Star Wars Celebration
April 16-19, 2015
Anaheim Convention Center
I went to my first Star Wars Celebration this year! I was really excited when I signed up back in June of last year, and the time finally arrived. Before the first day of the festivities, it was announced that JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy (JJ & KK, for short) would be present for the opening ceremony, so people started to line up the day before. I was not one of those people. I needed to finish up stuff at work since I'd be gone for two days. Also, I needed to sleep. So here's my experience as of the first official day.
Day 1: Thursday, April 16
- Wake up at about 3:30. Go to McDonald's for breakfast. Realize that I don't have my pass. Go home to get pass. Drive to Anaheim, and the signs say that the lot is full, and to go to Angels Stadium. Not enough signage to get there, then I realize that the lot won't open until after I need to be inside. Drive around. Get to the 5. Go the wrong way. Turn around. Get to the convention center, don't know where to park. Drive around a bit. Park at the Hilton. My parking spot is on floor 4, row C. 4C. FORCE! I am finally in tune with the universe and it is 5:45 a.m..
- Find Glendy and tell them of my ordeal. We laugh and laugh at my stupidity as we wait to get our wristbands. Katie finally arrives, but before she and Cindy could get back in line, they start handing out our wristbands. My text to Cindy: "Wristbands. NOW." They hurry back, and Cindy hears someone calling her name. Yay! RyanB! So happy to see him. Get a wristband! Sit around and talk geek talk with my fellow geeks, while listening to people cheer for those whom knock over the metal barriers in attempts to get back to their places in line. Dude walks around while holding out his phone, which is playing the Star Wars score. We name him Red Beard. Because he has one.
- Finally walk into the big hall, and RB keeps climbing stairs, so we follow. We have a nice view of the screen. The MC asks if we thought we might cry today. Cindy says she can't think of any reason that she'd cry. Me neither.
Screen at Celebration Stage
- JJ and KK appear, and the crowd cheers to thank them for the pizza that they brought to the line of people that waited overnight. The trailer for Episode 7: The Force Awakens is shown. The crowd goes effing insane. It's louder than loud when Han and Chewbacca appear on the screen. Cindy has tears streaming down her cheeks.
- JJ says he wants to see it again, and asks if we do, too. Crazy applause. This time, everyone is silent for Han's line: "Chewie, we're home." The crowd goes even more insane. People are throwing babies in the air and crying buckets and all Star Wars Geekdom is at one with each other. My friends and I decide that the trailer is perfect. Cindy and I never saw the first one, so we have nothing to compare. We don't care.
- The newbies of the cast are introduced. They are in awe that they are in the movie.
- The droids arrive. We meet BB8. APPARENTLY, there is a rivalry with R2D2. How they get that emotion across to us, we have no idea, but they do. Everyone now wants a BB8, just like everyone wants an R2. But how? How in the world does it work? We puzzle over it for the next 4 days.
- The original cast (Hamill, Fisher, Mayhew, Daniels) arrives. Carrie seems to be leaning on Mark a lot. This is probably really overwhelming for her, poor thing. Daniels says "CP3O". RB looks at me with a question mark on his face. I nod, "Yes, he said it." He was not hearing things. New Star Wars emojis: #C3PO, #BB8, #Stormtrooper.
The Cast of The Force Awakens
- Katie takes off, my phone battery is dying, Glendy need to plan, and we lose RyanB. Where did you go? I can't text him because of my battery.
- I turn into my mother as I say, "Is that TIE fighter LEGO?!!!!"
That Thing Was Big
- Lunch from Grilled Cheese Truck, and we sit on the floor. We don't care. It's a Con. Our food is yummy. TATER TOTS. Enough said.
- I stand in line for over an hour just to GET INTO THE STORE. Meet a guy who pre-ordered online, and still has to stand in the line to pick up his stuff. Someone says that the registers were down for 2 hours, which is why the line to purchase is taking at least that long. I don't have 3 hours to spare. I get out of line to meet my friends.
- Disney Parks and Star Wars merchandise panel: Cindy's Jedi Mickey meets the new Jedi Mickey.
With her future Mickey, her current Mickey, and her TaunTaun
- Ian McDiarmid: The Emperor Strikes Back panel. The Emperor himself cold reads out of Star Wars Shakespeare, and he is AMAZING. Of course he is. He's British. It's like, the law.
The Emperor Attacks James Arnold Taylor
- Screening of SW1: The Phantom Menace in 3D. Assholes behind us won't shut the eff up. We were going to leave early anyway, but this is the catalyst. At least we have special Star Wars Celebration 3D glasses.
- Used a VIP pass to get into the store and shop quickly, and use a discount. Thank you, Robert.
- Dinner at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. YUMMY, but dude acts like he doesn't actually work there.
- Phone is finally charged, and I see a text from RyanB. He was trying to find us. Sorry!
Day 2: Friday, April 17
- Park at Angels Stadium and take the shuttle. Wait in line to get in, and it isn't too bad. I am again in a place where I hate double-wide strollers.
- As I look for my friends, I hear a girl call this an "AT&T".
- First panel: Ray Park: The Man, The Sith, The Legend. It's the same "Back in Black" intro video as for McDiarmid. Hope it's not the same for all of them. Ray Park writes a novel on someone's double light saber. He was on set during the filming of Episode 1, and has a little cameo as one of the guards in the battle scene at the palace. During the scene, he shoots and says, "Pew! Pew!" Yes, folks, his Darth Maul-ness says that when shooting space guns, just like us!
Ray Park demonstrates with James Arnold Taylor
- I like the Bantha shirt that I bought yesterday, and wore today.
- While in line for Date With the Princess: Carrie Fisher panel, RyanB catches up to us to say hi, then goes to the Fantasy Flight panel. We get a different video, yay! Carrie is on a roll, and makes out with MC James Arnold Taylor, as well as a fan whom asked to take a picture with her. Glenn wonders if her dog, Gary, is named after her father-in-law. Cindy and I didn't even know that Carrie was married to Penny Marshall. Carrie says the F word when telling a story about her mom. JAT almost has a heart attack, and recommends that she use the word "Force" in its place. He asks about the time she partied with the Stones, which surprises me because of the family environment. Billy Dee talked dirty to her right before their scenes together, so she had a hard time keeping a straight face when the cameras rolled. She kissed a lot of SW people, as evidenced in a slide show.
Carrie, Gary and JAT
- Lunch at the Food Truck festival. White Rabbit! I want a beefsteak burrito, but they ran out of the steak, so I have a chicken adobo burrito instead. It is ma sarap. Cindy enjoyed her food from there, too. RyanB catches up to us and he and Glenn have lunch from the Viking truck. That corn dog looks yummy and I crave one for the next week.
- Walk around the booths and buy stuff: Death Star charm from ThinkGeek, as well as Han and Leia guest towels.
- RyanB says that I would like something, and says, "Look, Asian!" They are Stormtroopers with Asian hats. I wonder why they need hats over their helmets. Apparently, this was not the point. He is then asked to take a picture with them ("Hey, Mustache, get over here!"), then tells us the reason he doesn't like Hot Wheels. We chase him around so that he will tell us what the heck that means. Then he says he made that up.
This is my favorite photo of the weekend.
- RyanB's mustache looks like the Rebel Alliance symbol, and he gets asked to take pictures by several strangers.
- Katie is frightened by Furbacca. I take a picture of Cindy with him and it appears that her arm was cut off.
- We get free light saber-shaped candy. I declare that it is too small. I say that many times.
- Anthony Daniels: Inside the Heart & Chaos of C-3PO panel. I am horrified by the giant balloons bouncing around.The emoji was spelled wrong for him on his screen. Oops. He is hilarious. At one point, he demonstrates the pose for the tape dispenser. A woman in the audience has one. He is amazed. He puts on the Mickey ears. JAT puts on the R2D2 ones, and kneels to be R2 height.
- Dinner at Mix at the Hilton. They have short ribs and mac and cheese, but none of us order it. I enjoy my salmon salad. We can read the pats of butter: "BUTTER".
Day 3: Saturday, April 18
- Linda and I carpool to Anaheim, and we park at the Toy Story lot, which now says "Convention Center Parking OK". We wait in line with a LOT of other people, as today will be the busiest day. Red Beard walks by, playing Star Wars music again. Anthony Daniels walks by, too, but not at the same time.
- I am wearing my new "Keep Calm and Join the Dark Side" shirt. I have ill feelings toward many people. It must be the shirt, as well as the Death Star charm that I am also wearing.
- New Allies and New Villains in Star Wars Rebels Season 2 panel. I have a great seat. Dave Filoni caves when a couple of kids ask him spoiler questions, but he only whispers to the little girl so that we can't hear who voices Chopper.
Vanessa Marshall, Freddie Prinze Jr., and creator Simon Kinberg
- Lunch from the food trucks, and this time I order from the Lime Truck. Pork Belly Nachos. Wow. But what I love more is the corn, because it's not as heavy in my stomach. That corn is delicious. Linda learns about ceviche.
- Linda and I attend the Composing Star Wars Music With Kevin Kiner panel. It's about Rebels, so Linda isn't familiar with it, but we love the process, so we're good. Oh, it's Rebels Day, red carpet and all. It is also Costume Contest day, but for some reason, I don't take pictures of these people.
Oh, wait, I did, from afar.
- We join Glendy and Katie for the double feature panels of "Talking to Myself" Starring James Arnold Taylor and Mark Hamill: The Return of the Jedi. Someone stupid lets in the wrong lane of people before us. There is much booing.
- JAT's show is funny and jam-packed and poignant. The day he lost his voice and thought his career was over was the same day that his daughter was born in China. He sure does a lot of voices, including those of all of the minions from Despicable Me.
- Mark. Freaking. Hamill. He is just what I hope that he is, and talks about being the Trickster for The Flash, the Joker for Batman Beyond, and maybe there's some Luke in there, too. :) "My father has it -- er, had it." He, like Carrie, watched the trailer the night before the opening ceremony, and got excited, too, even though he knew what was going to be said in the voiceover because he recorded it.
- Dinner at Whitewater Snacks at DLR. Katie and I miss the party. 2 weeks later, I find out that the dance mix included Rockapella singing "Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego". I think that if I had been present at the party for that, I might have lost my mind.
- Linda stays over to avoid too much driving.
Day 4: Sunday, April 19
- The Toy Story lot now says "No Convention Center parking", but we are DLR passholders, so we don't care.
- Linda and I have a hard time getting to Glenn in the line to get in. RyanB doesn't make it at all, and we are bummed.
- Cindy tells me that the charms are on sale, so I ask her to buy them for me. I can now make a bracelet of Dark Side and another of Rebel Alliance. I have lost my mind.
- I wear the Hello Kitty Stormtrooper shirt that Linda gave me, so my quest for the day is Pictures with Stormtroopers.
- William Shakespeare's Star Wars On Stage! panel. Verily, 'tis a wonder to behold. The actors are all the ones on the official audiobook. They are awesome, especially the dude that plays Han/Obi-Wan. Writer Ian Doescher is a genius. Glenn hurries up and buys an audiobook immediately afterward. They sell out before Linda and I get there.
- I get pictures with the Stormtroopers costumes on display.
Hello Kitty and Pinky Stormtroopers Aren't you a little short for an Anakin?
- Lunch from the food truck with Mexican food. It is tasty, and I wish now that I could remember the name of it.
- Billy Dee Williams: Baron of Smooth panel. People are stupid and ask for pictures with him during the Q&A. He loves doing the voices for the different animated SW series.
- Star Wars Celebration Closing Ceremony panel. I come close to tears when they show the crowd's reaction to the trailer. What an emotional day that was! We get to see the Rogue One artwork, but not the trailer, because that was on a special projector during the panel that Cindy attended. The next SWCA is announced for London in July 2016.
- I finally get a picture with a new-model Stormtrooper.
- Linda and I get dessert from the food trucks before we leave. I enjoy my Mighty Mango Italian Ice. Glendy go to DLR. We think they're crazy. We go home.
I would definitely do another one of these if it's local, and would probably look at more exhibits next time, and maybe go to a couple of the smaller panels. I've seen the new trailer many times, and I still whisper-screamed when I saw it in the theater before Avengers. December 16 will be a fun day!