Star Wars: The Film That Changed My Life – Part 3

Written by Terri Hardin Jackson. Posted in Terri Hardin

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Published on August 27, 2014 at 2:00 am with 5 Comments

UPDATE: DISNEYLAND HALF MARATHON WEEKEND is upon us.

Yes friends, it’s that time again and I’m so excited I could just bust. These Disneyland races are the best in the country.                                                                                                         

In non-Disney races most runners strive to shoot for their best time ever and they are celebrated for that.  However, the Disney races seem different to me. 

The crowd gets louder and louder waiting eagerly for those last few who trickle in. Many of these runners will be limping or being supported by other runners, reaching deep inside to get that last bit of energy that will get them across the finish line. 

You’re welcome to go for your best time, also called your PR (personal Record). But I think you do yourself a disservice. In fact, when I went to run the Wine and Dine Disney race in Florida, I heard about the guy who continues to win this race every year.  He would just run the race as fast as he could in order to win. 

 But he finally admitted that he felt he was missing out on all the fun, and the next time he ran this race, he began stopping to enjoy all that Disney offers. This time he had fun, and he still won the race! He even said it was the best time he’d completed the race in.  

These are the races I’ve come to love. This year I’ll run the 5k and do the Dumbo Double Dare for the second time in a row (with my friend Rachel and her family). It’s such a great way to reunite with old friends and make some new ones. 

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Terri with all of her race medals.

If you’ve ever wanted to be part of the Disneyland or Walt Disney World Races, I urge you to go for it.  You just need to be able to keep a 16 minute mile pace. Most of the coaches on the run-Disney website advise you to run-walk for the best results.  That’s what I do.  I’m not fast, but I love to run-walk and catch up with friends and inspire others along the way who might become worried they won’t finish. 

the Race that started it all, Terri and Rachel.                                              Caption 2 –Terri w/ all her medals after the Dopey Challenge this last January.

The Race that started it all for me, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. This is me with my friend Rachel.

If you follow me on facebook, twitter or instagram, you may have noticed I’ve started a hash-tag (#). I’m not sure I did it right, but I love it anyway.  

You see, I’ve been flying so much this year I should’ve grown a pair of wings by now. I’m always meeting such wonderful folks in my travels. I thought it would be cool to take Selfies with these folks and tell a little about each one.  It’s great fun. (Okay, for me it’s great fun).  So if you see me, I might just snap one of you and tell how awesome you are. I’d truly love that. 

Now, let’s catch back up with my ongoing Star Wars story.  (You can find parts ONE and TWO at these links)

On the day the second Star Wars film was released, my picture could be seen coast-to-coast.

Not because I was famous, but because I had decided that I deserved the first ticket and by god I was going to get it!

The Empire Strikes Back was coming soon to the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

The very first showing of the film was to occur at 12 midnight on a Wednesday morning and the film would be shown for a continuous 24 hours.

I was at a convention and upon hearing this news, I made the announcement that I going to get the first ticket. I felt I deserved it as I’d seen the first Star Wars film so many times.

A girl standing nearby told me that she was going to get the first ticket. So the game was ON.

On that Monday morning, before the opening on Wednesday night, I arrived at the Egyptian Theatre at 11am.  My plan was to stake my place in line and wait the 2 days in order to insure my success.

There, leaning against the corner wall where I knew the line would form, I waited, determination across my face. I was first in line.  Remember, there wasn’t a public Internet yet.  If you wanted a ticket, you had to go to the theater and buy a ticket.

A little while later, the manager of the Egyptian came out and told me that I could not stand and wait, and if I continued to do so, there’d be trouble.

So I began to walk back and forth in front of the theater. He watched me for a while and was surprised to see that I wasn’t going anywhere. I just kept walking back and forth.

He approached me and said he’d called the police and that I was going to be arrested. When the officer arrived, I straightened to my full height and said to him in a sweet but stern voice:

“You’re welcome to arrest me sir, but if you do, I’ll call KMPC radio where my dad works and tell everyone that the police prefer to harass a young girl who just wants to see the next Star Wars film, instead of going out and catching real criminals!”

“All right then, you’re going to have to keep moving. Until I see that there is a designated place marked to line up, I’ll arrest you if you stop moving.”

I perked up.  “Line? Designated spot? You mean like velvet ropes and poles?”

“Yes, got it?”

“Yes sir.”

With that the officer left and I smiled.

At that moment my friend pulled up to see how things were going. I told her what the officer said and asked her if she would call our friend Jack.

Jack was the manager of the Tiffany theatre in Hollywood, where a bunch of us were performing the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I played Magenta.

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“Sure, I’ll do better than that; I’ll drive over and see him.”

She returned shortly with golden poles and red velvet ropes. I hooked them to the wall, attaching it to a loop I saw.  I stood behind the ropes. The officer walked by and seeing the ropes nodded to me.

The manager came out again and reacted to the ropes.

“Where did those ropes come from?”

“Ropes?”

“Okay fine! Well, you’re going to have to stand there. Don’t you sit or I’ll still have you arrested.”

With that, he turned and walked back inside.

I stood there until darkness fell.  My legs sore from standing, my body weak. I wanted to sit, but I didn’t dare.

A van pulled up in front of the theatre and a man jumped out.

“Hi Craig!”

“Terri!  What in the heck are you doing here?”

I explained the situation in detail, my voice wailing.

“I just want to get the first ticket, Craig.  Why is he harassing me?”

Craig Miller worked for Lucasflim. I’d met him at a convention. He ran the Star Wars Fan Club, of which I was a member.

Craig took me by my shoulders and sat me down behind the ropes.  He could see the worry in my face, but he insisted he would take care of this for me. He walked toward the entrance.

The Egyptian had a long corridor with the entrance at the end.  I watched Craig walk the long path and enter the theatre.  The manager walked up to greet him, shaking his hand.

Craig began shaking a finger at the manager, who seemed to be protesting. I couldn’t hear their conversation, but their body language was very clear and finally Craig swung his arms out in a gesture that meant “that’s final.”   Then he turned and walked in my direction.

Looking down at me, Craig smiled.

“Terri, You are first in line and you will get the first ticket.  You can take a break if you wish, whatever you want to do.  You are assured to get the first ticket and that’s final.”

I looked up.  I was now wrapped in my Star Wars blanket (did I mention that I was a real squid?)

“Craig, how?”

“Simple. I told the manager that if he didn’t give you that ticket or harassed you in any way, I’ll pull the film from his theater.”

My eyes wide as I realize what he had said.

“You’re welcome. George Lucas doesn’t want his fans to be bothered in any way. Enjoy the film.”

He jumped into his van and was gone. I sat wrapped in my blanket, shaking my head, when I noticed an Asian gentleman running across the street carrying a tray.

“You’ve been fighting all day, now you win, but you haven’t eaten any food.  I run the deli across the street and we want to honor you and feed you.”

I looked into his smiling face with dismay and burst into tears as I took the tray and thanked him.  He squeezed my shoulder, nodded, and ran back across the street.  There on the tray was a hero sandwich, some chips and a Coke.  As I sniffled and ate the food, I thought, “what a heavenly meal.”

Soon after, other fans began to arrive.  They asked how long I had been there, and I told them the story I’ve just told you.

The line grew longer and longer.  All through the night I shared my story and by the next morning the line went so far around the building I could see the end of the line across from me on the opposite wall.  I finally fell asleep.

Early that morning I awoke to a microphone being shoved into my face.

“Are you the first? How long have you been in line? Why? Who are you?” It was a news reporter and the interviews were non-stop from that moment, newspapers, radio and TV. . .  over and over again.  I said I wanted the first ticket because I had seen Star Wars 180 times.

The day went just like that, making its way toward midnight and opening night.

Next week, in the final segment, I’ll relay the opening night experience. It almost ended my film career before it even started, because the film industry isn’t really fond of squid fans (as I’d soon discover).

I hope you’ll join me.

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Terri in the costume she created from Empire. She carved Yoda with a pair of scissors.

 

FEEDBACK

As always, I want to thank you for your positive feedback.

To answer the comment that seemed a bit sarcastic about Club 33 and my enjoyment of it, I want you to realize dear reader, that I was not too keen on Club 33 changing either.

I like the park the way it is.  I don’t mind a few touch-ups here and there, but I do get nervous because Disneyland is the only park Walt designed and touched.  Walt never walked in any other Disney park.  This is the true charm of Disneyland.  The more it’s futzed with, the more Walt disappears.

However, I also know that there were a lot of people who were begging to become members of Club 33. But the membership was full to capacity, even though belonging requires a tremendous financial investment.

There’s no way that Disney is going to leave big money on the table. This redesign was inevitable, because they wanted to allow more people to join Club 33. So they enlarged it, by adding a large new lounge. I too am sorry that certain things are no longer there.  But, at least they did a lovely job on the interior redesign. What must be will be.

See you next time!

About Terri Hardin Jackson

Terri Hardin has designed attractions as a Disney Imagineer from 1987-1997. She's also a Jim Henson Puppeteer and has worked on over 42 film and TV projects including Ghostbusters & Captain EO. She currently creates Disney collectables and plays a Foster Farms Chicken.

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5 Comments

Comments for Star Wars: The Film That Changed My Life – Part 3 are now closed.

  1. Wow, what a great story! It must have been an incredible experience to be there in person!

    And I completely agree with your assessment of the runDisney races. Yes, they are “races”, but it’s pretty easy to have a lot of fun doing them, and the training really isn’t as strenuous as some may think. Good luck this weekend!

  2. Love that story – what a nice guy to do that for you. One question: I never heard the term “squid fans” – what does that mean (I assume the same as today’s “fan-boy”) -Yes?
    Thanks!

  3. Fabulous article Terri. Love the way you spin a tale!

    I was a huge Star Wars fan too! However I’d never wait more than an hour or two for a film. You have a real dedication.

    Looking forward to the last installment in this series!

  4. Great story. Did you also wait for the new trilogy?

    The new trilogy ended my love of Star Wars. I thought I was going to get to see Darth Vader hunt the Jedi instead I saw him build an annoying robot, race a pod, whine about being a Jedi, get married and kill the guy from snakes on a plane. They skipped the best parts of the story and tried to tie it all together in the last twenty minutes of the trilogy.

    I hope the new movies focus more on the stars and the wars and less on politics and drama.