From August 9th till the 11th, I attended Disney’s third biennial D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. I attended the first one in 2009, however was unable to attend the second one in 2011. As this was the first Expo for me in four years, I was pretty excited. Through The Disney Project I was able to obtain a press pass this time around. It allowed for special access to certain areas, access to the pressroom, exclusive events, and more.
I spent all three days at the Expo, pretty much from opening till closing. Because of that I won’t even attempt to write a comprehensive recap of the entire weekend, as it would take forever. I would however like to talk about a few of the presentations available, share my experiences with you, and my thoughts on the Expo in general.
The festivities began Friday at 8am, with a special waffle breakfast held for the press. In addition to waffles we were treated to typical breakfast food, and dined outdoors in the shadow of the structure erected for the Phineas and Ferb Waffle-inator. I got to see several Disney bloggers/writers/podcasters right off the bat, which was fun. My friend Jeff and I ate some surprisingly delicious waffles, and spent a few minutes watching the Waffle-inator in action.
After breakfast we entered the Convention Center. We had a naively ambitious schedule, given how popular the Expo was. But first we meandered around and took it all in.
The Expo floor was broken up into several areas. Other than the arena and the stages that held presentations, people could visit such areas as: The Disney Dream Store, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Citizenship, Disney Interactive, Journey into Imagineering, Mickey’s of Glendale, and much more. In addition to those areas, there was a huge Collector’s Forum, which housed all of the exhibitors’ booths. It was there where I spent a great deal of time, not only perusing the booths, but putting in volunteer shifts at The Walt Disney Family Museum booth.
After leaving the Collector’s Forum, it was time for the presentation: Undiscovered Disneyland with Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley. Tony mentioned early in the presentation that he had given it a few times, so to mix things up he re-branded it as “Rediscovered Disneyland.” He talked about and showed us images from several attractions, locations, and parades that no longer exist. It was a fun and interesting presentation, and I took so many photos of the slides, I will have to make the recap its own post on The Disney Project soon. I would like to share a photo I snapped of a video Tony made at the original ImageWorks from EPCOT Center’s Journey into Imagination.
|Tony in the checkered shirt|
The coolest part of the presentation actually came after it ended. Tom Staggs came out on stage to surprise Tony with the announcement that he was getting his own window on Main Street. Tony received a well-deserved standing ovation, and he was clearly touched by both the gesture, and the crowd’s reaction. I took a photo of Tony the moment the announcement was made.
After that great moment the presentation let out, so Jeff and I merged back in with the throng of Disney fans downstairs. There were so many pavilions to visit, we just began stopping at each of them and looking around. Jeff decided to try his hand at the video game Ducktales Remastered.
|Life is like a hurricane…|
After that he made me visit the Optimist booth with him, which was in the Collector’s Forum. I was in fact not following along with this particular social media campaign, but I was told by more than one person it was very well done. After that we stayed around the Forum, and checked out a few more booths. We saw Mike Peraza, artist on the original DuckTales cartoon, at the Micechat booth. Of course we had to take a picture with him.
I then went to put in a shift at The Walt Disney Family Museum booth. As I volunteer for them, it only made sense to do some volunteering at their booth while we were both at the Expo together. It was a lot of fun. I never get tired of talking about Walt. I was a little surprised however that so many Disney fans had never heard of the Museum before. We happily filled them in, as well as handed out free pins, and 3-dollar off vouchers for when they decided to visit. Once my shift ended, Jeff and I decided to visit the Journey into Imagineering pavilion. On the way there, we stopped to admire some cosplayers.
|This kid took home first prize in my book|
|I was wearing my Spidey shirt – how serendipitous!|
Jeff and I entered the Imagineering pavilion, and we both instantly loved it. Our only complaint was that there wasn’t more of it! This is probably where we spent the bulk of our time, aside from the Collector’s Forum. We walked around and soaked up the exhibits, and when I realized they had a Captain America meet-and-greet, I had to jump in line. I had just met Spidey, after all!
|Captain America was a big dude|
After meeting Cap, we ran into a familiar fellow who graciously agreed to pose for a photo with us.
|Somehow it just doesn’t seem like R2 without 3PO around nagging him|
The pavilion housed a variety of exhibits, and also displayed some amazing models of ride concepts. One of them being Tony Baxter’s original concept for the Land Pavilion for EPCOT Center, complete with hot air balloon ride.
We talked to all of the Imagineers inside the pavilion, mostly to the gentleman named Tom who was working towards the front. He was very nice and very knowledgeable. He also happened to be stationed next to a model of a little something called… The Western River Expedition! Apparently some of the Imagineers found this inside a wall. Crazy.
Day One was a bit of a whirlwind, and Jeff and I were exhausted by the end of it. Sure we had only attended one presentation, but we each worked shifts in booths throughout the day, and talked to/mingled with tons of people. Just before we left for the day, we decided to rest our eyes.
Jeff and I woke up nice and early to get to the Expo by opening, but not as early as some folks, who had apparently started lining up for the Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios presentation (which started at 12:30p) at 3 in the morning.
We didn’t end up doing any presentations this day, as the lines for the ones we wanted were longer than we wanted to wait, so we had fun goofing around in the Collector’s Forum for a bit. Jeff somehow got his hands on an incredible bandana, and it sparked a tug-of-war, to the death!
|Disclaimer: nobody actually died during this tug-of-war|
Once the epic battle ended, we found more fellow Disney writers and podcasters to mingle with. Nate Parrish from WEDWay Radio and John Donaldson, author of the memoir, Warp and Weft: Life Canvas of Herbert Ryman stopped by to say hello!
|Nate, John, Jeff|
Then I had the pleasure of running into the talented Kolby from Kolby Konnection, showing off a terrific model he had on display.
Jeff had a book signing with Rolly Crump from 1-3p at the Micechat booth, so I decided to put in more time at The Walt Disney Family Museum booth. A few people recognized me from the articles I write for the WDFM, which was nice. I handed out buttons, talked to folks about Walt and the Museum, and had a great time with my WDFM co-workers while we interacted with fellow Disney fans. Once Jeff finished signing autographs for his adoring fans, we headed back to the Imagineeering pavilion. We saw Tom again, and spoke with him some more. I also took the opportunity to snap a few pics of an early concept model for Spaceship Earth.
|Check out those Skyscrapers|
|I may look dorky, but at least she looks cool|
|How heavy was this shoe? Just ask Alex.|
|L to R: Mason, Jeff, Keith, Benjamin|