Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Celebration for a Galaxy far, far away - Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015

A Celebration for a Galaxy far, far away 
Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015

May 3, 2015
by Jean Vallesteros

Sixteen years ago, in 1999, the first ever Star Wars Celebration was held in Denver,Colorado. Fast forward to present day, and Star Wars Celebration continues to thrive, traveling across nations to bring the greatest Star Wars experience to its fans. The stop this time brings Celebration to the wonderful Anaheim Convention Center in sunny Anaheim, California. Fansfrom all over the world grabbed their blasters and lightsabers, and headed to Southern California with one purpose: Star Wars.

Attendees were offered early badge pick­up, if they wanted to avoid lines to get their badge on the day of the convention, which is an excellent convenience. Various parking was available in and around the convention center from structures, paid lots, to street parking (if you don’t mind a short walk). 

Walking up to the convention center you are greeted with an extensive diversity of food trucks, from Italian to ice cream your bases were covered. Another positive to the location is the fact that the convention center is right next door to Disneyland. So, if food trucks are not your thing, there is a plethora of food options around the area. Cosplayers gathered around the fountain located at the entrance for massive group photo ops of all the different types of costumes from the Star Wars mythos. The cosplayers serve to wet your appetite for the sights you are about to see as you enter the Exhibit Hall.

Director J.J. Abrams and Executive Producer Kathleen Kennedy

Continuing toward the main floor, there is no shortage of restrooms and rest areas lining the perimeter of the lobby. Once inside and on the Main Floor it is overwhelming the amount of Star Wars studded merchandise offered. Vendors from all over the country flooded the area with toys, collectibles, apparel, art and electronics. Some booths, like Think Geek even offered daily "secret" phrases for free loot as incentive to visit them daily. Lego even had a building station set up for kids of all ages to flex their imagination as well as marvel in the already built almost­to-scale models of our favorite Star Wars characters & vehicles, one of the highlights being a TIE Fighter made entirely out of Lego bricks for photo ops. Celebration even offered a Tattoo Alley where one with nerves of steel could pop down for a session with one of dozens of Star Wars Licensed artists to represent their lifelong commitment to the franchise. On another side of the floor, attendees could wait in line to take pictures on the sets of The Cantina Lounge, The Millennium Falcon, etc. There was even a Jedi Training stage for young padawans! Being that the release of Episode VII is just around the corner, the most coveted event inside the main floor seemed to be the opportunity to meet the cast of crew of the saga, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher being two of the many, many names on the list. The autograph process was very organized, devised as a two­step system: one line to pay for a confirmation ticket and another line for desired celebrity.

Many panels were offered upstairs. One of which included the well known director of Episode VII, JJ Abrams (who was nice enough to buy pizza for fans waiting in line overnight). It would have been amazing to attend the panels, however accessibility was scarce, even with a Media Badge. Upstairs was also home to the VIP Lounge/Media Lounge. When asking one of the staff where we could find the Media Lounge he pointed us in the wrong direction, getting everyone lost but we eventually found it. In hindsight, the staff could have been better informed. The Media Lounge offered a cool, quiet workspace with big, comfy chairs and a water cooler to hydrate and rest between events.

The force was strong with Star Wars Celebration, selling out every day it was going on. Fans gathered from all over the globe and made acquaintances with complete strangers over their love for Star Wars. Part of what I feel makes this convention so special. And, after four days of treading the convention floor like the dunes of Tattooine, Star Wars Celebration VII came to an end and with it an incredible experience that these words still can’t give justice.

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