Thousands descended upon McCormick Place in Chicago for the first day of Star Wars Celebration on Thursday April 11, 2019. Decked out in their favorite fandom apparel or an elaborate cosplay, fans gathered in the halls of the convention center — some waiting for hours — ready to embark upon five days of everything Star Wars — past, present and future.
This year, event organizers wanted to enhance the fan experience by implementing the new LIGHTSPEED virtual panel reservations and LIGHTSPEED Lane Virtual Queuing for the Celebration Store. Unfortunately, something went wrong with the hyperdrive because no one was able to reach LIGHTSPEED on day one, leaving Star Wars Celebration with the reputation of being a convention where you wait in line so you can wait in line.
Fans were frustrated after waiting for hours in line — 5 to 8 hours for the Celebration Store — only to miss out on exclusives or desired merchandise. Since there were no big panels to distract a large portion of attendees, everyone with a pass for Thursday descended upon the exhibit hall or the Celebration Store. The lines were long everywhere.
Many die-hard fans were also quick to complain about “flippers.” “Flippers” are people who attend conventions to purchase exclusives and limited edition items so they can resell them at an inflated price. Celebration exclusive items are already on Ebay thanks to this particular group of attendees.
Looking past the long lines, the shopping frustrations and the technological issues, there is something magical that happens when Star Wars fans gather in one place. Everyone in attendance has something in common. Friendships start blooming everywhere. For Celebration regulars, this is a family reunion. A change of perspective makes the experience more enjoyable.
My words of wisdom for my fellow attendees at the end of day one: You may not walk away with that exclusive Lego kit or Funko Pop but you will walk away with stories to tell, pictures to share and new friends who understand. The experiences mean more than the material items. So go eat, get some rest because tomorrow it starts all over again! May the Force be with You!!!