This past weekend I attended a convention in Orlando. No, no, no…not Star Wars Celebration 2017. I was there for a convention my children were participating in with our church. The convention was held at the Rosen Centre…WHICH IS RIGHT NEXT TO where Star Wars Celebration was.
Honestly, I’ve been aware of my convention for months. And I knew Star Wars Celebration was coming up, but it wasn’t until just three days before the weekend that it was pointed out to me that both were practically at the same place and same date. Suddenly my convention had gone from a “just tell me where to be” to an intricate plan where I tried to maximize my time meeting people and people/alien/droid-watching.
My existing plans were such that there was no real feasible way to purchase a badge for Celebration. It would have been a waste to do so as I would really have no huge amounts of time to spend there. But getting the spillover convention experience was a breeze.
First up, I knew Kay would be there and not only did I want to see her again, but my daughter has become a fan of hers from listening to the podcast and really wanted to meet her. After we got into town Thursday evening, we were able to see her briefly and get pics.
We also took Thursday evening to walk around were able to get into the convention center, something that we wouldn’t be able to do again.
Friday morning, we got up and headed over to the convention center where we stood outside and did some “cosplay fishing” as attendees were lining up. My 8-year-old, in an over-tired mood, protested the activity and resisted my urging him to get pictures with characters. I didn’t hesitate to get a few shots and selfies, my favorite being the guy who came to a Star Wars convention dressed as a Star Trek guy. As Michelle Houghton said on Instagram, that guy had “Spaceballs.” I also had to get what I felt was the obligatory selfie with a “Lando in Orlando.”
Finally my son got interested once a decent Darth Maul showed up. The Darth Maul was super-awesome and let him hold the double-bladed lightsaber for the shot. After that, he was all in and wanted an Obi Wan and Tusken Raider shot.
We made a quick run to McDonald’s for food as our activities were upon us and we needed something to eat. The great thing about cons is seeing cosplayers in all sorts of situations around the con. So an X-Wing Fighter pilot shows up to order a Big Mac and it makes an awesome meme.
Learning on Thursday that our hotel connected to the convention center via a skywalk(er), I figured a great place to plant ourselves would be right there at the entrance to that skywalk. And I was right. Attendees who were staying at the Rosen were constantly coming and going.
Earlier in the day, we had seen a couple different Slave Leias (as you do) and I pitched the idea for a picture to my wife and she thought it was funny. While hanging out at the skywalk entrance, we saw a Slave Leia in the skywalk, so we ventured in for the picture. The cosplayer’s name was Amanda VanHiel and I explained the idea for the picture to her and her husband and they thought it was great. So I asked my daughter to take the picture, but she wasn’t too sure about it. She acquiesced, but thought it was weird. It turned out to be my favorite shot from the weekend.
We had a little break later in the day and my son wanted to go swimming, but my daughter was all about the cosplay watching. So she and I headed back over to the convention, this time finding a different entrance by where the buses were. It was covered and turned out to be another decent spot. While standing there, I saw someone on Twitter and Instagram that I follow, Scott Kinney. I wasn’t 100% sure it was him so as he walked by I just said, “kidkosmic” and he stopped. We chatted briefly and took a selfie.
We also grabbed a few other shots. The hope was to meet Twitter and Instagram friend Liz at this time, but she was unable to meet us at this point.
The church convention rooms were along the main corridor of the Rosen right near the entrance to the skywalk. So various characters just walked through during our meeting times. Star Wars characters would also ride along in the elevator and my enthusiasm could barely be contained when a Jawa joined us.
Friday night, I had made plans to meet up with Fourth Chair Army member Mike Westfall. It was an awesome time and we grabbed our obligatory selfie. On the way, we saw an awesome lightsaber meetup from afar and I grabbed what turned out to be a cool shot of that.
Saturday was a hodge podge of activity. Star Wars attendees had to be up as it seemed the cosplay was everywhere by this point. My son wanted a pic with a really cool heavily armed trooper. We also saw a few Matt, the Radar Technicians. My daughter is a huge fan of that SNL skit and she wanted a pic with Matt. I got a pic with another Matt.
I didn’t get too many shots of Stormtroopers, but when I saw a group of Canadian Stormtroopers, I had to get a shot for our Canadian friends. I also noticed only a couple Force Awakens troopers. So when I saw one, I got a selfie. I do love that design.
We did make an excursion to go eat (more on this later) and when we came back, we parked next to a really cool van that was doing some cosplay.
While going inside would have been fun and I’m sure I would have had the opportunity to meet up with some other people, hanging out on the periphery was great, too. Some reports seemed to indicate that the show had some logistical issues with panel attendance queuing. And other lines were reported to be extremely long. While at times I did feel I was living a lie since I was not an actual Celebration attendee, this might have been one of my favorite con experiences. At the very least, it was the best convention I never attended.
It was pointed out to me by Kay that the van we parked next to is James Hance’s van. Very cool.
He got said when I said we were leaving Celebration, so I promised to pick him up a cake pop on the way home. He likes the birthday ones ❤️ pic.twitter.com/tKcAMe5btb
— James Hance (@JimJeroo) April 17, 2017