Now that Celebration V details have been officially announced, I was able to get on the phone and get some more information from Steve Sansweet, Director of Content and Fan Relations at Lucasfilm Ltd, and more importantly, the man in charge of Star Wars Celebrations. Of course Steve has been dying to get this announced, and nobody could be happier it is than him.
With the announcement, three questions have come up pretty quickly in emails to us. Why did it take so long to announce, why Orlando and why August, so that's where I started with Steve.
Steve said first that the new partnership with show producer Reed Exibitions gives them exclusive rights to do celebration events, and with his experience doing seven celebrations, and their massive experience producing shows, it took a long time to get everything about this partnership perfect. But along the way, Lucasfilm and Reed were working on venues, and that in itself is a big project, starting with 10 - 12 possible cities. With Steve's desire to continue to move the Celebrations around the country geographically, the west was pretty quickly ruled out, while cities like Baltimore, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Chicago and others were considered, some dropped out because they just didn't have appropriate facilites or dates that worked. The long period spent finalizing a producing contract did affect the final date because Steve and Reed want this to be the best celebration yet and we all know that does take time to plan for them and for fans. Steve went on to say he couldn't be happier with Reed as the producer because they have tremendous experience in producing shows, but they also have a terrific track record building a pop-culture show with the success they have shown in New York ComicCon in just four years.
I asked Steve about it being really hot in Orlando that time of year. He said it's pretty hard to find any place that isn't hot in August, but for sure Orlando will be humid and though it is hot, most of the time we'll all be inside. Having grown up in Houston myself, I know you just really get used to every place you go having cold airconditioning blowing, which is how places like this operate. In fact, for those that will be involved in the show, even hall setup and takedown will be airconditioned. Pretty much, Steve feels this is the right place in the right year and everything just feels right about the decision. Steve pointed out not only is there ample supply of nearby hotel rooms for all budgets, but Orlando is a destination site itself, especially with Disney right there and they expect many fans to stay over to take advantage of this. While there are no actual plans yet, they do expect to work closely with Disney and others and hope to have special arrangements with other Orlando destinations.
I asked Steve if he felt the destination would mean even more families with children would attend than before. He said even before the weekly Clone Wars series, more families has been attending the celebrations, but now, the combination of the success of the show and the Orlando destination should really bring out the families.
For those that have never seen the convention hall, I can tell you it's a massive place. Steve told me they have an option on an enormous amount of space, and pending having great ideas to fill it up, they will take it all. Which is where you the fans come in. At the official celebration site, www.starwarscelebration.com, under Events, there is a place for fans to submit Fan Event Ideas. That's right, they are dying to hear what fans want at the show. Submit your Fan Event Ideas Right Here. Steve said events with even more fan interaction are definitely desired.
I had to ask whether Steve thought George Lucas would attend to which he couldn't give a commitment, but that George always gets an invite, in fact, many people that fans would want to see get invites, but schedules and commitments often get in the way. My guess is if enough fans make it known they want to see George at the show, that will do more to get him there than anything. We'll help, stay tuned.
With any Celebration, part of the fun is to have exclusive access to Celebration Exclusive items. Steve said we could not only expect this, but Reed has committed to a process that will allow fans to pre-order items and pick them up at the show. Gentle Giant does this every year at San Diego ComicCon and it is a terrific process that takes the worry out of getting that special limited item and saves you time, so bravo for this. We shouldn't expect an exclusive Hasbro figure though as Steve said the lead time is so long it wasn't practical. Don't fret though, there will be other cool items he says.
Comparing ticket prices, it's nice to see they are similar to Celebration IV, with the addition of a VIP ticket, details of which will be announced. You will be able to upgrade your ticket to VIP when they do announce, so long as you do it right away as Steve says VIP tickets will be very limited.
Steve said fans could count on seeing movie props there again, and of course a huge Star Wars artist contingent, and an autograph hall, as usual as they are all huge fan favorites.
If you are getting ready to make travel plans, you don't need to be in a rush because Steve said at the first of the year they will make huge hotel blocks available online at a discount. The ticket window opens up December 10 at 9:00 AM EST. Prices will be higher at the door according to the website.
Stay tuned right here for all the fan news you need to keep up with Celebration V.
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