This year’s D23 Expo has come to a close and boy was it a wonderful time. There was plenty to see and do throughout the three days. In this post, I will break down my favorite things that I experienced.
JOURNEY INTO IMAGINEERING:
This was by far my favorite thing in the entire expo. Imagineering set up a replica of their headquarters in Glendale. Inside, they had areas showcasing every aspect of Imagineering.
The pavilion began with a preshow video that was just incredible. At one point, doors open to reveal the Hatbox Ghost from The Haunted Mansion! It was very exciting to see him. Once the preshow was over, a different set of doors opened and you were free to do whatever you want.
The first highlight of the pavilion was getting to see the concept model for a scene from Western River Expedition.
This attraction was to be on the same scale as Pirates of the Caribbean and was to be featured at Walt Disney World. But alas it never happened. Fans demanded their own version of Pirates of the Caribbean instead. This is probably the best attraction to never happen and to see a model up close really shows you how incredible it would have been.
Then came the Imagineering Art Library which held the two most famous art pieces in Disneyland history. To see these originals in person is a real treat.
The first was the drawing that Herb Ryman created of Disneyland so Walt could bring it to the bankers to fund Disneyland.
The second was the painting that Walt Disney showcased on his Disneyland television show when he announced Disneyland.
The painting was done by Peter Ellenshaw and this was the first time it was available for the public to see. But the best part by far was when the lights dimmed down and black lights came on to show Disneyland at night. Ellenshaw painted over all the windows, lanterns, and other things that give off light with special black light paint to give the feeling of night time at Disneyland. It was something I will never forget.
Then came the area about audio animatronics. The first thing one notices is a replica of the Hatbox Ghost from the Haunted Mansion!
He was built off of the same animatronic skeleton used for the Auctioneer in Pirates and he moved so fluently. He even breathed! Let’s hope one day they bring him back.
Also in that area, they had the barker bird from Walt Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean and guests were able to control his movements!
The other highlight for me from this area was the animatronic heads of two different Pirates of the Caribbean. Can you tell which Pirates they are?
The next highlight for me was seeing the original statues from Snow White’s Grotto at Disneyland.
The statues were replaced with replicas in 1982 as weather conditions started to take its toll on the originals. It was really great seeing these up close.
Next came my favorite piece in the pavilion. They had Abraham Lincoln’s animatronic head from Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
This is one of the current heads being used, which has more lifelike functions than any animatronic ever created. And the head would even talk!
But then there is El Fortuno!
El Fortuno is the most sophisticated and realistic audio animatronic ever created. Not only does he move more realistically than any other animatronic ever created, but he makes eye contact with you also! He is performed by a live actor and his movements are being copied in real time. I was in awe looking at him.
Other things throughout the pavilion I loved seeing were concept models for The Land and Spaceship Earth.
Another fun thing that they did inside the pavilion was a scavenger hunt called the Adventure Trading Co. It was all Adventureland themed, and you would get a telegram with instructions on it. You had to go throughout the expo (and even at one point to Trader Sam’s) and finish the tasks given. Afterwards you would be given a trinket called a juju. All the juju’s look really neat and many of them reference different Disney attractions. The game was there to be tested to see if it would do well at Disneyland. I think it would do well. It was awfully fun and very addicting.
The first panel that I saw at D23 this year was about the creation of Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland.
They went over every scene from the attraction and showed video on how they created it. For those that don’t know, Mystic Manor is Hong Kong Disneyland’s own version of the Haunted Mansion. It opened this year, and I’m in love with it. Let’s hope one day I will be able to see it in person.
The next panel I saw of the Voices of the Parks, which is always my favorite panel.
This year featured the return of voice actors Mark Silverman (Rod Serling in the Tower of Terror), Corey Burton (Your Ghost Host in the Haunted Mansion Holiday), BJ Ward (The voice of the Peoplemover), and Bill Rogers (The Voice of Disneyland). Along with them, we got a few new voice actors including a couple of the spanish speaking spiel voices! They were all really great and funny. But as we only had one hour with these voice actors, it seemed too short. Where other panels seem to drag, the voice panel always seems to not have enough time.
The final panel that I saw was called Working with Walt. This panel featured Imagineers, Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, Alice Davis, and X. Atencio. It was a real joy to hear their personal stories about working with Walt Disney and creating the best attractions known to man. My favorite part was when Atencio sang Yo Ho. X. Atencio wrote the entire script for Pirates and Haunted Mansion. I’d say he’s a real talent!
IN THE ARENA:
Saturday night I saw something really special. They put on a live concert featuring Richard Sherman and Alan Menken.
It was incredible seeing these two legends perform all their classic Disney hits. Richard Sherman had the moment of the night for me, when he played Feed the Birds. He got a huge standing ovation after that one. Also, when Sherman performed Spoonful of Sugar, BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman came out to sing along. They play the Sherman Brothers in the upcoming film Saving Mr. Banks.
The night was capped off by Sherman and Menken performing A Whole New World and it’s a small world together. It was a night I will never forget.
Overall, it was a very successful D23. I did think the layout was a bit odd and more confusing than it was in years past and I wasn’t too impressed with anything besides the Imagineering pavilion. But even though, it was still worth it. Also it sure was crowded the entire time. The biggest lines being to shop at the stores inside. I heard people waited 6 hours to go to the Disney store! What could one possibly need that bad?
But the 2013 D23 Expo really was special, as it is every year. They do an excellent job by letting you in to the creating process of their work and it is something you can’t take for granted. I never thought in a million years I would be able to see some of the stuff that I saw this year. Thank you Disney for putting all of this together.