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!

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