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D23 Expo - Day 1 Thoughts and Observations (9/10/09)

The D23 Expo kicked off today with much fanfare. I was able to spend some time on the main floor visiting the Parks and Resorts Exhibit, Consumer Products, and some of the smaller exhibits. Also I attended the keynote presentation of the day by Bob Iger followed by the Disney Legends event. I also attended the Wonder World of Vintage Disneyland and the ABC's of Disney presentation.

Today I ended up walking 10,594 steps, 4.0 miles (6,025 steps for 54 minutes at a moderate pace) according to my pedometer.

Nuts and Bolts: The D23 Expo ran from 9/10-13. One day tickets were $37 for adults and $27 for children. All four days were $111 for adults and $81 for children. For D23 members the price was $30/$22 and $90/$66. The main floor was open from 9am - 5pm (opening at 8am for D23 members). Presentations and movies were scheduled all day and into the late evening (midnight 3 of the nights and 11pm one night).


Overall I was really impressed with the D23 Expo. Considering this was the first event of its type they have staged I thought the turn out was solid and the selection of events and presentations great. I thought the access you had to Disney CMs from all aspects of the company was incredible. Ranging from Imagineers to techs to management you did not know who you would run into next.

My only real complaint is I think they misjudged the audience a bit. The largest interest is in the parks and those seminars/presentations were in the smallest room. This lead to long waits and people not being able to attend. By the last day they had reacted to it and moved to a slightly larger room and added overflow rooms to watch it but seems to me someone misjudged the audience big time on this one.

I was a little disappointed with the options on the main floor. I would have thought Media Networks would have had a larger area including ESPN, more ABC, the other cable channels, as well as the Disney Channel. There was a Radio Disney area and a ABC Lost exhibit and that was pretty much it. In the Parks and Resorts I was surprised not to see more WDW and Paris information. Especially with the big announcement being the Fantasyland work in Florida. Also I was surprised to not see more from the record labels on the floor.

Rundown and thoughts from the day:

  • We arrived at the convention center check in around around 7:40ish. Flashed my D23 card and was let in to the registration area with no wait at all. The Check In process was smooth and efficient as we traded the our printed tickets for wristbands and information.

  • Upon walking onto the Main Floor the first thing that struck me was how big the convention center seemed and how spread out everything was. Then it dawned on me that this was because the crowd really split in half as soon as the doors open. One half went for the Dream Store line and the merchandise and the other to the line for Iger's Keynote of the day and the Disney Legends ceremony. This left the floor fairly sparse.

  • Like a giant beacon I was drawn to the Parks and Resorts display first. This was the largest exhibit and as you walked in it was st aright in front of you (but on the opposite side of the floor.

  • This was by far my favorite exhibit of the Expo and many I talked to agreed. As you saw in the pictorial update it featured a room with models of the Cars Land Expansion to DCA, a room about audioanamatronics another room with Cruise Line, DVC, and Adventures by Disney, then the last section on Hong Kong Disneyland. Besides the great artwork, models, and displays the other incredible thing was many of the CMs on hand in the exhibit were actual Imagineers that worked on the projects. So you could talk to someone who is working on the attraction or the model or some aspect of the project. Some of them were fairly tight lipped (especially those in R&D) but everyone else was approachable and bent over backwards to try and answer your questions.

  • Before queuing up for the keynote of the day we took a brief/quick walk around the floor. The other displays looked interesting but would have to wait. Due to the long line the Lazygeek volunteered to stay on the floor and take pictures so I did not have to check my camera. So thank him for all the consumer product shots, etc... he took them while the keynote was going on.

  • Headed to Iger around 9:30 along with the masses. The main security line was long and moving slow. It seems they under estimated the time it would take to do the bag check. There were no cameras, cell phones, or other electronic devices allowed into the arena. As you walked in they were collecting these items (along with your driver's license) and issuing you a number to claim it later. After checking your bags you were then put through a security line where they wanded you then you were finally allowed to enter. My understanding is this was done because of the 30 minute clip of the Princess and the Frog that was played. They did not allow the media to bring in cameras either. Only company cameras were allowed inside. This was nice that I did not have to worry about getting pictures but I would still have preferred to keep my gear with me.

  • The main presentation started with a 5 minute or so clip of the company and then Iger came out to welcome everyone and introduce the day, this was short, maybe 5 minutes. Then they played the first third or so of Princess and the Frog. Some scenes were still in various stages of production, but most seemed complete. He said 87% of what we saw was finished. After the film Anika Noni Rose (who does both the singing and regular voice in the film I believe) came out and performed a song from the film. Then the Mayor of Anaheim joined Iger on stage for a few minutes then they awarded a night in the Dream Suite at Disneyland. There was a brief break then (which allowed me to meet the Lazygeek and grab all my gear).

  • The Legends Ceremony started and rolled on for the next hour. Each legend of this years class was introduced, a brief bio read, then a brief opportunity to make some remarks. I thought this was a great ceremony to watch, my only complaint was that by this time I was getting extremely hungry and wish they would have started earlier and kept on time. (For more information on the Legends Ceremony check out the press release)

  • Headed for a quick lunch, which turned out to take quite a while due to the inefficiency of the convention center food services. There were maybe three people in front of us in line and it took a good 10 minutes to talk to someone. When we did we said we wanted chicken and they said they were out and it would be at least half an hour then walked away. We did not have that much time so finally managed to get them to come back and grabbed a hot dog and some fries (for two hot dogs and one order of fries it was $11).

  • Lined up for Wonderful World of Vintage Disneyland by 1:15pm for the 2:00pm show and just barely made it in. This is one example of what would become many examples of a seminar being much more popular than the space could hold. This presentation consisted of Tony Baxter and Ed Hobelman narrating as film clips of Disneyland from the 1950s were played. I found it extremely interesting to watch the rehearsal footage from the Dateline Disneyland program. As all you disneygeeks know the TV show was aired live and in black and white. But the rehearsal was also recorded and it was recorded in color! So it was great to see some of the sights we have become so familiar with in color.

  • After the presentation headed down to the arena to catch the ABC event. They talked about the new schedule and had several celebrities on hand to talk about their new shows. There was no mention of photo restrictions but when I pulled my camera out several security people came running to tell me no pictures were allowed. This made no real sense to me. First it was not printed anywhere (I guess there was an announcement made at the begging but I missed that since I was upstairs still) then what they showed were clips of the shows that were going to be on TV in a week or so anyways.. oh well. Overall the new comedies seem somewhat promising and the other big push of the event was Dancing with the Stars. (For more information check out the ABC Press Release for the presentation)

  • We left early and headed back up to get in line for the Imagineering Legends. I was up there by 3:45pm and the CM said there was no way I would make it in, the line was already cut off. I was really disappointed and mad at myself for checking out the ABC event, but oh well.

  • Since I was closed out of the Imagineering Legends event I stopped by the media center and attended the press conference with Tony Baxter and Ed Hobleman. There were only a handful of us and it was great to hear their stories about how various people wanted film clips of their relatives and how they were preserving the films.

  • I stopped by the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives display and found it to be interesting but a little under whelming. I was expecting a lot more and instead basically saw what was released ahead of time. I would say two-thirds of the display had to do with costumes then there were a couple other random items. It was great to see and I enjoyed it but I was really hoping for more. (For pictures of this exhibit check out the press release about setting up for the Expo)

  • I made a quick run through of the third floor and the Disney Movie items that were up there before heading out for the evening. Seeing some of the props and other movie related items was great but it really seemed out of the way all the way up on the 3rd floor. I never did make it into the theater, from what I hear it was nice.


For My Pictures from this day please visit our D23 Picture Section

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