This past weekend was the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. Although lots and lots of people showed up, fun was still had. The Expo was full of Disney Magic in the form of films, television, parks, and resorts to just name a few. Since there is so much to see and do at the Expo, I obviously was not able to attend everything. The following is what I experienced.
After waiting in a huge line to enter the Expo, we first made our way to the Carousel of Projects. This area displayed props, models, and artifacts from upcoming Walt Disney Imagineering attractions. When entering the area, you are treated to a nice little video projected on Semi-Circle 180! A montage of WDI’s past is shown and finally Tinker Bell finds our way out as she splits the screen open. Once the doors open, we are greeted by a huge replica of the Disney Cruise Line ship. As we walk past the giant vessel, its fog horn blasts a familiar tune. Try and guess what the tune is….
Inside the exhibit, we find things from the new Fantasyland coming to Walt Disney World, the new Seven Dwarfs mine ride, Cars Land and its attractions, DCA’s Buena Vista Street, and my favorite: The Amazing Destini! The Amazing Destini is the first animatronic to have 100% artificial intelligence. It was really amazing to see in person. The little fortune teller really interacts well with guests. We were treated to a look at the program running the animatronic and I must admit that it is kind of scary. It was like the Terminator come true. Destini’s program can sense your emotions and react with it. It also counts blinks, nods, smiles, and anything else that can give it clues as to what you are feeling. It was remarkable.
After our tour of the Carousel of Projects, we walked the floor for a bit and bought some collectibles. The amount of Disney things to buy was overwhelming. It is quite the site to see all the Disney geeks scrambling for their favorite Disney pin. I must admit that I was one of them.
We then got in line to enter the Arena where we would see a presentation on Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Tom Staggs hosted the event and although we were treated to great pieces of concept art, most of the information was already made public by the Disney Parks blog. There were two things that really excited me however. The first was a piece of concept art that showed the E Ticket Cars Land attraction. The art showed that there will be a scene inside of a cavern called Taillight Caverns. The stalagmites will be glowing red and resemble different tail lights of classic cars. I for one love Disney caves and I’m sure this will be a welcomed addition. The other exciting piece of news was the Castle coming to Shanghai Disneyland. The Castle will represent all the different Disney princesses and it will have a restaurant inside. What was most exciting was that an attraction would be inside the Castle! There will be a boat ride beginning in Fantasyland and it will make its way underneath the Castle where you will disembark. The concept art of this attraction looked amazing even though it was just one scene. I can’t wait to see what this turns out to be! They also announced that the Carnation Plaza Gardens will soon be leaving Disneyland and replaced with a little extension of Fantasyland which will house some Disney princesses. I’m sure it will look neat, but I’m going to miss the Gardens…
We then made our way to the last Panel Discussion for the day: Voices of the Parks. There we met Disney’s best vocal talents and they showed off their pipes. It was amazing to see how many of them love Disneyland and how talented they all really are. The panel had many vocal talents including the voice of Disneyland Bill Rogers, Mark Silverman who does the voice of Rod Serling in the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Corey Burton who is our Ghost Host in the Haunted Mansion Holiday. It was really the most entertaining part of the entire Expo. We heard everyone do some of their Disney voices live! If you closed your eyes, it felt like you were at the park.
We began the day with visiting the things being auctioned off in the silent auction. In that room, they had the Hitchhiking Ghosts from Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion. These were the ghosts that appeared in the mirrors. It was amazing to see them up close. It was so strange to see them that close and under house lighting. There was something really special about viewing these masterpieces of Walt Disney Imagineering. Some other neat things that we saw being auctioned off included a canon from Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean and a replica of the barker bird from Walt Disney World’s Pirates.
After the auction, we visited the Archive Treasures Museum. We saw incredible props, wardrobe, and pieces of art from classic Disney productions. The highlights included the Sleeping Beauty Storybook, maquettes from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, wardrobe from the Pirates films, a Mickey animatronic from Walt Disney World, and fan art from “101 Dalmatians”. It was a great display that was a must see.
After our tour through the treasures, we got in line for the presentation on Buena Vista Street. It was great seeing the concept art for DCA’s new main street. I really loved that amount of detail that will be represented. Carthay Circle Theatre looks great and I love the fountain which is being built out front. But the biggest reveal was the new Partners statue coming to DCA. It depicts Walt in 1923 along with his suitcase and Mickey Mouse on top. It is a great sculpt that really shows in detail what Walt looked like early in life. Imagineers decided to place the statue on the ground and not on a pedestal for an important reason. In 1923, Walt was just like us. He had dreams. He worked hard for those dreams to come true. So since Buena Vista street is supposed to take place in the 1920s when Walt was pursuing his dream, Imagineers decided that he should not be above the crowd, but within the crowd. Any one of us can have our dreams come true if we work hard for it. I thought it was a great idea.
The final day we just looked around the main show floor. Some highlights included people dressed up in costumes including an amazing Red Head from Pirates, a wonderful Tinker Bell, and The Bride, Caretaker, Hatbox Ghost, and Tightrope Girl from the Haunted Mansion. Everyone did a great job with the detail in their costumes. Also on the floor were some neat props including a Zebra from the Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney’s Limo, an Autopia car, and a goose from It’s a Small World, just to name a few. We decided not to go to any presentations that day as the lines were incredibly long. To view a presentation, you had to get in line about 3 hours ahead of time. It was ridiculous. So many people showed up for the D23 Expo, but it just goes to show you how much people love Disney. The next Disney Expo will be held in 2013. I’m already looking forward to it.
Enjoy a full photo gallery from the Expo: