"Ask Eric": His reply

by Darth Danno
on 2020-10-07, 07:17:08

Once again, the question I posed to Eric Pfeifer for October was:

If Star Wars Celebration had decided to still go on back in August as planned, even with COVID being as prevalent as it is, would you, your family, and your fiancee have still attended, and why?

Here is his reply:

For many of us (myself included), Star Wars Celebration conventions are getaways. They provide us with the means to escape our everyday lives, and they transport us to a place that incites pure joy. People love these conventions for numerous reasons, and they don't happen all that often. For some of us, these conventions are the only time we get to see our friends from another part of the world. Whether you're making new friends or reconnecting with life-long friends, Celebrations bring people together who all have one thing in common: their love for Star Wars. Celebration 2020 was scheduled to take place in Anaheim, California from August 27th through August 30th, but COVID-19 had other plans. On June 15, 2020, Lucasfilm made the choice to postpone the convention until 2022.

If you're like me, as soon as one Celebration is over, you're already looking forward to the next one. That's not to say that I don't appreciate each experience, but I have such a fantastic time that I wish I'd never left. As establishments slowly began to re-open and quarantine lifted in most places, I began to think about Celebration Anaheim.

Let me start by saying this: postponing it was the right call. That doesn't mean that I'm not upset over it, but it was the right call. If you've ever been to a Star Wars Celebration, you've probably found yourself in a situation completely surrounded by a mass of humanity. There are people who refer to Celebration as "Line-Con" because there are so many lines. While ReedPop (the company who hosts the convention) does their best to reduce the number and length of lines, waiting is inevitable. There are A LOT of Star Wars fans. Had Celebration not been postponed, fans from all over the world would have been faced with a tough choice: Do you risk it to enjoy the best week of the year, or do you stay home? According to the CDC, the Coronavirus has killed 200,275 people in the United States as of September 23, 2020. Can you imagine going to a Celebration during this pandemic? If you think about conventions as we once knew them, I definitely could not imagine stepping foot inside a convention center with tens of thousands of people crammed together like sardines.

I'm not a huge fan of camping or looking at architecture. I don't really care about looking at historical monuments or white-water rafting. I definitely can appreciate those things for what they are, but I'm all about the beaches and incorporating Star Wars into my vacations whenever possible. At my place of business, I get two weeks of vacation time every year, and as Celebration Anaheim 2020 was announced during the closing ceremonies of Celebration Chicago 2019, I knew exactly what to save my vacation time for. My family and I had an ambitious plan to spend nearly two weeks in California for Celebration, and to drive up the gorgeous California coast. Our hotels and flights were booked, Celebration tickets were ordered, and all we had to do was wait for the date on the calendar.

With COVID-19 putting the kibosh on those plans, my family, fiancée, and I made the decision to vacation in Sarasota, Florida instead. Florida had recently been a "COVID hotspot", but we flew in and out of small airports and rented a house for just us. We wanted to stay away from the Miami partiers, as that's where big virus problems were occurring. We spent most of the week-long getaway in the private pool and in places where people weren't. About halfway through our trip, we made the two-hour trek Northeast to Disney's Hollywood Studios for Galaxy's Edge - I told you I like to incorporate Star Wars into my vacations, didn't I? While Disney and Star Wars Celebration aren't the same thing, I think many similarities can be observed. Both places have massive lines, a ton of passionate people, and sell both food and merchandise. The ONLY way I think it would have been safe to attend Star Wars Celebration was if the convention abided by the rules that Disney puts in place at their theme parks.

At Disney's Hollywood Studios, they took the pandemic very seriously (as all places should). In order to keep people from amassing in one spot, they required reservations for almost everything. If your group wasn't called or your order wasn't ready, you were able to wander around other places within the park. This was the case for the The "Rise of the Resistance" ride (which books up insanely fast), food orders (which were all ordered via ones mobile device through scanning a QR code within the app), and, of course, Oga's Cantina which, like always, required a reservation. While this has changed in recent weeks, Savi's Workshop was only open for guests to take a look at Legacy Lightsabers, and not for the build-a-lightsaber experience. Disney limited the number of people in the Black Spire Marketplace and only allowed one party in each "stall" at a time. Markers on the ground indicated where you should stand within a queue line so you would be positioned far enough away from other travelers and hand sanitizer was literally everywhere. Travelers were not allowed to remove their face coverings unless they were stationary and actively eating or drinking (this was enforced). Plexiglass dividers were placed in areas in queue lines to prevent people from passing one another without some sort of protection, and all furniture was thoroughly sanitized after every occupant.

As I said before, Disney Parks and Celebration conventions aren't the same thing. I know Disney has limited capacity regulations and that's not something you can do at Celebrations (as the tickets have already been claimed), but if there was a way to make the conventions make me feel safe as Disney did, then perhaps I'd go. But, if Celebration would have continued in a limited manor, would it be worth it? A big draw for Star Wars Celebrations is the guest list. I doubt any of the stars would want to show up to a convention center during a pandemic, so that's off the list. If certain aspects would be limited, would there be a partial refund for a pandemic version of the con? Would they charge more to make sure PPE and sanitization was provided properly? If they could ensure safety and regulate face coverings, I'd definitely go. Since you can't completely ensure safety, not going would be the best bet. You need to be unselfish by thinking about others. Just because COVID may not kill you, it may harm someone you come into contact with. Or someone they come into contact with. It's a deadly virus, and while Star Wars has been a passion for many of us for years, we really need to take a step back and understand that there's no Star Wars if you're occupying a hole in the ground. Celebration will be back in 2022 and we'll all be ready!

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