After I’ve had time to process the event, I’ll probably piece together a more complete review and definitely will be posting updated tips based on this year’s experience. Overall, the D23 Expo 2013 was a blast! Were there some drawbacks? Sure. Any time you gather together an event with more than an estimated 45,000 in attendance over a three-day weekend, you’re bound to have a few. But despite those drawbacks, I would say it was a hit and a success. Disney definitely learned from their prior experience at D23 2011 and worked on getting the kinks out of the system to make it a more smooth event. Plenty of SWAG for the Disney fan and lots of opportunities to purchase unique, Expo-exclusive merchandise. Great presentations focused on “What’s next?” And a lot of interaction between Disney favorites and fans. In future posts, I’ll write more extensively on what worked and what didn’t but for now, a taste of the weekend.
For the Disney enthusiast, whether it was theme parks, animation, live action movies, video games, or books, there were presentations and forums and panels galore. Too many. There was no way to see it all and there always seemed to be at least two that I wanted to go to. They gave out little gifts in different venues depending on the panel you saw, but the most important gift they gave was information. Each presentation was chock-full of delicious nuggets (and sometimes whole heaping spoonfuls) of information about upcoming stuff. Curiously, this year theme parks were noticeably light on information. Not even info about the upcoming Shanghai Disneyland. Perhaps they are saving it for 2015 when the D23 Expo returns to Anaheim for a fourth year!
For the Disney fan, there were autograph signings of all kinds. Authors, artists, actors, and more were all on hand to sign autographs for devoted fans – all at no charge and with a smile on their faces. We went to see the cast from Dog With A Blog – one of my daughter’s favorite shows – and they were ALL super nice and even posed for pictures. I was amazed not only at how well organized the lines were, but the attitudes of the stars who were there. I’ve been to other conventions and gatherings, and many times the stars are either busy talking to someone else or concentrating on getting their signature just right and can’t be bothered to really look at you, but everyone we encountered was really nice and took time to treat you like you mattered. It was great.
For the Disney collector you could go broke. From the Dream Store to the Disney Store to Mickey’s of Glendale it was exclusive merchandise opportunity after exclusive merchandise opportunity. Choices and compromises had to be made because unless you came as a team, no one could do everything. You’d have to hire a squad of commandos to come with you to be everywhere at once. The Dream Store had some nifty unique items like the Harvey Seatbelt Wallet (only 50 available) as well as pins, Vinylmation, shirts, artwork, and a fiber optic jacket! And don’t forget the beautiful Disney chess set. Items ran out quickly on some of the smaller limited edition items and you had to be there before the crack of dawn to have a chance at them. At Mickey’s of Glendale they had limited edition pins they sold each day of the event so to get it all you’d have to get into the place each day and wait in line to buy the pin. Not to mention the other pins, shirts, jackets, Vinylmation (of their own), and other things available to you. And the Disney Store. Again had some amazing merchandise that only a select few actually got to purchase. The quantities were so low and the number of people swarming their pavilion so high that they all went very quickly. Wish they had more of that kind of memorabilia on a regular basis in their stores.
Overall, it’s exactly what you’d hope for from a Disney Expo except that it would have been great if they had multiple presentations of some of the panels (or even sold a video highlighting all of the Arena, Stage 23, and Stage 28 presentations – I’d buy it!). No regrets. It was a series of long days with long lines, but it was all worth it. See you again in a couple of years, D23 Expo!