Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DisEnvy Interview: Traci Hines

Traci Hines has made a name for herself over the past few years. With videos going back 7 years on YouTube,  Traci started small and worked her way to the prominent figure in the Disney fanbase, with her own take on the classic Disney songs. Watching her videos, you see that Traci has even taken the looks of the characters to become her own, so much so, that she created her own clothing line that you see many young girls wearing in the parks. We were lucky to have Traci answer a few questions for us. Please go and support this wonderful and talented artist!

What is your history with Disney and makes you so passionate about the Disney Culture?

I've been a Disney fan ever since I can remember. I think Snow White was the first movie my mom ever took me to see in theaters. My parents tell me I made them play Cinderella on repeat. As a toddler my favorite song to sing was "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio. But it wasn't until I saw The Little Mermaid (in theaters!) when I was about 4 years old that I remember actually feeling that Disney magic. I saw something in Ariel that went beyond make believe. I knew someone had to give that beautiful animated mermaid her voice, and I decided that was what I wanted to do one day...sing and give my voice to cartoons! I became inspired and very driven from a young age towards music and voice acting. And even though I was already "designing" Disney princess gowns (with crayons and coloring book pages) for my grandmother to sew for me back then, I had no idea that I would still be wearing them today! 

I'm not exactly sure why Disney specifically became the fandom that I gravitated most to, both as a kid and still to this day, but I think it's because the classic Disney films, at least my favorites, always took me away to fantasy worlds. In Disney movies anything can happen. There is also so much nostalgia wrapped up in Disney for me. Especially with the movies Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. The notion of never growing up, exploring new worlds, storytelling through music and finding true love and happy endings are all things that speak to me deeply. I'm a dreamer and an optimist, and I love the ideals that Disney instilled in me and countless others like me who've grown up with it: Anything is possible.  It might sound cliche, but I love getting lost in a fairytale, and I love the feeling that I get when I explore these films and characters. I find bits of myself in so many of them, and find so much inspiration in their stories.

What got you into cosplaying and what was your response when you started getting recognized as a prominent role in the community?

I always say that I've been cosplaying my whole life, because my obsession with dressing up in a costume began when I was a little girl...only thing was, I never grew out of it. But for me, costuming has always been attached to performing. I often refrain from calling myself a cosplayer because I'm honestly not quite sure that I am one. (Shocker! I know! haha). It depends on your definition of cosplay I suppose. Most of my costuming now is created for music videos, and I design all my own Disney inspired costumes, but I'm not skilled at sewing by any means, so I usually collaborate with other designers that I love to create the garment. (I have made some of my own costumes in the past, but I'm never fully happy with the quality of my work when I'm the one at the sewing machine!) So for those that consider true cosplayers to be the folks that make absolutely everything themselves, and do it primarily for convention appearances or photo shoots, I wouldn't exactly qualify. But if you're like me, and you consider cosplay to have a broader umbrella and use the term for anyone who dresses up in a costume to celebrate a fandom they love (in any way they choose, and anywhere) then perhaps I am one after all. I usually just refer to myself as a singer (and designer, when I'm asked about my costuming and clothing line, 

I feel like I found the cosplay community for the first time with my first visit to Anime Expo years ago. I had already been a huge Sailor Moon & Pokemon fan and had been dressing up in Sailor Scout costumes for Halloween for years, but I had recently begun branching out and exploring other anime, and I started attending AX every year, usually in an anime costume of some sort. (Some that I made myself, some that I made with friends, and some that I purchased). When I decided I wanted to cosplay Ariel (my lifelong favorite character bar none) I worked for months with my Aunt to make my very first walking mermaid tail. My dad helped me rig together a mermaid top made of real seashells (that I painted and blinged out to smithereens) and off I went! The response I got that year was mindblowing. I had never experienced anything like that. And that was also the same year I made it as a finalist for AX Idol, the singing competition they used to hold there, and immediately I felt a shift happen in my life. I had already started my youtube channel at that time, so I had a small following for my covers on there, but I think the combo of that first Ariel costume and my exposure in the anime community from being an AX Idol finalist really started it all. I thought it was so funny and wonderful that once I paid homage to my favorite character, (something I did just for me, not because I thought it would be a successful costume). I somehow fell into my niche! Back then, cosplaying as Disney characters at anime conventions wasn't the norm like it is now. In fact, some people who did that were even bullied or made fun of because "Disney isn't anime," but because Ariel was in Kingdom Hearts, I felt justified haha. I did even get some rude comments and some flack for cosplaying Disney at AX that year, but those few negatives were drowned out by all the others who were so vocal about how much they loved Disney, just like me. 
And as for my response to it all, I mostly just felt shocked at how well it was received. That was also around the time that I started making character inspired videos on youtube covering my favorite Disney songs. Those videos, along with a few other pop covers, seemed to do the best, and it was becoming more and more evident to me that I had found my niche. I feel pretty lucky that I fell into such an amazing career. I always knew I would pursue music -and voice acting too if the opportunity came along- but it's really awesome that I am able to integrate even more fantasy elements into my projects with costuming and cosplay. 

What goes into deciding on who you will cosplay next, and how you will make that character your own?

Typically my musical projects dictate what costumes I'm making next. Once in a while I get a costume together for fun or for an event, like a convention or live performance, but most of my costumes now come about because I was inspired or hired to cover a song, or sometimes they're original songs that I write myself, and I want to do more than just record it. I want to create a fantasy video to pair with the music. Since I get so much joy out of escaping to other fantasy worlds when I watch movies like Disney films, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc., I want to interpret the music into my own telling or retelling of that story. I love translating Disney cartoons into real life, and I love taking inspiration from the fairytales that have shaped my childhood, and using them to fuel my projects now. My goal is also never to create something that is exactly like the original, be it music, the singing performance or the costuming. I want that nostalgia and fairytale feel to translate, but I also want to create my own version of whatever character it is and add a bit of myself into it. I'm not interested in making a costume that "looks exactly like so and so." I would much rather take inspiration from a character's iconic elements and then give it textures and details and richness that it can't show in 2D (or sometimes even 3D) animation. I've realized that my style is much more historical and period, and I like to imagine what a princess's gown would look like in real life....corsets, silks, trims, precious stones...and I often will even make changes to the shape or pattern if it's a better decision for my own figure (ie since I'm short, shortening the corset so the skirt looks longer, thus making me look taller, etc.) or even make changes just because I like another idea or silhouette better. If I can't get creative with a costume and give it a personal touch, I'm not even interested! I love these projects too much to do anything halfway...which is why my projects also tend to take a really long time due to cost and the level of detail my team and I put in.  

You're not only famous for your cosplay, but for your covers of multiple Disney classic songs, what came first, your cosplay or singing career, and how do they impact each other?

So sorry, I think I accidentally already answered this Q above! (-; But reiterating it a bit, they kind of came hand in hand, at least publicly. I've always pursued music and even began voice acting (singing for and playing a character on a kids radio show) when I was in elementary school, so technically I think the music came first, but I didn't really become known in the community until I began my youtube channel and started posting videos in costumes and wearing them to events. Now it's hard to even consider covering a Disney song without at least considering making it a costumed video! It's truly a blessing that I get to be so creative on a regular basis, and I'm so grateful that my audience seems to enjoy these videos. My YouTube exposure even helped open the door for me to get more work as a recording artist and voice actress. Now I'm in the studio pretty regularly recording for kids commercials, radio, apps and video games (though not as many people know about that side of my work) Getting to perform in either capacity is so much fun, and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I'm truly living my dream. I'm proof that even if doors slam in your face, (and believe me, they sure did for me back when I tried out acting / VO / music the "traditional" way) if you don't give up and are willing to be flexible and work hard, anything is possible! ...Just like those Disney movies we love so much!

What was it like working with Disney for the show's music in the Tokyo Disneyland, and are there hopes to work with Disney for music in the American parks? 

I had a phenomenal experience working with Tokyo Disneyland last summer for their summer water show. Tokyo Disney is the Disney theme park I want to visit the most-I've always dreamed of traveling to Japan, and now at least my voice has! My producer, Adam Gubman, composes, writes songs and arranges for TDL, and I had actually been recording demos for them with him for years before I was brought in to do the actual session. On this last one I was brought in for the first time as a choral/group singer, but they had me try out a solo line, and ended up liking my voice for the song so much they had me do the vocals for the lead English voice on it! It was an amazing experience and everyone there was so wonderful to work with. I definitely hope I get to continue to work with them. I think we may have something else coming up soon, we'll see! As for singing for Disneyland in CA, that would be a dream come true. As of now there is nothing on the horizon that I know of for working on music for my home park, but I would love the chance to sing for them too if the opportunity ever came up!

Thank you so much Traci for your time. You are a great influence for all the young people aspiring to do what they love. Keep up the great work!

Want to keep up with Traci? Here are some links. 
Social Media:
SnapChat: tracihines

Support her YouTube Content by becoming a part of the MerCrew

Support her art and passions:
Clothing Line
Mermaid Me App (Apple Store)

Snail Mail:
Traci Hines c/o Adorkable Apparel1679 E Orangethorpe Ave. #131Atwood, CA 92811-1202

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Wine and Dine Half Half Marathon

It looks like there is a curse on the past two Wine and Dine races. Last year was renamed to the Splash and Dash due to the amount of rain, and this year the race had 6 miles cut off due to strong weather around us. But more on that later.

The Tower of Terror 10 miler has been my race of choice of the past 2 years, and I was looking forward to running it again, until they announced that it wasn't going to happen in 2015. I like the night races, so far the 5 Disney races I have ran have been at night, so I set my goals toward the Wine and Dine half. Really what's 3 more miles? Last year I trained from the day I registered until the day before I went to Disney. I haven't ran but a hand ful of times since my last run in May with my sister. So saying I was unprepared is an understatement. 

I left Thursday morning for the lonely drive down. My wife would join me with some friends on Friday night due to work conflicts. We stayed in Art of Animation in the Finding Nemo suites. There were no host resorts available and this was in walking distance to Pop Century, who was a host resort. 

I was able to make it Orlando and check in by about 3pm, and I wasn't sure that my room was ready as I had gotten a text earlier that it in fact wasn't ready. As I pulled up to security, I got the text stating my room number and that I was good to go. After settling down for a few minutes, I got ready to go into the parks. My only concern that night was seeing Osborne Lights. 

I made to Hollywood Studios and renewed my Annual Pass first thing. Walking into the park, I saw what I had been waiting to see all year, an unobstructed view of the Chinese Theater. Every other time I had been down, either a stage, or plants were placed in front of the view. I was able to just take it in for only a few minutes. I walked back to the Streets of America, where I strolled down to the intersection and just watched. Looking over I noticed Mike from the BOG podcast and walked over and talked for a few minutes before walking around a little more. A couple of things that I enjoyed were the tribute to Jenning Osborne and how much they put into the lights this year. You could tell that they wanted the last year to be big. I bought a pass holder shirt for the Osborne lights and was out of there. 

After seeing the bus line for Magic Kingdom, I decided to go to Epcot and hop on the monorail to see Wishes. I arrived at the park just minutes before the show started. The only place I could find to stand, without going to far down Main Street was the top of the train station. And I couldn't see a thing. But the advantage to this is that I got to people watch and see the reactions of the small kids and older couples. Something I had never done before. It really gives you a better appreciation for what Disney tries to do nightly. 

I made my way to the Hub to take in the completed expansion and I have to say it looks great. I love the additional turrets they put up. It makes you feel like you are more involved with the castle itself. The outer ring helps with getting around the crowds that have gathered for whatever parade or show that happens to be going on in the hub at the time. My favorite Disney World parade, Main Street Electrical, happened while I was in the hub, so I obviously got my spot and watched. It was only after the parade when I noticed that the shirt I had bought for the final year of Osborne had fallen out of my pocket or taken out of my pocket. Either way someone got a free Disney shirt.  I didn't do any attractions that night in Magic Kingdom but loved walking around and taking everything in. 

Friday was a busy day for me. Animal Kingdom had extra magic hours so I took advantage of it, I went to ride Everest, my usual morning rollercoaster. Upon getting to the attraction, the line seemed unusually long for it to be open. A castmember let us know that some of the crew didn't make it in on time so they were still running tests and they would be open in twenty minutes. Unlike some around me, I waited patiently, better be slow to open and safe than quick to open and have harm come to someone. 

I had a couple of fastpasses in Epcot, mainly Soarin, made my way over to the park and took my ride and a stroll through the park. We are collecting the "You Are Here" mugs from Starbucks, so I picked up the Epcot version and headed to Beach club for a ride over to the expo. 

Having gone to 5 or 6 expos before, I didn't think anything of this one. However I made it to ESPN only minutes after the expo officially opened. This was a new experince, long lines everywhere. I waited about 30 minutes for my bib and around an hour for my merchandise purchases. But that's all I wanted and got out and back to the parks pretty fast. 

I headed back to Epcot for just a few minutes and walked around the world showcase. I didn't spend much time in Epcot due to the official lighting of Osborne Lights that I wanted to attend. The weather started to look like it could be bad, so I stopped in ABC for a quick bite and then head to Streets of America once the weather lightened up. It was only an hour before the official lighting, so I walked around for a little bit and got a spot front and center for the presentation.  I had never seen the offical lighting before, and was glad I got to experience it for its last year. The show included a lucky family, Mickey, and Santa Goofy all with some jokes and magic. I really wish I hadn't waited till now to see it. I only stayed for a couple of songs before heading out.

My wife and friends were suppose to come in pretty late that night, so I decided to spend some time in the movie theater so I would stat awake. So going over to AMC at Disney Springs and see Spectre. Seeing the latest show possible, I figured that I would be fine to get out of the movie and walk around a little bit before heading to the resort. As I was casually walking back to the bus to go to the resort, I got the text saying they were mere minutes from the resort. So naturally nothing works for me, a crowd comes from no where, the bus I needed left as I was walking up to the bus stop, and traffic was horrible when I actually got on a bus. Once I was at the resort, I was surprised to see that they hadn't made it. I ran in to grab something, and came back out to see them at the lobby.  After making our way to the room, we all collapsed and got some sleep before our big adventure on Saturday.

Savannah and I had been planning Saturday for over a month. She and her boyfriend hadn't been to Disney in a very long time, so she wanted to make the day the most it could be. There was extra magic hours in Hollywood Studios, so thats where we started. Amazingly we were able to get on Rockin Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours all under an hour. Our original plans were then to go to Magic Kingdom, but with the extra time we had just gotten, we headed to Animal Kingdom to ride Expedition Everest. The wait was a little longer than posted, so once we got off, it was to close to our lunch reservations at Sannaa, so we stayed and met Mickey and Minnie, and then watched It's Tough to Be A Bug and rode Dinosaur.

We made it to Sanaa just in time for our lunch reservations. This was our first experience at the restaurant. As I have stated in the past, I am a picky eater, so it goes by no surprise that this was a hard restaurant for me to eat. The first thing we did was order the bread service. After the countless podcasts and blogs I have listened to/read this was the reason I wanted to go. While I didn't try all the sauces, I did try all the bread and we were all loved what we had. Beth had a chicken sandwich, Savannah had a burger, Brice (Savannah's boyfriend) had the salad sampler, and I had a steak. The service was great and the food and experience even better.

It was the time that Savannah and Brice (mainly Savannah) had been looking forward to, the Magic Kingdom. I was about to get ready to go back to the resort for a quick nap and then get ready for the race, but as we walked on to main street, the Festival of Fantasy parade was about to start. We were lucky enough to find a good spot, and watched it. Walking around the park for a few minutes, we rode Haunted Mansion, and then I had to go. I told Beth to meet me at the finish line and to just have fun. This would be the first race that she was with me, and she didn't follow me for support. They went on to ride a good bit of rides, and watch the fireworks from Beast Castle and then the Electrical Parade before coming over to meet me after the race.

As I walked to Pop Century to get on the bus to go to the start line of Wine and Dine, I realized that I was not ready for this race. I hadn't prepared at all. I hadn't run but maybe 10 miles all year, and here I am about to run 13.1 in one night. The one thing I had going for me was that I had been placed in a higher corral than usual. I grabbed a couple of bananas and a power aid to get something on my stomach. After some stretching, I heard the dreaded announcement, please go to the corral area. While all the runners were getting ready to head to the corrals, the wind started to pick up. The group started to move, the ones toward the back (myself and many others) thought we were headed to our respective corrals, however runDisney had decided to delay the race, and was moving the runners inside the World of Sports to take cover from potential bad weather that was heading our way. I stopped near Champion Stadium and waited for the lines to die out.

It had been about 30 minutes, and they hadn't told us a thing. I decided to walk around some and see what was going on.  I ran into our friend BamaGirlRuns by the Johnston Center and talked with her for a while before we got the go ahead to return to the start line. She had gotten a phone call from her mom, a volunteer at the medical tent near Animal Kingdom (about mile 4) and was told that they were cutting that section of the course so that everyone would have time to finish the race. It was still hush hush through the majority of the runners until the announcers came out to officially announce the change. Kristin and I parted ways, and to my surprise she was in the last corral. I told to stop and say hey before she passed me.

The modified course was only 6-7 miles ( a half of a half marathon), I felt a little more confident in myself as I had ran about 4 miles the week before and did an ok pace. Boy was I wrong. I sent my normal intervals (1 min jog 1:30 walk), and when we got the go ahead fireworks, I started to jog. I usually jog for as long as I can so that the crowd can disperse a little bit. Once I stopped I listen to my intervals and was going to try and keep them. But when the next jog period happened, I landed wrong and it killed me to even walk. However, I pushed on, with a very slow pace. The course took us out of ESPN world of sports and then to Hollywood Studios where we would exit at the entrance and run the boardwalk to EPCOT for our finish. Kristin met back up with me just out side of the Boardwalk Inn, she actually passed me while on the phone. So I jogged back up and met her, and resumed the walking pace I had. She was gracious enough to walk with me till about a quarter mile left,  where we both jogged to the finish before she split to get a picture with Mickey at the finish.

Beth, Savannah, and Brice were all at the finish line, looking warn out, and tired. While it took us a few minutes to find each other, we eventually made our way to EPCOT to go ride some rides and have fun. The main draw to the Wine and Dine after party is the alcohol around the world showcase. This wasn't an interest to us, so we were happy to see that the lines for the E-ticket attractions were literally walk ons. The only rides we cared about were Soarin' and Test Track. So that is were we went, because everyone was more worried about the Food and Wine Festival activities that were open, the ride wait times were near walk on. We wanted to meet back up with Kristin before we left, so we walked back to the Germany Pavilion, where Savannah and Beth promptly put their head down and "rested". Kristin met us not to long after and we all walked out of the park, while talking about the race and event.

We made it back to the resort at about 4 am. A long day was had, my longest day in the parks since the 24 hour event that May.  The weekend ended with us heading to Disney Springs and then the drive home. Overall it was a great weekend with great friends.

I know last year wasn't a great year for us, on the blog side of things. We will be trying harder this year to put a post out a few times a month. Thanks for sticking with us and being supportive!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

DisEnvy at the Movies: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens follows a new generation in the Star Wars universe. The original crew – Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Luke – all make their presence felt, but it’s the newcomers – Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac); joined by the villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) – that are key in this new adventure. The paths of old and new characters collide in their quest thanks mainly to BB-8, the droid who holds part of a map that leads to something very important. 

Watching Rey, Finn and Poe interact is a joy – these are amazing, lovable characters that you will root for from the beginning, and the movie is much stronger for it. Boyega, Ridley and Isaac fill each character with charm and nuance that it’s safe to say that the franchise is in good hands when it comes to the actors.

Driver himself manages to draw a sense of pathos in his depiction of Kylo Ren. While this new villain might not inspire the same awe as Star Wars’ legion of impressive bad guys, Driver summons up enough to make Kylo Ren something to look forward to as this new trilogy progresses.

If you're worrying this new cast hogs the spotlight from the returning cast, don't worry. JJ Abrams throws in all sorts of callbacks to the original trilogy that any longtime fan will identify. For example, Han Solo’s back in all his scoundrel-ly goodness, Leia in her no nonsense focus on the bigger picture of the fight against the First Order, and Chewie being Chewie.

From spacefights to gunbattles to high adventure, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has it in spades, and it’s a rollicking thrill ride from start to finish. Apart from a slight lull in the final third, Abrams shows great urgency in ushering us from point to point, while doing just enough to make sure we grasp what’s going on.

This is Star Wars: Entertaining lines, great characters, great plot, and strong characters. A place where both old and new meet, albeit a little uneasily. It only looks like the Force will continue to get stronger.
All in, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is up there with Empire and Jedi. Its 2:10 run time seems about right, although the fan boy in me thinks it should have 6 hours. There are so many questions I'm still ready to hear the answers to, but luckily there are only 18 months until we get the Rian Johnson directed Episode VIII. 

There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

Monday, November 30, 2015

DisEnvy at the Movies: The Good Dinosaur

I believe I have stated it before, and as long as it's true, I'll continue to state it. I love the Pixar movies. While some aren't as good as others, the ideas that push them through are unique. Just is the case for The Good Dinosaur. This movie is set on the question of what happens if the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs missed earth all together. 

After being shown a couple of clips in August at the D23 Expo and the success of Inside Out, I had gotten pretty high hopes of this movie. While the hype was big, I don't think it's justice was done. 

We follow the young Apatosaurus, Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), on his journey to reunite with his family after being swept away by the river. On this journey he encounters many different dinosaurs and a small human boy, Spot (Voiced by Jack Bright). Arlo is forced to overcome his difficulties and trust Spot with his help. 

The graphics in this movie are beyond amazing. Probably the best thing about the movie to be honest. Landscapes look like the real thing, and while the cartoony looks of the characters makes a huge separation between the environment and the action, they still blend fairly well. The textures of the skins, and water running down the backs of the animals is just jaw dropping. 

As for the story, it could have used some work. The only characters the stay consistent are Arlo and Spot. We are introduced to other characters for a brief time and never see or hear from them again. Butch, the T-Rex voiced by Sam Elliot, was shown as a father like figure to help Arlo out on his journey, but we only have a few scenes with him and in those his lines are brief. There are still some tear jerking moments that really bring the story together, and make the lack of characters more understandable. But with an underlining theme of Family, I was looking for some more family moments. 

Overall I will give this movie a 7/10. It's very much an enjoyable movie, and still a great Pixar movie. But at the end of the day it can't live up to the other Pixar relsease for the year. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

What's all the fuss over Annual Passes?

We are about a week out of the Annual Pass restructuring and price increase. All I have seen over the past week is the disappointment in the price increase. I'm not going to go into the details of the price increase here, but I will try and post them soon. In most cases though, we saw black out dates added to some passes, and about $100 more for each of the major passes. Also included in some of them is the Photopass downloads. 

Here's my thoughts, not that anyone has asked. Over the past two years we have been seeing major construction happening over the resort. The DVC expansions will be paying for themselves with the new and returning DVC members, the park's expansions will be majority payed for by the park tickets and merchandise sold in the parks. What about all the work at and around  Disney Springs, and the recently announced fly over for the monorail resorts at Magic Kingdom, where does that come from?

I'm by no means saying that I am saying that this is completely correct, this is an amateur's look at this. Even though Disney is a huge company with money to spend anywhere, it does come down to how they budget the money. The production side of Disney isn't going to spend their money on hotel expansions at the parks. So Disney has to look at the number. With x amount of annual passes we can charge y amount more for each pass and have these expansions paid for in z years. 

Disney Springs is becoming a great, non ticketed, place to spend your first, middle or last day of your vacation. But when the expansions had started, tenants for the new area hadn't been completed, and with stores closing to make way for the expansion, they weren't really pulling in a lot of revenue like they had in the past. Add that they are building 2 pedestrian bridges, 2 huge parking garages, and expanding the roads around the area. Yes there are grants that can help with this, but Disney takes a risk on how the money is spent (Do you really want to have to almost shut down an area for 5 years to overhaul because of misjudgment again?). 

On top of the price increase, I am hearing a lot of grumble about the inclusion of Photopass now. Once again, this is personal but I believe others may share my opinion. Beth and I take full advantage of the Photopass photographers and the services they offer. We have bought at least one disc a year on the major trip for that year. While this is only the downloads, it's still a huge help for us. I do believe that even though they actually cost nothing for Disney to do, besides server space and cost of labor, it's a great incentive for your family pictures and the scrapbookers out there. 

What are your thoughts on the annual pass changes? Will it hinder you from getting or renewing your annual pass? 

Friday, September 25, 2015

My First Disneyland Adventure

Beautifully lit Sleeping Beauty Castle

Now that its been over a month since I made my first journey out to California for the D23 expo, so I figured that I needed to write about my experience at Disneyland. I'll write a better article comparing the two once I get back from WDW, now that I know what to look for. There will be some comparatives in here, but just for the more notable items.

I stayed "off site" at a good neighboring hotel, The Fairfield Inn Anaheim, which was about a 15 minute walk to the parks. The hotel itself was nice, for the time that I stayed in it. I was put in a handicap accessible room, which was princess themed and had a picture of Cinderella Castle instead of the Disneyland Castle. The room also had a view of the night time fireworks "Disneyland Forever", from what I am told as I was never in the room late enough to see if it was true.

After getting settled I made my way to California Adventure. As I walked to the gates of Disneyland I got that great since of newness. Going to Disney World has spoiled me. I know where to go, when to go and what not to do, but Disneyland has a whole theme park I've never explored and a Magic Kingdom that, while it has some similar attractions, it's still completely different. Seeing the esplanade for the first time really cemented how small this resort was. To my right was Disneyland, my left was California Adventure, and straight ahead Downtown Disney. I didn't have to take a bus to anything, I just had to walk out the park and I could be at the other 2 Disney areas in a mater of 5 minutes or less.

It was around 2pm when I made it into DCA, and crowds weren't horrible. After all the hype over Carsland that I have heard since it has opened, that's where I headed first. The land is just as immersive as everyone says. The E Ticket ride, Radiator Springs Racers, had handed out all of it's Fastpasses for the day, so I opted to wait in the 40 minute line. I loved the theming of this queue. It kept you outside while feeling like you were visiting old storage rooms. I had made it to the area where Fastpass joins the regular queue when they asked for a party of three. I stated I was one person, but the family behind me was only two, so they took us straight to the front. While the outside of the attraction was beautiful, I found the ride lackluster. I would ride it again, but only if I have a Fastpass.


Radiator Springs Racers

I didn't have to much of an itinerary after that, so I just walked around the park to get my lay of the land. I promised my wife that I would save the big rides for when she was able to join me on a later date. I stumbled upon the World of Color Fastpass kiosk so I grabbed on for the late showing, which happened to be the only showing that was still avalible at the time. These kiosks were just around the corner from Soarin' Over Califorina, which had just been updated to a digital format, and is my favorite ride of Walt Dosney World. I made my way over, and noticed that they had a single rider line, so of course I took that line. Meeting some great people while in line, the ride itself was beautiful and will be great when we get the upgrade in our Soarin'. 

Carthay Circle at night
I didn't do any other rides while I was in the park, and I actually took a little break in the late afternoon after the day of traveling. Around 7, I made my way back to Califonia adventure. After hearing how much Carsland transforms at night, when they turn on the neon lights, that I knew I had to go a see this. It was beautiful. The way they light the area with mood lighting and the accurate neon lighting brings the area to a whole new level of detail. I then went to get in line for World of Color. They do the showings back to back, when they have two shows a night. So not to spoil anything, I walked in a few shops and got some ice cream. Once it was time to get a spot for the Fastpass viewing of World of Color, I found the best spot I could. 

Flo's Neon lights

Carsland at night

Carsland at night

This show was more amazing than I could have ever imagined. I had watched a few of the videos on YouTube, and felt that I would like it but didn't get the fascination with it until I saw it in person.  This was the the 60th anniversary show, World of Color: Celebrate!, and had a very recognizable song with it sung by Neil Patrick Harris, Celebrate the Magic. Accompanied by Mickey Mouse, Neil was the host of the show. World of Color takes you through the 60 years of Disney, from animation to the theme parks.  The clips from all the movies shown were put together in just a great way, and the evolution of Mickey, really shows you where he came from. I feel as though words cannot express how amazing this show is.

World of Color PreShow

Clip of World of Color: Celebrate

World of Color Celebrate during the Kiss Good Night

Thursday was my first time stepping foot on the roads that Walt walked on. There is no rope drop show at Disneyland like there is at Walt Disney World, so I didn't rush myself over to the park like I try and do when I'm going to the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Walking around the town square and looking at the room above the firehouse, knowing that this was Walt's park, what he dreamed and worked so hard to bring to life, just brought emotions over me. I won't say that I cried, because I didn't, it was more of a happiness to know that I finally got to come out and see this.

When I finally made it down to Main Street, I was a little off, well even walking into the park I was off,  as I am so use to the sights, sounds, and smells of Magic Kingdom, but mostly because I was missing our Cinderella Castle. Sleeping Beauty Castle is so much smaller than ours, and its more noticeable when you go into the lands, because you can't just look up and find the castle roof to see where you are, which can be great in some cases.  I made my way down the street and took my time taking in the hub area. The castle is decorated for the 60th anniversary, and is very beautiful. Standing at the foot of Sleeping Beauty Castle brought an overwhelming sense of joy. This is Walt's castle, the center piece of his dream. I did the walk through of the castle, since we can't actually walk into our castle, and after that I just wondered around the park.

I didn't have any type of agenda, well besides to get familiar with the park's layout. I made my way over to Tomorrowland, and grabbed some breakfast, while looking at the differences of ours and theirs. The castmembers were amazingly helpful in all ways, and seemed to enjoy their jobs (not that WDW castmembers don't). After eating, I got in line for the Marvel characters, Thor and Captain America, as we can't see them in WDW currently. Taking the back way out, I passed the Matterhorn and made my way back to It's A Small World. I loved this ride, while I still hate the song. Each scene has a Disney character hidden somewhere in it, and the little boy behind me pointing to everything probably helped me enjoy this ride more than I should have. Walking back into the portion of Fantasyland behind the castle, I stumbled upon Alice and the Mad Hatter and grabbed a quick picture with them, and by time I was done, the Evil Queen came by, so I followed and grabbed a picture with her as well.

Me with Captain America

Myself and Thor

Myself, Alice, and the Mad Hatter

Myself and the Evil Queen

Fantasyland has everything jammed into a small spot it seemed. Mr. Toads Wild Ride, Snow White's Scary Adventure, and Pinocchio's Daring Journey are all in a space that wouldn't seem possible to fit them, but some how they do. I continued to Frontierland, grabbing a Fantasmic fastpass along the way, and liked being able to take a look at the back of Thunder Mountain. I came around and wondered to New Orleans Square, and got on Pirates of the Caribbean, which is much different. After getting off that ride I made my way to find Club 33, to at least touch the door, and after passing it a couple of times, I found it.  The Haunted Mansion is almost directly across from Pirates, and the wait was short, so I hopped on that attraction as well, which is also different from the WDW version. There was one thing I had to do to make my wife mad, and that was a picture with the princess, most importantly Cinderella, and I didn't know if she would be visiting, so I made my way back to the New Fantasyland area to find that she was in fact visiting. So I got in line and 30 minutes later I had accomplished my goal. I was to meet some friends later that night, so I didn't do too much more and walked back to the room and grabbed a small bite to eat.

Haunted Mansion

Club 33 original entrance

After a quick nap, I made my way back to the park. When I walked in, I noticed people had already started to find their places for Mickey's Soundsational Parade, and knowing I still had a while before I was to meet my friends, watching the parade was now on my list. I enjoyed every minute of it as well, not more so than Festival of Fantasy, but its top 2 of my daytime parades. When the parade was over, my next stop was Toontown. I walked in and saw it, and then turned right back around when I realized I hadn't seen Mickey and the Magical Map ( I was in luck as the next show was seating and it was 5 minutes from Toontown). Once again, this show exceeded my expectations. The technology, actors, dancers, and performers where all top notch.

Now I made my way back to see Toontown, and time was drawing short to meet my friends, so I didn't get a chance to ride Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, but I did have to get in line to get a picture with the main mouse. The meet and greet with Mickey in his house was great. I never got to experience this in Walt Disney World, and the families that I was grouped with were amazing. The little girl in front was excited to see Mickey, but didn't want a picture, until it wasn't her turn, and she didn't want to leave. So the Castmemmbers let her and her family stay until we were all done. 

I was to meet my friends at the Fastpass distribution for Splash Mountain, and while there, I was handed a Big Thunder Mountain Fast Pass by a guest, and had given direction to the Haunted Mansion. Finally with my friends, we hit up Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder right off the bat. We walked back and Hopped on Mr. Toad, and the Matterhorn, before going back to Splash Mountain for our Fastpass. We were still a little early, so we decided to go on Winnie the Pooh, twice, without getting off.

All while this is going on, Fantasmic had started to run, and in Disneyland, this is shown in Frontierland/New Orleans Square on the Rivers of America. It is nearly unavoidable to not watch when you want to see it completely for the whole show and not the snippets that you catch walking by. We hurried to try and make it to the other side of the park to take in some of the Torrowland attractions, and along the way, I was asked some park operational questions (because my Pin Lanyard made me look official), and surprisingly I knew most of the answers.

Wading through the crowds on Main Street that were watching Disneyland Forever, the fireworks show for Disneyland's 60th, we slowly made it to Tomorrowland. The group was ready to go on Space Mountain, and I was curious on the differences, but was hesitant (it's not my favorite ride at WDW). The biggest difference to me was the ride vehicle, where the seats are two to a car, Disneyland's sits 6 to a car. There were probably other obvious differences, but I don't know WDW's version well enough to really tell.

Our last ride before heading out was the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. This ride would be great for little kids and small adults, but for a heavy man, it is not comfortable. It is a greatly themed ride, and fun, if you can get comfortable, and I will probably do it again, to appease the wife. We pretty much shut down the park, and made our way out to Downtown Disney, where I only went in to the much smaller World of Disney. The atmosphere is a lot different in their downtown district than what we currently have in Disney Springs, but I suspect that they are aiming for the Disneyland Atmosphere in Orlando.

I didn't get the memo on how we were suppose to pose.

I didn't make my way back to the parks until Sunday after my last few minutes at the D23 expo. My sole reason for going into the park was to catch the 3 night time entertainment options that I had missed on Thursday night, Paint the Night, Fantasmic, and Disneyland Forever. Stopping in the Emporium for last minute purchases, I met a nice Castmember, Lily if I remember correctly, and she told me the best way for me to see all three, without any hassle. First was Fantasmic, and when I made it over to the viewing area I found a lone chair in a corner, behind a tree. I should have ditched my friends the other night and used the fastpass...But I could still see the show, and with the different scenes that Disneyland has, it was fantastic. 

After letting the crowds leave out, part of the advise I was given and knew about from WDW, I took my time to get over to Main Street for Paint the Night. I will state, I love Spectromagic and Main Street Electrical Parade. Every time we are in the parks, I must see these parades. Paint the Night has big shoes to try and fill going into this. All the podcast and blogs that go through state that this parade is the the best night time parade there is, and I couldn't get it through my head that this was possible. But when that music started, and the first floats passed me by, I was in awe of it, and was actually mad at myself for missing the three other performances that had been shown when I was in the park.  Like everything else I have said, watching it on youtube, does not do it justice.

When the last float passed, the castmembers allowed everyone to crowd the streets for the firework show. I got a perfect spot for Main Street viewing. It should be stated that Disneyland forever uses the projection technology that Walt Disney World uses in Celebrate the Magic at the Magic Kingdom, but it is used differently. They project the different scenes on the Matterhorn, It's A Small World, the water screens of Fantasmic, and the store fronts on Main Street.  From each location you get a different view of the show and it encourages the crowds to spread out through the park instead of all on Main Street.

The firework show itself talks about the history of the park to begin with, but then moves to the individual movies, from the classics of Jungle Book and Mary Poppins, to modern favorites of Frozen and Finding Nemo. The projections really immerse you into the stories being told, and the use of the surroundings is great. For example, in the Finding Nemo portion, Nemo is swimming in the tank and needs to make it through the "flames" of Mt. Wannahockaloogie (which is the Matterhorn). This show is simply amazing, and I cannot wait to see it again. I spent the rest of the night roaming the park while the crowds slowly lowered. And when it was time to walk out of the park, I turned to the firehouse, and thank Walt for his great vision, so that we have the great theme parks we have today.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Recap of My First D23

As a Disney fan, we all hear about the D23 Expo, and what it offers us in shopping, entertainment, and news. The last D23 was held in 2013, 2 years after we made our first trip to Disney World, and just a couple of weeks before we started the blog. In fact it was the reasoning for starting the blog on my side of the idea. It was a dream to have gone that year, but it was not in my plans to spend the money to get out to California for the expo.

When the announcement came that D23 was officially coming back for 2015, I started saving my pennies so that I wouldn't miss it. With no Disney Parks and Resort panel in 2013, I knew that they were going to make some big announcements at the 2015 expo, and what made it even sweeter was the Star Wars movie that is set to release after the 2015 expo.

I made my way out to California the Wednesday before the Expo was set to start, and planned on staying until the Monday after. After hearing multiple rumors for the announcements that were to take place, I couldn't contain myself, even if Star Wars land wasn't going to be announced, the slate of movies were enough for me to go and take a look at.

Deciding to get the expo "early" was a great idea, but didn't work the way it was suppose to. I made to the expo at 7:30, when the doors open to the Gold/Silver members at 9, and the line was already huge. I finally made it into the doors around 9:30 so I could get online for my first panel. When planning my day, I was going to be going to the Legends panel to open the expo, however, after talking to some people in line, my mind was changed and was going to go see the Muppets. a decision, that I do not regret.

This panel was a very entertaining, a conversation with the puppeteers, Q&A from the muppets, and some lucky people got to learn how to bring a muppet to life, from Kermit himself. The puppeteers bringing to life these famous characters were very open to every thing regarding their characters. In many cases, jokes were made that I never thought I would hear the muppets make. 

Once this panel was complete, I made my way to the show floor. I wasn't expecting to much, but when I walked in the doors for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed. There was so much going on I couldn't take it all in at once. Deciding early on that Sunday was going to be the day I just looked at all the offical Disney booths, I headed for the Emporium, and send what vendors where there and what they had to offer. To me this was the best part of the show floor, almost like a Disney Fan Fleemarket. Booths dedicated to Sorcerer Mickey, my favorite, to fan art, and merchandise from yesteryear. If you were looking for it, someone there probably had it. Unfortunately I didn't buy anything from these great vendors, but most had the time to talk and expense there love for Disney. 

After grabbing a quick bite to eat, I made my way back down to Hall E to get in line for the Pixar and Disney Animation Studio's presentation with John Lasseter. They were strongly enforcing the no cellphone/ no camera rule for the Hall D23 presentations, so that footage wasn't going to be leaked. But man, do I wish I could so you what we saw. John Lasseter came out on stage excited to show off what they had in store for the next few years, but before he got to the good stuff, he decided to give away a few of his exclusiveHawaiian D23 shirts. He threw a couple out before switching to a t-shirt launcher to get the people in the back. Zootopia was up first. I was questionable about this movie, and I still have my reservations about it. Lasseter stated that he loves the talking animal Disney movies of old, and wondered what it would be like to make one in today's time. He brought out the creative team behind the movie that explained all the research and passion that went into this production. From the suburbs of Zootopia to figuring out how a camel would walk in two legs, a lot was covered. They brought out Gennifer Goodwin to discuss her character, Judy Hopps (a rabbit on the Zootopia Police Force), and then introduced a clip from the movie where we see Judy meet Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman, for the first time. For the next film, Moana, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson came out on stage and talked about his demigod character, Maui. You could tell that Johnson was excited to finally be a part of the anitmated family at Disney. We were able to see a clip of this movie and get a feel for the direction of it. The original song sang by Opetaia Foa’i and his band. Following this, Lasseter announced that Disney Animation is currently working on their version of Jack and the Beanstalk, Gigantic. While there is only storyboards, they brought out the musical team of Robert and Kristen Anderson Lopez, from Frozen fame, to sing their original song for the film. 

Pixar was up next, and Lasseter started with Inside Out. This was mainly a recap on what it has done around the world in the box office and how everyone has accepted this movie. They showed the audience the first short based on the film called Riley's First Date, which will come out with the Blu Ray later this year. This short jumps between the emotions of Riley, Riley's Father, and Riley's Date asking the question what really goes on up there? The Good Dinosaur. After all the trouble this film has had, I have been looking forward to this film since the first trailer. The animation was  talked about as they are striving to get closer to a real look of the environments for their movies, which they are accomplishing. After talking about the casting of the film, we were shown a few scenes. All of them breath taking, and the final was tear jerking. Lasseter then moved on to the much anticipated sequel to Finding Nemo, by playing a segment of Ellen DeGeneres begging, over multiple years, for a sequel to Finding Nemk. While introducing Finding Dory, Ellen walks out on stage to help with this presentation. Bringing out more of the cast, we find out the story of Finding Dory and the new and old characters we will get to see along the way. It was stated that the ordinal voice for Nemo is now 21 and doesn't have that same voice so they recasted, and from what we heard, there wasn't to much of a difference. The Day of The Dead movie, CoCo, is the next Pixar movie we have heard about, but knew very little about. While still in production we got the feel for the movie with a short clip, but mostly the background of the directors passion for this Mexican holiday. They ended the panel by a performance of "You've Got a Friend" by Randy Newman, after announcing that Toy Story 4 is on its way. The story revolves around Woody and Buzz going to find BoPeep, and will be more romantic than the other three movies. After having some more free shirts shot out by some cheerleaders, the presentation was over. 

I made my way to the floor for only a few minutes before heading back to the hotel to rest and grab a bite to eat. My plans were to make it back to the convention center around 7pm to line up for the live action panel that would be held Saturday morning. I, however, run a little late and make it at 8:30. They would open the doors to Hall E for those lining up to have a cool and secure place to stay the night. I met some great people in line. Most of them were there for the Marvel movies, I was there for Star Wars. 

I got little to no sleep, and as the night went on the lines got longer and longer. The announcements would come, section B is closed, section a is closed and section C is closed all within about an hour of each other. Soon, the stand by line wasn't guaranteed and we still had 4 hours until the presentation started. Lines for food and bathrooms were 30-40 min waits and just kept growing. 

The cellphone/camera rules applied again for this presentation. Security wa hovering in the aisles and if they saw a glow from electronic, you were out. Marvel was up first with a look at Dr. Strange. While production hasn't begun yet, we got a look at the preproduction art. Benedict Cumberbatch recorded a video where he told us how excited he was to protray such a unique role. Captain America: Civil War is the only other movie that Marvel talked about, and to help they brought out Anthony Mackie and Chris Evans, who both came from Germany just to talk to us. The majority of this presentation is a long teaser trailer that brought high hopes to everyone in the hall. Disney Studios has a slew of movies on the plate, and I won't got into all of them. The Finest Hour is the first movie from their slate that is coming out. Chris Pine came out and talked about how much this movie ment to him. This movie is based on a true story and from the extended trailer it looks great. Jon Favreau came out to talk about the Jungle Book, and after the success of the latest Disney classics remakes, this was an obvious choice for them. Joining Jon on stage was Sir Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Lupita Nyong'o (Raksha), and Neel Sethi (Mowgli). This movie was the surprise of the presentation to me, when it comes to the movies. The sizzle we were shown was very impressive and you can see the heart that Jon has put into this movie. We got a quick look at Alice Through the Looking Glass and Pete's Dragon, both look good for what we saw, which wasn't much. Emma Watson had Pre recorded a message about her new Disney Movie Beauty and the Beast. They hadn't finished the filming and didn't have any footage for us. Pirates of the Carribean wrapped up the Disney Studios side, with Johnny Deppcoming out as Captain Jack Sparrow, although the interactions were kinda awkward, he was a trip to watch. Lucasfilm was the last group to come up. And while they had released a statement a week before the expo that there was going to be no new footage shown, they didn't disappoint. J.J. Abrams came out and intoduced Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Lupita Nyong'o before showing us the first poster, that was given to us all. The poster included some one that wasn't on stage, Harrison Ford, and then he came walking out on stage, to a standing ovation for what seemed like 15-20 mins. Then Bob Iger walked out to talk about the biggest surprise for this presentation, Star Wars themed area is coming to the Disney theme parks. We were expecting that for the Parks and Resorts presentation. While they went into some detail, they didn't cover it all. And with that the panel was done. 

Everyone rushed out of Hall D23 to make it into Park and Resorts to hear about this new Star Wars area. The line in hall E went from nothing to packed pretty fast. Luckily the wait wasn't longand my excitement had kept me going, with my 2-3 hours of sleep. The presentation started with Star Wars. It's a 14 acre expansion coming to Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios, which there was no name changed announced. You have probably read in other blogs, this expansion will be immersive beyond anything else Disney has done. The Castmembers will be characters from other planets that run the stores, resturants, and attractions. We will get two new attractions, and as for Disneyland, it's unclear what they will be doing with Star Tours. The first attraction will be you taking control of the Millineum Falcon, and the second is a fight with the New Order. Star Tours in both parks will be getting an upgrade to include new planets from the new trilogy, and a Star Wars preview area called the Launching Bay. Excitement for this expansion was amazing, and as more gets announced you bet the Star Wars fans will be grabbing at it. Another new land coming to Dinsey's Hollywood Studios is Toy Story land. This will be an 11 acre expansion that included a new family style coaster that takes you through Andy's backyard on a track that he built with his toys, and Slinky Dog will be your ride vehicle. Also announced was the Green Alien spinner that will be the same ride system as Tow Matter's ride in Carsland at California Adventure. To round it out will be the new expanded Toy Story Midway Mania. The presentation moved to Epcot and gave us a small update on Frozen Ever After, and the meet and greet area for the Frozen sisters. While keeping a lot of the Norway feel, this will take us deeper in to Arendelle, but not much else was said. Pandora: Land of the Avatar was next on the agenda. Joe Rhode and James Cameron came out and talked to about their wonderful creation. It's still set to open in 2 years, but it looks amazing. It will be a different experince in the day than at night. New food and experiences await in the area. Flight of Passage is the new Soarin' type ride that will take you on the back of a Banshee and around the land of Pandora. There is also a river ride that will take you to the most remote places of Pandora. The night time show, Rivers of Light, is expected to open next year. This show focuses on the animal kingdom and starts with fireflies and grows from that. This show will utilize water screens and live music and shout be real interesting to see. Kilimanjaro Safari will be getting an upgrade to go with the later hours of the park. There will be new lighting put in to simulate the sunset while you take your tour through the African landscapes. Once we were done with Animal Kingdom, they talked about the different international parks. I won't go into those, but everything looked great. The big surprise was bringing Stan Lee on stage after talking about Ironman the Experice, which had to be the disappointment of the presentation. They closed this portion with a choir of Disney Castmembers coming out for a Kiss Goodnight, where they sung holidays from every Disney park's night time offerings. 

With little sleep, I debated walking the floor some, but quickly voted against it. I walked out of the expo a happy but tired man. 

Sunday was the last day and I decided I needed to sleep in a bit, so I did. But I was angry with myself when I found out some of the limited merchandise that was being sold that morning. I ended up getting to the expo about 10 and my plan for the day was hit the exhibits on the show floor.  I took plenty of pictures and covered some of the stuff I saw in the imagineering pavilion in the parks and resorts presentation, so this shouldn't be to long. I walked in to see that the Pandora model line was relatively short, so I hoped in on that first. They brought us into a small room and showed us a short travel agency style clip of vacationing in Pandora. While creative it was pretty lame. We then got our first look at the model, which was rotating from day to night so you could see the difference. Imagineers were stationed there so you could ask any questions that you wanted. The detail on this model was crazy and is the reason I am now excited to see how it translates into real world. When you were done, you got your picture taken with Joe Rhode, if present, and and an Avatar bust. Upon exiting you were able to look at all the Shanghai models and costume mock ups they had. 

I wanted to get my hands on the Battlefront demo, but the wait was well over two hours, so I opted for my next best thing, the Disneyland Archives. This was a very impressive look at the start of Disneyland, having many different costumes and attraction prices from the park. Know it goes to mention, while in line I noticed that Tony Baxter was signing autographs right across the aisle. I had been in line fore about 45 minutes and was one switchback away from entering the archives, so I opted to stay and take my chances. But utlimently when I got out, his line was closed and I was only able to see him and not get a picture with him or autograph. 

After that I was about done. I walked around getting some more random photos and seeing more of the merchandise from vendors. It he cosplay era out and about all weekend were great, and I was able to snag a few shots of them. I made one last trip into the Dream Store to buy a couple of odds and ends, and I walked out of the expo very glad I had had this experince. 

After all is said and done, I would like to give some advice for those going again in 2017. 

1.)Patience is Key: every thing out there is crowded. You won't be getting anywhere fast unless your rude, and let's face it, Disney fans hate rude. 

2.)Be open: you'll be able to meet a lot of people that have the exact same passion as you. Unlike a comic con where multiple fan bases merge, this is strictly Disney. Yes you'll have Star Wars and Marvel fans, but they are accepting of where they are. You never know where the conversation will go and what friends you will gainafter this experince. 

3.)Bring lots of money: we all know Disney is expensive, but this is a new expensive. Vendors selling vintage Disney items, D23 exclusive items, I even saw a light up jacket for $1,200. Everything is expensive, but well worth it. 

4.) Enjoy yourself: at the end of the day you are only there for you. Don't do anything you don't want to do, and do everything you can do. If it means sleeping next to strangers on concrete to see a presentation, do it. You don't want to regret anything. 

That's all for my D23 2015 recap. Hopefully I will have my fist Disneyland trip post up in the next week so you can see how that went. Hope to see you all at D23 2017!