A Look Ahead to D23 Expo 2015 – 5 Must-See Panels and Presentations

The countdown is on to the most incredible biennial event of the year!  For Disney fans in particular but also for Marvel and Star Wars fans, D23 Expo 2015 is right around the corner, and if my attendance during the past two conventions has taught me anything is that planning is of the utmost importance.  So many great announcements about panels and presentations have already made their way down the pike that you won’t be able to see them all, but hopefully you’ll get to see the ones you want the most!  There are so many great ones being presented this year – not to mention the events, the pavilions, the exhibits, the Dream Store, the Disney Store, Mickey’s of Glendale pop-up shop, and all the other amazing opportunities – that I’ll mention only the top 5 I hope to see.

Noticeably, I’m not mentioning the two most obvious ones which are always the top 2 panels at the Expo – the animation panel and the live action panel.  At the 2013 Expo, attendees of the animation panel were treated to Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go” live for the entire arena as well as seeing preview clips of the many films coming up on the Disney/Pixar slate.  The live action panel always seems to find a bevy of Hollywood stars to grace the stage.  In addition to seeing previews of upcoming Disney / Marvel / Star Wars films, 2013 had people like Angelina Jolie come out and address the crowd.  Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins were on hand for Thor: The Dark World.  Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie came out to support Captain America: The Winter Solider. And even Disney Legend, Richard Sherman came out for a rendition of “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” from the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks.  This year will likely see no shortage of star power, especially with Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming to theaters along with a whole host of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.

But here are 5 other must-see panels that you may or may not know about:

Disney's venture into cosplay competition is sure to please
Disney’s venture into cosplay competition is sure to please

Mousequerade – Disney’s foray into cosplay competition offers the top 75 submissions across 5 different categories a chance to win a vacation at Aulani, Disney’s destination resort in Hawaii.  Contestants will compete under the banners of “Heroes Unmasked,” “Once Upon a Costume,” “The Wonderful Worlds of Disney,” “Best of Star Wars,” and “Weird, Wild, and Goofy!” It’s sure to be fun and a great example of fan creativity!  Plus, it is always amazing to see where people’s imaginations will lead them. This will be held in Stage 23 on Friday at 1pm and last about 90 minutes.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts – Not much has been said about this presentation, but with Bob Iger’s announcement about Shanghai Disneyland, speculation about a Star Wars themed area somewhere in the parks, and a number of changes coming both in the states and internationally, this presentation should have not only plenty of surprises, but lots of great insider info!  It’ll be in Hall D23 on Saturday at 3pm and also go for about 90 minutes.

ONCE UPON A TIME - ABC's "Once Upon a Time" stars Lana Parrilla as Evil Queen/Regina. (ABC/Bob D'Amico)
ONCE UPON A TIME – ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” stars Lana Parrilla as Evil Queen/Regina. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

Once Upon A Time: An Evening With Snow White and the Evil Queen – Last year’s OUAT presentation (as us hard core fans call it) featured a special preview of the upcoming season and a sweet little gift for coming to the event.  This one promises not only insight into the coming reign of the Dark Swan, but features both Ginnifer Goodwin and Lana Parilla and a special Q&A session with the stars and the creators!  I’ll be there for sure!!!  This panel takes place on Saturday evening at 6pm in Stage 23.

Star Wars enters Disney Infinity with the 3.0 release
Star Wars enters Disney Infinity with the 3.0 release

It’s Game Time! Disney Interactive Takes the Stage – Last year, the folks at Disney Interactive not only gave all attendees an unique Disney Infinity Mickey Mouse figure, but they unveiled the new system of gameplay for the first time.  This year, they are again introducing a new line-up of Disney Infinity for the 3.0 release which will include Star Wars figures!  On top of that, Electronic Arts is coming to preview the hotly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefront – the first video game which will feature a unique storyline that is considered part of the Star Wars canon.  And to add to the excitement, Square Enix will share about the upcoming release of Kingdom Hearts III, the much beloved series of games that incorporate Disney characters in fun and innovative ways.  This presentation takes place in Hall D23 from 11am to 12pm on Sunday.

Celebrating Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club – 60 Magical yEARS – For anyone who was a fan of the original Mickey Mouse Club, you’re in for a treat!  Many of the originals will be on-hand to commemorate this special occasion – Sherry, Sharon, Bobby, Tommy, Cubby, Dorene, and my favorite, Darlene will all be there.  Also attending will be the actors who played Spin and Marty on the hit series featured on the show.  This will be a wonderful tribute and takes place on Stage 23 at 5pm on Sunday to help close out the event.

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