, or something out of the ordinary like a Shmi or Padme novel, let alone anything touching Luke.

Becca and Ryder.

End of the night.

With the day wrapped up at the con, it was then time to head on over to the Hilton for the Retrozap meetup at David’s Club. I had a blast talking to all the various podcasters who were there including Joe and Chris from Brews and Blasters, Dennis from Starships Sabers and Scoundrels, Mike and Dan from The Sandcrawler, Swara from Beltway Banthas and Mike and Dave from the Deucecast. But let it be known, despite all of Joe’s hardwork to make sure the bar had all the stuff for blue russians, I was the only one who actually got a blue russian. And it was great. Perfect way to cap off the night.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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