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The Goods and Bads of CE

Discussion in 'FanForce: Conventions Europe' started by LAJ_FETT , Jul 15, 2007.

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    LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Lucasfilm Ltd Mod star 9 Staff Member Administrator

    May 25, 2002
    On the whole I had a good time. But, if you could let the organizers know the good and bad points of the setup, what would you mention?

    My main complaints fall in the setup of the dealer and exhibit area. I attended all 3 days. Friday was pretty good. Saturday was horrible with the crowds. Sunday was marginally better. My main complaint was in the aisle sizes. The wide aisles were great. The narrow aisles led to massive congestion. It was made much worse by those parking baby prams/strollers in the middle of the narrow aisles while they shopped or took pictures. The other congestion area was near the Army's inflatable obstacle course. It was up against the 501st area. Between the immovable inflatable and crowds of photographers the area was impassable at times.

    Basically I think they either needed more space or more efficient use of the space they had. I believe they underestimated the crowds and it really showed on Saturday. Also the dealer room was quite warm on Sunday. We found we were going out quite a bit for fresh air. Friday and Saturday were fine. Were they having air conditioning or ventilation problems on Sunday?

    Good stuff - most of the guests (the Hamill talk was great, as were Steve Sansweet's talks). The Platinum Theatre and Celebrity Stage setups were pretty good seeing-wise. The location was good (but a pain commuting-wise for me from out near Heathrow). There was plenty of room for people to take a break near the river or over at the Fox pub. It was my first time visiting ExCel and on the whole I enjoyed the experience.
  2. GannerRhysode19

    GannerRhysode19 Jedi Youngling

    Jul 15, 2007
    I agree, the crowds and the seemingly small area of the hall that CE took up made moving around a real pain. I would've preferred more of the main hall used, even if it meant extra walking. I was there all three days, Friday was amazing, best day ever, but Saturday got congested, hot, and i was tired most the day from all the pushing I had to do to get anywhere. to be honest, it ruined the weekend for me. I also thought that maybe there could've been more activities, that would've helped to keep the kids out of our way whilst we did the talks and the shops and the exhibits on Saturday. Also, as nice as the platinum lounge was, it was a pain to have to leave the hall and queue up to get back in, especially on Saturday.

    For CEII, I wanna see more of the back hall opened up, I've been there before and you can have the entire side opened up, the wall was more of a barrier than the actual hall wall.

    Best part would have to have been the saber battle. For those who didn't see or hear about it, after the party on saturday, some of us organised a massive charge across the bridge outside, anyone with a glowing lightsaber was welcome, Dark Siders one end, Jedi the other. we charged from opposite ends of the bridge, and it was exhilirating, incredibly good fun even if it did wear us out. That or Mark Hamill, brilliant man.
  3. Tim_In_CT

    Tim_In_CT Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 2, 2002
    I'll bet that would have been a sight in the dark, and from the ground. ;)

    IMHO: It was hot on Sunday, and I'm not sure having the military at SW/CE was entirely appropriate.

    Others may disagree.
  4. Qui-Ton-Set

    Qui-Ton-Set Jedi Youngling star 2

    May 7, 2006
    Damn the Military!

    I agree, it was a bit wierd to see the other 2 Services there. The RAF was there too (me)! But I was there for SW!
  5. redxavier

    redxavier Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 23, 2003
    There shouldn't have been a queue to get into the exhibitor's hall alone, after having been in a queue for 40 minutes it was difficult to leave in order to attend platinum stage events in the morning. After getting our tickets, we had to walk the entire length of the centre to join the end of the queue outside. Why did they have the entrance next to the ticket booth like that? Did they not anticipate that the queue would get so long?

    I was personnally disappointed at the set-up for the autograph hall, with the guests as far away as possible from the hall entrance: it was I thought a rather obvious ploy to get people to fork over more money. I wasn't able to glimpse any of the guests without buying vouchers (for which there was another long queue).

    The highlight for me was the One Man Star Wars show (one of only 2 events I went to) which was hilarious. The 501st and all those who got dressed up deserve a big thanks.

    I think going on Friday would have been much better for seeing all the sellers and the artshow. But I felt that Saturday had the better schedule. Lesson learned: one day is not enough!

    Despite the enormous overall fun and feeling of exhilaration, I wouldn't them to have another Celebration next year, it's only going to dilute the significance of the show and drive up prices. They should only do them every 5 years.
  6. FitKisto88

    FitKisto88 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Aug 15, 2006
    The Good

    Warwick Davis & The Panels Warwick was a really good mc, very lively, quick witted and he had a great raport with the audience. His interviews with Mark Hamill, Rick McCallum and Ray Park were all highlights (especailly their re-enactment of the Darth Maul battle from Episode 1)

    Artists Alley Some very strong work on show. Meeting Adam Hughes and Dave Dorman were high points.

    Fanboys Screening This is a very funny movie, which is pitched just right between comedy and pathos. All the cameos went down well with the crowd. The Carrie Fisher scene was probably the funniest. And Seth Rogen's role as the Trekkie was outstanding. We were all lucky to see this.

    Opening Ceremony The constant planes going overhead were a pain, but seeing Ian McDairmid made it worthwhile.

    The Bad

    Overcrowding This was a huge problem on Saturday, you had to que for an hour if you popped out and wanted to go back in to the main hall. The ques for the events, the toilets and cafes were almost as bad. I was in costume to start with, but I barely lasted a few hours in such a large crowd. Sunday showed some improvement, but really Friday was by far the best day, simply because we could all get enough breathing room.

    Having my camera stolen All my records of the event are lost because of some lightfingered swine. I doubt they'll be caught, but at least they won't get much money from the camera.

    Space taken up by the Navy and Army I agree that the military stands took up too much space. What was the reasoning? "If people like Star Wars then they must be into real war"? Aside from the extra money they made this was a bad move by the organisers.
  7. johnny124

    johnny124 Jedi Youngling

    Apr 20, 2005
    I had a great time, but my biggest concern was the lack of organisation and security around the main theatre. The second show I went to on the Friday had a queue going from the theatre entrance to the autograph token purchase booth, then back all the way to the entrance of the show. Of course, with no security at all in view, when the queue started moving the two ends simply merged and those at the back were amongst the first in. I saw people walk straight in from the entrance to the show to the entrance to the theatre, whilst the queue was still very much evident.

    Also, there were no security evident (at least on Friday) during the show itself. What if someone had rushed the stage? As it was, the worst it got were people standing at the back of the floor seating and blocking people's views. Saturday (before Anthony Daniels) the queue was a joke, security had let people too far into the feature whilst the previous show was running. Some people leaving Charlie Ross simply joined the start of the queue for Anthony Daniels...

    Agree with the militrary comment also - to paraphrase one of the Vader helmets on display, why do the organisers feel it necessary to have the military at an event aimed at children?

    The rest I loved - Charlie Ross was great, the talks were funny, I got some good new figures, and I got to see lots of the original trilogy crew in the Novotel bar, and even spoke with Mark Hamill and had my pic taken with him, as well as adding Rick McCallum to my auto collection :)
  8. Qui-Ton-Set

    Qui-Ton-Set Jedi Youngling star 2

    May 7, 2006
    Overall a great event. Defintitely worth getting in early (Hypersapce and all that!) Queuing for Mark Hamill was a joke, secuurity did not have a clue.

    Best moments; meeting the stars! Anthony Daniels offering me a kiss (but with no toungues) in his show, Rick MacCallum asking for my TENCLO fan film DVD on stage - wow!!!!
  9. Lord-Tice

    Lord-Tice Jedi Knight star 5

    Aug 20, 2001
    I'll be contacting the organisers shortly and will ask if they'd like any feedback, in which case I will pass these comments onto them.

    All-in-all I loved the show but I think even Lucasfilm ddin't expect it to be this popular and busy, so any future CE's (and the signs were all pointing towards another one at some point) I think they will need to think about having a much bigger area.
    I think it came down to money; not wanting to spend too much incase it was a disaster but we were told during the auction 45,000 people have visted the show over the three days and I heard 5,000 were turned away on Saturday. So I think this can be classed as a total success for the money men and so they can afford to take more risks next time.

    The question is, should the next one be at the ExCel again or in another European city??
    I think the ExCel is a great location but they'd need to use certainly all of the South Halls and possible all, or half at least, of the North Halls. Maybe have two stages, both with 5,000+ seating. And both the autograph and exhibitor halls need extending.

    The good news is they have two years to decide on these things..............perhaps ;)
  10. LAJ_FETT

    LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Lucasfilm Ltd Mod star 9 Staff Member Administrator

    May 25, 2002
    I thought ExCel was a pretty good location, other than my personal complaint about the lengthy commute (about 1.5 hours each way for us). I had no problem with toilet queues - everytime I needed to use one there were plenty of empty stalls in whatever location I used. It was much easier to nip up to the SG level via the dealer hall lifts and use those toilets rather than the ones in the main entry hall though, especially with the lines on Saturday.
  11. JED1

    JED1 Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 16, 1998
    Morning all, boy am I tired and so glad I have a day off today to get over everything!

    What a blast CE was, I loved pretty much everything apart from the crowds don't get me wrong I am glad there were loads of people there as it bodes well for future events but in the space we were all crammed into it was hellish at times. I couldn't get in to see Mark Hamill or Rick McCallum as 2,000 seats just weren't enough so was sad about that. So if anyone from Lucasfilm is reading this! lol! choose the SECC in Glasgow for the next one, huge halls similar to ExCel and the bonus of a 6,000 plus seater, air conditioned custom built concert hall on site too! just perfect for all those talks!
    Loved the artists alley, came away with four pieces! won a Hasbro figure from the German 501st garrison with their droid hunt, loved meeting a load of FanForcers (Shout outs to Les, Tim from CT, TimB, Matt, Ritchie, John, Sai, ObiWan, erm I mean Spike, Corrine, Suzi, Obi Anne,Skiara, etc, etc ) Don't know if they are here, but a hello to Nadine Michael and Henrik from Germany too!
    Loved just wandering around and soaking in the atmosphere! I certainly hope there will be another and that I am able to go!!
  12. VenHalcyon

    VenHalcyon Jedi Youngling star 3

    Apr 26, 2005
    Overall I think this was a great convention, but they need to work on it a bit, good and bad highlights...i'll post the bad first...


    Autograph Hall - what a mess - they need a proper Virtual Queuing system for the big stars - it was pretty much every man for himself, which is fine for the minor ones but the Mark Hamill farce where they gave out timed tickets but still let people queue up before their time was a major mess up. I know the fact Mark was talking with near everyone made that a hard situation to manage though - as it was the main reason the q was moving so slowly.

    Mixing of the Dealer Area with...everything else. They should have had a "Dealer RooM" - an "Artists Room", a "Fan Area". Yes, having all the props was cool, having everyone on costume wandering around was cool - but having people stopping and posing for photo's in the middle of everything was just silly - should have put it out to one side and kept it well away from the mass mingle around the Dealers. Same really for the art stuff - it was just too cramped - which when you're dealing with expensive art prints is a pain! Split things up.

    Queuing for Talks etc. - Whoops - didn't think about where you'd get 2000 people to q did you...? The queues for the talks just got in the way of everyone!

    Content - generally speaking I think they had pretty much all the bases well covered - if anything there was TOO much to do in just 3 days.

    Guests - a good group of guests really, covering all elements of the show from classic to prequels (let's face it, the chances of getting a big name prequel star to sign are ltd), from imps, to aliens to rebels, and they also had some pretty solid 'back room' names as well.

  13. Neogeta

    Neogeta Jedi Youngling

    Mar 20, 2004
    Overall I had an awesome time, Overcroweding was a bit of a pain and so was the lack of seating.. this comming from someone who has mobility problems..

    I agree it did seem that some of the stalls wernt well planned out.
    The security guards could have been better, me and a group of others were queing on saturday for the force unleashed event in the platnum stage we were told to join the back of the NEW line!!

    I loved it all despite that, I really appreciate the guys and girls who came dressed in costume, you'v all helped enspire me to desgin a costume... if I can stick to my diet...

    Must resist flapjack's!!!
  14. moosemousse

    moosemousse CR Emeritus: FF-UK South star 6

    Oct 3, 2004
    I have to agree on the over crowding issue, it got a bit much at time and a lot of people just stopped right in the way of everyone making it hard to go anywhere. Another problem was people taking pictures, I gave up trying to take a picture of one of the costumes as people kept running up to have their photo taken or running in front of me. I did get some good pictures though, even if it did take a while to get them.

    Another problem was food prices. It was just too expensive everywhere.

    The queueing system was fubar, IMO. Having to walk the length of the building twice because the place you want to get to is just inside the exit really sucked. Then there was the Mark Hamill Talk, the queue was stupidly long. I'm glad I had a book with me as I had something to do while we waited. The queue for the Celebrity Stage was just a mess in general though. There was also the platinum quite shows, I waited in line for about 10 minutes for the tattoo competition not realising it wasn't the queue for it, even though I was told that this was where the queue started, I still had to wait before they let me up to the actual queue.

    There was more good than bad though. Mark Hamill's talk was really good. There was a tattoo talk and a tattoo competition, a lot of really nice inks on display there, including a back piece that had been singed by Mark Hamill.

    The costume pageant was really good, lots of nice costumes there. There were also a lot of nice costumes that weren't entered, highlights including seeing Shaak Ti drinking beer and Thrawn eating noodles. Another great moment was when we were waiting for Mark Hamill, a scout trooper came over was walking past and saw me reading, he came over and inspected my book to see if it was rebel propaganda (it was Harry Potter book 3).

    I also got some stuff I've been looking for, and some stuff I wasn't expecting. I would've bought more but my money was too limited.

    The biggest highlight though was meeting everyone and having a great time with people I've only spoken to online. It just made the whole weekend so much more enjoyable. From having lunch with the fan fic writers to helping out with the Fan Force talk to having a few drinks in the evening, it was all good.

    Oh, and the Chozen Noodle noodles were also good.
  15. Darthsmuse

    Darthsmuse Jedi Master star 1

    Nov 27, 2004
    FitKisto88 said: "Having my camera stolen. All my records of the event are lost because of some lightfingered swine. I doubt they'll be caught, but at least they won't get much money from the camera. "

    Same thing happened to me on Saturday morning - the security suite was very helpful. Apparently Saturday was a bad day for things going missing.

  16. VenHalcyon

    VenHalcyon Jedi Youngling star 3

    Apr 26, 2005
    Another guy we know (don't know his FF SN, heh) accidentally deleted all his images on the Sat night, :(

    Gutting losing images - so sorry for you guys! Did they literally take it off you sort of thing? This is what happens when the Daily Star gives out free tickets!!!
  17. Darthsmuse

    Darthsmuse Jedi Master star 1

    Nov 27, 2004
    My camera "went" sometime, complete with tightly adjusted strap from my wrist, within the five minutes I walked back from the toilets on the waterfront side to standing in the queue for the Celebrity Theatre for the second show on the Saturday i.e. circa 11.35 hours.
  18. IncomT65

    IncomT65 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 28, 1999
    I only went on Sunday and since it was my first real con, I took it all as I walked around the area. I thought about getting an autograph, but seeing the setup of that area and the long queues, I passed. The area with the Legos, Tantive IV and such was well spaced, but the dealer area wasn't at all, like others mentioned. Skywalker_1982 said ExCel should've used the entire hall, and I agree with him. Although I was only there on Sunday, I can imagine how Saturday must've been. Maybe ExCel understimated the number of visitors...

    What I liked a lot, was the number of kids who are SW fans. Sure brought back some memories of a long time ago, haha! And the Troopers did great with those kids. Very cool to see that.

    Still, I enjoyed the whole thing a lot and will definitely be there, if there's another CE.

  19. skywalker_1982

    skywalker_1982 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Dec 25, 2004
    As I said this one was only really a tester from lucasfilm's behalf being the first star wars convention, I suppose you can maybe work out a average from the likes of memorablia and london comic con but as you saw it outgrew that.
    I think it would be only be fair to have the next one in another part of europe instead of london but to take in consideration the scale of the size of the hall,hotels and odviously international links.
    As its my third celebration I have found all the locations lack when it comes down to resturants and places to eat I mean everyone of them is either expensive hotel food or dennys,IHOP.
  20. ForceGhostOfCozmic

    ForceGhostOfCozmic Jedi Knight star 5

    Apr 25, 2005
    Only problems I had with CE was the layout and crowds, I found it so hard to do anything when I wasn't manning the table.
    They really should have used more of ExCel.
  21. skywalker_1982

    skywalker_1982 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Dec 25, 2004
    Oh yes the hyperspace lanyards shocked me the most.
    I took my passport to CE with me just for ID purposes to prove I am a member, I walked straight up to the booth and without any questions asked just handed me it [face_thinking]
  22. jamesehomepage

    jamesehomepage Jedi Youngling star 1

    Mar 18, 2005
    This was my first convention and I was really disappointed by the queues to get in everwhere and getting around (I went on Saturday). I think they should have had more than one hall open, because it was way too crowded inside and hope they do this if they have another CE (which I hope they do).
  23. Obi Anne

    Obi Anne FF manager Celebrations star 8 Manager

    Nov 4, 1998
    Was the same for me, I just said that I were a HS member and got my lanyard, at C4 they at least checked that I was in the database or something.

    Anyway, overall I think it was a good show, and even if there was a lot of cues at least I got in to everything I wanted to see, which was a big difference from C3. Anyway here are some things that I thought of:

    cues and crowds
    The logistics of getting 2000 people in and out through a single entrance was clearly not thought about. It took too long both to get in and out, which caused quite a lot of delays. And on Saturday there was a total chaos. I stood at the FF table when I saw that the guards were telling people that they wouldn't get in to the Anthony Daniels talk, at that point the cue was going to the official shop. Since I really wanted to go to the Rick McCallum talk I thought it was best that I got in the cue for that show already at that time. What happened was that when I got to the entrance to the AD talk I was among the first 900 and had to let around 1100 people before me. Then of course I was first in line but I felt that I would not go out of this cue since it was so crowded and I felt that I could just as well stand there than trying to get around in the crowd. But if the security guards hadn't started to talk about the AD being full, when it clearly was not, I wouldn't have had to be in line for that long. Overall the security people were clearly not very well informed about what was going on, and were quite rude to us when we tried to explain that we were in the cue for the show after AD. On the other hand they didn't even seem to know that there were different shows, since when I got back in for the costume contest they were asking why I was there again.

    Anyway a simple solution to some of the problems would probably have been to have a poster outside of the stage with the schedule and they could have had one guy, why not one of the volunteers, go with a counted and be able to tell people if they would get into the show or not. That's how it was done at C4 and there were hardly any cues because people knew directly if it was worth standing in cue or not. I also felt that many people in the cue didn't even know what they were in cue for, they just wanted to see a show.

    Also next time it would be good to have more space for everything, after this time it should be obvious that they can fill up more of the venue.

    other things
    I was really sad that there were no books or comics presence at all. I love going to panels with the people involved in the EU and get things signed from them. For me that was clearly a thing that took this celebration down a couple of notches from the US ones, and even the German ones. I'm guessing there might be some licensing issues in the UK, between Titan and Del Rey, but this was probably my biggest disappointment.

    The rapper, can't remember his name, at the Platinum stage was really bad. He destroyed the John Mollo talk, since he didn't have a clue about what he was talking about, or what people would be interested in. John Mollo is a costume designer, and while I was there he only got questions about what he thought of ILM work with CGI. The people doing the presentations should really be more prepared than he was.

    As a last thing I think that the celebrity stage had a problem with the fact that there no real walls against the main hall, it was disturbing that you heard the sounds from the outside the whole thing, especially when the film music was played.


    It was really cool guests that were there, having both Mark Hamill and Ian McDiarmid there was a real treat, and well worth everything else.

    The food situation. I know a lot of people complain that it was expensive, but it wasn't that bad, and compared to the situation at C4 it was so much better. There was a variety of food, and I don't think the cues were that long, except for Saturday at lunch.

    The store seemed to have worked well, and it was also great that you could buy the figures and some smaller th
  24. Lord-Tice

    Lord-Tice Jedi Knight star 5

    Aug 20, 2001
    I agree with pretty much everything said here.
    I actually liked the exhibition hall being open planned with the dealers, fan area, artists & exhibitors sharing the same space. People posing for photos did cause blockages but from the POV of the fan area, it meant we got great exposure which might not have happened if we had our own little room.

    And while the food was a tad expensive, the options were great and for a convention centre, that's a very rare thing indeed. Plus Canary Wharf isn't too far away which has many eating options and supermarkets.

    What I also liked about ExCel was that it was like a mini-city complex so when you walked around in the evening, there was a great atmopshere as you knew everyone around you was a Star Wars fan.

    It's fair to say Lucasfilm underestimated the demand for this show, hence the cautious approach (and it was cautious) but now they know what to expect for the future.
    If you build it, they will come! ;)
  25. ForceGhostOfCozmic

    ForceGhostOfCozmic Jedi Knight star 5

    Apr 25, 2005
    Aye, bring on CE2 [face_peace]
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