As you may have heard, the biannual D23 Expo took place this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center. It was my first time ever attending the event and I have to say, it was pretty awesome. I tried to have a very open mind and limited expectations going in (which was mostly easy since I had no idea what to expect). I made some small, reasonable goals for myself, and I am happy to say I accomplished everything I wanted to do! Not that there wasn’t more to see, because there definitely was, but for my first time, I am totally satisfied with how the day ended up. Here’s how my day went:
9:45–After circling the convention center itself once, it became clear that parking on site was not going to happen, so I headed a couple of miles down to Angel Stadium. There was no line to get into the parking lot and I parked and boarded a shuttle within two minutes of being there. (Side note: the expo itself started at 8, but I had a wedding meeting to go to hence the late arrival.) I think if I drive to the expo again in the future, I will park at Angel Stadium even if there is room on site, it was that easy.
10:15–I arrived at the expo, picked up my ticket, and got to the holding room for my first panel within a half an hour. Now I’m sure things were a little crazier closer to opening time, but getting in and getting my ticket was a breeze. This was also helped by the fact that I am a D23 Silver Member and we had our own expo entrance line that was much shorter than the general admission line.
11:00–As soon as I saw Disney on Broadway on the schedule of events, I knew I was going to see that panel over any other. I headed straight to the holding room for this panel upon arrival and was thrilled to see there was still tons of space.
The “panel” was basically a big concert featuring songs from all of the Disney Broadway productions, focusing on the original pieces (though they did a lot of the popular songs from the movie version too). The songs were performed by Tony Award winning Genie from Aladdin, James Monroe Igleheart…
Ashley Brown, who played Belle and originated the role of Mary Poppins…
And the original Tarzan, Josh Strickland…
I was a little sad that this panel wasn’t full because the performances were truly spectacular. I’m obviously a theater nerd, but I feel like any Disney fan could have appreciated this performance. The three performers talked about each show and gave some background on its creation and run on Broadway, some of the shows had a filmed package to go along with it. Then they sang two to three songs from each show. Brown in particular was mind-blowing. Her rendition of “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins (Walt’s favorite song) brought me to tears (which happened more than once, not going to lie). I also really enjoyed the Aida section since I wasn’t really expecting that one to be part of the presentation and it’s one of my favorites. Strickland performed “My Strongest Suit” (which is sung by a female in the show) and he and Brown dueted on “Written in the Stars”, which made me cry…again. Igleheart is a larger than life presence and it was an honor to see him perform “Friend Like Me” in person. I’m going to be in New York in January and I am hoping and praying I get to see him in Aladdin. Overall, this was an amazing way to kick off my day. So fun and awe-inspiring. Oh, and we also got the totally shocking (sarcasm) announcement that Frozen will be coming to Broadway soon.
12:35–The Broadway presentation ran a little long so as soon as we got out, I hit up the restroom and then went to grab my free expo bag and souvenir guide. I wish I would have done that when I first got into the expo, but I was so worried about not having a seat for the Broadway panel that I skipped it. I was planning on grabbing some food, and mainly some water (I was stupid and thought that when they said no outside food or drink, they meant it, so I didn’t bring any of my own), but as I was walking through the center I saw a mass exodus of people coming from the Live Action Movie panel. They had all just heard the breaking news that Star Wars Land is coming to both Disneyland and Disney World and because of that were rushing to get in line for the Disney Parks panel, which would obviously be talking about the new land. I saw all those people and got a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to get into the Parks Panel, which was the second one I really wanted to see, so I followed the crowd and jumped in line.
1:00–I’m glad I didn’t risk it, but I probably could have stopped to get food and water before getting in line. I was actually pretty close to the front of my section. We were taken down to a basement holding area to wait to be let into the panel. There was a concession stand in the basement area that I was told would be opened, but never actually did. This was my view looking out at the waiting area…
2:30–The time in the waiting area actually passed quickly. The only thing that sucked was that I had nothing to eat or drink, and since I was by myself, I didn’t want to leave and come back and risk losing my spot in line. So I ate a granola bar I found in the bottom of my back pack and made a couple trips to the water fountain. We were taken up to our spots and I made another visit to the bathroom and water fountain while we were up there. First Aid was right next to the bathroom so I decided to stop in and ask for a cup of water, which they happily gave me.
3:00– The Parks presentation started with some more news about Star Wars. We saw concept art for the lands themselves and learned about some new Star Wars themed stuff coming to the parks in the meantime.
We then heard the biggest announcement in the Parks Panel, Toy Story Land is coming to Disney Hollywood Studios. I’m super excited for this land, especially after seeing how Cars Land came out. It should be pretty awesome.
Surprise guest James Cameron came out to talk to us about Pandora, the World of Avatar, opening soon at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I’m not a huge Avatar person, but the concept art for the land itself looked really cool, and the nighttime show they have planned looks spectacular.
Then the presentation turned to the overseas parks. We got a look at some of the new attractions joining those parks, one of which is the Iron Man Experience. We got a tease as if Robert Downey Jr might be there, which he wasn’t. Instead we got Stan Lee! Not going to lie, I would have rather seen RDJ, but Lee was pretty funny, referring to himself as the “world’s greatest cameo actor”.
4:30–After the Parks panel I headed straight outside to get some food. I’m sorry I was so starving and thirsty I didn’t take any pictures, but I had the BEST burger I have ever had from The Cut food truck. Seriously, delicious. I also took some pics of the front of the building then since I hadn’t had time when I arrived.
5:00–After sufficiently stuffing my face, I headed into the showroom to look for the last item on my must do list, the Disneyland Archives exhibit. I waited in line for over an hour to get in to see some original artifacts from the park’s history.
6:15–I wanted to take my time going through the exhibit, but honestly by that point I was so tired I kind of rushed through. I did take lots of pics though so I’ll share those with you soon! For me., the exhibit was kind of underwhelming. I’ve been to the Walt Disney Family Museum and I saw an exhibit of a personal collector’s artifacts not long ago, so a lot of the stuff in there was stuff I had seen before. But there were some cool things, like the first ever ticket to the park (bought by Roy Disney) and costumes from Fantasmic!. There were also original ride cars from a few rides, those were really cool to see. So check back soon for the full details on that one!
6:50–I headed back to the shuttle that would take me back to Angel Stadium. I waited less than five minutes before getting on a bus and was back to my car by 7:15.
7:30–I pulled into the Downtown Disney parking lot so I could attend a meet up hosted by some of my favorite bloggers. I was nervous going in because I was by myself and I hadn’t met any of these people in person before (though I’ve chatted through social media with most of them). I thought about not going, but the hubs encouraged me and I know I need to work on coming out of my shell and this was the perfect opportunity to connect with “my” people. Alas, it was not meant to be. I circled the parking lot for almost forty minutes and could not find a space anywhere. It was madness. I finally threw in the towel at about 8:15 and decided to just head home. I was bummed I had to miss out on meeting everyone, and by that point, I was in serious need of a drink!
9:00–I arrived back home. It was a looooooong day, but I had an awesome time. I had a great experience with everyone at the expo, from the people waiting in line with me to the cast members who were working. I saw some amazing cosplays (seriously, people are so creative) and heard some great presentations. I learned a lot for next time (post on that coming soon!) and I am already looking forward to 2017!