Tag Archives: #StarWars

10 Amazing Reasons to Go to HawaiiCon

As if I needed another reason to love the Big Island of Hawaii… I just learned about HawaiiCon.  The Big Island is not just full of palm trees, beaches, and resorts.  It is home to Kilauea, one of the longest-erupting volcanoes in the world.  And, it is one of the few places on earth where you can ski and surf in the same day.  The Big Island has numerous cultural festivals – and HawaiiCon is one of them!

HawaiiCon caught this fangirl unprepared.  We found out about it while vacationing on the Big Island, thanks to a featured article in Ke Ola Magazine.  I had packed some Hot Topic tank tops, but not my wardrobe of Her Universe dresses.  Nevertheless, I welcomed the opportunity to see a new con.

Even though I’d been to many conventions including San Diego Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration, and D23 Expo – I found many reasons to love HawaiiCon.  Here are my Top 10 reasons why you should put HawaiiCon on your calendar next year.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com

1. Opportunity to really get to know celebrity guests

Celebrity guest stars were scheduled at multiple panels and activities over the HawaiiCon weekend.  This allowed a rare opportunity to really get to know them, and interact in a more informal setting.

It was personal ‘story time’ with your favorite celebrities.  This was my first encounter with Temuera Morrison (Chief Tui, Moana / Jango Fett, Star Wars Ep. II).  And Paul Blake (Greedo, Star Wars Ep. IV), who answered the question ‘Who Shot First?’  We enjoyed ‘solo’ time with Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett, Star Wars Ep. II).  Q&A was amazing during these small panel sessions.

2. Attend uniquely Hawaiian panel sessions

Several sessions stood out as uniquely Hawaiian, offering great opportunities to learn about the local culture.  Navigate like Moana highlighted wayfinding – sailing by the stars like Hōkūleʻa, the voyaging canoe, just did by just navigating 60,000 miles around the world.

Participate in a hula lesson on the beach.  Feel the grass between your toes as you dance to music from Moana.  Gaze past the white-sand beach onto the open ocean, alongside Guest Stars like Gina “GK” Bowes (voice actor and audio book narrator for Disney’s Moana).

Bring your camera to the Night Photography session, and learn to capture your own astonishing Milky Way shots.

3. Attend a Luau with your favorite celebrity guests

As an additional-fee activity, HawaiiCon guests can sit at a table with their favorite celebrity at an exclusive luau.  You choose which celebrity to sit with when you purchase the luau tickets.

The menu included a traditional luau buffet, and entertainment showcasing Hawaiian, Tahitian, Maori, and Samoan cultures.  One of the highlights was when the luau ‘Maori chief’ made an offering, and New Zealand-native, Temuera Morrison picked up the offering.  That does not happen every day.

The Samoan fire-knife dancer is always a highlight of any luau.

4. Go adventure-seeking with celebrity guests

(These opportunities were separately-ticketed, sold-out events). What other convention allows you to go ziplining with the Guest Stars?  Or snorkeling with them through coral reefs?

Hawaii Island has the best scuba diving in the state, with its Manta night dives ranked Top-10 in the world.  What a unique opportunity to socialize with celebrities while manta night-diving or snorkeling!

5. Intimate setting means short lines

Imagine the luxury: short lines for autographs, photo-ops, panel sessions, registration – everything!  Instead of camping out overnight for a seat, you can sleep comfortably in your hotel room, and simply arrive a few minutes early to your chosen panel.  Here is the 2017 program schedule.

Walking from one panel to another took about two minutes, instead of twenty minutes.  Of course, the venue is much smaller than SDCC.  But smaller has its advantages.  I also enjoyed sampling the many food trucks that provided ‘ono’ (delicious) local bites, with no wait time.

6. You’re supporting a non-profit that promotes science education

HawaiiCon is self-dubbed the “World’s First Sci-fi, Science, and Fantasy Tropical Vacation Convention.”  And it is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that champions science education for the keiki (children) of Hawaii.

So, rest assured, the registration fees go to a worthy cause, bringing up the next generation of fans.  There’s also a ‘Science Track,’ with panels like Maui, Demigod of Science, the ‘Ohana Planetarium Show, and SciFi Weather on Mars.

7. Incredible backdrops for cosplayer photo shoots

Are you a cosplayer in search of unique photo shoot locations?  The Big Island of Hawaii – and Mauna Lani Bay Hotel – feature breathtaking vistas and sunsets to perfectly highlight your cosplay.

Hawaii Island has 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones.  So, if you’re scouting for a specific type of location, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.

HawaiiCon was a unique opportunity to let your inner fan shine.  Here were some of the great cosplays, including some from the cosplay contest.

8. Feel at home with perfect hospitality from the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows is a devoted supporter of Hawaiian culture.  In addition to HawaiiCon, they support activities such as “Twilight,” a free monthly Hawaiian music concert series.

The resort also raises endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles in its saltwater ponds to give them a chance at survival.  When the turtles are old enough, they are released into the ocean at the annual “Turtle Independence Day” celebration every 4th of July.

Mauna Lani Bay welcomes HawaiiCon attendees with special room rates.  Booking early can get you an Oceanview room for $179/night at this four-star resort (regularly $400/night).  Two-star hotels in San Diego can cost much more than that during SDCC!

9. Become part of the Hawaiian ‘ohana’ (family)

This was the most relaxed convention I’ve ever attended.  Hawaiian locals welcome you with aloha.  The ambience is casual.  Flip flops are the dress code for Guest Stars as well as attendees.  Bring your lightsaber for an impromptu lightsaber battle on the lawn.

Slow down, and enjoy the present.  Treat everyone with respect.  What a great way to enjoy the spirit of aloha.

10. Stay and explore the rest of the Big Island

You’re only scratching the surface when you see the northwest (aka: the sunny, dry) side of Big Island.  Don’t forget about Kilauea, the live volcano, on the east side of Hawaii (best viewed by helicopter or hiking/biking onto lava fields to the ocean entry with a guide).

Milky Way and Kilauea caldera: view from the Jaggar Museum

Did you know about the extraordinary stargazing and observatories atop Mauna Kea?  Which is, by the way, the tallest mountain on earth when measured from its base on the ocean floor.  Go horseback riding and experience the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) lifestyle.  Explore black-sand and green-sand beaches, and countless hiking trails with dreamy waterfalls.

Honaunau National Historic Park: Ki’i at Sunset

Take advantage of the breath-taking vistas of this tropical oasis, and mark your calendars for next year: HawaiiCon is September 13-16, 2018 at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.  Early registration for a four-day pass is $129, and proceeds benefit the HawaiiCon non-profit organization.

Mahalo (thank you) to HawaiiCon for hosting such a wonderful event!  And May the Force Be with You.

 

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on October 4, 2017.  See more here on my Author Page

 

 

 

How I Made a Cultural Connection at Epcot: My Italian Adventure

Epcot Sunset Over Spaceship Earth

When you think of Epcot, you may recall fragrant florals from the “Flower & Garden Festival.”  Or, perhaps, delectable dishes from the “Food & Wine Festival.” (I, too, love to ‘eat my way around the world.’)  Most of all, I enjoy Epcot as a gathering place to meet friendly cast members from various countries.  My last visit to Epcot’s Italy Pavilion did not disappoint.

Venice, Italy vs. Italy at Epcot

Through the years, I have come to love the “real” Italy, especially Venice.  Epcot’s Italy Pavilion transports me back to Venice every time.  Strolling through, I see architectural reminders of Saint Mark’s Square: the delicately intricate façade of the Doge’s Palace, and the Campanile (bell tower).

Italy Pavilion at Epcot – Detail of Doge’s Palace and Campanile

The entrance is guarded by two columns, topped with Venezia’s patron saints: Saint Mark’s Lion and Saint Theodore standing above a crocodile.  (Though Epcot’s version is actually reversed)

Admittedly, Disney puts a spin on their presentation of each country.  (Germany’s Bavarian region is famous for their large, scrumptious pretzels.  But they certainly are not Mickey-shaped, nor come with cheese dipping sauce.)

To their credit, though, Disney is committed to recruiting native cast members to represent their countries’ pavilions at Epcot, creating a more authentic experience. Continue reading How I Made a Cultural Connection at Epcot: My Italian Adventure

The Future of Star Wars: Episode VIII and Han Solo

Star Wars Celebration Europe (SWCE, July 14-17, 2016) ended with a much-anticipated panel featuring the upcoming Star Wars films, Star Wars Episode VIII and Han Solo.

SWCE Ep. VIII and Han Solo Director Panel

Pablo Hidalgo hosted a panel featuring Kathleen Kennedy (Lucasfilm President) and Kiri Hart (Head of Story, LFL).  First up: writer-director Rian Johnson discussed the filming of Episode VIII (code named: Space Bear).

(This article was initially published on LaughingPlace.com after Star Wars Celebration Europe, on September 20, 2016). 

A New Look from Lucasfilm: Star Wars Episode VIII delves deeper into character

Kathleen Kennedy is very happy with their choice of director. “Rian moves the camera as well as Steven Spielberg.”  And she doesn’t say that lightly.

Rian Johnson’s goal was to “tell a story that feels alive right now.”  Writing for Episode VIII corresponded with principle photography for Episode VII.  Johnson spent six weeks working on Story at Lucasfilm, watching ‘dailies’ of Episode VII with Kennedy and Hart to ensure continuity of story details.

Pablo Hidalgo’s hint: to impress leaders at Lucasfilm, bring homemade ice cream (Rian Johnson did).

Johnson was influenced deeply by classic Hollywood films such as Bridge on the River Kwai, Twelve O’Clock High, Letter Never Sent, Three Outlaw Samurai, and Sahara (Humphrey Bogart version).  He had the Episode VIII story team (Kathleen, Kiri, and Pablo) watch these films together ‘like a film camp’ for inspiration developing Story on VIII.

“We are gonna end up breaking kind of a longstanding Star Wars tradition, and for the first time, Continue reading The Future of Star Wars: Episode VIII and Han Solo

Runway Success at Her Universe Fashion Show, Comic-Con

The world of Geek Fashion has blossomed, thanks in big part to Ashley Eckstein and Her Universe.  This was my article published July 29, 2016 on LaughingPlace.com reporting from San Diego Comic-Con’s Her Universe Fashion Show!

her-universe-fashion-show-runway-2016

The third annual Her Universe Fashion Show was an absolute runway success at Comic-Con 2016. Growing each year, the Her Universe Fashion Show returned with 27 Finalists premiering their Geek Couture gowns to a packed ballroom at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on July 21, 2016.

For the first time, the entire audition-to-runway process was recorded as a docu-series on Comic-Con HQ, a novel video-on-demand channel.  Also new this year was also an open call audition at Hollywood & Highland a few months before Comic-Con.  Contestants had an opportunity to present their designs, explaining their ideas in front of the panel of judges.

This year’s Fashion Show was a joint effort between Her Universe, Hot Topic, Blondie Girl Productions, Espionage Cosmetics, and Comic-Con HQ.

“27 contestants. 4 weeks. 1 dream.”

all-finalists-on-stage-2016

Winners of the Fashion Show receive an opportunity to develop their own fangirl clothing line in collaboration with Her Universe, to be sold exclusively at Hot Topic stores nationwide.

In previous years, there were two winners of each fashion show: one Judges’ Choice, and one Audience Choice.  This year, a third winner was announced on July 28, 2016, based on voting online with Comic-Con HQ.

Meet Ashley Eckstein, Founder of Her Universe.

Ashley Eckstein has been a popular on-screen and voice actor, with screen credits including Muffy from That’s So Raven, and Ahsoka from Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.  During recording for Clone Wars, Ashley noticed that there really wasn’t anything for her to wear except for boys’ T-shirts when she wanted to show her fandom.

ashley-signing-at-sw-celebration

Ashley set out to create a Star Wars clothing line for women, and pitched this idea to Lucasfilm, who turned her down. She did not have enough experience creating a clothing line.

This did not discourage our favorite Fangirl.  Ashley did her research, partnered with The Araca Group (a merchandising and production firm), and pitched her idea again.  In 2010, Lucasfilm granted Her Universe a license.

Continue reading Runway Success at Her Universe Fashion Show, Comic-Con

Star Wars Celebration Europe: A Closer Look at Rogue One

This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on July 25, 2016.

Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 is in the books, but the shockwaves are still resonating like an ion cannon.  Lucasfilm shared their latest news with fans from around the world who congregated in London July 15-17, 2016 for a Celebration to be remembered.

Star Wars Celebration Europe after Rogue One Panel
Star Wars Celebration Europe Rogue One Panel

Rogue One was certainly THE highly-anticipated panel, and Kathleen Kennedy (President of Lucasfilm and Rogue One Producer) did not disappoint.  Accompanied by Gareth Edwards (Director), Kiri Hart (Head of Story, LFL), and John Knoll (Executive Producer), Kathy welcomed us to the new world of stand-alone Star Wars films.

Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma, and our host for this panel) opened with a moment of silence for the lives lost the night before in the terror attack in Nice, France.

Rogue One, the first stand-alone Star Wars film.

The production team was initially concerned about whether there needed to be more introduction for Rogue One.  It is the first of the planned “stand-alone” Star Wars stories (not part of the saga trilogies Episodes IV-VI, Episodes I-III, Episodes VII-IX).

From early screenings, Lucasfilm realized that fans understood immediately where Rogue One fit into the Star Wars timeline.  This is the story of how the first Death Star plans were stolen; many lives were lost to get this intel to the Rebel base, to set up Luke Skywalker’s mission in Episode IV.

John Knoll (Executive Producer) developed the idea for Rogue One as a Mission Impossible-style story during the filming of Episode III in Sydney.  While this story did not fit in with the live action Star Wars TV series planned back then, an opportunity arose when Disney announced a whole new set of Star Wars films.

Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, Gwendoline Christie

Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, Gwendoline Christie

Gareth Edwards as Director

Kathleen Kennedy described her visits to the set during the filming process of Rogue One.  When she looked for director Gareth Edwards, she consistently found him with “a camera on his shoulder” trying to capture “different angles.”  His style creates an “immersive” experience for the viewer unlike any other.

Continue reading Star Wars Celebration Europe: A Closer Look at Rogue One

Covering a Con (Part 2)

 

 

Being a fangirl, I love attending conventions, or ‘Cons’ as they’re now called.  From San Diego Comic-Con and Wonder-Con to Star Wars Celebration, D23, and a Celebration of Harry Potter — I have had the privilege to explore and share the worlds of fandom.

There are so many aspects of attending fan conventions.  What used to be shunned as the marginalized ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ culture is now embraced and adored.  From comic book art to their iconic heroes-turned-blockbuster-stars at the box office, pop culture has come a long way.

In Part 1 of this article, I covered exclusive panels and fans who are ‘all in’ for their particular fandoms.  In this article (Part 2), I continue in other aspects of the modern con.

 

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Cosplay

Increasingly, cosplay is the norm.  Fans are using their creativity to create elaborate costumes that are screen accurate, or doing unique mash-ups of their favorite characters.  They spend hours researching, and many more hours creating the costume. Continue reading Covering a Con (Part 2)

Welcome to the Chrysalis Travel Blog

 

Have you ever wished you had a friend that traveled the world, and shared their best travel tips and photos with you?  Have you lived vicariously through a friend’s Facebook feed as they post about their travels, wishing that you could do the same?  Do you think you would like to travel “someday,” but think it is impossible with your time and budget?

Over the years, we have heard this so many times from our friends and family as we have shared our world travels with them.  More and more of them suggested that we should start a travel blog sharing our experiences.  That is how our Chrysalis Travel blog came to be.

My husband and I have a passion for travel, and love nature and wildlife photography. Continue reading Welcome to the Chrysalis Travel Blog