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Planning for an Autograph

Each year the Celebrity meet and greets has ended up being one of the highlights of the Star Wars Weekends experience for my family.  Like most of the other things at Star Wars Weekends, this takes some planning and is one of the more difficult tasks to complete if you are looking for all of the celebrity autographs for one weekend.  In the past few years there have been at least three autographs available.  This year is no different with Warwick Davis being available all four weekends.


To ensure that you get Celebrity autographs you must be at the Park when it opens in the morning. I suggest about 60 minutes before the front gates open. If waiting in the lines an hour before the park opens is a concern for you, there is some help to pass the time.  Between 20-30 minutes before the park opens a Legion of Storm Troopers appear on roof top of the Gate. While vision is obstructed some, they will pace back and forth so that most everyone can see this first bit of entertainment for the day. Over the audio system you will hear their funny morning dialogue as they take in the scenery. So in effect your weekend has started.

When the gates open Celebrity Autograph seekers must head straight for the Autograph FAST PASS area. For the past several years the line for this has started on the left side of Hollywood Boulevard around the corner from Mickey's of Hollywood. There is a roped off area there where you must make your first decision of the day as to who's autograph you want to get first. If you intend on coming to the Studios each and every morning of Weekends, you can approach this with a little more patience, but if you hope to avoid having to do that you run the risk of not meeting each celebrity, so you want to shoot for the one that most interests your group.  There is hope on the busy weekends that if you have the patience of Yoda, you can attempt to use standbye passes to get the other autographs.  I used this last year with great success.  Most of the celebrities really want to accommodate everyone, so a great deal of patience and politeness will help carry you the rest of the way in most cases.


Everyone in your party who wants to meet the Celebrity must be present in the line to get the fast pass, you can't be holding your groups tickets for Fast Passes while they go do something else. If you are extremely lucky and you get in the line of the most popular celebrity of the Weekend early, you might have a shot at getting back in line and getting both Celebrities on the same day, but don't count on that. Again, you may have to break the celebrities up into two days. When you receive your fast pass it will tell you what time frame your party is to be back for to meet that Celebrity. Make sure you are there prior to your earliest time period by about 10 minutes.


There are two other things to consider now, before you start packing.  The first is what are you going to have signed?  For the first few years I would have all of the celebrities sign the event poster.  It was a neat way to celebrate that years event.  The problem for me became that I kept going back the next year, so there are only so many posters that can be displayed in my home… according to my wife.  So we have been getting more creative.  I have a SWW Watch box signed by Peter Mayhew, we’ve used the celebrity photos before, had books signed and even used the  photos from the airport advertising last year.  The one with Boba Fett going through bagage claim was great and Daniel Logan loved it.  (I’m thinking that I’m going to have Jeremy Bulloch sign the same one with Daniel’s signature this year.)  Ray Parks, Darth Maul runway Traffic contol photo was no less interesting and actually was quite the conversation piece while visiting with him and waiting in line. 

The best piece of advice I can give you is to have fun with this, be creative, but pick something that makes sense for you.  Too often we choose something that gets signed and then burried away where no one can see it.  Pick something your going to like.  I’ve seen action figures signed, trading cards, lightsabers, helmets, you name it, people bring it to be signed.  I can only imagine what people will be bringing out for David Prowse this year!  And one last word to the wise on this subject, remember that whatever you bring, your going to have to tote around from line to line in the Mustafar like heat, so choose wisely! 


The other thing to consider where the celebrities are concerned is what you might ask them when you meet up with them?  Over the years I’ve had some very interesting conversations with the celebs based on questions that I have on their characters, costuming or other past works.  In the times I’ve met with Daniel Logan we have discussed his possible future with the upcoming TV series.  I’m hoping this year he has something he can share with everyone.  Warwick Davis will be at the mid point between filming the last two Harry Potter movies, and he has played so many characters for George Lucas that you could spend a day just going over those with him.  I had such a good time with Rick McCallum a few years ago that the staff was working double time to get him back on task with the line of waiting guests.  He was a fantastic guest because he went out of his way to speak with everyone and was thrilled to be a part of it all.  So take a minute and pull up a Bio or two on the celebrities for your weekend.  A little information can go a long way towards making your meet and greet experience worth while.

One other thing to consider is that when you meet with the characters throughout the SWW area, they will sign autographs too.  So consider cool ways to combine a signature with those photos your taking so that the Padawans and Jedi in your family can enjoy these moments for years to come.  I think you'll find this helps make the event even more interesting and fun. 


The time is close, so now is the time to begin laying out your plans.  If only we had that merchandise information now… if only I had the info on those FIG’s!!!