Star Wars Celebration Holocron: Tips From the Masters #2

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Star Wars Celebration is THREE DAYS AWAY!  If you’re not freaking out already… you’re already behind!  Just kidding (kinda).  Don’t worry, MSW has you covered.

If you missed our Part 1 of this series, I reached out to Celebration and con vets to give me tips on how to make the most out of my first Celebration (and con of any kind).  Today we have sage advice from a group of really diverse experts.  We have our very own Amanda Ward, Saf from The Force Cult & The Wookiee Gunner, Matt from the 501st & Mandalorian Mercs and Jordan Maison from Cinelix.  All together you’re getting expert tips from fangirls, fanguys, fansite administrators, cosplayers, media members and all around great people!

As always, please leave your own best advice in the comments below or tweet them to me at @CPThrio.  I’ll retweet the best!

  1. Who are you most looking forward to seeing at this Celebration?

Saf: Mostly the people, honestly. I’m excited to finally meet so many of my friends—and to make new friends too! But also, definitely the cosplayers and the costume clubs, as well as Rebels stuff.

Amanda: I am most looking forward to hearing from the newest members of the Star Wars family, so hopefully Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver.

Matt: Definitely Ian McDiarmid. The Emperor is my favorite character of the saga so meeting him will make the con for me.

Jordan: Tough one, right off the bat.  I think my top choice would have to be Ian McDiarmid.  Villains are a big focus of my collection, and I’ve had the chance to meet Ray Park (Darth Maul) in the past, and also had opportunities to chat with Mark Hamill and other members of the original cast… except for McDiarmid.  He’s a wily one and not easy to get in touch with.

  1. Which panel or event is at the top of your list for Celebration and why?

Saf: The Rebels premiere. Ever since the season 1 finale, I’ve been dying to watch more. I’m not sure I could handle having to wait until later in the year.

Amanda: The J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy panel and the Untold Clone Wars panels. Also Revenge of the Sith in 3D!

Matt: Ian’s panel by far. I’ve seen video of previous Celebration panels he did and want to experience it for myself in person.

Jordan: As a fan and entertainment writer, the main event on opening day with J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy is probably what I’m looking forward to most.  We’re sure to get new information and details on the future of Star Wars on film, and it’s hard to top that. Purely from a fan perspective, I’m looking more forward to the collecting panels and meeting up with fellow toy collectors (as I’m a huge one) at the diorama workshop and at the vendor booths.

  1. List 3 items that every fan must pack for Celebration.

Saf: Water bottle (essential for any con!), comfortable shoes (unless you’re in a costume, then odds are they won’t be comfy), and a good attitude. Nothing ruins a con like someone who can’t be patient or understanding!

Amanda: Comfortable shoes, a bag for carrying loots, a cushion for sitting on.

Matt: Water, snacks, and extra battery packs for your phone.

Jordan: Camera, messenger type bag, and extra clothes.  You’ll want a camera because the opportunities to take unique and interesting photos are everywhere.  From fan costumes to the panels, there’s no shortage of awesome things happening around you, and the best way to relive those memories is by taking lots of pictures.

You definitely need a bag to carry around with you throughout the event, and not only because it’s a good place to store your camera.  You’ll meet tons of fans, and visit a plethora of fan booths at Celebration in which many will feature buttons, pins, postcards, and other various little goodies, so having a bag to store these in quickly is incredibly helpful until you can drop it off later with some of your bigger purchases at the event. A messenger bag, specifically, is good because it’s not too large.  You don’t want to carry around a big bag that’s only going to get heavier and heavier.  Not to mention, you don’t want to be rude to the other guests by swinging around a large bag that gets in everyone’s way.

Lastly, you need to pack extra clothes.  Not just one set of clothes for each day either, I’m talking a couple sets that you can swap out with.  All conventions are stuffy and cramped.  When you’re talking about Celebration, you’re getting several thousands of fans into one area.  Regardless of how big the convention center is, that’s a lot of people in close proximity at any given time.  You’ll be sweating, and about mid-way through the day, you’ll be feeling a little grungy from it.  DON’T be the smelly fan that no one wants to be near. I can tell you from experience that packing around a small booth table with some smelly people is not a fun endeavor.  You don’t want to be that person, so bring a spare change of clothes.  It’ll help with making sure your sweaty and dirty clothes don’t affect those around, while also helping you to feel better and more refreshed as they day goes on.

  1. What is something a fan should definitely not do at Celebration?

Saf: Inappropriately touching or making comments towards cosplayers or costumers (or other fans). Do NOT harass people!

Amanda: Push yourself to do too much in one day. Take care of yourself first and foremost.

Matt: Body shame anyone. This is my biggest peeve with the costuming/geek community and drives me insane when I see/hear it. Do not put people down!!

Jordan: Don’t do anything that could potentially affect other fans’ enjoyment of the event.  I know that’s kinda vague and broad, but it’s really the best advice I can give.  Be courteous and polite.  Don’t cut off other fans in line, don’t start arguments over stuff (plenty of that in the online forums), and don’t ask people to do things that might make them uncomfortable.  Everyone deserves to have a great time, so be mindful of the other fans around you.

  1. What kind of clothes/shoes should I wear?

Saf: Something comfy, but also something that shows your love for Star Wars. Odds are you’re going to be on your feet for a while, so you don’t want to come home covered in blisters. Alternatively, I think you should pack a costume, but that’s just me.

Amanda: Whatever feels best to you! Wear spiked heels if you want as long as you’re having a great time!

Matt: I usually bring a couple pairs of shoes to rotate out with insoles. Anything that’s comfortable on your feet and can handle lots of standing/walking. Clothes-wise when not in costume I usually wear pants and a tee. I also bring a light jacket to the hotel in case it’s cold.

Jordan: Something comfortable.  Nothing too hot, as I mentioned, being stuck indoors with thousands of people will get hot quickly.  Whatever shoes you bring, make sure they’re comfortable enough to endure walking/standing for several hours at a time.

  1. What factors should fans consider when budgeting for Celebration?

Saf: There’s a good chance you’ll be eating out with others, so make sure you have enough money for that! I know most of my convention money usually goes to food and drink, but that’s mostly because my priorities are spending time with others. Figure out what your priorities for the con are, and budget according to what you think you’ll be doing most! And if you’re from overseas (or another state), be sure to have some emergency funds, just in case.

Amanda: That you can never bring enough backup money. Between emergency cab rides, unexpected meals and those exclusive items you just can’t pass up, no one can really know exactly how much you need, but just try and give yourself a comfortable amount of funds if possible.

Matt: I personally have been saving since tickets went on sale. What I did was put money aside for food and post-con activates and the different type of items I want to buy at the cons. So I have money set for photo ops/signings and money set for exclusives/prints/toys.

Jordan: While travel, lodging, and food are the primary costs for attending an event like this, I encourage people to plan for your other purchases.  There will be TONS of merchandise available at the convention.  From official stuff on site, to collectibles at vendor tables, there’s no shortage of amazing things for Star Wars fans to buy. Because of this, you need to set a budget AHEAD of time.  Give yourself a spending limit every day and stick to it.  While it’s smart to go in with a “plan of attack” (a list of things you want to buy), be sure to account for spur-of-the-moment purchases too (something you didn’t expect to see, but want to have).

  1. What will I eat at Celebration?

Saf: This I can’t completely help with—I don’t know the area at all—but I’m gonna say, probably a lot of junk and fast food (and energy drinks), unless you make an effort to go out to places. I hear food trucks are common around the con area, so look out for them!

Amanda: Probably a lot of unhealthy stuff. Bring your own water and snacks though!

Matt: Try your best to avoid eating convention center food. It is incredibly overpriced and I’ve seen people get sick off it. Luckily the Anaheim Convention Center usually has food trucks outside during cons, hopefully they’ll be there for this. Some of them like the Viking Truck and Grilled Cheese Truck are amazing!!

Jordan: Anything other than what’s sold at the event!  Sounds silly I know, but convention food (regardless of the event) is always ridiculously overpriced.  Being that it’s a pain in the butt to leave the convention center and get back into it (parking and whatnot), the concessions set up at the event know they can charge higher prices and get it, out of convenience.  That’s a quick way to blow your budget, so consider bringing your own lunch.  Pack up some sandwiches and snacks in your previously mentioned messenger bag, and be ready to eat at your leisure.

  1. Do you have any advice regarding Celebration exclusive collectibles?

Amanda: I’ve never been to a Celebration but I’m sure I’m going to want it all, so if you really have a budget, try to avoid those areas where you know you can’t pick up the item if it’s going to be tempting.

Matt: Have multiple items you want and plan to line up in line EARLY to get into the con quickly to get them. Exclusives go fast, sometimes they will only sell a certain amount per day so that they’re available to everyone all four days. My game plan with exclusives is to prioritize them in order of importance. Usually a low run gets it higher on the list, once I’m in I hit up the booths in the order of whatever items I want the most. It also helps if you have a few friends doing the same so you can hit multiple booths at different times and snag multiple items for each other.

Jordan: Plan ahead with these.  know what exclusives you want to track down, know where they are, and get there as soon as possible.  Telling yourself you can get an exclusive “later” isn’t a good idea and more often than not, you’ll find that they’re all gone by the time you get around to them.  Try and knock exclusives off your list early, so you can enjoy the rest of the show without worrying about them.

  1. Do you have any advice regarding autographs?

Saf: Be friendly to the staff, the people in the lines, and especially the celebrities. Being rushed and impatient won’t make the experience nice for you. Take a few good breaths before you meet them, so you don’t feel too anxious or shaky.

Matt: Be polite. The first thing I ALWAYS do when getting an autograph is thank them for taking the time to come out and see us. These celebrities DO NOT have to be here, they choose to do it and letting them know you appreciate it not only is the proper thing to do but it gives them a reason to want to come back.

Jordan: Autographs have never been a huge focus of mine, so I don’t have much I can offer in this regard.  The only thing I can say is be respectful.  There’s a lot of people waiting in line to get their autograph the same as you, so maybe that’s not the best time to try and initiate a conversation with these guests.

  1. How do I get into the most popular panels?

Saf: I’ve no clue, but you’ll be competing with me!

Amanda: Wait? Be patient.

Matt: Line up early, at Wondercon last year I got in line for the Rebels panel an hour and a half early, and for the Rebels panel at SDCC 2014 I did the same. You may get into the panel room before it starts but you just sit through it. The advantage to getting into the panel room early is when people leave you have first go at getting a better seat. I’ve also attended some panels I would normally not go to because of this and actually enjoyed them.

Jordan: Be prepared to wait… and wait.  Sorry to say, but there’s no easy way to get into the big panels, other than hunkering down in line.  Get a schedule in place early for the things you want to attend, and if you know they’re BIG, give yourself a timeframe to get over there.  Don’t wait till the last minute.

  1. How do you spend your time between big events/panels?

Saf: Tagging along with friends mostly, and tracking down cosplayers to take photos. I just like spending time with others, and I don’t usually have massive plans on what I want to do at cons, so I’m cool just doing whatever.

Amanda: I love just walking around. There’s always so much to see.

Matt: Usually autographs or purchasing items. Sunday will be my day to photograph most of the exhibits.

Jordan: Interacting with fans!  Perhaps the greatest part of any convention, is the fact that you’re surrounded by people who are just as passionate as you are.  So if you’re not rushing from panel to panel, take the time to meet some of your fellow nerds and enjoy yourself.  Some of my best memories of conventions come from the conversations I’ve had with others (though sometimes that came from waiting in line at a panel).

  1. How much time will I spend waiting in line at Celebration?

Saf: Probably too much time.

Amanda: Depends on how many and what type of panels you want to see. Anticipate a lot of time waiting.

Matt: This will be my first Celebration but if its anything like most cons be prepared to spend quite a bit of time in line if you plan on doing signings, panels or photos.  Don’t let the wait times discourage you though, it’s a great time and way to make new friends!

Jordan: That’s entirely up to you.  Above all, you need to make sure you’re having fun.  If hopping from line to line doesn’t sound fun to you, maybe you need to scale back the amount of panels you want to do.  For the BIG panels on your must-see list, be prepared as there are likely a few thousand other fans who also have it on their lists.

  1. What is an underrated part of Celebration (or cons in general) that fans should take advantage of?

Saf: COSPLAYERS! They are always such cool people. Don’t be rude to them, always ask permission before photos (or touching), and they can be the sweetest people in the world. Plus, their costumes are rad!

Amanda: Relaxing with other fans. There are honestly so many great people to meet and get familiar with. It’s not all about celebrities and collectibles and panels.

Matt: I may be a little biased here but the cosplay. I feel that at times the costumes can get somewhat forgotten when there’s so much to do and see. Check out peoples costumes and ask how they made them, some of the processes that they go through are amazing and you’d be amazed how simple some costumes are to make.

Jordan: For me personally, it’s always been the vendor booths.  As a massive collector, conventions are where I’ve discovered many of my most-wanted items.  Things I’d been searching for, for years.  The sheer amount of merchandise available can be staggering, and taking your time to search through the entire vendor area can overturn all manner of treasures, or even your own “holy grail.” Be sure to check every vendor booth, too.  Just because it looks like all they sell are posters (or another area of collecting you’re not interested in) doesn’t mean they don’t have other goodies hidden inside.

  1. I want to hang out with you at Celebration – where will you be spending your time?

Saf: This is a big question, since I don’t really know the con and spend most of my time tagging along after others! I’ll definitely be at all the Rebels stuff, and at a lot of the podcast panels. Usually if you’re looking for me at any other con, you can easily find me at the Rebel Legion or 501st stand since that’s the Star Wars hotspot at those cons, but this time it’s all Star Wars! Look for a short Leia, and you’re set.

Amanda: On the convention floor or at the Hilton hotel.

Matt: Lines, lines, lines. Most my time will be spent in lines for autographs, photos or panels. I will be spend a large amount of my time between those three things. You may also see me at the 501st Legion booth throughout the weekend and on Saturday the 501st has our group photo shoot at 2:00 pm which I will be at.

Jordan: That is a most excellent question!  I’ll likely be all over the place (just like you guys), but I’m ALWAYS happy to chat it up with fellow fans.  So if you see me, please don’t hesitate to say hello.  I mentioned I’m a big time collector, so expect to see me most around the vendor areas and collecting panels.

  1. What is your best tip to have an enjoyable Celebration experience?

Saf: As I said before, having a good, chill attitude. Things often go wrong at large conventions, so you’ve just gotta be able to go with the flow if you happen to miss a panel you really wanted to see, or something of the sort. Don’t be rude to others, and others won’t be rude to you! Stay hydrated, stay fed, be friendly, and you’ll have a blast.

Amanda: Try to relax. Take in what you can and make as many memories as possible no matter how big or small!

Matt: Have fun! Don’t get discouraged if you miss a panel or a piece of product! There’s so much the con has to offer and chances are things like a panel will be on youtube that night. Enjoy it all and take everything in, be sure to be friendly with people and make new friends! For me I personally cannot wait to meet all the people I interact with on twitter.

Jordan: I don’t think I can stress this enough about any convention, but especially one with such a large and rabid fanbase: have fun.  You’ve likely seen people online talking about how you have to “do EVERYTHING” and not miss out on stuff.  But in all honesty… that’s not possible.  There’s no way you’re going to do everything you want to.

Running from panel to panel and waiting in lines can be stressful and I’ve seen at previous conventions where fans get agitated or overwhelmed simply because they’re trying to do too much.  Celebration should be, above all else, a FUN event for you.  If you find yourself more stressed than you are enjoying it… slow things down.  Don’t worry about missing out on a panel.  Have a list of things you’d like to do, and prioritize them.  Remind yourself that it’s okay to miss something.  Don’t miss out on other opportunities to have fun (by talking with fellow fans, etc.) because you’re stressed about missing something else.

Ron is an editor and content contributor to MakingStarWars.net. He loves Star Wars because it is the definitive modern day mythology and...because it has the coolest toys! Ron is still waiting for the day when engineers finally build a real lightsaber.