I love D23 Expo! For the Disney Nerd in me, it’s Nerd-vana. Despite the long lines and the way overpriced food, it was a hoot and a half. From the panels to the autograph sessions, it was all so much fun. There were great pins to be had, special Vinylmation, and exclusive merchandise galore. Opportunities to meet and greet with the people who make the magic – from Imagineers to movie stars. If you’re a fan of Disney, this is the place for you to be. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll talk about the highlights, things that could have gone better, and showcase some of the neat things to be found at the Expo. Now that I’ve had a while to sort of digest everything that happened, here are some of the highlights of this year’s D23 Expo!
StagePass. Let me tell you, I hope every convention does this. ComicCon would be even better if they instituted this system which is basically a FastPass for conventions. If you’re not familiar with the FastPass, the StagePass works basically like this – you get to select a show beginning at 12pm to 3pm and (for free) get a reserved ticket which GUARANTEES you admission into the room. Same for 3pm to 6pm. Last year, people lined up for hours before the presentations and created not only a mess but some broken hearts as well for those who didn’t get in. They still had stand-by lines this year for those who didn’t get passes, and many of those people got in also, but at least this time you didn’t have to spend all day waiting for the one presentation you wanted to see and then miss the rest of the Expo. Now if you wanted a CLOSE seat, you still had to wait, but even then not as long. Bravo, Disney! Did that mean choices had to be made? Well, yes. But it was fair, easy to manage, and made for many happy people.
Fastpass for Tomorrowland Exhibit. Again, Disney, the masters of line management scored another big plus. After announcing the contents of this mysterious box supposedly found in the Walt Disney Archives, magically they put all of the contents on display in an exhibit which didn’t open until Saturday after the live action presentation in the Arena. This pavilion was run by Disneyland Resort and unlike some of the others (ABC and Disney Interactive), it was managed VERY well. Not only were the lines clear and easy to figure out where the end of the line was (there was a guy with a sign that said, “End of Line”), but they also offered a Fastpass option! If you didn’t want to wait, you could come back at a designated time slot to enter and see the displays. That left you free to go and do other things which was wonderful. It was interesting that this exhibit was in the Disneyland pavilion instead of Disney Studios since it’s the basis of a movie coming out in the “future” (get it? A little Tomorrowland humor). Will there be something based on the movie coming to the parks?
Star Power: If you had a favorite Disney show, you could almost guarantee that you would see the actors at D23 Expo. Stars from Dog With A Blog, Good Luck Charlie, Liv and Maddie and pretty much every Disney show on television were there. Friendly, nice, and personable, they signed autographs and talked to many of the kids. But there were also opportunities to meet authors of your favorite Disney books, talk with Imagineers who made the rides you love, and see some of the biggest names in Hollywood like Angelina Jolie (Maleficent) and Kristen Bell (Frozen). D23 had PLENTY of star power! And again, the way they handled the lines kept improving. On the second day, the Disney Channel pavilion went to a wristband system which insured that people waiting in line would get to meet their favorite stars and the guest control folks at the autograph lines made sure to let people know when they might be too far back to get an autograph. All in all, a great experience.
Exclusive Merchandise: I’m going to save this for it’s own separate blog post since the number of cool things were pretty awesome. But needless to say, there were plenty of exclusives and vendors who had terrific memorabilia. Even though it was near impossible to get one of the more rare pieces at some of the prime merchandise locations, there was still plenty to be had for everyone.
These were just the highlights of the Expo with many more things going for it, but then you’ll just have to experience it for yourself in 2015 when it comes back to Anaheim. In our next blog post, we’ll cover some of the things that didn’t go as well.