I am really grateful to have SWC veteran, A.W. Quinn, share his advice on what to expect and how to navigate this show. Make sure to follow and contact him if you have more questions. Here are his tips:
I’ve been to all the Celebrations, from the First Celebration in Denver where it rained every day and I spent everyday in muddy boots and jeans, to the last Celebration in Orlando and witnessing the humid Last Stop to Endor as they were closing Star Tours to Revamp the ride I think I’ve become a pro at what to bring and what to expect at Celebrations. Let’s get to it- there is one reason why you are going to Star Wars Celebration; YOU LOVE STAR WARS!!!! Trust me, Once you walk through those doors, you will be amongst your own and smiling from ear to ear. You have 4 days to soak it all in.
You’ve studied the schedule at home, on the plane, that morning, on the shuttle. You are READY! First Thing’s First, Harsh Reality, you will not get into every panel you want to. If you want to see JJ Abrams Thursday Morning, You will need to camp out there. This isn’t San Diego where they let that happen. Good thing is, that panel will be simulcasted throughout the con, heck we will be able to see it here as well.
Get there early and be ready to wait and wait to get inside. Have Backup panel options. I believe the Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Panel premiere is during the 3D Viewing of Revenge of the Sith. This is a no brainer. I’d go see Revenge of the Sith over Rebels. Also if you have a disability such has in a wheelchair or walks with a cane, take that into consideration on events you want to go to, it may take you longer to get to a panel than others so you may have to leave early. There will be designated spots for you to wait but no seating while waiting so keep that in mind.
These can be tricky…Some move quickly. Some do not. You can spend all day in the autograph line as well. This happened last time with me waiting for Ian Mcdarmid (it was the Emperor’s first appearance). Guests do need to eat and if they are on panels they have to leave. Autographing fees can pile up to so be prepared to spend some serious cash if you are going to get autographs.
Exclusives are a strategy within themselves. If you are by yourself, some exclusives are just going to be out of reach. Example, you want both the Hallmark and Lego Exclusive. You can only get in line early for 1. What do you want more? You can also try the next day. Be advised, a lot of the exclusives may sell out by the Saturday. Pick and choose wisely.
4) Collector’s Paths/Panels
I cannot recommend these enough! I listen to Star Wars Action News faithfully and know any Panels Arnie and Marjorie will be hosting will be informative and fun. Not too mention great giveaways once the panels are over.
You’re going to take a lot of pictures. You will see amazing costumes. Amazing props. Take PLENTY OF PICTURES! The Cosplayers love for you to take pictures and will pose for you if you ask them nicely. Not too mention throughout the weekend, there will be group photo sessions. The Slave Leia in front of Jabba was sweet. The Rebel Legion. But the one you really want to see is the 501st Group Photo. It is taken every year and is a site to see. Usually Saturday afternoon. Keep your ears to the ground and when you see a large assortment of Storm Troopers, starting to gather that may be it. The Astromech parade as well is a lot of fun. Various versions of R2 running around and with Rebels now, we have Chopper. Love the Astromechs!
6) Fan Booths, Podcasts and Exhibits
These will be scattered throughout the convention. The R2 Builder’s Group has their own area. In this area, all sorts of Astromechs are on display in various degrees of completion. Demos on what goes into building your own Astromech. The 501st Room has costumes and props not to mention the 501st will more than likely run their Droid Hunt Saturday. I will not spoil what it is but stop by the booth Thursday or Friday for details. Fan Groups also may have their own booths scattered through the convention hall and some podcasters will be broadcasting live from the Convention.
7) Exhibit Hall
Or as we like to call it….Mos Eisley Spaceport…You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. I say this because this is where you can spend all your money. You can spend all of it within minutes. Different vendors will only be selling Star Wars items. Be advised, a lot of these vendors will be overpriced. If you see it at 1 booth, it more than likely will be at another booth and even cheaper. Haggle if necessary. Exclusives will be at the Vendor booth’s as well but priced twice/three times higher than getting it from the original source. And if you are buying stuff, it means you gotta get it home right? Most Convention Centers now have mailing center that stays open during the convention. They get busy that Sunday especially within the last few hours. The upside, its right on site. The downside, super-duper overpriced. Many will not have time to find an actual post office so this maybe your only bet. The other option is to bring another suitcase or trunk with you to fill with your purchases and bring it back via the flight or ship the trunk. I have not tried this yet but will for San Diego Comic Con.
SO to Recap:
- Bring Food and Meds with your on plane.
- Charge all electronics ahead of time and make sure to charge them nightly back at the hotel. Most times Wifi Access will be limited, be prepared for no access.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Bring sweater if cold
- Go to an ATM outside of the convention Center. ATM Fees will not be as drastic. Convention Center ATMs can run out of Money and have. I have actually gone to the bank at home and brought all the money with me. I budgeted myself a certain amount each day including food and did not go over the budget
- EAT! Eat at least Once! KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED!! DRINK WATER
- Have Backup plans for your schedule of panels. Remember you may not be able to get into your first choices. Be prepared for a lot of idling and standing in lines
- Wander around, take it all in. Enjoy the dioramas.
- TAKE PICTURES!!!!
- Make Friends with other Con Members!!
- HAVE FUN!!!!