Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 started off with a bang! A huge bang. The opening panel gave us so many surprises and feels, it’s going to be hard for any other panel (minus The Last Jedi) to compete. Here at Geek Girl we’re going to give you a rundown of each day’s events and try to summarize the big events.

40 Years of Star Wars

One of the greatest panels I’ve seen in my life. Period. I had FAR too much fun watching this panel and maybe it’s because I’m biased. The panel promised surprise guests and man were they surprising. Warwick Davis hosted brilliantly and kicked off the panel with a montage of how Star Wars has impacted pop culture. He then introduced Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy on stage. She was brief because she had someone else to bring in – none other than George Lucas. The crowd went insane.

Davis started out by asking Lucas a few questions, sharing a letter he wrote to Lucas when he was 13 and going so far as to show a picture of himself with his Star Wars collection at that age. Lucas also reminded everyone he made the film for 12 year olds, bringing laughter but also shared a story of children wanting to touch his hand while filming in Italy. He says he kept going because of children and the delight on their face. They also took a moment to appreciate those that passed last year – Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker. Lucas stayed the entire panel.

Next they brought in Dave Filoni, the animation guru. They talked about Lucas wanting to extend the universe into a television format. Filoni had worked with Lucas for 10 years while working on Clone Wars. He didn’t stay on stage very long. We got a brief video message from Liam Neeson before they introduced Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid to cheers. They both spoke of their favorite scenes and memories from the set. Christensen even shared how he would make the lightsaber noises while filming and couldn’t help it, calling it the hardest habit to break. Christensen continued to thank the audience as they were leaving.

Another video message – this time from Samuel L Jackson! He talked about loving working on Star Wars and hopes to return to the character – Mace Windu is not dead! Next, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and Peter Mayhew joined the stage. Daniels recalling having the C3PO suit molded to him and hating the Threepo head. Mayhew and Williams spoke briefly as well before Davis announced a 4th person to the stage – Mark Hamill. Unfortunately there was some mic trouble so it was hard to hear him in the stream. But Davis asked Lucas about how he knew Hamill was going to be Luke. It was very sentimental. Davis then welcomed a 5th person to the stage – Harrison Ford. The place erupted in cheers and gave him a long standing ovation. It was Harrison’s first Celebration appearance. Lucas and Ford then talked about how Ford got the role. The panel cleared except George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy joined him on stage again.

The panel ended with a tribute to Carrie Fisher. George Lucas spoke first about Fisher. “She could hold her own against anything. She wore a dress through the whole thing, but she was the toughest one of the group. It really shows the level of her talent, and at the same time, she was fun to be with…We’ll all love her forever and ever.” Kennedy echoed his statements saying “She will not only be remembered forever by those luckiest to know her, but she will be remembered forever by those not yet old enough to say ‘May the Force be with you.” Then Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, spoke about her mother, even reciting Leia’s famous lines. She also added “Nothing about her was a performance. She loved you, she loved these movies. And she loved Leia.” Then, a tribute.

To make things even more emotional – the curtain was pulled back and John Williams was there. He conducted the Orlando Philharmonic first into “Leia’s Theme”, bringing tears to fans there and at home. He then concluded the panel by playing The Force theme and “The Imperial March”.

It was an incredible panel. You can see photos and further details at

The Star Wars Show Live tidbits

As the stream was going on, The Star Wars Show hosted their own interviews and mini-panels as well. After the huge panel, they brought out George Lucas and Harrison Ford together for a very brief interview. They interviewed industry insiders, fans, and even some voice actors. They also highlighted toys like new Funko Pops, spinning top games, etc. It was great filler, as always. One of the best parts was their cantina set, where fans in cosplay hung around as background filler. It was a GREAT addition. Made the wait between panels all the more fun.

RELATED: SWCO – STAR WARS: FORCES OF DESTINY Highlight Our Favorite Heroines

Dave Filoni: Animated Origins and Unexpected Fates

The next panel to be streamed was Dave Filoni’s panel with creative executive Pablo Hidalgo. They talked about Clone Wars, Rebels, continuity, cosplay, everything! Unfortunately for fans at home, we were unable to see the photos they were showing off so the majority of the panel had live streamers in the dark.

Ian McDiarmid: Tales From the Dark Side

Hosted by Warwick Davis, McDiarmid talked about his role as Emperor Palpatine. The show started off with a fan playing “R2D-Who” where they paste R2’s head over another character or person and the fan has to guess. Unfortunately the fan chosen did not do so well. McDiarmid then took the stage. Warwick asked him a series of questions, including a montage of the Emperor’s laugh. McDiarmid said he used a frog as inspiration for the voice and did a rendition of his laugh for the audience. They finished up the panel by taking fan questions.

Ray Park: Prepare to Be Mauled

Finishing up the live stream panels was Ray Park‘s panel, talking about his role as Darth Maul. The panel started with another round of R2D-Who, and this young fan did a much better job. Park then got on stage to talk about his experience. He talked about how he got the role and how he wanted to be modest on set. But ultimately ended up impressing the casting crew with a butterfly kick. He also recalls watching stunt men on set and thinking that he’d much rather act as he was too scared for those larger stunts. He also got fans on stage and had a lightsaber presentation. Warwick also got in on the fun! The panel ended with fan questions

You can watch the day’s stream (minus the 40th Year panel) below!

There’s more fun and announcements where that came from so stay tuned to Geek Girl Authority as we recap the fun all weekend.  Tomorrow we’re expected to start the day off at 11am EST with Star Wars The Last Jedi panel. Other panels include Heroines of Star Wars, Mark Hamill’s Tribute to Carrie Fisher and more. You don’t wanna miss it! See you tomorrow and May the Force Be With You, Always.

Erin Lynch