So we have made it to week 4. First I want to apologize for the delay in the recaps of week four and week five. As soon as Star Wars Weekends ended, my private life became extremely busy between work and family. I know I have heard from several of you and want to thank each of you for your support, thoughts, and prayers. The encouragement my family and I have received is incredible and I’m so humbly grateful.
Now down to business. Star Wars Weekends 2014 week 4: the most anticipated weekend of the year. Some of the biggest names in Star Wars were there. This week brought us the coolest cat in the galaxy, Mr. Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) himself. He was joined by the great Ray Park (Darth Maul) and Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger from the upcoming Star Wars Rebels), both who were here for their second consecutive weeks. Yet these great stars were not the main draw on the busiest and hottest weekends of the year. It was Luke Skywalker himself, the great Mark Hamill making his SWW debut!
What a debut it was!!!! The weekend was quite nice actually, besides the heat. I didn’t get to make it Friday so my fun started Saturday before the sun had its coffee (with Kenobi) as I got in line for a chance to meet Billy Dee Williams. What an awesome man! After securing that golden ticket and the gates opened, I and hundreds of fellow fans rushed to the Premiere Theater just to stand in a second line for an armband to be in the theater for A Conversation With Mark Hamill, hosted by the great James Arnold Taylor. Sunday I did the same early routine, claiming a ticket to meet Ray Park. The wait in line went quicker with the company of my new friends I met week one, Cody and his wife Jen. Jen even blessed me with some more of her homemade cinnamon rolls. Delicious!
So with time to kill after the park opened, I did what everyone wants to do during Star Wars Weekends: I took a trip on Star Tours, visited Darth’s Mall for the hundredth time and got to hang out with great Star Wars fans and meet new ones too! On Saturday I was able to hang out with my friend Angelo and two of his kids Leia and Luke (yes, you are correct in thinking they are named after the characters from Star Wars).
Also, on Sunday I met a cast member who was working the line in the mall named Travis, who called me out for the Coffee With Kenobi t-shirt. Absolutely awesome! I have always said the best part of the weekends is meeting new people and I stand by that to this moment. Travis was great.
Autograph time was next and Billy Dee on Saturday and Ray Park on Sunday. Meeting Billy Dee on Saturday was awesome. He is a true legend. Wasn’t too talkative though. Ray Park on Sunday was incredible. What a talker. We talked not only about Darth Maul, but about Snake Eyes as well, who he played in the G.I. Joe movies. What a down to earth individual. If Disney would have let him, he would have stayed there longer just to talk to his fans. Park tried to get to as many standbys and walk ups as possible. Great time and great experience all around.
Then it came time for the show we all had been waiting for: A Conversation With Mark Hamill. I was lucky enough to be inside the Premiere Theater for the show on Saturday and Sunday. What was awesome was each show was different which made it quite the unique experience. Mark Hamill told stories not only about Star Wars, but about his voice over career, including his time as the Joker. He talked about his beard he was having some issues growing for some movie his is currently working on, to meeting Sir Alec for the first time. He even discussed his appearance as the legendary Darth Bane from the Yoda Arc of the 6th season of the Clone Wars. Personally one of my favorite moments of the conversations was when Mark Hamill gave a brief sample of his Joker, which for some one who grew up watching Batman, was quite exciting! Not a lot of what was said was new, a lot of repeated stories from over the years, but the opportunity to be in the same room with the ultimate Jedi himself gave everyone goosebumps.
Now I’m sure by now you have seen the YouTube video of Mark Hamill signing autographs as he came off stage after the motorcade. Sunday, I decided to camp out in the same spot and take my chances at scoring one of the biggest names in Star Wars autographs. I was joined by my friend Angelo, Cody, his wife Jen, and their daughter Izzy. Cody had a full proof plan to entice Mr. Hamill come to us to sign: we were gonna stick Izzy up front, and have her call out to get something signed and we would snipe in and score as well. The show ended and Mark came off the stage, waving at everyone. Izzy starts calling out “Mark! Mark!” along with everyone else standing around. She held a copy of Return of the Jedi, stretched it out past the security ropes as far as her little arms would let her. Her calling was louder than everyone else and Hamill froze. He locked eyes on her, hesitated and started towards us. He told her that he wasn’t suppose to sign, but he might be able to squeeze one in quickly. He got closer and closer and then, when only feet away from us, cast members swooped in and redirected him back to his motorcade car. So close yet so far.
The Stars of the Sage show was great this weekend as well. Having Ray Parks demonstrate some martial arts with feather dusters while wearing a Peter Pan hat, and having JAT, Billy Dee, and Ray Park all pose with Lando style capes were definitely the highlights of the week.
Week 4 was definitely the highest point of the all the Star Wars Weekends when it came to attendance and over all excitement.
Stay tuned for my week 5 recap coming a lot sooner than later. I’ll also be posting links to pics from both weeks and of course, the videos by the awesome Gian Pietri. If you have any thoughts or questions, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me on Twitter, I’m @taharris121079.
Until next time, may the Force be with you…..always.