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?