“The Ultimate Disney Fan Experience.” That’s how Disney describes their biennial 3-day expo. This year, I would definitely have to agree with that description. This was only my (Melvin) second expo, but it was heads and shoulders better than the 2013 experience. Unfortunately, Debbie was not able to attend, and even my trip was limited to just the first day. But I could have easily stayed all three days if circumstances allowed.
Outside the entrance, guests were greeted with the giant Buzz Lightyear helium balloon from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Inside, you are treated to three days of everything Disney. There were pop-up stores with limited edition merchandise (Disney Dream Store and Mickey’s of Glendale), Disney Archives, previews of changes coming to the parks, panels with Disney Legends, Mouseketeers, Artists, Actors, Imagineers, opportunities to meet your favorite Disney star, and just all around fun conversing with other Disney fans/geeks/nerds.
If you ever wanted to meet a Disney actor/actress, here was the best opportunity. On the first day, I had autographed pictures with Karen Dotrice (Mary Poppins, The Gnome Mobile) and Cindy Morgan (Tron, Caddy Shack). There were many others scheduled for the three days including Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins, Lt. Robin Crusoe), Ed Asner (Up), many of whom I would have liked to see, but it was just not possible. I am hoping D23 brings in the stars again in 2017 at the next expo. There are just so many Disney stars that we would like to see.
Looking through the exhibits, there were some that were very nostalgic, bringing back memories from earlier visits to the parks. Here is a carriage from the Skyway that took guests from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland and back, along with photos from that era. The Disney Archives also had their own display hosting elements of by-gone eras.
There were also future things to see. Inside, there was a large pavilion hosting a preview of the new Disney Shanghai park that will open in 2016. Disney is bringing a lot of new things to this park, many of which will eventually be incorporated into existing parks. The one change that we are looking forward to seeing is the change to Soarin’ Over California. This will be changed to Soarin’ Over The World, containing images of famous landmarks from around the world that many would probably never see, otherwise.
Then there was the much expected announcement for the new “Star Wars Land” that will be built in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Ground will break in 2016.
And no Disney event would be complete without those who just “live” Disney beyond anything the rest of us could ever imagine. There are those fans that go over the top to show their Disney Side.
The one aspect to the expo that I wasn’t able to attend was the forums. I was so looking forward to the one celebrating the 20th anniversary of “A Goofy Movie.” This panel was slated to contain the actors who voiced many of the characters in the movie, including Bill Farmer (Goofy), Jason Marsden (Max), Jim Cummings (Pete), Rob Paulsen (Pete, Jr,) and Jenna von Oy (Stacey). The review of this discussion panel indicated that it was the best of the weekend.
We have said it before and won’t hesitate to say it again, the D23 – The Official Disney Fan Club, is the best group we have ever had the privilege to be members of, and can’t ever imagine leaving.
The next expo will be in August, 2017 in Anaheim, so mark your calendars. While you don’t have to be a D23 member to get in, membership provides some extra perks not available to non-members, such as upgraded experiences and early entrance, not to mention all the benefits one receives during the year. We hope to see you there!