See Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill And George Lucas In Our Exclusive Star Wars Celebration Gallery

Fans traveled far and wide to attend Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida this week, knowing that the series that they adore was celebrating a milestone: 40 years of stories set in a galaxy far, far away. Well, Celebration brought a number of its biggest A-list stars to the Galaxy Stage on Thursday with a kickoff panel that's seriously going to be hard to top.

George Lucas made an anticipated return to Star Wars Celebration this year to preside over a lengthy and heartfelt walk down memory lane with several of his most famous creations. Stars from the Star Wars universe either attended the show (Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Hayden Christensen were noted highlights) or sent in tender video messages of love and support (Liam Neeson joked that he was on location shooting a Jar Jar Binks movie, while Samuel L. Jackson pleaded with fans to bring Mace Windu back). We took a number of pictures to give you a sense of how the first day of Star Wars Celebration went:

Hayden Christensen and Mark Hamill

"No. I am your father!"

Any trepidation about how Hayden Christensen would be received were wiped away once the one-time Darth Vader hit the Star Wars Celebration stage. Christensen spent his time on stage with Prequel co-star Ian McDiarmid (the dreaded Emperor). But this fantastic photo captures Christensen with his "son," Luke Skywalker, played by franchise legend Mark Hamill. Yes, we met Luke first. And yes, their stories are separated by generations. But I love this photo for all that captures about all that we love about Star Wars.

Mark Hamill Harrison Ford and George Lucas

"I love you." "I know."

Halfway through the 40 Years of Star Wars panel, press members in media row started placing prop bets about whether or not Harrison Ford would show up, or send a video message. I guessed video message, and I lost. Of all the roaring ovations from the crowd (and there were several all day), none were nearly as deafening as when Han Solo himself came out to join the bulk of the Original Trilogy cast on stage alongside George Lucas. There's something amazingly cool -- dare I say, historic -- to seeing them all in one place. Will this ever happen again?

Harrison Ford Peter Mayhew and Mark Hamill

Jedi Training

Jedi Training Academy

Outside of the panels, Star Wars Celebration attendees are encouraged to walk the show floor and catch up on the latest innovations in this creative gallery. Kids could train to be Jedi with this skilled instructor (above), while cosplay reached a new level as slave-bikini Leia models posed with this grotesque Jabba the Hutt.

Jabba the Hutt

Star Wars Rebels Cosplay

Star Wars Rebels and First Order Leaders

The first day of Star Wars Celebration was largely dedicated to the Original Trilogy, with the 40 Years of Star Wars panel and talks with Billy Dee Williams. But when you drifted away from the panel, you realized how vast the Star Wars universe has become. Kids and families stood in line to get pictures taken with Star Wars Rebels cosplayers, while I snapped a photo of a LEGO Kylo Ren below. Tomorrow will be the panel for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. What do you think we will learn?

LEGO Kylo Ren

Star Wars Waiting

Lines, lines, everywhere is lines

Coming to Star Wars Celebration? Be prepared to wait in line. Hey, this is Orlando, the birthplace of amusement parks known for their long lines. This is par for the course, right? (Ugh, two hours to buy more shirts?!)

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Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.