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Orlando 'Star Wars' Celebration organizers apologize after bumpy start

Event planners add more entrances Friday

ORLANDO, Fla. –  After long lines of people entering the Orange County Convention Center bogged down Thursday, the first day of the Orlando 2017 "Star Wars" Celebration, event organizers have issued an apology to fans.

Several fans contacted News 6 to complain about the process of entering the convention. Sky 6 flew over the mile-long line to enter the Orange County Convention Center on Thursday.

"It was a two plus hour wait to get in yesterday," Star Wars fan Kris Santin said. "It was mad chaos," 

Some fans tried to make the most out of the long wait.

"It was a fun experience, mingling with everyone out there, getting along...that was a great vibe," attendee George Fernandez said. "That's what helped the most is being with people that shared that passion."

But others worried the lines would ruin their fun.

"It made us anxious for the rest of the weekend because knowing we were going to be suiting up and in costumes that are somewhat physically demanding and being out in the heat, it can be dangerous," Star Wars fan Sarah Young said.

Organizers posted a statement Friday morning to the event’s website.

“Entrance to the show on Thursday morning was not as fast or as smooth as we wanted it to be, and for that we are very sorry,” the message said. “We always try to strike a balance between safety and convenience, and in that spirit we made some changes that we hope will make Friday and the rest of your 'Star Wars' Celebration experience much better.”

 [PHOTOS: 'Star Wars' Celebration | VIDEO AT BOTTOM OF STORY SHOWS MILE-LONG LINE]

The statement said there will be more entrance points on Friday that should make things smoother.

“We will continue to use the West Lobby E/F as our main entrance, and we are also adding the C Lobby (right in the middle of the building) and the Westwood Lobby behind the building as additional entrance points for fans,” organizers wrote.

Doors opened at 5 a.m. Friday at the West Lobby E/F entrances and the new entrance at the C Lobby opened at 6 a.m.

"They opened the gates a lot earlier, opened more gates and maybe 10 minutes in the line...we walked right in," Santin said.

"With the added security lines, I think it helps much better,"Star Wars fan KayLee Fernandez said. "(We) got in here fairly quickly."

The event returned to Central Florida for the first time in five years. More than 55,000 people are expected to attend the convention, which runs through Sunday and is estimated to bring in $35 million to the area, according to LucasFilm.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the original film, which debuted in 1977.

Tickets for Friday and Saturday are sold out. Organizers said there are limited tickets available for Sunday.


About the Author:

Emilee Speck

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News. Emilee is a Space Coast native and graduate of the University of North Florida journalism program.

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