D23 Expo 2013 takes fans inside Disney Imagineering, animation and movies

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in D23Expo, Dateline Disneyland, Disneyland Resort

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Published on August 13, 2013 at 5:37 am with 28 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy wrote the long-running weekly Dateline Disneyland photo, news and opinion blog here on MiceChat from 2007-2016. Andy continues to make occasional special guest contributions on MiceChat.

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  • eicarr

    Glad Tony Baxter is joining true Disney legends who built Disney into what it is today like Billy Crystal and Dick Clark. Sad I missed the Hawaii timeshare presentation and the WDW shopping mall miniature. I’m sure the next D23 will be much improved showing progress on new attractions, but I have to pick one trip that year and i’ll be doing Star Wars Celibration that year instead.

    • Westsider

      I see what you did eicarr, and I approve!
      As a Disneyland Cast Member, I’m mentioning this again. D23 Expo would be improved if they would stop passing out thousands and thousands of cheap-o $15 tickets to Cast Members and their dependents. Those CM’s and their buddies are standing in lines, snapping up StagePasses, clogging exhibits, and taking seats away from the real Guests who paid big bucks to get in.

      There are ways to inform CM’s about important happenings within the Company without flooding the Convention Center with thousands of extra people let in on cheap-o tickets. Let D23 Expo sink or swim on its own without padding the numbers and clogging the venues with thousands of CM’s. Cut off the $15 tickets to CM’s and let the Expo exist for those who paid the big bucks to get in and enjoy it.

      • grizzlybear55

        Thanks for your insight. I didn’t realize the crowd had been seeded like that with cast members (as well as, it seems, free-membership D23 people), and I agree with you that I would rather see it sink or swim more organically.

  • QuiGonJ

    Great writeup, thanks. I was there Saturday, and my writeup is here…

    I see you also largely skipped the “Retail Partners” pavilion, which was the weirdest thing at the show. It was a large pavilion in the middle of the show floor that had American Tourister, a costume company and so on with displays that were more trade show than convention friendly. There was no buzz and relatively little traffic in an area that took up huge amounts of real estate. Even the segment that showed off the brands such as Star Wars was off. Drawing Muppets was cool, but who thought that a booth only about Darth Vader with toys and items just from the past ten years was compelling?

    I am glad to see StagePass worked for people there for three days. I was in line early, but didn’t hit the floor till 11:20 and to me, the SP was constantly full and already mostly sold out when I first saw it.

    But let me close this by saying I did have a great time, which I detailed in that post listed above. I took 422 pics in one day, and I completely got my money’s worth, despite my nitpicks. The overflow room was a great idea, and I thought line management was greatly improved over 2011.

  • Great summary of the show Andy!

    I think that the show was an overall success for Disney. While the hardcore fans like myself may be disappointed that there were no big parks announcements or even models of attractions currently in development (Shanghai Disneyland, Avatar, Star Wars, Monstropolis, etc.), the average fan was likely overwhelmed and thrilled by the slick production value and wealth of things to see.

    Working the MiceChat booth for all three Expos, I can tell you that we are a lightening rod for fan opinion. Folks aren’t shy about sharing their delights and frustrations. The first two expos were a litany of complaints about crowds and poor organization. This time around got off to a rocky start and we were afraid that history was repeating itself with reports of it taking hours just to get into the Expo on Friday morning. However, that glitch gave way to mostly positive reviews of everything else. We simply didn’t hear much negative feedback, which is a very good sign that the show was well received by fans and casual visitors alike.

    As for the MiceChat booth, we were packed for most of the show, with lines of visitors queuing up all the way around our booth and down the back aisle at times. Simply amazing. Our lineup of Disney stars really seemed to resonate with the fans, who appreciated being able to spend time with the folks who create the Disney magic.

    It was a real honor for me to work along side these folks as well as our remarkable staff, who donated their weekend so others could experience these Disney legends.

    To all the folks who read this site, THANK YOU. Whether you made it to the booth, or just followed our coverage, we appreciate you more than you may recognize. All the time, energy and money it takes to put these events and articles together were made worthwhile by your kind comments, hugs and well wishes this past weekend. You are quite simply the most amazing collection of people and we are honored to serve you.

    If you enjoyed the MiceChat booth, please join me in thinking our sponsors, Fairy Godmother Travel and Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground, for making our participation possible.

    • grizzlybear55

      My thanks to MiceChat for the great coverage, and to everyone who made this such an awesome event. Because it was my first time at D23 Expo, it took a day for me to understand the drill, but I had a wonderful time, and my family and I are all looking forward to 2015.

      My only complaint, like many have said here, was with the entrance protocols for those who are not camped out waiting for the big Friday and Saturday Arena events. I don’t mean to sound elitist here, but now that there is a free D23 membership available, perhaps there could be an entrance for those of us members who actually pay for our memberships and have from the beginning.

      Anyway, thanks again for the great job, and thanks for listening!

  • 3rdGateFan

    The only complain I have about the D23 expo , knowingly there was no Parks and Resorts presentation at the D23 Arena , is the entering of the expo for D23 members has to improve , there was only 2 D23 cast members scanning people in entering the expo , while there were other 10 plus people there doing nothing, if those people had scanners the line would of move faster, other than that to me the expo was a mild success. Teasing us about Star Wars movie teaser and then showing nothing made Disney look bad in my opinion and the crowd jeered Alon Horn for it, and it was well deserved for the fans that waited several hours before the let the adventures begin presentation. Overall I wish I could see every single presentation but its just impossible because of the crowds but hey you can’t have it all , in conclusion the red carpet inside the expo as well as the stage pass were a plus in this years expo , even though those stage passes sold out fast, here’s to 2015 and by then Disney will get it finally right.

  • Jeff Heimbuch

    Andy, you did a great job of capturing everything I felt about this year’s expo. You also took way better photos than I did! Great write up, good sir!

    Side bar: This column makes me see that even in photos I’m NOT supposed to be in, I make the most ridiculous faces!

  • Susan Hughes

    Avatarland is still a bad idea (and huge waste of money) for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The buzz for that film faded a long time ago. And I don’t expect the sequel will help revive it. When it opens, look for guest enthusiasm to be fleeting.
    As for those MyMagic wrist bands, I hope only Walt Disney World will have to suffer with them. Please, please, please keep them away from Disneyland.

  • Eric Davis

    Incredible article! Wow! Talk about the best coverage of D23! Thank you for compiling all of this!

  • Meville

    Amazing article, thanks so much for documenting it for the people who were unable to go!

  • DisneylandPlanner

    I want to play the Mary Poppins Board game!!!!
    Great report thanks for all the information and insight!

  • Sosai X

    They really should change the name of the Collector Forum to “Portobello Road”.

  • fnord

    Is during these expos a good time to visit dland from out of state? With all the season pass holders in the expo, is it mostly tourists in the parks, and how crowded was it.
    Last time we visited, getting stuck around season passholders in a line did a great job
    of spoiling the magic on numerous occasions. Example:
    Teen on cell phone:
    I’m at disneyland…
    I’m totally bored, and can’t believe I’m waiting in a line to ride this d*** Nemo bs…
    I’m sure many passholders are perfectly cordial and respect the magic, and that wasn’t
    the only area where the park was firing magic blanks, but I figure Disney didn’t build
    that berm for nothing. If he were still alive, I bet neither cell phones nor season passes
    would be allowed inside his original magic kingdom, or any park modeled after it.

    • Marko50

      I think your assumption that all – or even a majority – of AP’s are at D23. I’m not sure why you think the “Teen on cell phone” was an AP holder, but if she was, I’m pretty sure she (from this example) would not have been a visitor to the Anaheim Convention Center on those days.

      I respect your opinion, but I fail to see what you base your last sentence on. Walt always looked forward and, back in the day, both of those ideas/items would have been forward looking.

      • Marko50

        Whoops. First sentence of above post is incomplete. Should have read …of AP’s are at D23 is incorrect.

  • PatMcDuck

    Where to begin… I was there open to close Fri and Sat, and most of the day on Sunday. Stage Pass was helpful, BUT there were issues on Friday when the Arena let out an hour later than expected. As a result, if you went to the Arena for Animation Friday morning, you had no shot at a Stage Pass for the rest of the day. Animation was supposed to be over at 12:30, not 1:40pm. So perhaps next time, have a buffer in there for the 2nd Stage Pass distribution. OR, better yet, many guests noted that the Arena events were starting later this time, at 10, 10:30, etc. If they start earlier, that uses up less of your time in the day. The other Stage Pass issue was that most of us thought they distributed 100% of passes for all seats, and that standby was unlikely to get you in. NOT true, I can only guess they gave out seat passes for 80% or something? This would have been good to know, that even if all passes were given out, that you had a shot if you were willing to wait.

    I felt that a side effect of LESS people on the upper 2 floors on lines for 3+ hours was a MUCH MUCH more crowded stage floor. I look at your photos and I am amazed what I missed, just because it was so freaking packed everywhere. The lines at many “minor” exhibits were 1-2 hours at times. I could not even do the Voluntear thing this time.

    Third, the way they handle the stores is just crazy, with waits of 2-3 hours to enter a store at times. Look, I just wanted to look around and maybe buy a few things, I am not an Ebay seller or much of a collector myself. More wristbands needed for LE items for sure. Disneystore needs a larger store, even if they had the same number of items for sale.

    Overall, things seemed a bit better in crowd control. Content was less than in 2009 in just about every way. And I felt there was way more looking back than looking forward. I hope they reverse that for 2015. And NEVER move this to Orlando, the thought of standing outside on line, in Orlando, for 3 hours in the morning rain, humidity and heat gives me nightmares.

    • jeskuo

      The Disney Store did have a constant 2-3 hour wait time, but the D23 store had pretty much little to no wait when I went on Saturday and walked by on Sunday. I’m not sure about the other ones. I will have to give kudos to the castmember who was outside the Disney Store and constantly trying to entertain people in line and prompting people to move up. She was there pretty much the whole time from what I could see.

  • stamphead

    At the beginning of Tony Baxter’s presentation the announcer said the Muppet Mobile Lab was in the Parks and Resorts pavilion back from Hong Kong. I didn’t see it and haven’t seen pictures. Anyone have any info?

  • dazyhill

    Overall, I think I had a good time at the convention. I was however, bummed that I never made it to the Archives. I was in panels most of the time and other times trying to explore the show floor as much as possible. By the time I managed some free time on Sunday, it was 4pm and the line to get in stretched to the other end of the second floor. I just couldn’t see myself having a chance of getting in and sadly gave up.
    The “Stage Pass” helped. I was able to get seats for the panels I really wanted to see-unlike in 2011 where I was shut out of just about everything. (Bad luck I suppose.)
    Highlights for me were seeing an awesome Pixar research panel, Tony Baxter’s great rediscovered Disney, and seeing the S.H.E.I.L.D. pilot. Oh, and stopping by the MiceChat booth and seeing all who make this website possible. Last but not least, seeing Bob Gurr. He is definitely the life of the party!

    • grizzlybear55

      Though I had a wonderful time at D23, I actually found the Archives kind of disappointing (guess I was spoiled by the awesome Archives exhibit at the Reagan Library). As was noted in this article, I, too, was perplexed by the “inspired-by” fashions at the beginning, as well as the items from the Teen Beach Movie. But I was even more perplexed by the massive emphasis on Oz. I had never even heard of Return to Oz, let alone Disney’s involvement, and it looked so creepy, I don’t intend on learning any more about it. I soon learned, as well, that I wasn’t alone in my ignorance. Cast members I encountered who were entertaining crowds waiting in long lines with trivia contests and such had never heard of it either, and when a cast member in the D23 Charter Lounge asked members questions from Return to Oz, the response from all in attendance was the chirp of crickets. So all in all, in my humble opinion, the events you attended instead of the Archives were probably superior, and you made a good call.

      • dazyhill

        My brother and I remember Return to Oz, but for all the wrong reasons. My brother recently rented it and he started having flashbacks about how freaked out he was seeing it at 5 years old. LOL. I still can’t watch it either without having the same feelings and I’m older!

  • sean317

    According to Disneyland’s website, Captain EO will be closed starting September 11 also (maybe just for Halloween, but Star Wars is rumored to be moving in)!!

  • ghosty4

    I just can’t help but think that the reason why the crowd was so controlled was there was nothing announced that would draw a crowd in the first place. If better announcements were being made, more people would have been there, and then maybe the crowd wouldn’t have been so contained.

  • DisWedWay

    I think Disney fans would appreciated knowing who actually built some of the WED and WDI models shown at D23, but I know Imagineering doesn’t usually do that. I was Glad to see Marc Davis’s Western River Expedition model which a very talented WED Imagineer Sue McCauley had built all the set buildings for back around 1972. She later became John Hench’s partner in color selection for all facades at Epcot. Joyce Edington called “The red head” and hired by Walt, (pictured in the early WWC Pirates film with Walt and other now Disney Legends), sculpted some of the figures in the model which inspired Show Producer Jeff Burke’s Phantom Manor at Paris Disneyland. Would be great to see both models together. Maybe there are some unknown Legends in there.

  • PhilJohnson

    I have to disagree on the Stage Passes unfortunately. They worked great when you could get them. But if you went to any of the morning arena events on Friday or Saturday, the Stage Passes were gone by the time we got out. So I didn’t get to see anything else on those days. When I did finally get in to some on Sunday, I was really happy with the expanded capacity.

    I’d also like to see them do something to break this ridiculous Disney fan habit of getting in line 4 hours early for the arena stuff. Not sure what they could do. But there was no reason we had to wait 3 or 4 hours for that stuff except for the nuts getting in line at the crack of dawn.

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  • QPerth

    I’ve been so busy lately, this is the first chance i’ve had to sit down and see all the latest features.

    Thanks for this great wrapup of D23expo, your coverage has been great. And this Dateline had so many great pics from unique angles of the models and features shown at the expo. Thanks so much!