Two years ago Disney held its D23 Expo in Anaheim. On the last day of the convention my friends and I bumped into Lucasfilm’s Mary Franklin who explained that she was there to see how Disney was running things because Celebration would be there in two years. From observing what Disney did at D23 they did improve on one thing, but a couple major problems popped up at this year’s Celebration that show Lucasfilm should drop ReedPop and just allow Disney to run the convention.
At D23 they lined people up in rows like they did at Celebration this year, but they actually lead each row to their seat. You couldn’t pick where you sat. That was a huge complaint at D23, and thankfully they didn’t do that at Celebration, but it’s a minor improvement compared to the nightmare some fans had to go through thanks to ReedPop and the convention center staff.
The first problem arrived with the overnight line for the JJ Abrams kickoff to Celebration on Thursday morning. The first fans showed up to line up as early as 8:00am on Wednesday and spent all day waiting for the doors to open at 6:00pm. When they did and they finally got inside Hall E they were told they were now locked in and if they were to leave they would lose their space in line. They would have to go to the end of the line, and possibly end up in a different line completely.
This completely slapped the fans in their faces for lining up and stunk of ReedPop conspiring with the convention center to force people into buying the disgusting and expensive snack bar food all night. While it seems like ReedPop was only concerned with making the convention center a lot of money by locking fans underground for 12 hours, it became an inhumane burden for some fans who had to give up and leave.
From the fan’s perspective it had absolutely nothing with food or leaving to get actual affordable food elsewhere. It has everything to do with ReedPop not telling people they would be unable to leave the room once they got in line. Because of this many fans were unprepared and weren’t able to return to their cars for chairs, pillows, or sleeping bags. Thanks to the brutal convention center staff who gave Shawshank Prison guards a good name, no one was willing to risk losing their spot in line to actually be comfortable for twelve hours.
A very easy way to handle this would’ve been to hand out wristbands to people once they got in their spot inside the convention center. That would tell the convention staff where people belonged and would’ve allowed people to return to their cars for stuff they needed. I know some people forgot their insulin shots and were told they couldn’t go get them. What if someone went into diabetic shock in line for the panel? I doubt Lucasfilm would’ve liked that charming story to show up on the Today Show or Good Morning America.
Telling fans that they had to be the convention center’s prisoner for twelve hours after many camped out nearly that long already is unforgivable. Lucasfilm should be ashamed that they allowed ReedPop to treat fans like that before the convention even began. The treatment of the overnight line alone should be enough reason for Lucasfilm to revoke ReedPop’s license and allow the team at Disney who puts on D23 to handle Celebration, but there was another huge problem.
The Celebration Store.
Ignoring the fact that people with an exhibitor badge were able to get into the store and clear out stuff before anyone else, there was a huge problem with eBay scalpers and the lack of any limit on merchandise. The Celebration and The Force Awakens T-Shirts were a huge target for scalpers, and on the first day you could see people holding up to ten shirts at once. It’s no wonder those sold out immediately and any restock they got went within the first twenty minutes.
As many headache-inducing problems there are at San Diego Comic Con, they do have a good solution to this. SDCC badges have barcodes on them. When you buy an exclusive, scan the barcode and the system can tell if you’ve already bought that one. Also limit people to less than five of any one item. Otherwise the convention is just catering to eBay scalpers and not fans.
Star Wars Celebration was a lot of fun, but even conventions such as WonderCon (which was at the same location a week before) don’t have the same sort of problems.
Oh and ReedPop, stop counting 4-Day badges as four individual ticket sales. You aren’t fooling anyone with your inflated numbers for NYCC and Celebration.