May the Force Be With Us

T-minus two days until I’m in the theater watching a Thursday-night showing of The Last Jedi. I already have the whole evening planned: My Her Universe Princess Leia dress, a baggie full of Chewie Chews as a snack, and a box of tissues just in case. (Who am I kidding? I’ll need them before the end of Act 1!)

Truthfully, I wasn’t into Star Wars like this until recently; it was the promotion and excitement of the Force Awakens that pushed me — the Star Wars fangirl awakened in me, so to speak. And I’m so glad it did.

I always enjoyed the Star Wars films, growing up on them thanks to my dad. (His favorite line to quote is “I am your father.” Complete with the Vader-breath.) But the Padawan surpassed the Master once I binged watched the Clone Wars and Rebels series, delved into a couple of the expanded universe novels (the current canon set — I don’t think I’m ready to tackle the Legends chronicles!), and my dad was left wondering who the hell Ahsoka was when I proclaimed her to be my new favorite character.

(A happy update: My father has now started watching Clone Wars, and calls to tell me how badass Ahsoka is. Yay!)

Kristen holds her Star Wars Celebration convention badge, which features Finn.

I took some of the furthest leaps into the Star Wars fandom when I did a double dose of it this April: the Star Wars 5K at Epcot and Star Wars Celebration Orlando–the ultimate convention experience for any Star Wars fan.

My first experience for a convention was a Supernatural one in Arlington, Virginia. But that was nothing to the scale that SWCO was — it was so much bigger than what I had imagined, but it was also one of the greatest experiences I’ve had.

I attended SWCO with my sister — we decided only a week before to do it; at only a two hour drive from our parents’ place, it was worth it!

We got tickets for Saturday. The main attraction that day (for me at least) was the Star Wars Rebels panel. I hadn’t even seen season three yet, but I need to know EVERYTHING about what was to come for the fourth—and as we learned then—and final season.

Star Wars Rebels Season Four Sneak Peek

I’m not sure if I actually cried, but the panel and preview were simply amazing, even though we were in the overflow room. I could only see the cast (Taylor Gray, Vanessa Marshall, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Tiya Sicar and Steve Blum) and showrunner Dave Filoni on a screen, but it was still exciting to know that you were getting an exclusive look. But we did get a visit from emcee and Star Wars veteran Warwick Davis, whose first major role was as the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi, but who I also knew as Professor Flitwick, of course. (Ravenclaws, represent!)


Warwick Davis on stage at the Rebels season four panel.

My main goal of this convention was to meet Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka and founder of Her Universe. She was doing a book signing with author E.K. Johnson—my sister and I brought our Ahsoka books to be signed, but alas it was not to be. We didn’t leave the Rebels premiere screening early enough (we forgot about Rule #4!). Next time we’ll be on that line with plenty of time to spare!

My only regret was that I didn’t stay longer. Ultimately, my sister and I left early because I was too tired to keep up with the rest of the convention. (In my defense, I had driven 12 hours down to Florida the day before.) And as con-goers may know, there’s A LOT of waiting involved: for the next panel, to get onto the next line, for your photo op to come up, etc. It’s important to have a clear schedule for yourself, but be open to improvising! For something as big as SWCO, there’s ALWAYS something going on, so check out one of the smaller panels if you’ve got a break!

But I think waiting 20+ years for my Star Wars convention is one I don’t want to do again.

The next Star Wars Celebration won’t be until 2019, well after The Last Jedi comes out and perhaps around the time we’ll get more info around Rian Johnson’s next trilogy series. I hope it’ll be in Orlando again, simply to make it easier to convince my father to join us. My sister is actively involved with her own fandoms (so she GETS IT), but to be with her at her first convention was exhilarating! You get this joy and excitement from introducing them to it, bringing back all the same feelings from your first con (good feelings, of course!). Spread the joy and bring your friends and family with you to conventions — the more, the merrier!