Preparation For Celebration: Tips For Anaheim

April 3, 2015 at 12:04 am | Posted in Celebration, Conventions, Star Wars | 1 Comment

preparation-for-celebrationFor those heading to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, there’s lots to plan for and plenty of tips and tricks to keep in mind. With the schedule up and the convention fast approaching, now is definitely the time to start planning. What panels are you going to go see? What should you bring? What else is there to do? There’s lots to consider so here are some things to get you started.

First off, figure out if there’s anything you want to get signed. Some of the biggest names in Star Wars will be at Celebration, and this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to get something signed by Luke Skywalker or Ian McDiarmid. Remember that most autographs will require a fee, so don’t get carried away thinking you’ll get the entire cast and crew to sign your poster. The big names will also require a wait in line. You can find a lot of info over on Official Pix which handles the autographing at Celebration and even offers pre-orders. However, the cast and crew isn’t the only guests who will be there.

Author signing at Star Wars Celebration VI.

Personally, I like meeting the authors. Whether it’s the Del Rey authors or DK authors, there will be a lot of them in attendance and best of all, they don’t charge for signing anything. Just bring a book and show up at one of their scheduled signings, and you’re good to go. Usually the publishers will arrange signing events where multiple authors will be available so you can get everything done at once. And don’t forget to stop by the publishers booths as they’ll often have some cool free goodies like bookmarks, posters or even short story collections. Just remember when packing books for the trip that books are heavy. You won’t be able to bring every book you have by the author, so pick your favorites, and make sure to pack them so they’ll survive the trip. Bubble wrap is a good way to go for hardcovers and it’ll protect those corners. For author events, keep your eyes on Del Rey and DK‘s Facebook pages.

Jerry Vanderstelt’s booth at Celebration VI.

Another great opportunity is your chance to meet the Star Wars artists. There is a ton of Star Wars artwork out there, and many of the artists will be there at Celebration with exclusive prints, and with pieces from their personal collection. Many will also offer commissions and typically they’ll sign their artwork for free, so if you have something by them, be sure to bring it. At Star Wars Celebration VI I was able to get Tsuneo Sanda to sign a beautiful poster that he done, one which I’ve been using to collect celebrity autographs. It’s a lot of fun meeting the artists and seeing their work in person. I know Drew Baker and Jerry Vanderstelt in particular had some stunning paintings on display. They’re really a sight to behold as pictures online don’t do them justice.

Drew Baker’s booth at Celebration VI featuring his original paintings which were available for purchase.

While meeting the celebrities and seeking out exclusive collectibles can be a big draw for conventions, I find that the panels can be some of the best parts of Celebration. For all four days, throughout each day, there will be lots of panels to choose from, and this is where most of your planning will kick in. The schedule for most of the events is already up so you can get a good idea of what you’ll want to see each day. However, keep in mind that you’ll want to show up early for each panel in order to get in line. Different panels will draw bigger crowds, so plan accordingly. If you want to get a good seat at Ian McDiarmid or Mark Hamill’s panel, be prepared to get there two hours early. At Celebration VI I arrived at Ian McDiarmid’s panel an hour early and still didn’t make it in as it was filled to capacity. The opening ceremony this year is likely to draw a huge crowd as well since J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy will be there and there’s a good chance we might get to see the full trailer for The Force Awakens.

The main stage at Celebration VI.

On the other hand, some panels probably won’t have much of a line at all. Typically the book and author panels draw smaller crowds, so getting there a half hour early can score you a spot in the front row. Also take a look at the schedule and see what other panels are happening at the same time. If you can predict which panels will be popular, you can gauge if the one you want to go to will require a lot of line time or very little. Plus keep some backup panels in mind in case the one you want to go to doesn’t pan out. The Star Wars Celebration Mobile App can be a lifesaver.

Celebration VI, the LEGO area.

Some events that might not be on your radar are being coordinated by the fans and attendees. For instance, there’s the All Costume Group Photo at 9:00 AM on Friday April 17 in the Grand Plaza area in front of the Anaheim Convention Center where everyone in Star Wars costume can get together for a huge group photo. Also on Friday is Ahsoka Lives Day where everyone is encouraged to wear Ahsoka items and gather at 3:00 PM at the front fountain for a group photo. Then there’s the Star Wars Podcast Listener Meet-Up at the Hilton on Thursday where anyone and everyone can go to meet their favorite Star Wars podcasts. The meetup is free and will be from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Mix Lounge in the Hilton Anaheim, CA Disneyland Hotel. And among all the panels at the Podcast Stage, Fangirls Going Rogue will be having a Pajama Party on Saturday for their panel. Another off the books event on Saturday is Aaron Allston Tribute Day where everyone is encouraged to wear Hawaiian shirts and attend the Aaron Allston Tribute panel. For those looking to help others, there’s the Heinlein Society and American Red Cross blood drive that author Ryder Windham is helping out with along with DK Publishing. Donate blood, gets some free Star Wars books, it’s a win-win.

Celebration VI had plenty of prop scenes giving fans lots of photo opportunities.

On top of all that are the parties such as the RebelForce Radio Celebration Kickoff Bash Wednesday night, The 501st Bash Friday night, and the Rebel Legion’s Willrow Hood Memorial Ice Cream Social at the Marriot. But keep in mind those are all ticketed events and tickets can be hard to come by and in some cases are already sold out.

The helmet display at Celebration VI.

Beyond the panels and events, there will be a lot to see at the convention, so be sure to save some time for walking the show floor and checking out the booths. The LEGO area will have giant Star Wars LEGO displays, the Art Show area will have tons of artwork on display along with the artists, there will be scenes and props you can pose with for pictures in certain areas, there’s the Star Wars Legion Art Helmet Display which showcases customized helmets done by different artists, and don’t forget to check out the Rancho Obi-Wan Experience where you can see a small piece of the Rancho Obi-Wan museum and get a chance to meet Steve Sansweet. Another cool thing to check out is the diorama area where this year the theme is Bespin. Each day the diorama area will evolve as more and more people add to the diorama. By day four it’s quite the sight to see and it’s fun to watch the progression. Plus you can join in on the fun.

Celebration VI diorama area, day 1.

…and day 4.

Here’s some more tips to keep in mind. If you’re going to be in Anaheim the day before the convention, take some time to scout out the convention center, see what the layout is like, and check out some of the early banners and props that will already be on display. Day one of the convention will all begin with a massive line just to get into the convention center. Depending on whether there’s an autograph line you want to queue up for or a major panel you’re racing after will determine how early you want to get to the convention center. Last year arriving an hour and half early could get you pretty close, and a two hour jump would get you near the front. This year with the hype of the new movies, anything goes. Regardless, keep an eye out when you’re in line. Sometimes the celebrities will come out to greet those who are queued up. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are likely to be busy days, however Sunday is usually more laid back and a great opportunity to do all the things you forgot about. Take some time to check out the artists’ booths, get some pictures of cosplayers and the 501st Legion, don’t miss out on your last chance to get anything signed, and go check out the dealer tables and the Celebration Store for cool collectibles you didn’t realize you needed.

The entrance line at Celebration VI.

The thing to keep in mind is to have fun, be patient, and be friendly to others. There are going to be a lot of lines, so take time to meet and talk with people. There will be a lot of crowds, so be careful to give people space when you can. And with four days of back-to-back Star Wars imagery and experiences, your fandom will be supercharged and fun is sure to follow. Plan, prep, have fun and if you spot someone wearing a Roqoo Depot shirt, be sure to say hi. It’ll be me :)

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

1 Comment »

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  1. Great piece, very helpful as always and I will definitely be saying hi!

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