Star Wars Celebration Orlando: Part 2

In case you missed it, I spent my week at Star Wars Celebration Orlando. On Thursday night, I camped out for the 40th Anniversary Panel (and totally bawled my eyes out at all of the awesome), and now it’s time to do it all again for the Episode VIII panel!! I’ll never forget the epic energy of the Episode VII panel at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. That was a life changing moment for me, and I can’t wait to see what the crew of The Last Jedi has in store for us tomorrow! Here we go!!

Friday Night: Camping for the Episode VIII panel

6:00 pm – Back in line!! Passed about 1500 of my newest Star Wars friends as I circled the outside of the convention center to find my spot in the queue. Thank the maker said spot is in the shade! And on some grass!! What a great place to sit for the next two hours, until they open up the basement for us!

6:30 pm – The friendly state trooper warily watching our line asks us why we’re doing this. We explain, and do our best to convert him. We don’t think it worked. Or maybe he’s just laughing at us because he’s . . . nope, it definitely didn’t work. He’s laughing even harder. Must be part Sith.

7:00 pm – The line is moving forward! We must be going into the basement early! Oh, wait. We’re stopping. Now we’re just standing in the sun. On a very busy road. Must scoot closer up on sidewalk.

7:30 pm – The line moved again!! We’re going inside the—oh, nope. Now we’re standing by some very stinky dumpsters. In the sun. But the good news is, we found Juan, the 17-year-old boy who saved up all year to come here from Colombia, and he’s joined us! Love that sweet kid.

8:00 pm – We made it into the metal detector line. We may be here for a while . . .

9:00 pm – We are in the hall! And if the lady with the little number clicker thingy was telling the truth, we are, in fact, the 1,500th (ish) people in the hall! We are so totally going to get into the Episode VIII panel!!

9:30 pm – OMG THE PIZZA CART IS IN HERE AGAIN. THIS PIZZA TASTES SO GOOD.

10:30 pm – Better try to get some sleep before the 1:00 am DJ party. Sleep mask down, pillow plumped, Chirrit channeled, fingers crossed.

11:00 pm – What. Is. Happening? Who is on a bullhorn and why are they talking so loud? This is prime pre-DJ sleeping time. My Star Wars besties look majorly annoyed.

11:01 pm – OMG the guy on the bullhorn is Rian Johnson, the director of Episode VIII!! And he just said he’s going to walk the hall and sign things for us!! RIAN JOHNSON IS GOING TO WALK THE HALL AND SIGN THINGS!! He is so the coolest guy EVER!! Star Wars besties look super happy now.

11:55 pm – OMG RIAN JOHNSON SIGNED MY CELERATION BADGE!!

12:30 am – I’d better get some pre-DJ sleep. But how can I sleep? I met Rian Johnson!! And he is SO VERY, VERY NICE!!

5:30 am – OMG I slept!!! The DJ never came!! And according to the still-angry security guard, it’s time to move up in line. Someone should really buy that guy a waffle. Ooh, speaking of . . .

6:30 am – YES!! They still have waffles!! And this one is delicious.

8:00 am – We are all wearing the most beautiful, red wristbands I have ever seen in my life! We are so getting in! I really hope we get to see a trailer. Please, please let there be a trailer.

8:30 am – Oops! It’s time for my phone session with my energy medicine tutor. When I signed on for Elsa classes to help with my Ære Saga research, this was not the environment I pictured studying in. But I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. #Chirrut I’d just better explain to my poor tutor where I am, in case she wonders about all the tired energy signatures around me. Wait. Why is she laughing so hard when I tell her where I am?

9:30 am – Session over! I am so totally grounded and centered in present time right now. Mad props to my tutor for creating calm in the chaos. Good thing the Force is strong with her! Now to brush my teeth in the convention center restroom!

9:35 am – Dude. I miss my hotel bathroom. Did I mention it was a very lovely hotel?

10:15 am – We’re moving!! We’re going upstairs to the Galaxy Stage!!

10:45 am – We. Are. Still. Going. Upstairs.

11:00 am – OMG we are in! And there are still seats in the 4th row! OMG WE WILL BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY SEE THIS PANEL!!

11:05 am – Man. Running in full out gazelle-mode while wearing a partly-pleather Star Wars costume was NOT my brightest idea. Make mental note to buy a more BREATHABLE cosplay for next Celebration. Those girls dressed as Rey look all kinds of cool, and not at all sweaty. #squadgoals

11:10 am – The lights are dimming! The Episdoe VIII panel is starting!! And the totally tiring last few days were absolutely worth it because . . .

OLAF is hosting this panel!! And we get to see Rey! And Finn! And Luke!

But not Kylo. Word on the street is he’s off wreaking havoc with Hux and Phasma. Last day of the Republic, and all.

AND THAT POSTER!! REY IS SO TOTALLY LUKE NOW! She’s standing in almost the exact same pose as Luke in the Episode IV poster! I could not possibly have more goosebumps right now.

AND THE TRAILER!! Holy mother of pearl, that trailer!!

Being in that room, with the energy of 3,000 extreme Star Wars fans, to watch that trailer for the very first time was a moment I’ll never forget. Words can’t express what Star Wars means to me. It’s so much more than just a movie franchise – it’s a community; a way of life. The Force truly does surround us and bind us together, maybe not in the way it does the Jedi, but in a very real and tangible way, all the same. So much love goes into these films, both from the creative team and from the fans. Rian Johnson walked that convention center basement for FOUR HOURS in the middle of the night, to share his love and excitement with us. George Lucas returned to Celebration to remind us that he created this world to lovingly guide our youth into adulthood, and to hopefully help said youth see value of choosing to align with the Light Side. Kathleen Kennedy and the team behind this new trilogy gave us a poster that shows a young woman standing where Luke Skywalker once stood – holding the saber that shines Light through the galaxy, creating a ripple effect that both empowers and encourages girls in the same way our beloved Princess has since Episode IV. The significance of that poster moved me in ways very little else could. I am SO grateful that today’s girls will have not only Princess Leia, but also Rey, and Ahsoka, and Hera, and Sabine, and even Captain Phasma to look up to. (Full disclosure, I have a massive girl crush on Phasma. She is a kick-butt chick, no question.) And to be able to come together with this AMAZING Star Wars community to mourn Carrie Fisher at Mark Hamill’s tribute . . . To celebrate the next wave of books in the Star Wars extended universe -- I am SO pre-ordering the YA Princess Leia book from Claudia Gray, and I desperately need Drew Daywalt’s BB-8 book!

And to soak in the incredible energy of the fans crazy enough to spend two nights in a basement just to celebrate the Force . . . it was a beautiful, exhausting, perfect experience.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to grab some caffeine and sneak in a few edits on Defender, then pass out for as long as humanly possible. After I watch The Last Jedi trailer one more time, of course. #Priorities Good night . . . and May The Force be With You. Always.

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