Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 was a huge hit and fantastic show. It set a record for attendance at 70,000 people. It had panels and guests and surprise guests and more around every corner.
It's too much to cover everything in a week, so check back for more next time. For "at the moment" posts and pictures, check my twitter feed. In non-chronological order:
The first morning was dominated by the slow line to get in the building. They fixed that on the following days, but on Thursday it took people 2 hours to get in, mostly because of the bag check and metal detectors, which were new. I've never been more happy to have an Exhibitor's badge at a con. Still, it was good to be back in Orlando. Anaheim was ok, but not big enough.
The Fantasy Flight Games booth and game room were both busy most of the convention. I spent 4 hours most days running 2 hour games. I nearly full, full, and a bit more than full tables. I usually had at least a couple of new players, or newish ones that had partial familiarity with the game. Freelancer Keith Kappel ran very freeform games whereas I tended to run convention adventures I'd previously written. The X-Wing Open Series finale tournament ran on Saturday, and was very popular to watch. The room was a good success, so here's hoping for a return next Celebration.
I participated in the Fantasy Flight Games Panel again this Celebration. The line to get it was impressive, and the room was full. It featured Simone, Max, and Lucas from FFG, and the Lucasfilm rep that works with FFG. Justin Bolger of Lucasfilm social media hosted the panel, and did a great job. There was also a surprise guest, at a level I haven't seen in any past Star Wars game panel:
When I wasn't in the game room, I was on the show floor or attending panels like most everyone else. I didn't make it into any of the biggest panels, as they required wristbands and a substantial amount of line waiting to get them. Fortunately, most of them were streamed online and are available at starwars.com or may become available at some point. In fact, I still need to catch up on them. As with Celebration Anaheim, I saw the Episode VIII trailer on a mobile phone.
The show floor was bigger, with a lot of wide aisles. The Star Wars Show set was huge and very popular. Costuming groups, clubs, tatoo artists, vendors, and more filled out the space. The official store lines were impossible to get through. I heard the line for checkout was as bad or worse than the line to get in. Hopefully they'll move to an online pre-order system in the future like GenCon. Generally speaking, the lines were also bigger than ever. The halls reserved just for lining up were themselves bigger than a lot of large conventions. The 40th Anniversary panel and the Episode VIII panel both had overnight waiting lines. Not every panel had record lines, however, and many of the smaller panels and some workshops had space available.
The 501st Bash celebrating the 20th anniversary of the group was huge. Weird Al Yankovic was the main entertainment guest and was very popular. It had a great light show and he had the entire room singing along with "Yoda." The last verse proved more prophetic than we thought when the song was first released. He also played "The Saga Begins," as expected. There were also twi'lek dancers on stilts and others climbing up nets to rings in the rafters. One of the nice things about the 501st party is that a lot of people you might not otherwise get to see make an appearance. So, during much of the concert, Keith Kappel and I were hanging out with Leland Chee (master of the holocron) and Matt Martin (starwars.com) of the Lucasfilm Star Wars Story Group.
So it was a good time. More on the panels and other things next week.