Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…
The exhibit hall was littered with dozens of vendors plying wares old and new, but if you treated the Celebration website and program as your concierges, their strongest recommendations to you were two particular stops most directly tied to Lucasfilm itself, each demanding either that weekend’s disposable income or a promise of your future vacationing dollars. Both had everyone’s attention. Both had long lines. Neither was guaranteed to satisfy everyone.
In the center of the show floor was the super-sized space devoted to Galaxy’s Edge, the new, immersive Star Wars sections coming soon to Disneyland and Disney World. Fans will (I’m guessing) be able to walk through familiar alien worlds, step aboard starship recreations, and/or drink at a cantina and see who can shoot whom first. Our chances of traveling to California within the next five years are slim to none, but Florida is slightly more probably, somewhere in the 500,000-to-1 range. Not really sure. But they tried their best to sell us on it.
…and then we posed for the Millennium falcon backdrop in our lead photo. Beyond that, there was a corner selling Galaxy’s Edge merchandise (I think? I didn’t bother to peer closely) and another corner with kiosks inviting us to plan our next Disney vacation now, now, now. Which we did not.
Except for the Episode IX panel, the most in-demand feature of all Celebration was its official Celebration Store. Housing basic souvenirs as well as exclusive merchandise ostensibly available nowhere else unless you waited a few days to buy online, the Store attracted thousands of buyers throughout the long weekend and never, ever saw a moment in which a would-be shopper could simply walk right in on a whim. That’s never how Celebration Stores work, as we learned to our painful dismay at Celebration 2005.
This was the end of the line on Thursday afternoon. Not the entire line.
Rampant system issues hampered checkout performance and resulted in some fans waiting seven to eight hours or more just for the chance to buy items with “Star Wars Celebration” either imprinted on them or intangibly implied by association. A few fans even missed their prepaid celebrity autograph and photo-op appointments because they felt the Celebration Store absolutely positively had to come first by any means necessary.
That’s not our level of fandom. We waited till Friday during the time frame when the rest of the population was distracted by the imminent arrival of the hotly anticipated Episode IX trailer. That’s when we hit the Store line.
The line moved quickly Friday, vastly and appreciably unlike Thursday. Within a record-breaking 75 minutes we were permitted to step into Lucasfilm merchandising Nirvana. Theoretically.
Anne and I each had our hearts set on two specific shirts. 75 minutes after opening the doors, both shirts were sold out for the day, with additional quantities hidden in the back to be rationed out throughout the rest of the weekend. Nearly every vendor carrying Star Wars Celebration Exclusive Lucasfilm Merchandise™ took this approach to allocating their products in order to ensure a steady flow of income over the entire five-day event, as opposed to selling out of all the best items by Friday afternoon and being reduced to having nothing to sell on Sunday except their fixtures.
We understood their approach, but it sucked for us. We window-shopped lightly and sulked while grabbing a couple of consolation prizes.
By 5 p.m. Friday afternoon we’d accomplished our other goals for the day and found ourselves with time to kill before an evening rendezvous. We found the Celebration Store line even shorter than it had been that morning and figured, why not gamble on a second run-through to see if perhaps their stockroom workers had seen the error of their ways and restocked the two shirts we wanted ahead of schedule? Plus it would be amusing trivia to tell people we got into the Celebration Store twice. We’d be, like, hardy adventurers.
The first 25 minutes moved as quickly as they had that morning. Then the line came to a standstill for 20 minutes. We realized our free time was all used up. We’d pushed our luck too far. We backtracked through the line, humbly excusing ourselves while jostling past hundreds of fans still wishing to get into the Store for their first time. It was worth a shot.
A miracle arrived the next day. Thanks to very special intervention from a longtime friend of MCC (a previous costar of ours from Celebration 2005 as well as our 2009 road trip), we were able to acquire the shirts we each coveted without attempting the Store line a third time. Huge shout-out to Mindy for making our modest Star Wars shopping dreams come true, all for marginally less than the cost of Disney theme park tickets.
To be continued! Other chapters in this very special maxiseries:
Prologue: Our Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Pre-Show: Who We’ve Already Met
Part Zero: MCC Live-Tweet: Our First Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Line
Part 1: Imperial Cosplay
Part 2: The Right Side of the Force Cosplay
Part 3: Scum and Villainy Cosplay
Part 4: Rising with Skywalkers
Part 5: The Stars in Our Galaxy
Part 6: The Droids We Weren’t Looking For
Part 7: How to Draw Star Wars the Marvel Way
Part 9: World of Wheels and Wings
Part 10: Welcome to Our World of Space Toys
Part 11: Fashion and Shopping
Part 12: What We Did in the Star Wars