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.

In This Fight Since He Was Six Years Old

By now, I’m pretty sure that most people who have found their way to our blog have watched Rogue One. If not, you may want to stop reading this post until you’ve watched it. I’ll wait. Have you started watching it yet? It was pretty great, right? Well, everyone has a right to their own opinion.

As most of you probably know or guessed we loved Rogue One. We’ve seen it quite a few times, and yes it still is as emotionally charged as the first time we saw it. The characters were amazing, the writing was fantastic, the cinematography was spot on, the directing was great, and the actors were spot on. Before we continue, this is not another review of Rogue One, this is a deeper look into what one line of the movie means for Star Wars fans of all ages. 

During a heated conversation between Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian says, “I’ve been in this fight since I was six years old.” In this day and age, a statement like this is both exciting and terrifying. Terrifying in the sense that child soldiers are a reality, yet exciting for younger fans who may feel like they are too small to make a difference. 

As a youngling, I remember wishing I could be like Luke Skywalker. Fighting the evils of the Empire in my X-Wing along side all my rebellious friends, all the while thinking, “how can I make a difference?” This feeling followed me throughout my youth. If I didn’t like the way someone was being treated on the playground, I would feel the courage starting to build and yet that one thought would creep it’s ugly head and I would end up shirking back into my shell. Star Wars taught me to be courageous, but how could I be courageous at a young age?

When J started going to school, I worried that he would end up like me and that he would be a victim of bullies and would sit back while others were bullied around him all because that one thought would find it’s way into his mind. When J found himself a victim of a school yard bully, he turned to his favorite comic book dealing with school yard bullying, “Avengers: No More Bullying”. He found comfort in the words written between those pages and found courage in the story of Captain America, Luke Skywalker, and Ezra Bridger. All characters in favorites comics, movies, and cartoons that were courageous in their youth.

While Ezra showed courage at such a young age, it was still quite a few years ahead of J and I was worried that he might let that fact stop him from reaching into his courage when he really needed it. I know what you are thinking, what about all the younglings who became Jedi? Yes, younglings show great courage, but they also can rely on the force to aid their courage and while that is great, I think something closer to the realm of reality can have a bigger impact. Before you say, “but Ezra is a Jedi!!”, you have to remember that we first see Ezra before he discovers that he is Force sensitive. Cassian is just a regular human from the planet Fest. He has no Force sensitivity and no cybernetics to enhance his person, so when he says those eleven words, he fills those younger fans with hope. A hope that they too can make a difference and be courageous too.

 Who were some characters that you pulled inspiration from as a kid? Which characters do you pull inspiration from these days? 

“Rouge One: A Star Wars Story” Review

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY Directed by Gareth Edwards; Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy; Story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta; Based on Characters and Situations created by George Lucas; Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn ; Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi action and violence; Running time 133 minutes

Rogue One was the first Star Wars movie that I had to skip out on opening night because I made a scheduling error and told my wife that she could plan her work Christmas party on the same night. However, I was lucky enough to see it twice, for free, the next day with the first screening being with my wife and her amazing coworkers and without J. It was kind of nice not seeing my first screening of Rogue One without J because I’m usually checking on him to see how he’s taking in the movie and I usually end up missing some things. It also gave me the chance to catch as many Easter Eggs as I could so I could share those with him when we saw it together, which was an hour after my first screening.

If I had to choose one word to describe Rogue One it would be superb. The story was amazing, the actors were fantastic, and K2SO almost took the top spot for my favorite droid. Rogue One had something for everyone. I believe that even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie, that you would enjoy Rogue One. The action sequences were on par with any other Star Wars film (minus the lightsabers), the comedic timing of K2SO was mesmerizing (Thank you Alan Tudyk), and the drama was pulling away at my heart strings the entire time.

There have been a few articles telling parents not to take their younger kids to see Rogue One. While I get that this is one of the franchise’s “darker” films, it is still a Star Wars movie. If your kids know the difference between fantasy and reality, and have seen all of the other Star Wars movies, then they should be able to sit through Rogue One. J (5) saw it with me last night and he absolutely loved the movie. He was catching Easter Eggs like a pro, and was squeezing my hand in excitement throughout most of the movie.  That being said, you know your kids better than I or any other person writing about Rogue One would, so the final say is up to you.

Something that I would recommend that fans of the Saga do, that was recommended to me by Bryan Young from the Full of Sith Podcast, is watch A New Hope one more time before seeing Rogue One. You will never be able to watch it again without having Rogue One on your mind. As a matter of fact, I am watching it right now as I write this and all I am thinking about is Rogue One. I am really looking forward to the next time I watch A New Hope with J.

If you can’t tell, we absolutely loved Rogue One and would recommend that every man, woman, child, droid, and Jawa see it. You will leave the theater forever changed, and it is worth it. I have some spoilery things to say, but I will leave that for private messages and Facebook groups. If you’ve seen the movie and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on our Facebook page or Instagram. I’d love to hear what you thought and if you caught the same Easter Eggs as I did.

We hope you have a great holiday season and May the Force be With You. 

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