Star Wars Celebration 2017 Recap

Out of all the amazing things that J and I have been able to do over these few years, going to Star Wars Celebration wasn’t even on the list of probable things at least until J was a bit older. Last year, we watched Celebration from the comfort of our home just waiting for the day that we would be able to be amongst the crowd. This last weekend however, J and I boarded a plane to our very first of hopefully many Star Wars Celebrations. We left Salt Lake City at 2:30pm on Wednesday April 12 and landed in Orlando at 1:30am on Thursday, we had a 3 hour layover in Las Vegas, we went to sleep around 2am and woke up around 5:30am for our first day. Even though Star Wars Celebration didn’t really begin until Thursday morning, it kicked off for J in Vegas as he was recognized by quite a few people in Vegas and that continued into Thursday as we were walking the line that wrapped around the Orange County Convention Center.

J on the plane

When we found out that we would be attending Star Wars Celebration 2017, I initially got nervous. I get really nervous around large groups of people and I was worried that my nerves wouldn’t allow me to have a great time. Usually if I feel overwhelmed at Salt Lake Comic Con, I can either step in a quiet room or I am just a 5 minute train ride from home. But this seemed like an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up and especially with J. I am really happy we made the trip, we had a blast on the exhibit floor and in the panel rooms.

Star Wars Celebration, like many conventions around the world, had some kinks in the chain. That is expected and forgivable, and without those kinks, some of our favorite moments wouldn’t have happened. We, along with Dr. Sarah from Geek Parenting Podcast, arrived at the Orange County Convention Center around 9 am on that first day. The line was already starting to wrap around the convention center. As mentioned before, J was getting recognized by people in line and I could hear people asking their friends if it would be weird to ask for a picture with him. Before we move on, I want to say that, no it is not weird. Just ask, he is usually more than happy to take pictures with people. We stood in line behind some fun people and we talked with them for about an hour before we saw someone we recognized in line. We told him to hop in line with us and talked with him for another 30 minutes before we made it into the convention center. Once we hit the exhibit hall, our minds were blown. A snowspeeder greeted guests to the wonders of Star Wars Celebration. As we ventured further into the hall, we saw these amazing cars that were modified to resemble ships from the Star Wars universe. When we were approaching these cars, J noticed that one looked especially familiar and from about 30 – 40 yards out he ran screaming “POE’S X-WING”. The owner of the car peeked his head out looking for the excited fan and he greeted us at the amazingly modified vehicle. The owner asked me how old J was and I responded. He was in shock that a fan so young would recognize which X-Wing when all of the older fans just thought it was some “random X-Wing”. He told us that J “made his con” on the first day and that he was so appreciative of how much J loved his car.

We didn’t make it into any of the big panels, mainly because I like sleeping in a nice comfy bed and a nice shower to wake me up in the morning, but we were able to watch them from “The Star Wars Show” stage or on my phone. While the panels were going on though, we took advantage of the little to no lines at all the vendors’ booths to see what goodies we could bring home from our adventure. There were quite a few big name vendors on the floor at Celebration. LEGO, Hasbro, Walt Disney World, Nissan, Funko, UNICEF, and others had interactive booths that fans of all ages would enjoy.

LEGO set up building stations for kids to help the Master Builders build an enormous LEGO Millennium Falcon, Hasbro was showing off their new “Forces of Destiny” toys, Walt Disney World brought Jedi Training to Celebration, Nissan had their Nissan Rogue present with the VR experience, Funko had some exclusive POPs, but our favorite booth had to be the UNICEF Kid Power booth. Not only did they have special edition 40th Anniversary “Force for Change” Kid Power Bands, but they had the one and only Ashely Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano) at the booth doing some Star Wars themed exercises with the kids.

There was so much going on panel wise that I would need at least 20 of me to experience everything Star Wars Celebration had to offer. They had the “Celebration Stage” where all the main panels took place, the “Galaxy Stage”, “Fan Stage”, and “Behind-the-Scenes Stage” all had their own panels as well as streams of the bigger panels. There was a “Family Stage” where activities for the younglings took place. Kids could do “Padawan Training” along side the Saber Guild of New York, they could draw with artists, and had little cosplay contests every afternoon. Across from the “Family Stage” was the “Rebel Theater” where they were showing episodes of Star Wars Rebels every day from open to close. There was also a “Podcast Stage” where Star Wars themed podcasts met with fans to record a “Live from Celebration” episode. We stopped by to watch our friends from the Full of Sith Podcast record their episode. If you have some time, you should go check out their Celebration episode. Every day at Star Wars Celebration was packed with so many amazing activities and I am glad we got to experience as much as we did.

Now that we got the formalities out of the way, let’s go into some of the big things that happened at Celebration. If you watched the 40th anniversary panel, you saw the return of Hayden Christensen to Star Wars Celebration, and that George Lucas and Harrison Ford made an appearance on stage. What you didn’t see was the reaction on the exhibit floor. As I mentioned earlier, we on the exhibit floor had the ability to watch the big panels courtesy of The Star Wars Show’s giant screen, so we were able to see everything happening in real time as well. We were right next to the stage screen when George Lucas was announced, and I have never seen an area get so cramped so fast. People ran from all corners of the floor just to catch a glimpse of the man who created this wonderfully vast universe on the big screen. Tears were streaming down fans faces around the entire convention center as John Williams took to the stage to play Leia’s Theme at the end of the 40th anniversary panel.

We caught a glimpse of The Last Jedi during The Last Jedi panel and it was as glorious as I was wanting it to be. It filled me with hope and excitement and I’ve watched it at least 30 times since it was released. I want to discuss the trailer in more detail, but that could be it’s own post and maybe even a future episode of Geek Parenting Podcast. The one thing I will say right now, is that I am excited to see what Luke’s statement at the end of the trailer means for the future of the franchise.

Another exciting thing we got to be a part of was the Star Wars Rebels press conference. Dr. Sarah was chosen from Geek Parenting Podcast to catch a sneak peek at the fourth and final season of Rebels, while J and I watched the panel from outside of the room on my phone. Since we were not in the panel room, J and I were able to get some good seats for the press conference for the three of us. One of my favorite things about the press conference, that others may find annoying, was Dave Filoni’s ability to troll the members of the press. Almost every question was met with misdirection and I was loving it. Press members would address questions to the voice actors and they would all look to Filoni for what they could say, which was usually “not much”. After the press conference, J got to meet and get a picture with Taylor Gray (the voice of Ezra Bridger) and we got to catch up with Salt Lake Comic Con alumnus Steve Blum.

The rest of our Celebration weekend was spent meeting friends we’ve made through social media and getting pictures with cosplayers from around the world. It was amazing finally meeting and hanging out with people that we’ve known via Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for a year or more. Every single one of those friends have been very supportive of the blog and social media accounts, and they all made J feel like a celebrity. They all helped make Star Wars Celebration 2017 one of the best memories he will have for the rest of his life, and I want to thank everyone who made it possible for us to be there. If you read my posts, if you follow us on social media, if you donated to the GoFundMe that Dr. Sarah started, you hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you all for your love and support, and we hope that we can keep putting a smile on your face with our posts. You can see some of our photos from Star Wars Celebration by following us on Instagram.

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Disneyland or Bust!!

Hello! My name is James. I am 30 years old, and I have never been to Disneyland. I’ve always wanted to go, but life would always have a way of seeing me not being able to make the trip. My wife has also never been to Disneyland, and neither has our 5 year old son J. That will end soon. We’ve decided that we don’t want our son to live the Disneyland-less childhood that we had.

We (along with a group of friends) will be carpooling down from SLC, and we will be staying at an AirBnB near the park. We also will be celebrating my 31st birthday at Disneyland (insert childlike squeaks of joy). I have been talking with friends, who have been to Disneyland, pretty much non-stop and I still have no plan for how we are really going to spend our time at Disneyland.

One of my friends and Geek Parenting Podcast co-hosts, Dr. Sarah, gave me a book to read with J and my wife so we can try to make a plan but all looking through that book has done is leave me with more questions about how we are going to fit it all into a few days!

My level of excitement is off the charts right now. I have been wanting to go to a Disney park for about 25 years, and J has been asking to go since Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. You only go to Disneyland for the first time once in your life. Thinking about the fact that the first time we go to Disneyland as a family will also be the first time any of us get to go to Disneyland, almost brings a tears to my eyes.

It reminds me of when J and I got to see Mark Hamill at Salt Lake Comic Con. Mark Hamill was almost finished with his 45 minute panel, and tears started rolling down my cheeks. J loves Star Wars just as much as I do, and we got to experience Mark Hamill at Salt Lake Comic Con together. If that made me cry, then Day 1 at Disneyland is going to be mostly tears (I hope tissues aren’t too expensive).

So now that I’ve told you all how easy it is to make me cry, I need your help. Those of you who’ve been to Disneyland, what should be on our “must see” list? What are some of the things you do to prepare for such an amazing trip? What costumes should J wear? Let me know by commenting here, or you can tell me on Facebook or Twitter. Also make sure you are watching the Facebook page, we will probably live stream J’s reaction to the news. 

Star Wars Rebels: Shroud of Darkness

Since the time when Vader and Ahsoka first showed up on Rebels, we have been waiting for that moment when they would face each other. This is not that episode, but the wheels are in motion.

Shroud of Darkness starts off with an amazing Lightsaber duel with Ezra and Kanan taking on the inquisitors. Ezra’s powers and lightsaber skills are growing and he and Kanan are able to fight the inquisitors and escape with their lives. Kanan and Ezra meet back with the Ghost crew with news that they have yet to find the perfect planet for the Rebellion to make a base.

When they return to the Ghost, Ezra finds Ahsoka watching an old Holocron of Anakin teaching some lightsaber techniques. After a brief discussion, Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka decide it’s time to take the fight to the inquisitors, but to do so they must speak with Yoda through the force. What happens next? You will just have to watch and find out.

This episode has so much going for it and viewers young and old will go through so many emotions watching it. You may want to keep a box of tissue next to you, as tears may flow. Shrouds of Darkness has raised my level of excitement for the remainder of the season and I can’t wait to see what our Rebels will do next.

Star Wars Rebels: Homecoming

Meeting your significant other’s parents can be somewhat of a challenge. A good impression can lead to happy interactions throughout the rest of the relationships, one bad impression will lead to a life of awkward dinners and holidays. How will Kanan do when he meets Hera’s father in this weeks episode of Rebels.

The Rebels are in need of a carrier so the Rebellion can house it’s fighters while they are in search for a new planet to make their base. Commander Jun Sato tells the Ghost crew about a rebel cell that is in need of help taking down an Imperial Carrier that is stationed in orbit around the planet of Ryloth, Hera’s home world. Hera contacts the rebel cell leader Cham Syndulla, Hera’s father, and thus beings one amazing episode.

Frustrated with the Empire, Cham Syndulla wants Hera and the Rebels to help him destroy the carrier, in hopes that the Twi’lek people on Ryloth would be inspired to fight by seeing the destruction. Who’s plan will succeed? Will the Rebels get their carrier or will Cham inspire his people to fight the Empire?

We really enjoyed this episode (I feel like I say that a lot). The script was inspiring, and the action was spectacular. If you are a father of a daughter, or a daughter of a father you will love a lot of what you see in Homecoming. The relationship between Cham and Hera felt real, and we loved everything about it. Great job Lucasfilms Animation on another spectacular episode.

Catch new episodes of Star Wars Rebels every Wednesday night at 9/8c

Star Wars Rebels: The Call

***There will be spoilers***

The Call is both visually stunning and filled with action, just what we love from our Rebels episodes. The Rebels are on a mission to find a shipment of clouzon-36 that the Mining Guild has been refining for the Empire. With their own fuel supply running low, the Rebels must limit fuel consumption until they find what they are looking for.

The Ghost is almost running on fumes, Hera is forced to take power from the ship’s heating system to keep the Ghost flying, and the crew is freezing and complaining. Ezra hears something of a distress call, and then all of the sudden the Ghost is being overrun by a swarm of purrgil (space whales). If the purrgil were not enough, two modified Tie-Fighters swoop in and start shooting at the purrgil and the Rebels.

After the battle is done, Ezra gets an impression that the Ghost should follow the purrgil and that impression is verified by Sabine’s calculations of where the Tie-Fighters came from. The purgill lead the Rebels to the Mining Guild’s refinery and the Empire’s shipment.

We enjoyed The Call, and it left us with that “you can’t alway judge a book by it’s cover” vibe. If you are a fan of space whales traveling through hyperspace, you will be a fan of this episode. Let us know what you think, and May the Force be With You.

Catch new episodes of Star Wars Rebels every Wednesday night at 9/8c

Star Wars Rebels: Legends of the Lasat

For the past 2 seasons, we’ve been led to believe that Zeb is the last of his kind. While viewers usually sense that he feels like part of a family with his Ghost crew, we feel like something is missing. In the first 90 seconds, we find that everything we think we know about Zeb has been wrong.

Zeb Reaction

©2016 – Disney xD

The Ghost crew is on an Ezra led mission to free some captives held by the Empire. Unbeknownst to them, these refugees happen to be Zeb’s people (Lasat). In this week’s episode we get to dig a little deeper into Zeb’s past while he and the Ghost crew try to help the Lasat refugees find their prophesied new world of Lira San.

Legends of the Lasat is an action packed episode with an appearance by everyone’s favorite Weequay pirate, Hondo Ohnaka. We follow Zeb through an emotional journey as he goes from believing he failed the Lasat to the realization that he is the one to lead his people to Lira San. In my opinion, Legends of the Lasat leaves Star Wars Rebels viewers with a great message that if we believe in ourselves, we will find the path to our own personal Lira San.

Catch new episodes of Star Wars Rebels every Wednesday night at 9/8c

Star Wars Rebels

Yesterday (Sept. 27) J and I attended a special screening of the Star Wars Rebels series premiere episode thanks to the amazing people over at Big Shiny Robot. Star Wars Rebels follows the story of Ezra, a young man fighting against the empire in his own way. He sees a group of rebels interrupt a shipment of Empire crates and in the confusion, Ezra takes one of the crates from the rebels. It’s hard for me to write anything else because I don’t want to spoil anything for everyone. I think this will be an amazing series that the whole Star Wars loving family will enjoy. If you have Disney xD on your cable or satellite subscription, you might be able to watch the episode on the Watch Disney xD app. If you can’t watch it on the app, Star Wars Rebels premieres October 13th (check your local listings for premiere time). You can also celebrate the premiere by adding Star Wars Rebels stickers to your photos with the Disney Photo Finish app.