Last year, I decided that I really needed to go to a Star Wars Celebration. I love all things Star Wars, after all, so it just sort of made sense. So when tickets went on sale, I bought them that day and already had a roommate lined up for the event (someone from my Cause-Play Memphis family). The only thing left to do after that was book the AirBnB and wait.
Well, the waiting ended last Wednesday, when we drove to Chicago and checked into our AirBnB, exhausted from the 6-1/2 hour drive. We ordered ramen From Furious Spoon via GrubHub and went to sleep that night knowing that everything would change the next day.
One thing I have to note here about Star Wars Celebration. This is not a con. This is an experience. It is one of those things that people who have never been before could ever possibly understand. It’s sort of like going to a theme park, but everything at the park is Star Wars. EVERYTHING. And you’re going to that theme park with thousands of friends. It is 100 percent unbelievable and I’m still wondering if it was all some kind of crazy dream.
The one very smart thing we did was not wait for the Celebration to open on Thursday like some people did, waiting in line for four hours (WHY?). Instead, we had a leisurely morning with a late breakfast (well, late brunch actually) at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe. By the time we were done there, we headed to the Hyatt Regency to meet up with some 501st friends and then we all headed over together, where we did not have to stand in line, but just walked on in. That’s when it hit me. I was immediately overwhelmed because everywhere I looked, STAR WARS.
Well, except for these guys:
We walked the showroom floor with my jaw dropping the whole time because I just couldn’t believe it all. Also, the level of energy from the fans was infectious. At this point, I was running on pure adrenaline alone, which was good, because the coffee maker in our AirBnB didn’t work.
Day one was mostly getting a feel for the place, so I didn’t bother costuming and wore a Her Universe Darth Vader sweater instead. But day one was also the same day as the Multiclub Bash at the Museum of Science and Industry, so once we were done on the show floor, we headed over there for the party in the museum.
Although the bash featured an open bar, I could only handle one drink: the R2D2, which packed a powerful punch. Even my little Ewok buddy couldn’t finish it:
We got to see a real life German WWII submarine, the Apollo 8 space shuttle, along with a few other really cool things. We also gambled in the Canto Bight casino set up there, as well as ate our feel of food from the buffet (the macaroni and cheese made me so happy). Around midnight, we decided to call it a night because the next morning was to bring the first of many surprising and mind-blowing happenings.
On Friday, I cosplayed as Qi’ra from Solo. But our first mission was to meet up with a friend for the Episode IX panel in the overflow room. Going into that panel was an excitement that I’m not sure I have ever felt at a con. There was this growing energy in the air during the panel that culminated with the trailer for the new movie that had everyone screaming, hugging and crying and yelling “WHAT?” If you haven’t seen it yet, no spoilers, but let’s just say that there was one massive surprise that left many Star Wars fans on their knees. ON THEIR KNEES.
I want to add here that the love the fans showed to Kelly Tran during the panel made my heart nearly burst. She was the only cast member of Episode IX to get a standing ovation and you could tell how much that meant to her. Fans went out of their way throughout the entire weekend to show her nothing but adoration. Bullies be damned, we love you, Rose Tico.
The showroom floor was entirely different after that. We were changed people and everyone wanted to talk about what we had seen. I had a photo opp with Sam Witwer and people were just bouncing up and down after seeing the trailer. This was a shared experience that we all had and we were now brothers and sisters in arms, and what a feeling that was.
Here’s the photo opp, by the way. I figured since these things are always awkward anyway because they go so quick, I’d make it deliberately awkward. Mission accomplished. I got him to sign it later in the day and we got to talking about Days Gone and how the video game review process works (he was really surprised when I told him that we reviewers sometimes only get a game a week in advance). I thought I might fangirl over him, but he was such a regular dude that I felt like I was just talking to another game nerd (which I was). Anyway, this is my best photo opp ever and I’m only ever doing the awkward prom photo pose from here on out.
But the magic really happened while waiting for Sam to come out for autograph signings. We just happened to be standing by the entrance where the celebrities came out from the arena to walk to the live stage on the middle of the floor (where they went for interviews). So the next thing I know, John Boyega walks right by me and my jaw dropped. When he came back from the live stage, he spent about 30-45 minutes on the show floor meeting fans and taking selfies with them. I wasn’t so lucky, but my con buddy was (mostly because I texted her when he came out and told here where to look).
But then Daisy Ridley walked by and waved to us all said, “Hey, guys!” And then Kelly Tran walked by. I told her, “Rose rules,” and she blew me a kiss. Then we freaking saw J.J. Abrams, who had his hand up when he walked by me and I high-fived him because you don’t leave J.J. Abrams hanging. Then we saw Oscar Isaac come out. And Anthony Daniels. Literally the entire cast of Episode 9. And how unbelievable was that? My friend managed to get a few more selfies in the process because I was texting her the whole time. ONE of us was going to get some selfies! What an incredible day that turned out to be.
I spotted a Lando standing in line for the Millennium Falcon photo area and immediately grabbed him for a photo shoot. As we were posing, Han Solo came running up to us and then another Qi’ra showed up and we made her jump in with us. So we had an impromptu Solo photo shoot on the show floor and I love it how that happens sometimes.
We also ran into this amazing Enfys Nest cosplayer:
I ran into a lot of friends on Saturday, which was also awesome. We ended up going out to Pequad’s at the end of the day with a few of those friends, where we had the best deep dish pizza to ever exist.
Best. Day. Ever.