Star Wars Celebration Anaheim was fantastic. It certainly had a seemingly never-ending stream of announcements and news, starting off with a bang with the new Star Wars Episode VII trailer. It's as big or a bigger hit around the world as it was at the show. But, Celebration had far more than that. For starters, it sold out 4 day tickets, Saturday, and Sunday tickets.
First, a quick note. I'm putting most of the links to trailers and videos and so on at the end of the post. Probably most of you have seen them already, but I know not all visitors have.
Anaheim was a change in venue, after holding the last two (US) shows in Orlando. Same weather, well, minus hurricane threats. I presume it was a big jump in attendance, with the sellouts. Probably because of the new movies, Rebels, and being in the LA area. They didn't announce the next US location, though next year will be in London. I'm not sure how they'll expand the show if they stay in Anaheim. Most of the theatre and panel rooms were often maxed and felt more crowded. Lines were more of a theme than the last two shows. The big panels always fill up, but this time many of the smaller ones did as well.
So, after my hectic deadlines preceding the show, I was ready for some time off. I got out there early Wednesday thanks mostly to the fact I used airline miles for the trip, and therefore used as few as possible by taking early or late flights. Most of the first day was actually recovering from the trip, the days before, and the lack of sleep the night before. I did hang out with fellow FFG freelancer Keith Kappel and some of his 501st friends that first evening.
With the big Episode VII panel and announcements, Thursday morning was going to be big, and everyone knew it. Celebration issued queuing instructions for those wanting to get in to see it live. I didn't even try, since it required lining up all night in one of the queuing halls. Yes, entire halls just to wait in line for another hall. Certainly not the first time, but it just seems weird. Anyway, so my entry was more like this:
About 9:30, arrived outside the convention center, finding the line already far beyond the building. In fact, it had looped through the entry plaza and around the corner of the Hilton. This wasn't the line for the panel - that was already inside somewhere. As the line slowly wound its way in, it became obvious we wouldn't make it in the building before the panel started. Anyone who had a cell phone watched the live stream. All things considered, the live stream held up well. It did tend to crack up on big reveals, usually going something like "and now, we're proud to announce ::static::" and then returning to the audience clapping about whatever just happened. I did get to see BB-8's amazing and surprising appearance, which was one of the big hits of the panel. I was somewhere around the middle of the entry plaza by then.
Eventually, I got to the doors of the building, where we entered the front hall, then off to the big queuing hall I'd see 3 of the 4 mornings. So, basically we had stood in line to be able to come inside to stand in another line. At least there was A/C. The panel wrapped up with the amazing VII trailer, which I caught almost all of. Then it hit Youtube, and anyone who had skipped the live stream went for it instead. Well accepted doesn't begin to describe its reception. With that, the main hall finally opened (about 15-20 minutes late) and the corrals emptied quickly into the exhibit hall (last picture).
The hall probably had more going on than in Orlando, but it didn't seem as big for some reason. It had the requisite dioramas for cosplay picture taking, some new, others from past shows. The new cantina was fantastic, and very popular. There were collector booths of all types. There were fan organizations like the 501st and Rebel Legion, and others I hadn't seen before. There were the towering T-shirt booths that a major cons must be contractually include, or something. There was also the Artists area, the tattoo area, and the ever-busy Celebration store.
I saw John Jackson Miller straight away, by happenstance, at his first signing. I found Jason Fry at the DK booth. He somehow managed to get even less sleep than me before the show. I located the FFG booth, finding they were demoing minis, board games, and the 2 player card game, but not the RPG or the LCG. No sales, just demos.
Then off to the first panel, which turned out to be the first line issue for me. John Jackson Miller's Writing in a Shared Universe panel filled up, cutting the line off...at me. Star Wars University rooms that are too small were a problem in Orlando, and if the numbers I was told is correct, this room held even fewer, which is both confusing and aggravating. I was going to hit David Collins'Restored Music from The Empire Strikes Back panel, but since the panel I most wanted to (realistically) see at the show was David Filoni and Pablo Hidaldo's Untold Clone Wars was right after it, I had to skip it so I could stand in line to make sure I got in. Pablo and David's panel didn't disappoint, and there are quite a few good stories we missed out on with the abrupt end to the series. Some of that is coming in other forms, though.
OK, I'm realizing this is way more than one week's worth of material. There are also a few videos I need to locate. The unexpected events before and after the very well attended FFG panel - well, let's say you can't plan "podcasting gold," as GM Phil later described it. I met John "Dak" Morton and discussed that Star Wars Insider article I posted about last week. The Forcecast Age of Rebellion demo on Saturday. The Rebels Past, Present, and Future panel. So, plenty more coming up.
And, while I didn't make it into the Episode VII prop room (surprise: lines), I did get this photo op with the Episode VII trooper at the last moment as I was heading for the exit and the airport. Thanks to the equally hurried 501st individual who took an extra moment so I could get the picture.
Episode VII The Force Awakens Trailer 2
Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Trailer
Star Wars Battlefront Game Trailer (yes, in-game footage is shown).