Monday, December 17, 2012

Star Wars Celebration VI Report by Amara Z

Thank you to Amara Z for this report on her experience at Celebration VI last August!

 I've been meaning to write up something on Celebration for a while. Hard to believe it's been several months now. I think it took me a while to recover from Celebration and then Darth Real Life kind of got in the way. But I wanted to give everyone an idea of what Celebration is like, the panels I went to, and some really cool things that happened.

There are two main components to Celebration: the expo floor and panels. The expo floor is exactly like you think it is. It's a huge room filled with vendors and various sorts of things. There were a ton of vendors there: Dark Horse comics, Del Ray/Barnes and Noble, Disney and the Jedi Academy, Her Universe (which has very cool and comfortable SW clothes for women). Even some lesser known ones like a candy company. Totally scored a huge free Vader lollipop there. There were a lot of old toy vendors there and t-shirt shops. There were so many toys, it almost hurt my head to look through them all. I did score a really cool statue of Leia dressed as Boussch though. She's very cool and curvy. They had Lego displays, cars done up SW style. A group in Belgium made a bunch of movie scenes. Got some great pics of my daughter and I in front of Jabba on his throne and me in the hold of the Falcon. Yeah, I was loving that part. :) There was also a tattoo pavilion and an art show. The art show was just spectacular. The art was so beautiful. Unfortunately also very expensive. I did get a copy of His Vision Returns and got to meet Chris Trevas. Was pretty stoked about that. There was an exhibit from Rancho Obi-Wan of memorabilia, but the line was always too long for me to get in. They even had laser tag. My daughter loved it and I let her play a few rounds. I totally sucked at it and only played once.

There were also things outside the main room. Along the concourses they had a big model AT-AT and an inflatable Death Star. The 501st cosplay group had their own room dedicated to villains. That was cool. They had a guy as the Emperor on his throne and a lot of costume models. Even a scene where you could pretend to be trapped in the trash compactor.



There was an R2 builders room and got to see a bunch of different variations of R2, including one that a baby could ride in. Very cute. That room had a Han in carbonite. Had to get my pic with it. :)


And it seemed like Celebration was very family friendly. There were a lot of things for the kids to enjoy, like the laser tag. There was a huge pile of Legos kids could play with and build things. They had a family room where you could drop off your kids for a while. And they had special viewings and events just for kids and their parents. Thought that was cool.

In the back of the main room was the autograph and photo op area. This section got really busy at times and there would sometimes be overflow lines. But the staff was really nice and you could usually count on them to give you a good time to come back later. I got Mark's autograph for my daughter. And sprung for a photo with Carrie and her autograph for myself. We waited for an hour to meet Mark on Friday, but by Sunday he had no line at all. So it might be a better idea to wait for the end of the weekend to try to get an autograph. Waited a little less than that for Carrie's autograph The autograph lines were a little different. It was up to each actor how much they interacted with guests. Ian McDermid's line hardly moved and I heard he was spending time talking to people. Mark did talk to my daughter for a moment. Carrie was only there for two days and really swamped the whole time. So they were kind of blowing us through there and she really didn't say anything at all. A bit of a bummer, but still glad I did it and very cool to have met her.

Half the fun was walking around and seeing how everyone dressed up. Or even just sitting and watching everyone walk by. I did see some very funny things and odd things. Some Han and Leias running around, even a Bespin Leia and awards ceremony Leia. Was very cool and got a lot of good pics. One Han let me hold his blaster. :) I loved that. And I mean his blaster not his "blaster."


The panels were basically talks or shows on a variety of things. They had authors giving talks, previews of Episode II in 3D, Seth Green announcing his new Star Wars project, interviews with Mark and with Carrie. The one downside to panels is that sometimes, if not most of the time, you had to line up early for the panel. For the Timothy Zahn panel, I showed up 30 minutes early and it was full 10 minutes before it started. There was even a line to enter the expo in the morning. I figured in the morning I was going to wait in line or wait in the hotel room, so I might as well wait with everyone else. But not really my preference to have to wait too long for a panel. Probably unrealistic of me, but it was hard to know what to expect ahead of time. On the upside, I found that waiting in lines wasn't all that bad and met some really interesting people. And a couple of the mornings, Anthony Daniels walked around the lines to get in, taking pics with people.


 Here are the panels I made it to:

Timothy Zahn talked about how to judge if the science and technology in your story works and to think about how it impacts the society within your story. I was hoping more for a discussion about how to come up with the ideas, but it was still pretty good.

Caught 15 minutes of Troy Denning's talk. He spoke about how there are different levels of climaxes in a story, how they relate to raising questions in a reader, and building them up over time. There is something called the hero’s journey that struck me as kind of similar.

Saw the preview of Episode II in 3D. It was pretty interesting to hear about the process to convert it to 3D. They use artifacts and other items from the movie to fill in missing details to make it 3D. 3D requires an image from the left and the right and sometimes the original shot will have gaps in it. It makes me wonder how easy it will be to convert the OT into 3D. How much extra footage and other items did they really keep? Episode II did look pretty cool though and the chase scene through Coruscant was pretty neat.

Star Wars in 60 Minutes was a parody where they act out each of the six movies in ten minutes each and use household items as props. It went over by a little bit, but was so hysterical. They made Luke super whiney and Padme into a bored sounding Valley girl. It was hilarious and I would recommend seeing it.

I went to see an interview with Sam Witwer. I know him from the American version of the show Being Human. But he has also voiced Starkiller in The Force Unleashed and currently voicing the resurrected Darth Maul in the Clone Wars show. He seemed pretty cool and a huge Star Wars fan. I was mostly curious to see if he was just as hot as he is on screen. Ooooohhhh, yeah. He is smoking hot. If there was a new guy to drool over, he is it. Another married lady behind me at the panel agreed. :)

The big panel I went to was Carrie’s interview. I definitely wanted to go and since it’s Carrie I will have to dedicate some space to it. :) This was definitely a case of needing to get there early. My Saturday afternoon ended up a bit of a mess. There were things I wanted to do that day – see Carrie’s show and get her autograph and it for the photo-op. But Carrie was only signing autographs for two days and that day she took a long lunch (supposedly with George) and was way behind. By mid-afternoon, her photo op time had been pushed back to just before her show started and her autograph line had a huge overflow. I could postpone the autograph and photo op for Sunday. So I ended up grabbing some food and waited in line for two hours for Carrie’s show. Not what I really felt like doing for two hours, but lucky I went when I did because it filled to capacity a half hour after I got in line.

The show was so worth the wait. It really was. James Arnold Taylor opened the show with a one hour, one man show. He is the voice of Obi-Wan in the Clone Wars and he is quite funny. In the second half of the show, James interviewed Carrie for an hour. She was just awesome and I thought she looked cute. She tried to bring her dog Gary on stage with her, but he was too scared.  They talked about all sorts of things. She made fun of the holiday special, saying she wished it was so bad that it’s good and sang along with a clip. They showed a clip of her on Saturday Night Live singing about being a teenage girl from outer space. She had a great story about filming Empire. One night she went home to the house she was renting and the owner, one of the Monty Python guys, was home and having a party with the Rolling Stones. Of course Carrie couldn’t tell the Stones to leave because she had an early call in the morning. So they ended up partying all night and they didn’t show up to the call the next morning hung over because they were still drunk! They filmed the scene where they land on Bespin that morning and that’s why they look so happy in that scene because they are all still drunk. It was funny. She talked about being a writer, that she likes to have written, but not to write and she did it because she wanted to get all the crap out of her head. Someone asked if anyone slipped her the tongue in the movies and we knew the person meant Mark or Harrison. Her answer was Jabba slipped her the tongue. :) Not sure poor James knew what to do at times because he seems kind of straight laced and Carrie most definitely is not. But at the end of the show, James wanted to set up a fake photo op for everyone and asked her if there was something she always wanted to do. So she said she wanted to spank him and got him over her knee. Lol! I totally missed a picture of it though.

One of things I wasn’t aware of going into Celebration is that even though the expo floor closes at 7 and there aren’t many, if any, panels after that time, they still have events going on. They had a screening of Robot Chicken most nights. Every night they were showing two of the movies on a big screen. So after Carrie’s show, there was more to do. There was a mixer that night which I did check out. It was more like music from an ok wedding reception and I only stayed for a little bit. But Empire and Jedi were playing that night and I caught the carbonite scene and the opening of Jedi on the big screen. It was very cool. Where else do people wave lightsabers during the opening scroll and clap when a major character comes on screen? It was a lot of fun.

By then though it was getting a little late and I was tired from being on the go all day and decided to head back to my hotel. In order to get to my room, I had to pass through a small lobby in the hotel with a bar to the side. As I was walking through that night I looked over at this long table of people having a drink. This guy gets up from the table to walk past me and I watch him and thought "Holy smokes; that's Seth Green!" I quickly turned around, stepped up quietly and said, “Excuse me Seth, could I get a picture?” OMG, he was so nice. He asked my name and think he asked if was having a good time at Celebration. I told him I remembered him from Buffy as Oz and that we love Robot Chicken. He thought it was kind of funny I let my 11 year old watch it. :) I got a picture and he shook my hand and said to check out Star Wars Detours. I hate to say, but it was one of the trip highlights for me. Such a nerd, but I've never just bumped into someone like that and not anyone cool like that. Needless to say it was a little hard for me to sleep that night. Was just too excited about all the cool stuff that had happened and about more to do on Sunday.

I did end up getting my photo op and autograph with Carrie. The photo op was really interesting because basically you went into a booth with her, posed, and then stepped out. There was very little interaction with her. But it's all good. I got my autograph and the pic was really, really cute.

One of the other fun things I got to do was meet up with Seams and her family. We had such a great time with them and they are all so very sweet. It was a treat to meet up with one of our fellow writers. We went to a private cupcake party together and Seams and I spent some time walking around the expo floor together.

That's basically the story. It was definitely a good trip. And Orlando can be fun. Mostly had nice weather too. Of course I wonder now if most of the Celebrations will be there now that Disney bought Lucasfilm. ;) I would probably go again. It was awesome to see everyone dressed up and basically get to be a geek about Star Wars. It might depend on where they are having it and how easy it is for me to get there. I might do some things differently next time too. They have special Jedi Knight and Jedi Master badges that you pay extra for, but they give you special almost total access to the panels. I'd probably try to score one of those next time so wouldn’t have to wait too long for panels, but there's a limited number, they aren’t cheap, and apparently they sell out quickly. Not sure I’d do the autograph thing again since I already have done it. But I’d consider doing the photo-op again. I might also do some things that are more laid back on Saturday. It was very packed that and hard to get through some areas of the expo floor. Since there were a lot of people and costumes, t was nice to sit down and just people watch for a while.

And by the way, was this a sign of things to come? ;)




  1. Wow, what a great report. Very thorough. Sounds like such an amazing thing to go to. I really need to go to one of these things and let my inner geek out to play, it sounds like loads of fun. :)

    It's so cool that you got the chance to meet Carrie, if only briefly, and that you bumped into Seth Green like that. :)

    In hindsight though, SW has been merging with Disney for a while. I mean Star Tours is probably the earliest tie to it, but recently I believe they've introduced a Jedi Academy to the theme parks, and the Disney characters have been going round dressed as SW characters for a while.

    Thanks for sharing this, Amara, it was a great read.

    Oh and I had to laugh about Troy Denning's comment about the "climaxes" in SW, has he been reading Han and Leia fanfic? There's plenty of climaxes in there. ;)

    1. It was definitely the place to let your inner geek out. I'm kind of missing the opportunity to do that sometimes. It was very cool to meet Carrie. And bumping into Seth Green, I was pretty floored. I've never run into someone that cool before. And he was so incredibly nice. I almost wanted to post the pic, but hate to out myself like that. ;)

      I couldn't resist with the Disney trooper. :) I like his Mickey ice cream bar. And there was an Indy trooper running around as well. Even saw a guy dressed as Jack Sparrow. Think he might have been at the wrong convention. ;) I took a quick look and Jedi Academy has had a permanent home at Disney since 2007, but it was part of Star Wars weekends before that.

      Lol! I hadn't caught that about the climaxes. Certainly Han and Leia would know a lot about that.

      One thing I forgot to mention was how big the place was. Going from Troy's talk to Star Wars in 60 Minutes was a solid 5 minute walk because they were on opposite ends of the building. My daughter and I really had to hussle to get down there in time. I'll have to check things like that more closely next time.

  2. Amara, It was a pleasure meeting you and your daughter at Celebration. Has it really been that long, everything since August has been a major blur down here. Too much real life. Great recap of Celebration VI. My favorite part was seeing all the families enjoying time together. We spent most of our time on the Clone Wars side of things, as my daughter met up with fifteen of her internet friends from all over N. America. We parents hung out together while the girls did their meet ups. Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka Tano and creator of Her Universe was especially kind to the girls and set up private photo shoots for them (pictures are on her Facebook page) and invited all the girls and their guests to a cupcake party that was actually presenting the winner from Food Networks's Cupcake Wars show. Those were some good cupcakes.
    I went to only a few panels, I attended the one on bullying hosted by Ashley Eckstein and author Carrie Goodman. I had a ticket to get Carrie's autograph, however I ended up giving it to one of my daughter's friends who wasn't able to get any autograph tickets. She was stunned that I would give away my ticket to her. That made me smile. I got totally hooked on cosplay while at Celebration. I am an avid sewer, hence the name Seams. The costumes are incredible and several of our friends are professional cosplayers. All in all it was a wonderful place to bring your kids too. We all shed a tear when everyone had to say goodbye. Great recap Amara

    1. It was such a pleasure for us too, Seams. I really enjoyed the time we got to walk around together. And those were some good cupcakes! Ashley Eckstein was so nice to the girls for sure. And I've hear wonderful things about the Her Universe clothes. A couple of ladies I talked to while I was down there said they fit great and fit those of us with figures. I'm going to be keeping my eye on her stuff.

      The costumes were really neat and seeing the 501st really made it seem cool. I met someone from the 501st and was really nice. I was digging her Sith cheerleader outfit.

      I know what you mean about leaving. I was really tired afterwards. Took me about a week to recover. :)

    2. Her Universe has some of their shirts, in all fantoms, at Hot Topic as well as on her website.

    3. Thanks, Seams. Good to know. I like the hoodie with the Leia buns on it. :)

    4. Push has that sweatshirt. I tried it on :)

      Thanks for the recap. Sounds awesome and so fun you got to meet up with Seams, brought your daughter and ran into Seth Green and got a pic with Carrie and... and... so much! Man, I really wish I'd gone!

    5. Cute! I'd probably look like a goof in those buns though.

      So much happened on the trip. It was great. And now you know why it took me a week after to recover. Quite exhausted afterwards.

    6. I seriously need to order some cool stuff from that Her Universe site, keep meaning too.

      I'm loving the Leia buns hoodie, but I agree with Amara, I'd look a total dork too, and I'd never be able to wear it outside the house.

  3. Great write up! Thanks for sharing your experience. And so cool that you go to meet up with Seams. :-)

    I was very curious as to what Celebration was all about and now I have a much better idea. So now, in the words of Liz Lemon: "I want to go to there."

    1. Oh, I think it's worth the trip. And going to Orlando isn't exactly a hardship. :) I love everyone geeking out. And I did some sufficent squealing during the R2 parade. It was quite cute the little bit of it I got to see.

  4. Great report on the event. I went to the first 2 Celebration events. Glad to hear that they have events going on at night. There were none at the first one and only an expensive extra ticket symphony music concert on one night at the second one. I hate paying to be at an event and having nothing going on at night (the film events I go to run films at night but dealer rooms are closed). My strategy for lines at the second event was only stand in line for the things I really, really wanted to see or do. For me that was seeing R2 on his main stage appearance and getting Kenny Baker's autograph and photo and seeing the panels of stars of the original trilogy (they had a Rebel panel, Imperial Panel and David Prowse/Kenny Baker/Peter Mayhew). The rest of the time I bopped around to things that had no lines and saw a lot more stuff than I did the first time. I agree with the idea on when to get autographs -- I saved a couple of autograph tickets until the end (Sunday late afternoon) and the remaining celebrities were bored and happy to do pictures and chat even after I finished getting autographs. I never got within a mile of Carrie Fisher since she was in a closed off area in another part of the convention center with a mile long line to get in to get her autograph.

    1. Thanks. That is very cool you went to the first two Celebrations. And agreed on the night time events. Would have been nice to know about them ahead of time so could plan for it. I didn't even see Mark in his autograph booth on Sunday. So not sure how autographs work if there is no line at all.

  5. Wishing everyone a wonderful, safe and happy New Years. May the Force be with you all.

    1. And with you, Seams! Have a happy new year!