Ah the D23! Scotty is just finishing up his coverage of the event. It was really like a smaller comic con in the sense that by Saturday I was tired. LOL… I think I’m getting too old for this crap. HA! I should never say that right.
Anyway, I was super stoked this year because we here at Mike The Fanboy were invited to cover the enct, and that coverage fell to Disney superfan Scotty! I knew he would be up to the challenge so without taking up too much time I will turn the reins over to him!
D23 EXPO 2011 – The Ultimate Disney Fan Event
Friday, August 19, 2011
Do you know when Disneyland opened? Do you know which attractions were at Disneyland opening day? Do you know who Disney’s “Nine Old Men” were? Well, if you do, you were probably at the D23 EXPO 2011 this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center across the street from Disneyland. Mikethefanboy.com was invited to cover this year’s expo. I was excited that Mike asked if I wanted to go and write about the event. I am a huge Disney enthusiast and even worked at Disneyland for six years. I have attended both official and unofficial Disneyana conventions in the past, but it has been a while since I have attended a function such as this expo.
I arrived at the convention center and obtained my press credential. I walked into the main hall and was a little overwhelmed at first. There was so much to see. I saw tons people waiting in lines for all kinds of stuff. I met up with Mike and Erica. We discussed what we were going to do first. We all had different ideas and decided to do what we wanted and meet up later.
I first got in line for the Disney Volunt”ears” area. This is an organization where Disney Cast Members volunteer their time for community and national projects.
Today, they were having visitors help stuff care packages for the USO. This was such a great cause to help support our troops and their families. For helping them with this project, Volunt”ears” gave each visitor a reusable bag to carry purchases and giveaways at the convention. BRAVO to the Cast Members who contribute their time to this organization!
I then headed over to the Disney Channel/Radio Disney area. They were going to be having a Storytelling Event and Disney Corporate Citizenship Announcement. David Arquette was going to be making a special appearance at the Storytelling Event. David, along with authors Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, and voice talent Cory Burton, the current voice of Captain Hook, were going to be part of the event.
The four guests were introduced by Radio Disney DJ Hallie and read an excerpt from Jake and the Neverland Pirates like an old radio show. It was fun to watch the talent on stage read the story. Following the reading, there was a presentation of a check from Disney to “First Book.” “First Book” is a nonprofit organization giving access to new books for children in need. In the thank you speech, the representative from “First Book” mentioned that to date, Disney has given 15 million books to their organization. After meeting with the press, David Arquette was kind and signed a number of autographs for fans.
Following this presentation, some of the cast of Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie” came to the stage for a meet and greet with fans. Fans were excited to see members in the cast in person. In listening to the fans getting close to the stage, the “tween” girls were excited most about meeting Jason Dolley.
I made my way through the hall catching glimpses of everything offered. There was an area showcasing some items that would be going up for auction. There was going to be a big auction on Saturday night called the “D23 Expo Live Auction.” These items were rare and AWESOME, but were more than likely going to be too rich for my blood. I really liked the “Peter Pan’s Flight” attraction pirate ship!
I also saw a booth from Mattel that showcased the toys they were selling. I really like all the diecast cars from the movie “Cars.” Mater is my favorite character from that movie.
There was also an area called “Disney Celebration” that gave a lot of ideas for parties. There were some really cool ideas for Mickey and Princess parties. They also gave cake and balloon tips!
One could also see people dressed as their favorite Disney characters, pin trading, and Vinylmation trading. Many thanks to Chris, a fellow autograph seeker, for sharing his Vinylmation collection that had been autographed by Christina Aguilera, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Johnny Depp!
One of my favorite sections was the “Pirate’s of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides.” This area had props and costumes from the film. People were excited to see Captain Jack Sparrow’s costume. Penelope Cruz’s costume was a highlight for me.
At 3:30p.m. I attended the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Panel. I was excited to hear and see all the amazing things that were coming to all the parks and resorts around the world. The showed opened with Mickey Mouse on drums with the rest of the band on stage. It is so cool what Mickey can do in person now in comparison to when I was young!
Mickey then introduced the Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Tom Staggs. Tom and other guests came out and presented all the new and wonderful things that were in store for all the Disney fans to enjoy. Some of the highlights:
1) The New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld
To help describe what was in store, Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering accompanied Tom on stage. We were informed that it is going to be the 40th Anniversary for the Fantasyland in Florida.
This sounded like a perfect time for some new changes! Bruce first showed us “Fantasy Forest,” which will be an area that extends beyond the castle. There were not many clues given as to what the area will have. Bruce did share a clip with a model of what the area will look like.
Bruce then talked about the new Little Mermaid attraction that will be there. The area will be themed differently than the one at Disney’s California Adventure, as it will be themed to Fantasyland. Guests will enter through Prince Eric’s castle and collect “who’s-its and what’s-its” in the cue with Scuttle.
Fans were then excited to hear that there will also be a Belle meet and greet in Belle’s Cottage. Guests will help Belle and Lumiere act out stories. There will be a Lumiere audio-animatronic that will be the host. Lumiere was noted to be the toughest audio-animatronic to ever work on as he was created true to scale.
The highlight of the New Fantasyland is going to be the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction. They created a new coaster car that will swing as it goes with the turns and hills of the dwarfs’ mine. There was a clip of how they started to design the car in the back of a truck. They chose specific scenes from the movie and took time to make each section perfect. It looked VERY EXCITING!
2) Aulani, The Disney Resort & Spa on Oahu, Hawaii
To help better describe the project, Tom showed a clip with Disney Imagineer in charge, Joe Rhode. We learned that the first guest was to be welcomed to the resort on August 29, 2011, and the resort would officially open in September of 2011. There is going to be spas for kids, another for young adults, and yet another for adults. Every member of a family would be catered. There are also going to be beautiful pools, a waterslide, a lazy river, and of course a beach! A musical group then came on stage with a troop of young Hawaiian dancers.
They whole group gave an amazing performance and truly brought a piece of the Islands to Anaheim. As a final surprise, one lucky attendee to this panel was given a free trip to the resort. Everyone was told to check under their seat to see if they had won. VERY COOL prize! Unfortunately, I did not win. : )
3) The Shanghai Disney Resort
Bob Weis, Executive Vice President of Creative Walt Disney Imagineering was then welcomed to the stage to discuss The Shanghai Disney Resort. He informed us that this project has been in development for the last ten years. This is to be the first Disney resort in Mainland China and is slated to open in 2015 or 2016. Bob and Tom discussed children in China that had visited Disneyland in California.
The kids were asked which attractions they liked best and why so that Bob and Tom could bring that magic to their country. It is important to Disney that this resort be culturally respectful. In helping them reach this goal, Disney has hired Chinese artists and architects to help create this magical place.
The highlight of the presentation was the renderings of the “Enchanted Storybook Castle.” This will be the first castle in a Disney resort where all the princesses will reside together. It is going to be a multi-level castle that will have an attraction running though it, stores, and a restaurant all inside. The attraction will begin in Fantasyland and finish in the castle.
4) Disney’s California Adventure and “Cars Land”
Tom Staggs then discussed and showed renderings for the new entrance to Disney’s California Adventure. After guests enter the gates, they are going to walk down Buena Vista Street. The street will contain many elements of Los Angeles from the past including the Red Car and the Carthay Theater. The Carthay Theater will be a restaurant. The renderings and plans looked and sounded really exciting!
Kathy Mangum, Executive Producer of Walt Disney Imagineering was then welcomed to the stage to discuss “Cars Land.” Kathy told the crowd that she and other Imagineers went on a road trip on Route 66 for inspiration for the area. She said that there were going to be areas included in “Cars Land” that would be back-story to the movie. This would include “Stanley’s Oasis” and “Taillight Caverns.” “Cars Land” will be opening in 2012! It’s just around the corner!
5) Disneyland Resort Hints
The last portion of the panel was about some plans for the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. George A. Kalogridis, the President of the Disneyland Resort was welcomed to the stage.
He spoke of some really fun ideas that I hope will come to fruition. He spoke of how guest have a strong tie with many of the Disneyland attractions, and because of it, some special experiences are in the plans to be offered to guests. Some of the experiences mentioned were dinner in the Haunted Mansion, a tea party with a Disney Princess, and experiences with old attractions such as a Tahitian Terrace Experience or America the Beautiful in Circle Vision. There was also a hint of Club 33 expanding membership, but clues would not be given out until 2012!
Finally George and Tom spoke of “Fantasy Faire.” This would be an expansion of Fantasyland where Carnation Gardens once stood. This area will include “Tangled Tower” and the “Fantasy Faire Stage” for new shows. We were assured that the stage would still be having its swing dance nights!
Following this panel, I was walking around the “Collectors Forum” and realized that I had not eaten; I had forgotten in the major sensory overload with everything I was seeing. I ran out to get a quick bite. After I finished eating, I made my way upstairs to grab a spot in line for the Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix show. I got in line around 5:15p.m. There were already a lot of people ahead of me and the show did not start until 8:15pm.!