Buy a new pair of shoes and a big shopping bag . . . Disney’s next D23 Expo has JUST been announced for August 23rd through 25th of 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Advance tickets will go on sale August 23rd of this year.

For the 2 of you who have never heard of the D23 Expo, think of it as a massive ComicCon of Disney everything. Disney gathers together all of their business units and takes over the entire Anaheim Convention Center to offer its fans booths, panel discussions, shows and shopping opportunities.

D23 EXPO 2017 – “A KISS GOODNIGHT” WITH DISNEY LEGENDS RICHARD SHERMAN AND FLOYD NORMAN  (Disney/Image Group LA)

For 2019, Disney plans more than 50 shows, presentations, and panels, including the Disney Legends Ceremony, which honors the talented men and women who have made significant contributions to the Disney legacy; an all-new exhibit curated by the Walt Disney Archives; a daily parade down the middle of the show floor; D23 Expo’s costume contest, Mousequerade, showcasing the most creative designs by fans; and a D23 Expo Design Challenge. As well as Disney stars, characters, Imagineers, animators, and filmmakers.

Disney Legends image ©Disney

We were delighted to chat with VP of D23, Michael Vargo, about the upcoming event to see if we could uncover some new details for you:

The big cheese with Michael Vargo (Vice President of D23/Corp Special Events/Creative Resources) 

We noticed that the discounted tickets this year are just for D23 Gold Members – why is that?

Great question. As you know, we are always listening to our members and Disney fans—including things we read on MiceChat. And our Gold Members continue to look forward to things that enhance their memberships. Since the fan club started nearly a decade ago, membership has grown quite a bit since the first few Expos. So the new ticketing structure is both an effort to help with some of the crowds as well as provide a great value to our loyal D23 Gold Members.

StagePass and StorePass are not mentioned in the release – will they be coming back?

Both StagePass and StorePass have been incredibly popular. They’re a great way for our guests to secure a seat in a panel or at a store and still be able to enjoy the show floor and other experiences. And, like FASTPASS in the parks, which was the model we initially used for creating StagePass and StorePass, we want to evolve them to maximize the guest experience, perhaps with advanced technologies to expedite the process. So yes, whether it uses the same name or not, something very much like StagePass and StorePass will return. We’ll have more details closer to the event.

Amazing cosplay. They fans go all out for Expo.  (Disney/Image Group LA)

It seems every year the Expo grows and with it, crowds and crowd control needs. What are you doing to prepare?

Again, this is a place where we absolutely listen to the fan feedback and take it very seriously. I feel like each year we improve—even as the crowds continue to grow. And there are always new things we learn, especially with an event of this magnitude and complexity. Stepping back, it’s important to remember that D23 Expo is once every two years—and while many elements remain the same, every event is unique and new. So it’s quite different than, for example, our partners at the theme parks who have done a masterful job of crowd control for more than 60 years and do it every single day. So a lot of what we spend our time doing behind the scenes is looking at how we can improve from the prior event, carefully studying other events of this scope, listening to fan feedback, and crafting what we hope are efficient queuing plans that provide the best guest experience possible. I’m the first to say we don’t get it right every time, but each year we strive to be even better than the year before. When it comes to lines, our goals are to get the fans through safely and quickly — and thoroughly communicate expectations along the way. 2019 will be no different — we’ve already been looking at ways to not only make the lines more efficient but a better experience for guests.

D23 EXPO 2017 – Friday, July 14, 2017 – The Ultimate Disney Fan Event – brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event, which takes place July 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center, provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. (Disney/Image Group LA)
DOVE CAMERON, CHINA ANNE MCCLAIN

If there were people who didn’t have a great time at the last Expo because of crowds and lines and being shut out of some events, what would you say to them to get them to come back?

There are just so many incredible things to experience at the Expo. Even if someone doesn’t get into their first choice panel or presentation, the odds are great that there are seats for something else just across the convention center. In fact, in 2017, only three of our more than 50 shows, presentations, and panels were at capacity, so there are many Expo experiences to choose from at any given time.  It’s best to have a plan—as well as a backup plan—so you can easily navigate and enjoy the Expo. Bringing back the Expo Arena last year was a huge win for us in terms of increased capacities. We will once again pre-screen our early arrival guests through security check points and ticketed gates to minimize wait times for others. And we continue to look at ways to enhance the D23 Expo app so guests can look at other options if a panel they were hoping to attend is full.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge model at the Disney Parks and Resorts booth. 2018 D23 Expo. (Disney Parks/Joshua Sudock)

Can D23 Charter Members expect an exclusive lounge or special opportunities?

We certainly always look to celebrate our D23 Charter Members, especially with the 10th anniversary in 2019. It’s a little too soon to start revealing details—and as you may have seen, Gold Members will once again receive discounts on ticketing, exclusive offers from various partners on the show floor, and other opportunities as well. In the coming months, we’ll have more to share.

D23 Animation Panel.  Paige O’Hara; Irene Bedard; Mandy Moore; Auli’i Cravalho; Sarah Silverman; Kristen Bell; Kelly Macdonald; Anika Noni Rose; Linda Larkin; Jodi Benson; Josh Gad

Will shopping venues be expanded to accommodate more guests?

We haven’t quite started mapping out the show floor, but we will do everything we can to make sure all guests have the ability to get into our signature shopping venues.

The Sorcerers Package has proven to be extremely popular. Will there be any changes or expansion of that program?

The Sorcerers are a great bunch—we love having them. Right now, there are no plans to expand the number of Sorcerer tickets offered. The feedback from those ticketholders each year has always included mentions of how great it is that it’s a more intimate group. So we want to continue to ensure it’s a great guest experience. As for changes, each Expo year, we try to find new opportunities that we think the guests will enjoy—whether they’re Sorcerers or general ticket attendees. And 2019 will be no different.

Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion at D23 Expo 2019 (Disney Parks/Joshua Sudock)

Last year’s expo included spectacular reveals of Star Wars, Marvel and other attractions. What sorts of information might we expect to hear about at the 2019 event?

Ask me in a year! [Laughs] That’s actually a bit true. As you know from having been to every Expo, it’s not just the incredible work of the D23 Team that puts on the Expo. It’s all of our partners around the company, coming together to showcase the incredible new experiences and movies and music and television shows and products that are coming. Last year, we were blown away by what they brought to the show floor—the Galaxy’s Edge model was just unbelievable. And the props and costumes from Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther were just amazing to see in person. I have no doubt we’ll see incredible things again in 2019.

Thank you Michael! We look forward to tracking this story as the Expo dates grow closer. MiceChat always offers a booth at the Expo and it’s a major part of our outreach to the fan community. We look forward to seeing everyone there in 2019.

For indepth MiceChat articles from previous D23 Expos, please visit this link: D23 Expo