“Take your kids to the Star Wars convention”, they said!
“They’ll have FUN”, they said!
“They’ll get to meet Storm Troopers!”
“And Slave…” Wookie?? Hmmm…. What kind of show is this!?
Yes, when taking kids to a geek convention full of costume groups and cosplay folks, devoted fans and those who thrive on mash-up’s, scandal and satire, you never know what your’e going to see or if even half of it will be appropriate for children.
It’s okay, kids… she’s covered in fur. It’s not like she’s naked, right?
So, while there are always going to be those few, random people pushing the limits with costumes you can never “un-see”, the experience of Star Wars Celebration maintained a welcoming, family atmosphere.
Oh, and “they” were right. Kids had a blast and we had fun watching them take it all in.
Here is our Star Wars Celebration 2015 Family Recap. Hope you enjoy!
We arrived two hours early. As we walked up to the door, our children were confused. Jedi of all species walking around, talking, laughing, standing in line at the food trucks, Sith Lords chilling out, having coffee and getting ready for their day, droids wandering around taking photos with people… and then something terrible happened. The thing all geek parents fear most- that their children will suddenly be struck with terror instead of joy at the sight of costumed characters.
Turns out, Stormtroopers scare the crap out of my son. Or, they did when the day started… but I’ll get to that later.
First we met the Slave Wookie shown above. The kids wanted absolutely nothing to do with “her”, cowering behind the stroller and between our legs to avoid the gaze of the monster.
After that, we found the Droid Builder’s corner and the awesome set up hosted by the R2-D2 Builders Club.
After our slow walk around the droid section, we happened upon an amazing activity hosted by UNICEF entitled “Force for Change“. In their booth, each participant was given a ticker to track footsteps and then sent “through the galaxy” to save the universe. Each step a participant took earned points that added up to real food packets. Those food packets were then donated by UNICEF, to families in need all over the world. The activity was open to children and adults of all ages. They were welcoming, informative and incredibly accommodating, even to my tiny 2 year old who just couldn’t handle NOT participating. Take a look at their experience below;
The kids had an especially great time going through that course and everyone there seemed genuinely excited to be there and to interact with convention goers of all ages. After visiting UNICEF, we then found ourselves here;
Where, while in line for the photo, we were offered a free backpack in exchange for downloading the Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions game on our iPhones. Done and done! Hooray free backpacks! … now to decide if we will open them and actually use them…
After that, we went over to the Lego Play area where, thanks to our Director of Cosplay; Adam Brohel standing in line for us (because no one wants to stand next to two toddlers under 5 being forced to stand in a line during the nap time they are not getting for over an hour), we were able to build ourselves some adorable, tinsy, tiny, Celebration-Exclusive Millennium Falcons. Every day they offered a different build; Thursday was a Star Destroyer, Friday was an X-Wing, Saturday was a Tie Fighter and Sunday was the Millennium Falcon.
Once we finished playing with Legos, we turned the corner to find a giant Darth Vader, made entirely out of Legos. This figure, standing what appeared to be 2 stories high, was a collaborative effort built by convention-goers from Thursday through it’s completion finally on Saturday night. They offered several build stations where people could go and help build pieces of the imposing figure to then be set in place by a Master Builder. The result was an incredible, group effort- one the entire convention could take pride in being part of. Unfortunately I didn’t get a great shot of the entire statue because it was GIANT and I had two very antsy toddlers by that point who didn’t want to stand still while mommy was getting her money shot. Oh well. Use your imaginations.
Next we found an R2-D2 bubble machine by Imperial Toy, LLC along with their entire line of new Star Wars Bubbles. The bubble machine is due for release this autumn and was available for preorder only that day, while the smaller bubbles can be found at several stores today.
Then it was time for a quick walk to the hotel food court where, on our way to the door, we met our first Sandtrooper up close. TD-13117, to be exact, from the Mos Eisley Police Department, a 501st Legion detachment dedicated to law enforcement in Mos Eisley.
He gave us a ticket for smuggling and told us to be on our way. He also gave my four year old his first interaction with a trooper that didn’t absolutely terrify him. This guy, whomever he was, took the time to kneel down, help him feel comfortable, gave him a postcard (ticket) and showed him it was all okay. Whoever you are, TD-13117- you helped him overcome that hurdle and I truly thank you! The rest of the day was a blast with him being brave enough to meet other awesome characters because you took the time.
Next came pizza, a quick nap and then on to the next thing which was a stop to the Family Room upstairs.
The Family Room!
OOOH EMMM GEE!!! This place was a brilliant idea and whomever thought of it deserves a medal. There was origami classes, making your own droid activities, drawing characters, a child’s costume contest, making paper bag puppets, workshops with an R2-D2, trivia games, lightsaber training, Ewok decorating and decorating magnets with Madalorian Mercs. These activities ran all four days from 10am until 6pm most days, except the day we were there on Sunday. Sad for us. In fact, the only complaint I had at all, was we got there too late in the day to participate in many of the activities which ended at 4pm that day-which was not a complaint toward them, just that I assumed things would run all day as they had on previous days and I didn’t check first.
We walked in 10 minutes too late to have our kids join the last Youngling Lightsaber Training event of the day, which was traumatic for a minute, until the nice people at the desk gifted my young Jedi with a beginning reader book called “Luke Skywalker’s Amazing Story”. All was forgiven and once the activity was over, the open floor area was open to all children, where an epic lightsaber battle ensued.
Check out the gallery below for a few images of our time spent in the family room.
While this epic battle was taking place, I was over at the Galactic Academy booth getting information.
The very existence of this group filled me with so many emotions; excited, grateful, relieved and most of all, completely sold and ready to sign up. You see, as a geek parent, we face greater challenges than most, as the world of ultra-geekdom doesn’t typically welcome children. I was a geek long before I was a parent, and I noticed the change as soon as I attended my first event while pregnant. There is an air of irritation, disgust almost at times when the ultra fans see children at these events because somehow, it’s become “cool” to hate kids. This type of agism puts parents on guard, forces them out of events and experiences they once loved simply to avoid the “kids don’t belong here” drama. So, finding a costume group giving honor to the needs of geek families and providing a safe, fun place for our children to be welcome was like finding a spring in a desert.
The Galactic Academy is an independent costume group created by, but not directly associated with the folks in the 501st. They encourage cooperation between costume groups and often work together at events, complimenting one another with similar values and standards.
The club is specifically for children under 18 years of age. That’s right- UNDER 18!!! As in… no limit downward, only a limit upward. Infants are welcome. Toddlers are welcome. Everyone under 18 is welcome. FINALLY… a group of parents deeply passionate about Star Wars and costuming understood the value of creating a group like this. It has only been around 3 years and it is already global. Go ahead, look it up- I bet there’s a garrison near you! One major difference between adult costume groups and the Galactic Academy, is all are welcome. You don’t have to choose “dark” or “light”. They accept any and all from mercs to Jedi to dark emperors and beyond. Needless to say, we will be
One MAJOR problem we had leaving the Family Room; massive, terrible, end of the universe meltdowns because absolutely NOTHING else in the entire galaxy could be as important as lightsaber battles with new friends.
And yet… we moved on, they survived and we took the last 2 hours of the day to leisurely walk around the main hall, see some amazing artwork, action figures, exclusive merchandise and people watch. Check out what we saw in the slideshow below:
We also met the guys from Tantrum, a unique cell phone case company with some amazingly detailed and intricately designed cases. First thing I asked him was, “is it toddler proof”. His answer was an enthusiastic, “ABSOLUTELY, we’ve driven tanks over these things and they hold up. It’ll survive your 3 year old!” The only issue I have with them is they are not waterproof. That is one area of necessity when dealing with cellphones and small children that many don’t consider but is quite valuable. My phone has been tossed into the bathtub 3 times, fell into the toilet one time, and into a plastic pool and has been totally protected by my Otterbox Armor Series case for well over a year. If I didn’t have any concerns with water, I would already own one of these gorgeous and sturdy cases.
Another amazing all-ages attraction/experience was the “Be An Architect of Cloud City” event held in the main hall hosted by Hasbro. Check out the details of this event here and our photos of the completed, hand-made metropolis in the slideshow below! The kicker here, was at the end of the day on Sunday, attendees were welcomed back to the city to collect whatever pieces of it they wanted to take home with them. The gentleman I spoke with (featured in the photos below) was excited to share this aspect of the event, as it provided an opportunity for kids to take home a piece of something amazing that was created by everyone at the convention, free. It also cut down on the waste, as they wouldn’t have to just throw it all in the trash after. A great attraction and a thoughtful experience for all ages.
After checking out Cloud City, we stopped by the Celebration Store. This is where my husband and I have always spent our money in past celebrations. We save our money specifically to spend here on some kind of awesome keepsake that can be purchased nowhere else. It’s become a tradition since our first Celebration together, Celebration III. We were looking forward to finding something the kids could take home and cherish from their first Celebration. Unfortunately, attending on a Sunday reaps little reward in places like this, as everyone who needs to by 12 of everything to sell 11 on eBay the next day pretty much clean house on the first day. As we walked in, it was like walking into a convenience store after a zombie apocalypse. Only the scraps and the overpriced items were left on the shelves. Some where really cute, but nothing I’d spend that kind of money on. Disappointing, but it was to be expected. The slideshow below is what was left when we stopped by.
After we checked out the store, we had one more hour before closing, so we decided to devote that to checking out the costume groups. I was especially impressed with the 501’st and their continuous and consistent kindness and attention toward the kids. Other costume groups seemed to look over their heads and not even notice them unless I specifically said something to encourage them to take notice of the kids, but every single person from the 501st initiated eye contact, bent down to say hello and even in some cases, took off their helmets to show my toddlers that they had nothing to fear and turns out after I checked the trading cards we were offered every time we met someone or took their picture with the kids, they were EACH members of the 501st. Needless to say, I was particularly impressed with them.
Specifically, Maul Trooper; SK/TX-36285, and Darth Maul, SL-6876. Both of these individuals were simply amazing to my two year old who now says Darth Maul, or “Awesome” is her favorite. She now (and still 2 weeks later) tells everyone she sees that she met Darth Maul and he’s nice and she loves him. Maul Trooper and Darth Maul are definitely “awesome”.
And one last honorable mention; TS 2611, the Pink Trooper. As a parent of small children, you are hopeful, yet constantly on guard with others, never certain exactly how they will react to a child’s affection and you’re always on guard in case that person is a danger, so when my two year old suddenly pulled away from me to literally jump into the lap of a beautiful woman in a pink Storm Trooper outfit as she was busy arranging her things at the end of the day, helmet off and obviously tired, I was anxious and felt bad. Yet, TS 2611 was incredibly accommodating. She spoke to her softly, hugged her for a long time, gave her a kiss on her forehead and a sticker to take home. It was a moment as precious and perfect as any princess meet and greet at Disneyland has ever been. I am truly thankful to this trooper.
So, here are the photos of the rest of our time at Celebration this year.
I hope you enjoyed the recap and it showed you that conventions truly ARE a place for children of all ages and their experience is worth every single second of trouble it might be to get them there.