Recently I had the privilege of attending all 4 days of Star Wars Celebration 2015 in Anaheim, CA. It was my first Star Wars Celebration and going in I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love Star Wars – the films, the animated television shows, the expanded universe, the Christmas special, etc. And I’ve been to various conventions over the years (San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon, D23, and New York Comic Con to name a few). But I’ve never gone to one that focused primarily on a single franchise. How would occupying 96 hours of my life with all things a galaxy far, far, away go? Fortunately, once the final day of Star Wars Celebration ended, I concluded it was easily one of my favorite experiences ever.
My Star Wars Celebration experience began at 4am on that first Thursday April morning. This was all to line up for big kickoff panel with Star Wars: The Force Awakens Writer/Director/Producer J.J. Abrams and Producer Kathleen Kennedy. Fortunately, I arrived just in time to make it into The Arena room where the panel was being held and could experience it live in person (the panel itself was simulcasted in other rooms throughout the Anaheim Convention Center as well as on the internet for the world to watch.
During the panel, Abrams and Kennedy brought out some special guests.
Up first were R2D2 and BB-8.
Then the whole group came together.
But that wouldn’t be all as the 2nd trailer for The Force Awakens debuted.
I have no words for this experience. The level of excitement in the room was unmatched, even by Hall H standards. The moment when Harrison Ford uttered those now iconic words “Chewie, we’re home” brought simultaneous cheers and tears in the audience (some that I may have shed myself). One woman was overheard saying, “I can’t believe this. I thought the story was over. I never thought they would bring it back.”
The rest of my Star Wars Celebration experience consisted of a run in with J.J. Abrams on the main floor and various panels hosted by James Arnold Taylor (voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on The Clone Wars) and featured guests including Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), the cast of Star Wars Rebels, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian). Other panels and events I attended include the debut of the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront game, The Untold Clone Wars panel that revealed episodes that were unfortunately never finished due to the cancelation of The Clone Wars series, the One Big Story panel discussing what stories are now considered canon in the Star Wars universe, the premiere screening of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 3D, an exhibit showcasing models and props from The Force Awakens, and various photo opportunities with past and current Star Wars sets and props.
However, my favorite activity during the entire 4 day experience was when my fiancé and I took a family portrait with The Skywalker Twins.
Star Wars Celebration 2015 will be an event I will always remember and one I recommend every Star Wars fan experience once in their lifetime. If you are interested in attending the next Star Wars Celebration, it will be held next year in London from July 15-17, 2016.