Thursday, March 21, 2019

Star Wars Celebration Virtual Queuing Process Announced

By: Dominic Jones
Lucasfilm announced this week that they will be implementing a virtual queuing process for certain panels at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, Lucasfilm's official fan convention, taking place next month.  The process will eliminate the need for overnight lines (which, while fun, had many issues during 2017's Celebration Orlando).  The systems are called "LIGHTSPEED Virtual Panel Reservations" and "LIGHTSPEED Lane Virtual Queuing".  This includes a lottery system to gain entry to the first panel each day on The Celebration Stage (Wintrust Arena).  The lottery is also how fans can gain access to satellite rooms (The Galaxy Stage and The Twin Suns Stage) where you can watch a livestream of that first panel as it happens.

The process for the lottery for panels on The Celebration Stage (Wintrust Arena), as well as to watch the panels be streamed on the Galaxy and Twin Suns Stages, is as follows,
  • Starting on Thursday March 28th and ending on at midnight CT Wednesday April 3rd, fans with a valid Celebration ticket will be able to enter the lotteries through the Celebration mobile app (coming soon) and/or the Celebration Website.
  • To enter the lottery, you must use the confirmation number you received when you bought your tickets OR the email address used to purchase the tickets.
  • The confirmation number/email address will be valid for the same number of seats at the panel as tickets that were purchased with it (so if you bought four tickets, you will be eligible to win four seats at the panel).
  • You may not use the same confirmation/email address to enter the same lottery multiple times, this will result in disqualification.
  • Winners will have until April 5th at midnight CT to claim their reservation, at which point they will receive a QR code guaranteeing them a seat at the panel.
  • Any leftover seats will be made available for fans to reserve through the mobile app, Celebration website, and/or onsite kiosks.  These reservations will be on a first come, first served basis.
Other important details to note,
  • There will no clearing of the Celebration Stage between panels.  So if you win the lottery to get in, you will be able to stay in your seat (or move to a better one if other people leave) for multiple panels.
  • Fans will have the opportunity to reserve seat(s) at one panel per day through the LIGHTSPEED Virtual Panel Reservations on the mobile app and onsite kiosks for panels on the Galaxy Stage and the Twin Suns Stage.
  • There will be traditional queues for fans that wish to walk up to panels other than the first panel of the day on The Celebration Stage.
  • There will be NO OVERNIGHT LINES at Celebration Chicago.
  • It is recommended that you arrive 35 minutes early to your panel, fans that arrive later than 15 minutes before the panel may forfeit their spot.
  • Queuing for the show floor will begin at 6am on Thursday, and 8am Friday to Monday.
Overall, I like the idea of having a system that eliminates the need to camp out overnight to gain access to panels.  I've done it four times at Celebrations past (once in 2015, once in 2016, and twice in 2017) and, while I'll cherish those memories, I was completely worn out for the rest of the day.  Not to mention the fact that this new system will make it easier for families, as well as people with accessibility issues to attend the panel when camping out overnight may not have been feasible for them.  For all those reasons, I think this is a great thing.

Will I miss the overnight line? Yes and no. It was nice to spend hours surrounded by your fellow fans, and the community aspect of Celebration is the best part of the experience, however there are ways to go about it that don't involve trying to sleep on a concrete floor, only to be woken up by DJ playing Star Wars remixes at ungodly hours of the morning (yes, I'm speaking from personal experience). One great way to start is to visit The Star Wars Underworld booth on the convention floor (#1546) for sweet giveaways and all around good times.

All that being said, I'm worried that this could easily devolve into a disaster where system malfunctions lead to people missing out.  Or confusion with the system may cause some fans to think they need to do one thing, when they need to do something else and wind up missing out.  Or others to think they're eligible for something, only to find out they're not.  And, to be perfectly honest, leaving this announcement until just three weeks before the convention seems short sighted as there will invariably be a million questions about how it works.  And the announcement on is more than a bit confusing.  I've done my best to summarize it above, but you should still triple-check it just to be safe.

Hopefully, my fears turn out to be nothing and the system works perfectly.  Because, I think this is a good idea.  I think, if implemented correctly, this could improve the Celebration experience for everybody!  And that would be a great thing.

Star Wars Celebration Chicago takes place at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois from April 11th-15th.  Tickets for Monday are available here.  ReedPop also recently announced that they have partnered with Lyte for fans who want to exchange their tickets.  Details about the exchange program can be found here.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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