This year the Orange County Convention Center is hosting the 2017 Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida. With the highlight of this year’s event focused on the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope and the first footage of The Last Jedi thousands of Star Wars fans made their way slowly into the Convention Center amid chaos. While a majority of fans are staying at home and watching the panels on live stream the fans that are attending have a very different story to tell about their experience.
You did not need to be in Orlando to hear about the issues people were having at the convention. All over social media and The Star Wars Celebration app fans posted their displeasure with how the wait lines for entry, autograph, photo ops, shopping, and panels were handled. It was to be expected for long lines at a convention this size but this was at another level. It took some people over three hours just to enter the convention center Thursday morning causing some to miss out on autographs and photo ops they had pre-paid for. For someone who has been to multiple conventions over the years it was to be expected to stand in long lines and wait but it seemed like this was a little more unorganized this year.
One of the biggest controversies with the first day of the event was the overnight queue for The 40th Anniversary of A New Hope Panel that would see a majority of the original cast from the prequels with a couple surprise appearances. With such anticipation thousands of fans made their way to the convention center the night before to be one of the first in lines to get a wristband to attend the panel. A normal tradition with the bigger conventions, but the problem here started when the staff weren’t adhering to the rules that were stated on the Star Wars Celebration website. Fans were getting set up in all different locations and ones who were waiting in the locations told by staff members were being skipped over for fans that mad their own lines.
Of all the troubles that happened over the past 48 hours the convention directors did hear all the issues from the people attending and after the end of the first a lot of the major issues were being fixed. More entrance locations were created for Friday morning, staff had better information to respond, and lines were structured better for morning panels.
There is a reason bigger conventions have soft opening days with small panels is for this situation here. A soft opening allows the convention coordinators and staff to prepare for the size and flow of the crowds and see where there would be issues to fix before the bigger crowds show up. With Star Wars Celebration having one of its biggest panels on opening day it did not allow the directors and staff to The good that came out of all this is the convention coordinators have tried to fix the situation by adding more entrances starting Friday.