When I found out that Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor were holding a signing at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World, I couldn’t wait to attend.
When Ashley Eckstein was at Disney Springs earlier this year with Ahsoka author E.K. Johnston, I was unfortunately sick and unable to drive out there to meet her – but this time, knowing that both she and artist Ashley Taylor would be on hand for the premiere of their new Star Wars style (which is only available at Disney parks), I wasn’t going to miss it! I tacked an afternoon/evening at Disney Springs onto the end of a big trip around southern Florida, and while waiting in line maybe wasn’t the most amazing way to end my vacation, meeting these two wonderful ladies was more than worth it.
The signing was scheduled from three to five PM today (Tuesday December 6th) at the Wonderground store at Disney Springs. What I didn’t know is that Wonderground is part of a larger store called the “Marketplace Co-Op”, which features several areas devoted to Disney art – everything from trendy clothes to Disney-themed luggage to their new high-end items under the “Twenty Eight & Main” signature brand (and more). While I was a little disappointed at the fact that a huge section of the “Co-Op” was devoted to tech merchandise – most of which you can purchase elsewhere at Walt Disney World – I do love the general idea of a Co-Op style store at Disney. Hopefully they can perfect it as time goes on!
Now, I arrived at 3:12 PM and waited until nearly 5 PM to meet Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor. There was a sign in front of the Co-Op that announced their basic appearance details, but what it didn’t include was the very pertinent information that you had to first purchase a Her Universe item (any item) from the store, at which point you would be given a *numbered* wristband, which was the only way to guarantee that you would meet Ashley and Ashley. I only figured this out (in a timely manner, at least) because I was lucky enough to overhear a Disney cast member talking to someone with a wristband soon after I got in line. Before then, I’d assumed that it would be like the signings I’m used to – that I would purchase my item at the front of the line, just before meeting them.
Of course I searched for information about their appearance for my previous article, but there was nothing regarding the specifics of how to make sure you would actually get to meet Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor. I also discussed this issue with some of the other people who were standing in line with me, and it seems none of them knew about the pre-purchase and wristband situation before arriving at the store, either – and in fact, many of them waited in the line longer than I did before happening to hear that this was how things were being run.
Frustrating, yes, but certainly not Ashley and Ashley’s fault! These ladies were so friendly that to be honest I believe that was the main reason why I waited as long as I did. They conversed with pretty much every person they met (including myself), and while I do know that the store employees eventually cut the line off (and from what I could tell, only people with wristbands ended up being able to meet them at all – understandably, but unfortunately, this meant that you not only ended up having to buy something, but that you also had to possibly wait a while in line for a while before even knowing that’s what you had to do).
Probably the worst part about this was that after you went and purchased your item(s) you could actually kind of get in line whenever, so long as your number hadn’t already been called (for lack of a better term). This meant that the line was shuffled around quite a bit, with some of us seeing four, six, even ten people getting in line in front of us even after we’d been waiting a half hour or more. Yes, these people had originally arrived before/made their purchases a bit earlier than us, but in the end I actually think it was an interesting human study experiment: Who got in line immediately after buying their Her Universe item, even knowing that the wristbands were numbered and a bunch of people could show up to fill in spots in front of them? I know that many of those of us who did just that simply didn’t feel right about wandering around for an hour and then popping back into our place in line whenever we felt like it. Basically, it wasn’t really cutting, but to some of us, it felt like it.
In the end, though, even that hour-and-a-half-plus wait didn’t really matter to me, because I got a cute new Star Wars skirt and yes, I got to meet Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor…who also praised my Agent Carter themed outfit! I’m sure it helped that the *awesome* dress I was wearing is one of Ashley Eckstein’s designs for Hot Topic (seriously, the fabric is amazingly soft and the dress has POCKETS, so I think it’s a must for all Agent Carter fans).
Overall, this was a great experience. I had some fun conversations with the people standing in line with me, which definitely helped with the long wait, and of course the end experience was more than gratifying. Both Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor obviously love their fans, and seeing them do everything from tell a young girl who was dressed as a princess how beautiful she looked, to seeing Ashley E. recognize a fan that she’d met before and call that person by name, to how open they were with giving people goodbye hugs…well, I’ll just say it again – it was worth every minute I spent in that line.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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