Twice delayed, understandably, due to the COVID pandemic, the Star Wars Celebration finally arrived at Anaheim, California, for the first time since 2015. When my wife Julia and I attended the 2015 show, we were only able to get tickets for one day (Saturday) of the four-day event, which felt like little more than a preview. We knew we’d missed a great deal. In 2019, when tickets originally went on sale for this latest Celebration, we were able to get tickets for all four days. We were very grateful that those tickets we’d originally purchased nearly three years ago rolled over–without refunding–so that we didn’t lose our chance to attend when the Celebration finally arrived this year, in 2022.
Rescheduling the Celebration from its original month of August, 2019 to May of 2022 was a logistical challenge for my teacher wife, but we managed to work it out. We were even more grateful that three one-day tickets we’d purchased as Christmas presents for friends of ours also rolled over, so that their son (a ten-year old Star Wars devotee) was able to attend as well. Despite the horror of the pandemic, this was one instance where luck and careful planning were ultimately on our side; in other words, the Force was with us.
Lucasfilm Studio Showcase.
Part of our strategy for this convention was ‘divide-and-conquer’; I’d pre-paid for several ticketed celebrity autographs, while my wife won a lottery for a very fortunate ticket for the Lucasfilm Studio Showcase; a live event held in the venue’s massive Arena auditorium, renamed the “Celebration Stage” for the week. This ticket also gave her access to a premiere screening of DisneyPlus’ “Obi-Wan Kenobi” miniseries and access to “The Mandalorian Experience” exhibit (more on those later).
The Showcase featured upcoming trailers for several new Star Wars series, as well as appearances from many top-tier Star Wars actors, including “Han Solo” himself, Harrison Ford! There was even a live concert given my film composer and legend John Williams, conducting the Pacific Symphony Orchestra! My wife clearly got the better end of the deal, but I didn’t mind. She spent a great deal of time hurriedly preparing both of our costumes for the Celebration (we cosplayed as Luke Skywalker’s “Uncle Owen” and “Aunt Beru”) so no one deserved to enjoy the full riches this event had to offer more than she did.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi” World Premiere.
My wife’s good luck continued, as her winning ticket to the Lucasfilm Studio Showcase also awarded her a pass to the World Premiere of DisneyPlus’ “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Parts 1 and 2. Once again, armed with her iPhone camera, my wife did her best to share the event with me, and I’m grateful. The cast also attended the premiere, along with producer/director Deborah Chow, who’d also directed episodes of “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett.” I caught “Kenobi” Parts 1 and 2 over breakfast at our hotel the following morning (via my trusty 15″ iPad), so I’d be up to speed when I went back to the Celebration the following day.
The Costumes of Kenobi.
Also on display at the convention were some of the screen-used costumes seen in “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, and I did get a chance to see those in person, since they were later moved to the main Dealer Hall of the convention, where I spent most of my time. The costumes were from the villainous “Inquisitors” as well as the hero costume of “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, as worn by Ewan McGregor.
The Stars of Star Wars.
What, may you ask, was so important that I missed going to the various events described above? Well, it was the celebrities. Star Wars Celebration 2022 had a number of actors doing autograph signings for the event, and I very much wanted to meet several of them. I purchased autograph tickets in advance to guarantee my autographs, but it meant I had to be there in person, as well. Ian McDiarmid, the infamous “Emperor Palpatine” from 1983 onward, was onboard for the event, as was actor Carl Weathers, who is more famously known for both the “Rocky” movies and 1987’s “Predator,” in addition to his newfound fame as recurring foe-turned-ally “Greef Garga” in “The Mandalorian.”
I also had the opportunity to meet-and-greet with Anthony Daniels, the actor who has inhabited and voiced the protocol droid “C3PO” from 1977 onward in more Star Wars productions than I can recall. Also on deck was Giancarlo Esposito, who appeared in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” (1989), but more recently found tremendous TV fame as drug-dealing chicken restauranteur “Gus Fring” in both “Breaking Bad” and its prequel “Better Call Saul.” Esposito recently made his Star Wars debut as “Moff Gideon” in “The Mandalorian.” As a huge fan of the Breaking Bad universe, I just had to meet him.
Many more celebrities attended the event, including grotesquely maligned actress Kelly Marie Tran (who received a long overdue round of thunderous applause from grateful fans), but given the prices of autographs, I had to pick my autographs carefully.
The Mandalorian Experience.
My wife’s lucky streak with that golden Lucasfilm Studios Showcase ticket continued, as it also gave her early access to “The Mandalorian Experience”; an exhibit of props, costumes, miniatures, spaceships, makeup pieces and a treasure trove of other screen-used items from both “The Mandalorian,” and “The Book of Boba Fett”, including a full-scale N-1 Starfighter (“Return of The Mandalorian”), and a full-sized animatronic bantha. Once again, my wife had her iPhone handy, and documented the experience so well, that I didn’t feel as though I’d missed anything when we returned to our hotel room to share photos afterward. More of my wife’s Mandalorian Experience photos are in the Flickr album link near the bottom of this column. Enjoy!
The “Lars Family” & Friends.
At the top of the column, I mentioned that my wife and I had bought Saturday-only tickets for our friends Kathy and Adam, as well as their young son, Joshua, who is a major Star Wars fan. Well, we’d bought those tickets in 2019 when Joshua was barely eight, and luckily they rolled over as well, so that our friends could join us for a day at the Celebration. My wife and I were cosplaying as “Uncle Owen” and “Aunt Beru,” with Joshua cosplaying as a young “Luke Skywalker.” Fortuitously, Joshua still qualified for his child’s pass (whew!) and the five of us had a nice get together at the Celebration. Once my wife and I showed them the layout of the Dealer Hall, they were able to take Joshua on various adventures of his own, including additional photo ops at some of the exhibits, as well as a kids’ lightsaber training class! If you ever get the opportunity to enjoy a convention with friends? I highly recommend it.
As I’ve said before in previous columns where I’ve covered conventions, one of my favorite aspects of sci-fi/fantasy/horror conventions is the cosplay. These everyday geniuses often spend weeks, months and even years perfecting their costumes, and the results are anywhere from deliberately silly to silver screen-worthy. Some are done with little more effort than your average Halloween costume, while others rival the best studio-made efforts. Even my wife and I got into the act with our Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru costumes. It’s an explosion of creativity, and there are times where I feel I could just pull up a chair and watch the parade of costumes go by all day long…
The Secret Plans.
“Look at the size of that thing!”
All 211 photos (and one six-second video) of our time at Star Wars Celebration 2022 can be found on my Flickr Album, which I’ll link here if you have the inclination and the curiosity:
The album includes more detailed photos from some of the above events, as well as a closer look at some of the items for sale within the Dealer Hall. Enjoy!
The Tour de Force Continues.
The Star Wars Celebration comes to London next, in April of 2023. I’m grateful that this convention isn’t limited to one city or venue, so that fans around the world can have an opportunity to enjoy the the sights, the costumes, the props, the guests, and the many other talented unseen individuals who take the time to participate in this amazing emergence into all-things Star Wars.