Thursday, September 1, 2016

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016

I've never been to Comic Con before.  I know, surprising, considering how much of a Star Wars freak I am. It's just something that I was either never able to do, or I wasn't interested enough in the people who were going to be there to purchase a ticket.  It can get very expensive depending on the package you want to buy.

Well, this time around they managed to book Mark Hamill, the actor who plays Luke Skywalker!  He was scheduled to do a panel (talk to the crowd) today.  To get into this panel, you had to purchase a ticket and were then placed into a lottery.  I didn't purchase a ticket since it wasn't a sure thing that I'd get to see him. Well, the people of Utah spoke because not only did they move him to the Vivint Smart Arena where the Utah Jazz play, and seats 20,000 people, but they also took the lottery system away.  All you needed was a $20 ticket and you could go to his panel.  I was still hesitant to go, since it was scheduled on a Thursday, and I didn't know what I would do since I worked that day.  I was bummed.  How often does LUKE SKYWALKER come to Utah?!?

Last Sunday, as I was wishing I could go, Nick told me to just purchase the tickets and be done with it. Holding my breath and shaking with excitement, I did just that. Since I'm a teacher, I received a discount on the ticket price (NICE!) and with the help of my mom and sister, we put a plan together, and I was set to go. I was going to see LUKE SKYWALKER on Thursday. I was excited; and I mean really excited!

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday seemed to take FOREVER to get through!  And then this morning, my sister and I left for Salt Lake at 5:30AM.  You could stand in line as early as 6:00AM.  I KNEW that there were going to be HUGE lines to get into the arena, and I wanted the best seats possible.  We arrived around 6:30AM and I was right; there were already many people in line.  We made a VERY fast walk to one of the lines, and ended up standing behind only 4 people!!

For the next 2 hours before the arena opened to the public at 9:00AM I was caught up in different conversations about Star Wars with those around us.  I need to give credit to my sister.  She doesn't know much about Star Wars, so I needed to "dumb down" what everyone was saying and then she got it.  I had told her earlier in the week that she was going to be introduced to my CRAZY world of Star Wars geek, and it had begun. When those around us realized she didn't know a whole lot about it, they were funny and told her they'd "forgive her", and "indoctrinate" her into our crazy world!  Through it all, she kept a smile on her face.

All of the people who had VERY expensive "super fan" tickets were able to go into the arena earlier than us. I wasn't concerned about them taking our seats because I knew we had general admission and they wouldn't be sitting near us. The doors FINALLY opened a little after 9:00AM and I FLEW inside to grab the best seats possible.  Getting to the arena as early as we did paid off again, as our seats were right behind those who paid hundreds of dollars!

Best hashtag EVER...and I don't even use Twitter!

After we secured our seats, I happened to discover there were "visitors" back on the main level of the arena. I went to investigate and found this...

 Hello, Kylo Ren!

The Empire...

I don't know where they found the guy in this suit, but he was really tall! 

And look who managed to get a picture with Darth Vader and the Emperor's Imperial Guards!! My life is now complete!

Sitting in the arena, I found myself getting more and more excited.  It was worse than a kid at Christmas!  It was like I was back in the theater last December waiting for The Force Awakens to begin!  There was an MC who kept the crowd excited, and screaming.  He told us that the largest Comic Con panel ever had 8,500 people in attendance. They were hoping that we could beat that.  Salt Lake and San Diego Comic Con have a MASSIVE dislike for each other.  San Diego founded Comic-Con, but Salt Lake has taken it to an ENTIRELY different level, and San Diego isn't happy about it at all!  Salt Lake was hoping to beat the record as further proof that theirs wasn't going away any time soon.

And then it happened:  Mark Hamill, the one and only LUKE SKYWALKER, came onto the stage and the ENTIRE arena, which was COMPLETELY filled, (and probably means we SMASHED the "panel record attendance") stood up and went into screaming hysterics for a good three or four minutes.  I did it right along with everyone else.  I'm loosing my voice, and I DON'T CARE!

This picture was taken by the media and posted online

These were from the jumbo tron, and taken by me

Our actual view from where we were sitting

Always grateful and hilarious, Mark let us know that we are his 20,000 new best friends.  He also reminded us that the one question he wasn't allowed to answer was because he was contractually obligated NOT to say anything and that we'd find out next December when the next Star Wars movie comes out!  

He talked about his voice acting, and spoke in his Joker voice quite a few times.  The crowd went wild, of course.  He told us that the choice to make Luke sound so whiny in A New Hope was because if there were sequels, he wanted the character to show growth.  That made me like him even more.  The "whiny" Luke is something that MANY people can't stand.

The best story was when he told us about how everyone came back together for The Force Awakens. Carrie Fisher (princess Leia) was quick to jump into it.  Mark was a little more hesitant and decided he'd only do it if Harrison Ford (Han Solo) would do it. Thinking that would NEVER happen, he figured he was in the clear!  Of course he was happy that he did come back to the franchise.

Mark Hamill is a very funny man.  The entire hour the crowd was laughing, screaming, and clapping. A person in the audience asked if he knew that Princess Leia would turn out to be Luke's sister.  He didn't, and told us how sad it was the the ONLY woman in the galaxy, who Luke and Han both had a crush on, would end up being related to Luke!

The hour went by VERY QUICKLY and before we knew it, the panel was over. Someone would walk around the stage with a sign letting him know when there were 10, 5, and 1 minute left. Then when the sign saying time was over came around, he picked it up and promised us that the next time he comes, it will be a 2 hour panel. Again, we screamed with excitement.

As he left the arena, everyone once again stood up and screamed.  He walked around the stage, shaking the hands of those who paid for the really good seats...I was jealous!  Then the MC came back out and told everyone that William Shatner (Captain Kirk) from Star Trek was coming out in 15 minutes.  The rumor is that he demanded to be moved from the Grand Ballroom into the Vivint Arena.  I thought it was funny that he wanted to be there, since I didn't believe there was ANY WAY he could fill it with fans like Mark had. Once Mark was gone, HUNDREDS of people, including myself, left the arena!  I would love to find out how many people actually stuck around.  

So I did it. I was able to be in the same room as an actor from Star Wars. And not just any actor from my beloved franchise, but in the same room as LUKE SKYWALKER!!! I still can't believe it and I'm purposely writing this blog now so that I'll always have it on record for when I forget about the details in a year. Remember seizure patients have horrible long-term memory!!

Needless to say, I will be keeping my eye on who is coming to Comic Con twice a year!