Weekend Three this year had a new level of excitement for me compared to any previous excursion to Star Wars Weekends: it marked the final stop on my Ultimate Star Wars book tour and my first signing at Disney World. I’ve dropped by the Writer’s Stop many times over the years when visiting Hollywood Studios, including for some previous Star Wars author signings, and it was an indescribable dream come true to be the special guest author doing the book signing. Thank you DK and Disney for making it happen!
The signing went better than I ever expected. I signed from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. each day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The cast members at the Writer’s Stop were fantastic, making sure I had water to drink, selling copies of Ultimate Star Wars to the fans, and keeping the line organized and efficient. A special thanks to the young men and women who stood outside to promote the signing to passersby in the park. Over the course of the three days I signed over 120 copies of the book. Some were fandom friends who’d told me in advance they would be attending; others were fans of the blog or Fangirls Going Rogue I hadn’t met before. Many were fans who heard about the signing on social media, and some only found out about it while in the park. I had so many special moments during the signings it’s difficult to list all the highlights. I signed for fans of all ages, from grandparents to kids; for families, groups of friends, and solo customers; for American fans of many ethnic backgrounds as well as some foreign tourists. And though I wasn’t able to keep exact count, I’m confident I signed books for just as many female fans as male ones, if not more. With the messages I’ve been advocating so long at FANgirl, the diversity of the fans at my signing was a true pleasure to see. Perhaps the biggest moment of serendipity, though, was signing the book for Steve Hill, the member of the UK Garrison of the 501st Legion who posed for the cover image to Ultimate Star Wars – although his family had planned their Disney World vacation to coincide with Star Wars Weekends, the timing with my signing must have been the will of the Force.
My fun times weren’t limited to the signing. During Weekend One, I had the chance to interview Rebels voice actor Tiya Sircar for Fangirls Going Rogue. For Weekend Three, I was able to talk to two great Star Wars personalities for the podcast: Steve Blum from Rebels and Daniel Logan from Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars. Be sure to check out the June episode of Fangirls Going Rogue to hear from these two funny, generous, and entertaining gentlemen.
For much of the rest of Weekend Three, I took time to people-watch and soak in the experience of Star Wars Weekend in its last pre-The Force Awakens incarnation. I saw lots of great fan cosplay, from Jedi and Sith to Mandalorians and bounty hunters. I especially liked the young sisters who dressed up as Han and Greedo. I also noted the increasing diversity in the staff at the Jedi Training Academy, including female Jedi Masters leading half of the sessions and numerous women and person of color in the supporting trainer roles. Just like the first weekend, the Theater of Stars was packed full for both the Star Wars Rebels show and the Stars of the Saga show. I particularly enjoyed the video clip Vanessa Marshall had filmed the previous weekend to allow James Arnold Taylor to guilt Steve Blum into confessing his penchant for making “bathroom noises” after emotional moments during the cast recording sessions. Warwick Davis was hilarious as always, but perhaps the highlight was when he hurried backstage to retrieve a supposedly special gift for Daniel Logan – a Jango Fett helmet, which brought down the house.
Speaking of Fetts, Disney’s massive adjustment in the sales tactics for the Boba Fett stein was very noticeable. During the first weekend it was for sale only at Darth’s Mall, and was sold out most of the weekend even though many fans wanted to buy it. By the third weekend, the supply had been greatly expanded. Not only were the steins readily available to anyone who wanted to purchase one, but they could be found at numerous food locations around the park. I observed hundreds of fans carrying the steins around the park, all representing money in Disney’s coffers. Disney may have been caught flat-footed on Frozen merchandise last year, but they certainly adapted quickly to satisfy the Fett demand at Star Wars Weekends.
During Weekend Three I also had the chance to experience the indoor seating area at the Rebel Hangar restaurant. With lots of Rebellion and Rebels themed decorations, the inside seating is even more impressive than the outdoor standby seating area. I took pictures with a Rodian and a Bith, and make a great trade with a Jawa. I’ll definitely be going back to the Rebel Hangar again next time.
Tricia Barr is one of four authors of Ultimate Star Wars from DK Publishing and has written several feature articles for Star Wars Insider magazine. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Hyperspace Theories and RebelForce Radio Presents Fangirls Going Rogue.
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.