Disney’s D23 Expo Returns to the Anaheim Convention Center August 19-21

[NOTE: ALL OF THE IMAGES BELOW ARE COURTESY OF D23 AND WERE TAKEN AT THE 2009 EXPO.]

Disneyland's official ambassador bids you welcome to the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center

As one of the newer events on the popcult convention circuit, the D23 Expo is not as well-known as, say, Comic-Con International. However, for fans of any and all things Disney (which now includes Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios) the second D23 promises to be a weekend jam packed with inside information, exclusive merchandise, and of course, celebrity appearances. And at $47 for a one-day, adult admission ($37 for children), it’s a bargain as well.

Left to right: Ncolas Cage and Jerry Bruckheimer; Tim Burton; Kelly Preston and John Travolta; Robin Williams and friend

Having not gone to the first D23 in 2009 (the name is a reference to 1923, the year Walt Disney opened his first studio), I can’t say exactly what the experience is going to be like, but from all indications on the D23 homepage, keeping a convention to goings on within one corporate family might just make for a better organized and more fan-friendly experience than some of the conventions I’ve attended more recently. For example, Disneyphiles are discouraged from bringing personal items to be autographed; instead, autograph hounds will have to buy official convention merchandise. To those not familiar with how cons operate, it might seem a little heavy handed. However, when you take into account that, at competing conventions, unless somebody is paid by the organizers to be there, you will most likely have to buy merchandise to get a signature anyway – sometimes at Shatner-esque prices – it’s neither exorbitant, nor out of line at all.

"Wizards of Waverly Place" star Jake T. Austin makes a lucky fan's day

Similarly, I would advise would be Cosplayers to look at the guidelines for costumes in the FAQ’s. It’s not that you can’t dress up – it’s just that, for instance, D23 won’t allow costumes that obstruct the flow of traffic. If you’ve tried to get to a bathroom while somebody sets up their Transformers costume in the middle of a crowded aisle, you understand how important this is. Also, you have to keep your costume related to a Disney theme. Some might think it’s harsh, and I may be alone here, but I’m glad. I, for one, am tired of seeing costumes at popcult conventions that have no relation to the theme of the event. And even though dressing as a pirate might be appropriate for the D23, ye’d best leave yer broadsword and sidearm at home, matey – no weapons allowed, even if they’re props.

Make sure you keep your costume Disney related, family friendly, and weapons-free

Though there’s no official word yet as to exactly who will be in attendance aside from Marvel Studios' President of Production, Kevin Feige (the element of surprise seems to be a big component to all of the major panels), but for fans of Marvel comics, and Marvel Studios’ films, who were disappointed at the company’s relatively small presence at Comic-Con – especially in Hall H, where the major movie announcements are usually made – the anticipation surrounding The Walt Disney Studios' presentation on Saturday is high. Yes, exclusive footage of The Amazing Spider-Man and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was shown at Comic-Con, but for those not in the know, those films are not produced by Marvel Studios. The licenses on those characters (and the Fantastic Four, X-Men, etc.) are owned by Sony and Fox, respectively. It’s one thing to see studios talk about their productions of Marvel movies – and believe me, it was cool. The merger of Marvel and Disney is a relatively recent event (and to a certain extent, the formation of Marvel Studios is too), so I, for one, simply can’t wait for Marvel to toot its own horn with the entertainment powerhouse of Disney behind it.

The Muppets perform at the 2009 D23

However, Disney is a multi-faceted company, and Marvel is just one presentation on one day. The Parks and Resorts division will be presenting its Carousel of Projects – a tour of new projects at Disney parks around the world (including an in-depth look at the new Cars Land, that will be opening in California Adventure next year). There’s even 12,000 square feet devoted to a Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit – an onsite “museum” of Disney memorabilia from movie costumes and props to merchandise from the parks in years past.

Michael Jackson's costume from Captain Eo in the Treasures from the Walt Disney Archives Exhibit

And everyday, younger fans have opportunities to meet, and get autographs from, stars of their favorite shows on The Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, and Radio Disney. Fans of the cartoon Phineas and Ferb will be particularly happy. There’s Perry the Platy-bus, a bus shaped like Perry the Platypus in which fans can play P&F video games; Perry-oke (I think it’s pretty self-explanatory); and even a mockup of the back yard seen on the show.

The cast of Wizards of Waverly Place at a 2009 panel discussion

Passes for all three days are reasonable too ($136 adult/ $106 child). However, for even better discounts, if you’re a fan of Disney, I highly recommend joining D23. A basic membership is around $35, and the premium membership is around $75. You get a generous introductory “goodie bag,” and in addition to the D23 Expo, members get discounts on exclusive merchandise and park tickets throughout the year. Check the D23 membership site for more information.

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