Well, Star Wars Celebration 2017 Orlando is officially wrapped up, and we had such a tremendous time. Between seeing the first teaser trailer for The Last Jedi, watching Mark Hamill’s tribute to Carrie Fisher, seeing an episode from an upcoming season of Star Wars Rebels, and more, we had an absolute blast. If you haven’t checked out our video series from the event, here’s a handy dandy video player. Get caught up!
So what are our final thoughts on the event?
We were invited media guests to Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017. As always, we will give you our honest thoughts on the event.
I almost had a panic attack at the last Star Wars Celebration I attended, in Anaheim in 2015. The show floor opened to all attendees at the same time (after the opening panel, with the 2nd teaser trailer for The Force Awakens), so everyone flooded it at the same time, and it was just too much people for me. So I was very concerned about attending another Celebration.
I walked in with a different mindset. Get what you can get, but don’t beat yourself up over things. Don’t miss the entire day in lines, but expect to wait in them. See some different panels. Be open minded and open to changed plans. And with that in mind I totally had a spectacular time. While I’m bummed at the scheduling of some panels (I really wanted to see the Fantasy Flight Games panel), I had a blast, and was truly able to feel like I lived the convention to the fullest (seeing as much as I could, and still knowing I missed things because there was genuinely that much).
With that in mind, here are some outliers I wanted to point out.
- Hasbro: Hasbro had multiple ways of getting product, from tickets given out in the morning, to lines that opened up at a certain time of the day. Yes, they ran out of their convention exclusives, but they had tons of product and, in addition to selling things, in comparison to Funko, had a pretty spectacular booth to walk around showing off upcoming toy lines and more. Hasbro had an amazing presence.
- Disney: The Disney booth was the best run of Celebration, hands down. I never waited more than a couple of minutes to purchase something from the booth, they had a handy list of all their items for sale, and there were plenty of registers and workers at all times. Though they didn’t have any particular items to look at beyond what you could purchase, the booth itself was massive and easy to get in and out of. How things should be done for future conventions.
- Star Wars Battlefront II Panel: I was worried about attending this since the trailer “leaked” online a couple of days prior, but in addition to an extended trailer, more information was released (and video) of the game, which looks stunning. The description of the main story, with Lucasfilm in attendance to describe how it fits into canon, was impressive, as were the announcements of the multiplayer components and things they learned from the first game. They really do seem to be listening to the fans on this one.
- Star Wars Rebels Panel: In addition to the trailer shown for season 4, and the announcement that it would be the final season, attendees were surprised with a viewing of a season 4 episode (we reviewed it here).
- Disney Parks Panel: I didn’t expect much in the way of announcements at this panel, but was pleasantly surprised. In addition to Anthony Daniels coming out and discussing the history of Star Tours, we genuinely got new info on Star Wars Land (new to me, anyway), and TONS of new concept art. A highlight of the convention for me.
- Temperature: Odd to be calling this out, but I’d like to thank the Orange County Convention Center for keeping the show floor nice and cool for the days of the convention. Though some of the panel rooms may have been a bit stuffy, the show floor was genuinely cool (helpful when you’re surrounded by people who may or may not have showered last night after camping out).
- The Cosplay: Though Thursday was light on cosplay, the rest of the days were flooded with some AMAZING Cosplay. Good job to everyone, regardless of the costume. I didn’t see a single cosplayer who didn’t look like they put their heart and soul into their creation.
- Fastpasses for the Celebration Store: Gotta be honest, being able to skip that line to get into the store is pretty magical. Worked great on Thursday, not as great on Friday (when it scheduled me to come back at 4pm, when very little was left in the store)
- Jillycakes in the Celebration Store: First of all, good on you guys actually selling cupcakes out of the back door of the Celebration store. Great business decision there. In addition, the cupcakes were imaginative and delicious.
- Livestreaming: Good on Reedpop (or Disney, or both) for livestreaming most of the major events of the convention. For those fans unable to attend, it was truly great to be able to see it from the comfort of their homes.
- Funko: I can’t stress how much of a cluster the Funko booth has been in every convention I’ve been to over the last few years. While I appreciate the lottery system to get into it (I wasn’t chosen), the fact of the matter is that unless you got in line upon opening (if you weren’t chosen for the lottery, you could get in at 2pm), you basically didn’t get anything. So you’d have to miss 4 hours of convention time to even get into the booth to purchase the items, most of which would get snatched up early. Not a day went by that Funko wasn’t a booth with nothing but empty shelves by mid-afternoon. Frustrating, and with no real option to even look at Funko product – with all the Star Wars toys they’ve produced, surely they could muster up a display besides an oversized Chewbacca?
- Those opening day lines: Surely something better could have been done than to open with only 7 medal detectors for all the people showing up at the convention. The line stretched for over a half a mile, and took hours to even get in the building. Lessons were learned for the remaining days, but that opening day was rough.
- Security: At no point in the convention did anyone look at my badge to get in the door. As a test, I even put my badge under my shirt a couple of times. Never got stopped. Not at all suggesting doing anything improper, but it was definitely a concern how little it seemed that anyone cared whether I had a badge or not.
- Cell Phone Signal: Not even an option to purchase wifi for attendees. In today’s day and age, that still shocks me.
- The Star Wars Show Stage: While the Star Wars Show stage was a prime way to see your favorite celebrities up close and personal (I think most celebrities showed up on this stage at some point), its location in the middle of the show floor caused a bit of a cluster of folks, blocking the walkway right in front of the Celebration Store and Autograph areas. There seemed a lot of open space, and this probably should have been moved back a bit.
- The Rest of the Celebration Store: I’m not sure how I feel about Her Universe being moved into the Celebration Store (or how good of a move it was for them), since it restricted access to their products. In addition, the actual merchandise exclusive to the store, I felt, was a bit lackluster this year. Shirt designs weren’t particularly memorable or impressive. Put it this way — the only item I purchased was the Dave Filoni designed shirt from Her Universe.
- The wristband thing for panels: I’m torn on this. While it certainly allowed me to get into more panels than I probably would have been able to get into otherwise, showing up at 6am to get a wristband, then sit in line for 4 hours for the show floor to open seemed kinda tough every morning. I’m not sure the alternative, besides discounting tickets and selling uncharges for the major panels (which would likely be met with some pushback from fans), but, while I enjoyed the time with my friends, sitting 4 hours on a concrete floor packed in like sardines waiting for the show to open is not how I like to spend my mornings.
There’s nothing quite like Star Wars Celebration. While I’m sure some fans got frustrated and grumpy, I didn’t see anything like the fights that seem to break out at SDCC over collectibles. Everyone there is there to share their love of Star Wars.
However, on the flip side, I do find that Celebration is a bit restrictive to the casual fan. You can’t just find out that Star Wars Celebration is happening this weekend, show up, buy a ticket, and attend some panels. To get into any of the major panels, you needed to show up early and get that wrist band, tough for folks with families or other obligations. In addition, the cost restrictive pricing on autographs (and sell outs before the convention even started) means that you can’t just go meet some of your favorite celebrities.
Star Wars Celebration is an amazing experience, and it’s going to be different depending on how you approach it. If you plan ahead and commit to the experience, you’ll get to most (unlikely all) of everything you’d like to do. If you don’t, you can still find plenty to see and do on the show floor, and with the cosplayers and group rooms (like Droid Builders and the 501st).
It’s truly a family friendly environment with thousands of other like minded individuals and, unlike most other conventions, this is a fanbase invested in one specific thing – our mutual love of Star Wars. If you’ve never attended, I recommend going at least once, but, much like going to Walt Disney World, the more you plan ahead, the better an experience you’re likely to have. If you’re not a planner, and just want to mosey around an AMAZING show floor with tons to see and do, then that’s great too.
Thanks again to ReedPop and LucasFilm for having us out and for the use of footage and imagery. We look forward to seeing you again in 2019!