Editor’s Note: Babble and Lucasfilm are a part of The Walt Disney Company.
If your family loves all things Star Wars, then the Star Wars Celebration taking place in Orlando from April 13 – 16 is not to be missed.
The kid-friendly event, which travels to new locations each year, is the ultimate fan experience and is even referred to as Lucasfilm’s “love letter to Star Wars fans.” If that description alone hasn’t sold you on attending, Mary Franklin will.
Babble caught up with Franklin, who worked at Lucasfilm prior to her current position at ReedPOP, to learn more about what this special event has to offer. Franklin has been involved with the Celebration since 2002 — that’s over 15 years of dedication to the Force.
If you’re wondering what Celebration entails, imagine Comic-Con — but with all things Star Wars. Franklin explains:
“This year, fans will have the opportunity to see some spectacular looks ahead to Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars Rebels. At the same time, we’ve got more specialized content for fans of all interests, from master classes with artists and authors, to cosplay panels presented by fans and everything in between.”
A sneak peek into what Rey and Kylo Ren are up to? Sign us up!
To dive in a bit deeper, Franklin notes there will be eight live stages with content that ranges from spectacular star-studded shows to intimate classrooms. Fans will be able to purchase tons of collectibles created just for the event and participate in a number of interactive activities. For example, your little Jedi can embark on Jedi Training, pose with a real-scale set, and build with Star Wars LEGO® play products.
Not to mention there’s an autograph hall where fans can meet and greet the likes of Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso, Rogue One), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and more Star Wars elite.
Worried about bringing your kids along? Fear not. Franklin recommends parents print the daily schedule to map out what they want to do with their family each day, noting there are great options for downtime, including the Star Wars Family Room. The room includes drawing classes by Star Wars artists, craft classes, youngling lightsaber activities, and more. There’s even a costume parade each day.
After your intergalactic intermission, you’ll want to check out Franklin’s most intriguing recommendation: the R2-D2 Builder’s Room. “Every hour on the hour the droids are scheduled to erupt into a sound and light show!” she says.
There is also, of course, a cosplay element to the event you won’t want to miss. Fans go all out preparing their Star Wars costumes. Franklin notes, “The baby Yodas and Chewbaccas are always adorable, but my favorites are the little girls in armor, cosplaying as Mandalorians or stormtroopers or Darth Vader.”
We couldn’t help but ask Franklin if any costumes have stayed with her over the years, and she did not disappoint. “One standout was Darth Vader, but with a pink tutu and kittens painted on the helmet. When I asked her dad, he told me, ‘This was entirely her idea.'”
It’s no secret that Star Wars has made an impact on adults and kids alike, making this event the perfect way to incorporate the Force into your family fun. Franklin thinks the influence Star Wars has had on families comes down to three things:
“The themes of friendship, loyalty, [and] the constant choices we all make between ‘light side’ and ‘dark side.’ Decisions always ring true, no matter what the decade.”
We certainly agree, and can’t think of a better tribute to these inspired films than with a celebration of this caliber. Franklin recalls her first Star Wars Celebration and how stressed she was, wanting to make sure the event ran smoothly. Right before it was time to open the doors and let the fans roll in, she took a moment to take it all in.
“The line stretched for blocks — six blocks out of sight and around the building … It was that moment that I realized how lucky I was to get to work on something that affected so many lives in a good way,” she remembers.
It’s clear that this event is more than just a gathering of fans — it’s the coming together of a community.
Star Wars Celebration takes place at the Orange County Convention Center April 13-16. You can purchase tickets at starwarscelebration.com.