This past weekend, from April 13 – 16, Orlando hosted the Star Wars Celebration, which commemorated 40 years since Star Wars first entered the world.
And it. Was. Glorious.
Unfortunately, due to extenuating circumstances (read: poor college student), I was only able to attend on Sunday, the final day. Even still, it was the most fun that I’d had probably all year.
I’d worried that I wasn’t going to get the “full Star Wars experience,” only going on the last day, but I could not have been more wrong. Granted, I was too late to see Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), but I stood outside the doors to the auditorium where he was speaking. I swear, I think I picked up some of his awesome just by being in the same building as him.
I did get to see the tail end of Warwick Davis‘ talk on stage (sorry, I was too far away to snag a picture). If you don’t already know, Warwick has played several iconic roles, including our favorite Ewok, Wicket, in the Star Wars films, and Filius Flitwick in the Harry Potter movies. And he’s probably the first famous person that I’ve seen in real life, so there’s that as well.
The layout of the convention center was confusing, and I could not find the registration desk (where, apparently, I was supposed to pick up wristbands to get inside the panels). So instead, I spent the entire time inside the Exhibition Hall.
I could have spent days in there, and still not have seen everything. It was absolutely spectacular. There were literal castles of merchandise, of all shapes and sizes. There was one whole booth dedicated to nothing but patches and vintage / classic Star Wars memorabilia. Some booths sold figures made with 3D-printing technology; some had samurai stormtroopers; some had prints, posters, and canvases by some truly incredible artists; while others had more comics than I’d ever seen, even inside a comic shop (I bought way too many of them).
One booth had life-size people and robots made entirely out of Legos. One section of the Exhibition Hall was literally set aside for TATTOOS. Seriously, there were tons of booths with incredible tattoo artists, bent over their living canvases with singular concentration and precision. If it weren’t for aforementioned extenuating circumstances (again: poor college student), I might have gotten one myself.
Here are some pics (the first of many):
Thanks to these willpower-destroying booths, I am now the proud owner of two posters, a Rey leather backpack, three sets of lightsaber chopsticks, four graphic novels, and a silently weeping credit card. Seriously, being there was like drowning in a beautiful, glorious sea of geekdom. I had to grab something to keep myself afloat. Is it really my fault if what I grabbed had similarly geek-themed price tags? I don’t think so. I did what I had to do to survive.
Anyway, interspersed amongst all the merchandise booths, there were also these fantastic replica sets that were perfect for photo ops. Actually, there was literally an entire room set aside with some super cool suits and sets that were just begging for my camera. And, as we’ve already established, I have all the resistance of a wet noodle, so I easily caved to their imaginary voices.
But my favorite part, above anything and everything else, is that I Found My People.
The cosplays were the most incredible and amazing part of the whole experience. From the clearly expensive and high-end costumes to the glue gun and hand-made ones, they were all beautiful. I’d never seen so many fellow geeks and nerds in one place; and even being an introvert wading with and against a teeming crowd, I felt absolutely comfortable and at home.
Everyone was so nice and wonderful, and I had some of the best conversations with complete strangers. I saw vintage Star Wars fans – those who might have seen the first Episode premiere at Comic-Con 40 years ago – milling and laughing with children in Boba Fett and Jyn Erso costumes (both with lightsabers, obviously, even though those characters never once held one in their respective films).
But that’s another part of what I love about the costumes. Yes, there are all the cosplayers who look identical to the character that they’re trying to portray. But my favorites are the costumes that combine the original with something totally, well, original. I saw a fantastic Rey costume, but with a Sith twist. I saw stormtroopers, but instead of the standard black underneath the white armor, they wore pink and blue. I even saw a guy in a Deadpool mask, running around pretending to be a stormtrooper. It was so in-character for the merc with a mouth, that I had to laugh.
Here are some more fantastic pics (and the last of them, sorry):
I wanted so badly to be one of them (maybe, at the next Star Wars Celebration, I can pull off a gender-bent Poe Dameron). However, even though I wasn’t wearing a costume, at no point did I feel like I didn’t belong. Honestly, it was probably the best time I’ve had all year.
The Celebration was filled with great people, great food, and great merch. Basically, it was Nerdvana. It was my very first “convention,” and it was absolutely perfect in every way.
The one and only thing that I’m bummed that I missed, was the Carrie Fisher(Princess Leia) tribute video that they aired on the first day of the Celebration. Thankfully, they uploaded it to YouTube, and I’ve linked it below. Seriously, give it a watch – it’s as beautiful as she was, celebratory of her sharp humor and endless heart, and all-in-all so very touching. The world lost a fantastic individual; and the only thing that would have made the Star Wars Celebration better, was if she had been there.
Sorry to end on such a somber note. But seriously, if you can make it to the next one (I believe they’re held every two years), do so. You won’t regret it, and you’ll have the time of your life.
May the Force be with you.