Craig’s Notes: As of Friday (1st day of D23 Expo 2013) there were no pin boards. I reference them in this post, but for an as yet unknown reason there are no pin boards being run by the company. Too bad, too.
The 2011 Expo was even more well attended than the 2009 Expo, with appropriately more things to do, but I can’t imagine the folks at Disney could have anticipated a crowd THIS big. Saturday was completely sold out and parking was nearly impossible to find. Friday was a ZOO as people tried to buy all the exclusive and just radically cool merchandise around (more on that in the next blog). And good luck getting a seat for some of the most well-attended panels and discussions. D23 even offered a special deluxe package and an even bigger more deluxe (and expensive) package for those who wanted a “premium” experience. Of course, those were sold out immediately. At $500 for the Premiere Package and $1000 for the Sorcerer’s Package you would think they would last longer, but not at all. This year they only had one level – the Sorcerer’s Package for $1500! In addition to some cool exclusive stuff, you get premium GUARANTEED seating at every venue for every panel and show. Quite a bargain when you think of the time you save not waiting in line. AND you get exclusive shopping time at the Disney Dream Store and pre-Expo visitation to the Treasures of the Disney Archives exhibit. But before you get excited, it’s sold out already. And on the first day! Wow. It is a really cool package, but $1,500 is very steep. Still with all the cool SWAG that Disney gives to these premiere people, it might be worth it.
Still there are things you can do to make this the best experience possible. First tip, buy your tickets early. This year, prices went up by $10 per day per person (still a good deal IMHO) but if you buy early you save $5 per day per person. But hurry because the early bird tickets go away on June 15th. If your plan is to just wing it and show up if you decide to go? You should rethink that. On Saturday, people walking up were not able to buy tickets because the venue reached capacity by early sales alone. Same for Friday. The likelihood of that happening again is greater this year. Another tip, get there early. Get there before it opens if for no other reason than to get good parking. While they do have shuttles from parking lots farther away, it simply takes time away from seeing all you want to see. And the earlier the better. While you will be sure to get in (eventually), the lines will delay your entrance by a lot! There are two lines – one for D23 members and one for general admission so be sure you are in the right line. Don’t be surprised if people are camping out the night before either – the drive to get there to purchase things first is high! Friday will be the craziest day for merchandise and Saturday will be the craziest day period. But it will still be fun. My daughter and I had a wonderful time despite the long lines. Just bring things to do if you have little ones – iPods, video games, books, whatever will help pass the time.
And bring your pins! If you are a pin collector, there will be people with pins spread out and around the different tables as well as a pin board and collectors area for trading. Last time, I got some great stuff in trade. They also have Vinylmation trading so if that’s your thing, be ready. And they have a decent selection of food available so you don’t have to leave to eat, but finding space – well that’s another thing. We’ll talk merchandise next time so come back for more! And enjoy the Expo!