To be completely candid, large conventions intimidate me. I’ve never been to SDCC or NYCC, or anything even remotely close. I think the largest convention I’ve been to was Dallas SciFi Expo a couple of years back, and that was a mid-size con from what I understand. However, when an opportunity like Star Wars Celebration, which continues through 4/19/2015, comes your way, you really do have to kind of jump at it.

After picking up my pass yesterday, I arrived this morning at 7:30, the time I was informed the “media lounge” would be open. It took a little convincing (and proof, as a number of the staff didn’t know what I was referring to), but I was able to get into the convention center and, after about thirty minutes of the little angels and devils on my shoulders battling it out, decided to not just kill time until 11 and actually get in line for one of the JJ Abrams/Kathleen Kennedy panel simulcasts.

To my understanding, I would have had to have been in line no later than 3AM this morning to get into the main arena where Abrams and Kennedy would be presenting the new teaser for The Force Awakens to the world, and I just wasn’t going to do that, when I’d have a better view in a simulcast.

I arrived in my queue at around 8-ish, and right around 10, they loaded my specific queue into the room reserved for our simulcast. While I won’t bore you guys with the specifics of what they discussed (the panel was broadcast all over the world and is readily available online), I will say that Star Wars looks to be in good hands – Kennedy, Abrams, and the new cast seem like genuine, fun people with a passion for the film they’re making, and the unveiling of the new trailer (which I will link below because…it’s AWESOME) had everyone in the theater breathless. Heck, practically everyone on the internet!

Almost immediately, I started having difficulties. The panel let out and everyone rushed to the exhibition hall for theĀ  exclusives and lines got long and everything became shoulder-to-shoulder very fast. Much faster than I was expecting and I’m not ashamed to admit I started to feel overwhelmed when I, after waiting in the Gentle Giant line for a half hour just to miss out on their exclusive, immediately hopped into another hour long wait for Hallmark’s exclusives. Though both booths were managed excellently, it was just the instant insanity that overtook me.

Thankfully, after that, things calmed down for me considerably. I wandered the hall, taking in all the sites, and getting swept up more in the fun than in the craziness. I did end up missing out on a number of other exclusives (at least today’s stock – they typically replenish daily), and a panel or two (including one about Star Wars merchandise in Disney Parks that I really wanted to go to), but once I realized that there was absolutely no way to hit back-to-back panels (seriously, you needed to be in line an hour early to get into any panel), I accepted it and enjoyed my time a lot more.

And in all the survival guides, I see a ton of “prepare, plan,” but I don’t see the one major piece of advice I’m going to give you now …. relax. You’re going to not get everything you plan to get. You’re not going to make every panel you want to make. Plan to wait. Understand that you’re going to miss stuff while you wait, and either choose not to and miss the item you’re waiting for, or continue to wait and be okay with missing the other thing. It’s just a part of it, and once you build wait times in and realize a 1 hour panel is actually 2 hours because you need to get there early, or a line to check out is going to be an hour, you’ll feel a lot better. I know I did.

Okay, back to the day. After getting my hands on the Hallmark exclusives, I swung around the floor for a bit, then checked out the Untold Clone Wars with Dave Filoni. If it’s any indication of the insanity of those first couple of hours, FOUR HOURS passed between the end of the morning panel and the Dave Filoni panel, and it was a whirlwind the entire time in which I only really purchased one or two things. However the Filoni panel was exactly what I needed to recharge. Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo discussed and showed of concept art from the work-in-progress final seasons of Clone Wars, showing off some fantastic set pieces from future episodes, including a return of fan favorite Ahsoka! One item I found particularly interesting that was discussed was that the planned ending of the show would have tackled the idea of what all the major Clone Wars characters (Ahsoka, Rex, etc) would have been doing during and after Order 66 and the end of Revenge of the Sith. As Filoni mentioned though, no idea is scrapped, so we may see some of those ideas come to the light of day at some point. Also interesting was an upcoming planned arc involving Boba Fett being trained by Cad Bane.

After the panel, I ventured into the Force Awakens Exhibit, a small preview of the costumes and props from the upcoming movie. I was surprised how open they were about displaying full costumes from the movie, including Kylo Ren’s, but I guess they figure folks will get all they need from the trailers anyway. Some great footage and pics from that below:

Wrapping that up, I made my way back to the exhibit hall, significantly less crowded than it was in the morning, and much more manageable. I picked up a number of other exclusives, including some from Topps, a couple of artists, and Rancho Obi-Wan, and spent some time at a number of booths.

Day one of Star Wars Celebration was pure insanity, and having been up since 3AM (but not in line), I finish my day exhausted and sore, but totally feeling the excitement of everything Star Wars. The cosplay, the general good vibe of everyone excited about everything, and a ton of eye candy (leaving the show as closing time, I realize I barely scratched the surface of everything I’d like to see) make this an experience that I will never forget.

Looking forward to Day two, which will bring a peek at the new Star Wars Battlefront game from EA, perhaps a peek at a lost Clone Wars storyline entitled “Bad Batch,” and more! Keep your eye on our Facebook page and our YouTube Channel, as we’ll be posting more there throughout the weekend!