I didn't have plans on staying overnight for Opening Ceremonies, but it probably would have been cool to have been In The Room (more on being "In The Room" later) when Oscar, Daisy, and John were introduced to Star Wars fans, and BB-8 was rolled out. However, for sheer audience reaction and vibe, I think being in the Digital Stage was just fine and only just a little less equal to what fans experienced in the Celebration Stage. Watch that trailer with thousands of people around you was an experience your not likely to get even if you go to a midnight screening on opening night! The gasps, the cheers, it was thrilling! Then coming home and watching Reaction videos was fun too. :)
Since James Arnold Taylor was the host of the Celebration Stage, I was one of the many disappointed fans to see that guy from Entertainment Weekly hosting the ceremonies. This was a new adventure we were going into, and having a familiar face like JAT lead us toward it would have been more reassuring that this complete stranger.
One of IGN's editors from the UK affiliate said he was surprised to see Keira Knightley playing the Daisy Ridley role, which is exactly what I was thinking when she came out on stage! I don't know if it was her smile or haircut or what, but she looked a lot like Keira. If the theories on who she is playing are correct, casting Daisy was an extraordinary game of connect-the-dots.
I think all the air was sucked out of the room in that beat before Harrison spoke when Han and Chewie appeared on screen, then blasted out in a cacophony of joy after he said, "We're home."
The First Order
If I had a plan after Opening Ceremonies I don't remember what it was, because as we rode the escalator down from the 3rd floor (watching the trailer again on our phones) I noticed a sign that said "The Force Awakens Archive Room 208." My eyes bulged. Wait, what's this? I don't remember seeing this in the program or on the app! Should I go see it? How can I pass this up? Will this spoil things for me? Do I care?
Apparently not, because I got into what was then an incredibly short line, that would later in the week evolve into a multi-hour wait. I think I was one of the first 10 or 20 people into the display and even though there wasn't a whole lot in there I spent more time than I expected to be in there and not enough, if that makes sense. I missed the details on Fin's concept art with his costume, and probably should have looked a little closer at the X-wing and Falcon models, but I was really intrigued with the flame-trooper and new snowtrooper costumes. I didn't get his name, but the movie's costume master was in there and I got to talk to him for a minute or two about the flame-trooper. He kinda indicated that they had a near-accident with them one time, but they weren't a problem overall. I tried to start a conversation about the historical use flame-throwers in war, that it was a dangerous occupation, but I think he misinterpreted that as me talking about the movie or Star Wars Universe or something.
There was a wait before they opened the exhibit, so like you do at Star Wars conventions you just start talking about Star Wars while you wait. We were watching the trailer on our phones, of course, and breaking it down. Pointing out the crashed X-wing in the opening shot, the TIE fighter chasing down Rey and Fin (and BB-8), all that fun stuff. Trailer watching was a fun past-time while waiting in line, whether it was for TFA, Rebels, or Battlefront.
Also while waiting in line for that exhibit, I spotted Dave Filoni without his hat going backstage for something (I think it was during that line). Director Kyle Newman (minus wife Jaimie King) and Rebel Force Radio contributor and Ralph McQuarrie acolyte Paul Bateman tried to "do you know who we are" their way into the exhibit early, but the staff wasn't having it, so they had to get in line like everyone else. That being said, I think they were like only 20 people behind me.
Speaking of lines...
I wanted to go back up to the Digital Stage to see the Restored music for The Empire Strikes Back, but I had time to kill, so I went down to the food-trucks outside the convention center to get lunch. I don't think any of the offerings were any good for you, but if you made careful selections and didn't mind the prices, the food was pretty good!
I had already heard David Collins' presentation on the missing music from Empire on the Star Wars Oxygen podcast several months ago, but seeing it synced-up with the film was pretty entertaining.
The Untold Clone Wars presentation was next, but even though I wanted to stay for that they cleared out the room and made us wait in line again. Turned out that that wasn't much of a problem since I still got a good seat to see Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo talk Clone Wars. Side note: I think either Pablo or Dave were at the vast majority of the panels that I attended. They were everywhere!
There were a lot of interesting stories planned for the future of Clone Wars, so I'm hoping they turn up in other forms of media like comics or novels like the forthcoming Dark Disciple. That was an 8-episode arch! That would have been a third of an entire season! Could the fans take that much Ventress and Voss? There was a gal at the panel with Ventress' new haircut, so Dave gave her a poster of the book cover and promised to sign it after the panel, which was pretty cool. I haven't watched the Bad Batch episodes at starwars.com, yet, but those looked interesting. I thought the Padmé pin-up on the gunship was a funny idea, but I had a feeling that a lot of female fans wouldn't be too pleased with it.
They had a small clip with Ahsoka where we got to see what things were like for her after she left the Temple. Pablo and Dave also mentioned that there were stories that were in the works that would take place after Order 66, which would have been great to see.
I don't think I had anything planned after that. The friends I was with were planning on seeing the movies in the evening, so I had time to kill, so I checked out the autograph hall. I really wasn't planning on getting my autograph from Ashley Eckstein on that first day, but the line for tickets was relatively short, her price was fairly cheap, and her line seemed... not bad. She was there for a short window of time that first day, so I decided to take the opportunity while I had it. Turns out that a line that looked short was about 90 minutes long! I don't know if it was just Ashley being talkative with fans (actually, I think it was the fans that were being more talkative with her) or the VIP pass-holders who got to cut in line (that was frustrating, especially when the line was moving), but that was long.
On the plus side, I spotted frostbit_sky and got to meet her for the first time. She and helplessdancer were the only two people I knew going that I had never met before so it was cool to finally meet both of them this time around. And neither meetings were planned, either! Stephanie was in Ashley's autograph line, and I spotted Bria walking over to the convention center the morning of day 4. Short chats with both of them, but it was cool to finally meet them none-the-less.
One of my few regrets was with Ashley's autograph. I got it personalized to show that I didn't intend to sell it (that's one of those ethical things I feel I need on any autographs I get from someone face-to-face), but I couldn't think of any additional phrase or greeting she could have added to it that would have been appropriate. I should have thought of "Kevin, May the Force Be with You, Ashley" but that didn't pop into my head in time. It's a picture of Ahsoka deflecting a stun-blast while being chased by clones, and I couldn't think of something that would fit with the picture, so it's simply, "To Kevin, Ashley Eckstein Ahsoka Tano" signed with that big A she uses for Ashley and Ahsoka.
Then it was TPM and AOTC in 3D with a big audience which was pretty cool. You know those signs that laid out the rules for treating cosplayers with the headline "Cosplay is Not Consent" that were displayed throughout the convention? Well, as Anakin strokes Padmé's arm and leans in to kiss her, someone should out "Cosplay is not consent!" Which got a good laugh and seemed to break the tension regarding those sometimes cringe-worthy scenes. At least I felt more relaxed having that small bit of humor in my mind during those scenes.
And that was just Day One!