This past weekend, Amelie and I went to Orlando for Star Wars Celebration 2017. Long-time readers of this blog will remember that back in the summer of 2013, I managed to attend Star Wars Celebration Europe, because it was in Germany and I was already there. That was a fantastic convention, and much fun was had by me.
This time around, not so much.
Let’s start with opening the first full day of the convention, Thursday morning. Amelie and I walked to the convention center a short while before the doors were supposed to open, and about an hour and a quarter before the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Panel, which we were both very excited about.
When we got into line, it seemed to go almost the entire length of the front of the building.
Then we reached the corner, and it continued around the entire side of the building. Then we reached the next corner, and it went the entire length of the *backside* of the building. And then it looped back in the other direction.
The line for Celebration was literally one and a half times the circumference of the Orange County Convention Center. Grand Admiral Thrawn was not amused.
11am came and went. We were able to watch a few minutes of the panel on our phones because it was streamed, but it was hard to see in the glaring sun and when I tuned in, it was- yuck – Hayden Christensen.
Onward we schlepped.
After two and a half hours in the first line, we finally got indoors, where we were treated to yet another line. The far end of this hall includes the nine metal detectors that were being used for everyone coming to the OCCC.
Reedpop, the showrunners for this convention, forgot to count their ticket sales.
Or the person responsible for logistics in their organization is just some sort of shrubbery with googly eyes glued on the front.
Somewhere around 12:30 in the afternoon, someone in charge realized that the people at the end of the line would not make it into the show floor before it closed that day, so they just started to let every one in all at once, security be damned. The metal detectors were screaming like the proverbial lambs.
Then we got into- you guessed it- ANOTHER FRELLING LINE to pick up our badges for the rest of the convention.
By 1:30 in the afternoon, after four hours in various lines, we were finally on the show floor.
Some of the neatest stuff we saw on this trip was in the first section on the first day… there was a custom BB-8 car…
…and a Mandalorian Veloster.
There were lots of great costumes, including this magnificent Luke-a-like.
Partway across the floor was a big droid racing set-up, including this maze for Spheero BB-8s.
As with the other Celebration, there were giant models of things from the movies in various places.
One of the highlights of the day was Amelie getting hugged by (a) Chewie.
I call this photo “Han shot first.”
There were big presences by Disney, Hasbro, Funko, and, of course, Lego.
The new properties were represented by the Droid Builders, too… someone made a Chopper from Rebels!
There were quite a few BB-8s rolling around, too. It’s kind of amazing how far the technology has come. This little guy was rolling around, being chased by kids the entire time.
Ultimately, almost everything on my camera is from that first day. The second day, we weren’t able to get wristbands for the Last Jedi panel because people camped out the night before and, you guessed it, the lines weren’t managed very well.
This was the worst convention I’ve ever attended, and I’ve been to a lot of conventions. We didn’t manage to make it to a single high profile panel, because their bizarre wristbanding method means you have to be on hand at 6am (or earlier) or you get nothing. Other conventions I’ve attended allow you to simply line up a few hours early, or to pay a little extra for high demand shows. If you miss the line, you miss the panel. That would have been preferable to this nonsense though- at least we would have had a chance to see things.
I appreciate that Disney didn’t want to charge people more for the high profile panels than their original (very expensive) show tickets, but this was just shenanigans all around. At the Celebration in Europe in 2013, there were loads of panels that were interesting to me. At this Celebration, at the height of Star Wars being super energized again, there were only a handful of panels that were even marginally interesting, and we couldn’t get anywhere near the really important ones.
At the end of Star Wars Celebration, all we left with was our con crud. (I’ll take “Sinus infections and Antibiotics” for a thousand, Alex.)
At least this guy had his Dianoga.
What’s the worst convention you’ve ever attended? Or the best?
4 thoughts on “Star Wars Celebration Orlando”
Sorry it was awful 😦 We got there Saturday at 1130am. I don’t think the security line took more than 20 minutes. They seems to have multiple entrances but not too sure about that. We didn’t go thru metal detectors just bag “inspections” lol. We left at 430p. We had fun but were tired. I couldn’t help feeling a bit underwhelmed compared to let’s say, a Dragoncon,
On Saturday, they had three times as many entrance points open because they learned from Thursday.
I agree it was underwhelming though; Megacon is a month from now and it’s always been more fun and more interesting to me than this convention was.
There have been similar complaints about mismanagement of queues and crowds at other Reedpop events. Also that “staff” were rude–but was that OCCC staff, paid con staff, supervisory staff, etc.?
The rumor is that Disney is going to handle the management next time. And if there’s one thing Disney knows how to do, it’s run an event.
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We attended Star Wars Celebration 2002 and 2005 and…it doesn’t sound like they’ve learned much since then. ReedPop wasn’t even in the picture at the time, but the results weren’t much better. My wife’s Star Wars Fan Club membership, which was supposed to grant us earlier access to one of them, proved worthless. Our 5½-hour wait in 2005’s Celebration Store just to buy exclusive merchandise remains THE worst line of our entire lives to date — worse than any BMV wait or ER trip I’ve ever endured. It’s the nadir against which all our other convention and autograph lines are measured and found vastly superior in comparison.
We had a couple of Orlando friends who went to this year’s Celebration, whose experience the first two days went much like yours. For Day 2 they did the overnight camp-out the night before and around 1 a.m, were told they’d certainly be seated in the main hall for the Big Panel…but they didn’t start handing out wristbands till 7 a.m. By that time, so many jumpers and friends-of-friends had been added to the line ahead of them over the course of those six hours that they got cut off, denied wristbands, and sent to watch the Big Panel streaming into some other room. Not worth the overnight hassle at all.
Good to see you (and our friends) got to see some pretty cool things, though! Eventually!
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