Every convention is a different experience. From different fandoms, to locations, to sizes, no two conventions will be exactly the same and you will even notice the same annual convention change over time. Star Wars Celebration changed more than I thought it would in the last two years, and not for the better.
Ask the majority of fans in attendance this year about their experience and you’ll hear one word pop up again and again, disorganized. Day 1 of the convention was a nightmare experience for many. The overnight que was described as a chaotic nightmare with staff having no answers or providing conflicting directions to herd the crowd. The following morning, thousands of people were flooded into one single entrance and many people spent multiple hours outside waiting to even get into the convention. The photo ops area had no real line, just a mass of people all wondering where the hell they were supposed to go. Some of the stars were late to their autograph times and the staff completely dropped the grouping system initially put in place to stagger fans, flooding them into the que all at once. Star Wars Authentics had sold the autographs by per day, but there was no answer to could you use it another day if you missed your timing for whatever reason. The line to even buy autograph tickets was just as long as Mark Hamills line.
Outside in the show floor, you could see a definite change in the convention itself. Two years ago in Anaheim, celebration showcased set many set pieces, props and costumes for fans to take pictures with for free. This year, there seemed a great reduction in that. There were a few like a large snowspeeder or At-St, but where were Roxy the rancor and many of the other pieces from years past? This year it seemed the floor space was given to more vendors. Instead of giving fans more toys to play with that they already paid for, the show provided more space for additional merchandise sells. I know that this is a business and making money is key, but the customer service approach felt completely off this year. Especially considering Star Wars is now a Disney property who are one of the kings of customer service. The whole thing felt more like a cash grab to take advantage of fans than provide them with an experience that they will want to pay for again and again.
So, is it worth it? Is it worth the sleepless nights and the travel and then saving year round and the hassle of never ending lines? Is Star Wars Celebration worth your time? You bet your ass it still is. No matter what, there is a sheer electricity of being in the same place as your favorite stars from a galaxy far far away. To be in the same room as when George Lucas and Harrison Ford make a surprise appearance is indescribable. To get to spend even just a few seconds in the presence of your childhood hero Luke Skywalker is mesmerizing. To be there when Tem Morrison signs a poster “Jango is greater than Boba” enjoying himself in the process, or hear about Hayden Christiansen singing a jar of sand makes memories worth having. To be around so many fans who love the same saga as you and pour their souls into their wonderful cosplays is what it’s about. It’s absolutely worth it all. It may have some giant faults in how it’s produced and run, but wow. Star Wars Celebration is still one of the greatest times in the galaxy and you can bet your ass I’ll be back whenever wherever the next one is.
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