Monday, July 29, 2013

Opinion: So You Want to go to Celebration VII?

By: David Gremillion

This op-ed is designed to do just one thing: Help you get to Celebration VII on the eve of the release of Star Wars VII while saving enough money to give you the freedom to enjoy the convention to its fullest. All calculations are made in US Dollars.

Hotel: The old saying in real estate is as true in a galaxy far, far away as it is in Anaheim: Location, location, location. Finding a hotel that is within walking distance or has a shuttle is a MUST. Otherwise, it is taxi time and those can get pricey. The more you spend on taxis, the less you have to spend on the convention itself. Does your hotel offer complimentary breakfast? That can help tide you over (see below regarding the cost of food) through the day.

Flight: There are all kinds of way to get free airfare. I got to fly using Southwest Airlines for $99 (round trip) by getting one of their credit cards. Once I got back, I just cancelled the card. You can also start entering contests now. Airlines will routinely have contests via twitter, facebook, and other websites. You may not win, but you have twenty-one months to try. That’s a LOT of contests that can save you a LOT of money. Note, be sure to read the fine print on any contest. Some are 21 and over, some expire before the convention, etc.

Food: Eating at a convention center can get expensive. Even the fast food places around the center add up over time. Instead of getting that five dollar foot-long (plus drink and chips), bring your own snacks for lunch. During lunch, panels, autographs, and events are still going on. Save your time-consuming meal for dinner, when things have calmed down a bit. This will save you time and money.

Crowds: It’s a good news/bad news thing. The good news, you meet people from EVERYWHERE and I strongly encourage that you talk to the fans. At CVI, I met people from Kiev, Paris, Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo, London, Edinburgh, and even Orlando (weird, right?). It’s a fantastic place to swap stories and meet people with whom you will have at least ONE thing in common. When in doubt, just make lightsaber sounds to get past any language barriers. The bad news? Get there early and I do mean early. The Orlando Sentinel newspaper estimated some 25,000 people attended CVI. Considering the hype that will surround this one, I expect more people to be at CVII than at the Boonta Eve Classic. If you want to hit that 8am panel…or even that 9am panel…or that 10am celebrity signing, set your alarm.

Celebrities: Get your ticket early. You can usually pre-order the big names and I strongly advise doing so. You will line up by numerical order so the difference between getting #101 and #1001 could mean an hour or more of waiting. However, don’t neglect the “minor” celebrities. I got to have a long talk with Nick Maley, the man who helped build Yoda in Empire Strikes Back. I “hung out” with Matthew Wood, the voice of Grievous (among others), because there was no line for him. I got to know Tom Kane well enough that he recognized me at the party.

Panels/Shows: We’ve all seen pics from people at the JAT/Carrie Fisher show or heard stories about the Dave Filoni panel where he took his hat off. This, you have to weigh carefully. You can fully expect to wait SEVERAL hours to get a good seat at the popular shows or a panel featuring a famous Star Wars personality. Is it worth missing a different panel, or an exhibition, or a celebrity autograph? That’s up to you.

Money: This is the big one, isn’t it? A flight ain’t cheap, neither is a hotel room, and the tickets, souvenirs ($30 for 1 shirt), autographs, food, action figures, posters, and so on, it all adds up. The good news is, if you start now (roughly 630 days until the next Celebration), you can save up only a little at a time for a long time, instead of cursing that you’re short of cash the day before the event. Getting money for Christmas or for a birthday? Stick it in a savings account. How can you save money? I came up with this little analogy:
 If you eat out 5 times a week (McDonalds, Chilis, wherever) at an average of $8 each meal, you're spending $2080 a year.

5 days x $8 = $40 per week 
$40 per week x 52 weeks = $2080 per year

If you cut that down to 3 per week? 

3 days x $8 = $24 per week
$24 per week x 52 weeks = $1248 per year 

Savings? $832! 

Does everyone eat out 5 times a week? Of course not, but this is just an example of how making a small cut can lead to big savings. If you spend $50 a month on Star Wars figures and cut it in half, you save $300. Do you constantly buy video games? Cut back the number you buy or just wait a few weeks for the price to drop. Open a new savings account and put in just $10 each week. I set up a calendar reminder for each Friday to help keep me on track. Over the next 84 weeks, that's $840 I have to spend when I hit California. The overall point is, money can be found in a variety of areas and cuts can pay off big at the next Star Wars Celebration.

You have twenty-one months. May the Force Be With Your Wallet until then.


bibi said...

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