Disney’s big 2013 D23 Expo took the Anaheim Convention Center by storm over the weekend, bringing three days of everything Disney underneath one roof. Expo attendees were invited to step through the doors of Walt Disney Imagineering, take a look at the future of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, preview the slate of upcoming Disney and Marvel live action films, along with various panels, presentations and displays from every corner of Disney. Today, we recap the three-day event with photos and video and fill you in on what this year’s Expo did right and what we hope will be improved at the 2015 convention.

Don’t miss your weekly Disneyland Resort crowd forecast — provided by our friends at MouseAddict — in the Weekly News and Information Roundup at the end of today’s update!

Get a closer look at the D23 Expo!
Click on any photo in the blog for a large, high-resolution version of the image.

Welcome to D23 Expo!

Guests approaching the convention center were greeted by the huge Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s Waffle-inator which was home to the Phineas and Ferb Waffle-inator Challenge game.

D23 Expo Show Floor

The D23 Expo show floor featured booths and pavilions from just about every corner of the Walt Disney Company. Here are a few photos from around the show floor.

The Walt Disney Animation Studios pavilion was small but previewed and teased upcoming films including “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6” and the new “Get a Horse!” Mickey Mouse short

The new “Get A Horse!” short was shown in its entirety for Expo attendees during the Disney Animation arena presentation and it was a delight. It will be shown before “Frozen” in theaters this winter.

Disney Interactive’s pavilion let guests get hands-on playtime with the new Disney Infinity, Fantasia, Resmatered Duck Tales and Mickey’s Castle of Illusion.

The Steamboat Willie Redux display showcased fan art celebrating the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon.

The “Tomorrowland” pavilion was unveiled on Saturday, a culmination of Disney’s “The Optimist” alternate reality game.

Unfortunately, photography of the pavilion was limited.

Classic Disneyland ride vehicles were on display:

A selection of the larger items from the D23 Expo Silent Auction were also on display:

Matterhorn Bobsleds signed by Disney Legend Bob Gurr!

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Pavilion
Journey Into Imagineering

The big draw on the show floor was, of course, the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion. By entering through a facade evoking the Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, California; guests of the pavilion, put together by Walt Disney Imagineering, took a “Journey Into Imagineering.”

Guests entered the doors to 1401 Flower Street into the preshow room for the pavilion.

A large wall display of the Imagineering “lobby” transformed into a giant video screen for the pre show…

Below, a video of the preshow:

Upon entering into the main showroom, guests were greeted with a large throwback to the oil lamp that was part of the post-show at Disneyland’s classic Adventure Thru Innerspace.

As the sign above the door stated, “Journey Into Imagineering” was largely an “open house” for Walt Disney Imagineering and the main point of the pavilion this year was the ability for guests to be able to talk with Imagineers and learn more about what each of them do. The first room allowed guests to meet with Imagineers working on new projects at Walt Disney World, from the Disney Springs project (a major overhaul of Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney) to the Avatar project that is still being planned for Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as a hint at new Star Wars attractions for Walt Disney World.

The big Disney Springs scale model let visitors get an idea of what the Downtown Disney transformation will end up looking like.

An Imagineering office cubicle was on display, filled with props, sketches and items related to the upcoming Avatar project in the works for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

With Disney not quite ready to announce details for the upcoming Avatar Land expansion, Imagineers working this booth managed keep straight faces when talking about taking a research trip to the fictional planet of Pandora to learn as much as they could about the Na’vi and the planet so they could properly recreate Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

A Na’vi-sized backpack.

Plenty to look at here but not really much to see.

Nearby, a stack of crates with various Star Wars references hinted at an upcoming Star Wars-themed project for Walt Disney World. Much like at the Avatar display, Imagineers here were tight-lipped and stuck to their script which said these crates were delivered to Imagineering but wouldn’t be able to find out what’s inside until they them get back to Glendale.

Also represented in the pavilion was the new MyMagic+ program coming to Walt Disney World. The RFID-based technology is expected to transform the guest experience at Walt Disney World and Disney says it will make vacations easier for guests. The display showcased a lot of MyMagic+ wristbands and hardware in a very clean, contemporary space.

Aside from these three previews at what’s new and what’s next, the rest of the pavilion largely focused on the history and legacy of Walt Disney Imagineering. Historical displays of attraction art and models and displays showing various departments of Imagineering allowed guests to learn more about the folks creating Disney’s theme parks and delve into the history of Disney theme parks. Below, a portion of the scale model for Walt Disney World’s never-built Western River Expedition:

This would have been an incredible ride.

A concept model for EPCOT’s Space Pavilion

A gorgeous model of the never-built International Street for Disneyland was on display. Shame this didn’t get built – it looks like it would have been wonderful.

My personal highlight of the Parks and Resorts pavilion was the Imagineering Art Library walk-through experience. The walk-through showcased several pieces of iconic Disneyland artwork, including the original pencil drawing of Disneyland by Herb Ryman that Walt Disney took to the bankers to get funding for Disneyland. Also on display was the original black light painting of Disneyland by Peter Ellenshaw that Walt Disney showed off on television when announcing Disneyland to the public. I got chills when the black lights were turned on and Peter Ellenshaw’s nighttime vision of the park came alive. It was a truly incredible experience to see this art in person and a big thanks goes out to the folks in the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library for putting this together. Unfortunately (but understandably), no video or photography was allowed.

The stunning original model for the Tony Baxter-designed Land Pavilion for EPCOT Center was on display as well. It was an absolute treat to see in person.

The original concept for the Land’s main attraction was a hot air balloon-themed ride through incredible show scenes, which you could see represented in the model.

Also on display was an early model for EPCOT Center’s Spaceship Earth. Really amazing stuff.

Much of the pavilion was divided into pseudo-workspaces for Imagineers where you could see what various Imagineering departments do and how they work.

Show Production featured a lot of paint, with Imagineers painting elevation renderings in person as well as live-painting a portion of a character wall over the course of the Expo.

The Illusioneering Lab paid tribute to master Disney special effects artist Yale Gracey.

Architecture and Engineering focused on Imagineering’s recent hit attraction, Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland

Research and Development let guests preview new interactive Animatronics including Fortuno and the returning Destini

El Fortuno, the latest interactive Audio-Animatronic from Imagineering.

Out friends at Disneyland Live have a video of El Fortuno:

Destini, interactive Audio-Animatronic.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises and most popular features of the pavilion was the Hat Box Ghost on display in the Show Animation department.

A couple videos of the Hat Box Ghost in action:

Imagineers wouldn’t say if the Hat Box Ghost would return to the Haunted Mansion anytime soon, but were quick to note that the figure was built specifically for the D23 Expo using a model of Audio Animatronic that Disneyland fans might normally know as the Auctioneer in Pirates of the Caribbean or President Lincoln in “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”

The Imagineering pavilion also gave guests the opportunity to meet Marvel’s Captain America, who will be appearing in a new meet-and-greet and interactive kids show called “Avengers Academy” aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic ship.

The Dimensional Design booth let guests see some original macquettes and sculpture work from Imagineering.

Imagineers sculpted live while talking to guests.

The original marble Snow White Grotto statues that were sculpted in Italy under the supervision of Leonida Parma and given to Walt Disney in 1958 were on display. The originals were removed from Disneyland in 1982 and replaced with replicas.

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Speaking of priceless originals, upstairs at the Anaheim Convention Center, the Walt Disney Archives put together another display of props, costumes and artifacts from Disney’s rich history.

Unfortunately, the exhibit wasn’t as large or as strong as the display put together for the 2011 D23 Expo. What was great was planned overflow queue and smart handling of crowds lining up for the exhibit. Inexplicably, however, crowds coming to see the impressive displays of Disney history were greeted with a series of designer gowns based on Disney princesses.

The princess gowns were then followed up by costumes from the Disney Channel’s new “Teen Beach Movie”

“Teen Beach Movie” might be getting a good reception from Disney Channel fans, isn’t a bit early to call these costumes “treasures”?

The next room featured a collection of props and costumes from the hit ABC series “Once Upon a Time”

The exhibit picked up steam with its extensive display on Disney’s varied Oz efforts over the years. A great collection of art and artifacts from the canceled “Rainbow Road to Oz” production that Walt Disney worked on was on display.

A model of Rock Candy Mountain, a proposed expansion for Disneyland’s Storybook Land was on display which was very cool to see.

Props and costumes from Disney’s 1985 film, “Return to Oz”…

…as well as props and costumes from this year’s “Oz The Great and Powerful”

The big success of the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit was the huge “Mary Poppins” display. With the film approaching its 50th anniversary and the upcoming release of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the exhibit was a fitting tribute to the legacy of Walt Disney’s classic film.

The recently re-acquired carpet bag from the film was on display.

Lots of vintage memorabilia and collectibles

Iconic costumes from the film

As well as costumes from the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks” film.

Disney released a b-roll tape of the exhibit, check it out below:

Art and Imagination:
Animation at the Walt Disney Studios

On Friday, the D23 Arena hosted its big presentation on Disney Animation, giving the audience a look inside what the teams at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios are working on. The audience was introduced to new characters and some of the voice actors made special appearances including Judy Greer, Bill Hader and Lucas Neff from “The Good Dinosaur” (2014) as well as Bill Hader (again) and Phyllis Smith from Pixar’s 2015 release, “Inside Out.” Pixar also teased the upcoming “Finding Dory” movie.

Walt Disney Animation Studios gave an in-depth look at “Frozen,” which will hit theaters this winter. Actor Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf the snowman, made an appearance and talked about his character and working with Disney.

Broadway star Idina Menzel made a surprise appearance with her performance of “Let It Go,” a song from “Frozen.”

Disney also treated guests to a screening of the new animated Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Get A Horse!” The new short will debut for the general public in front of “Frozen” this winter. The new short is unique in many ways, but perhaps most notably because it features Walt Disney’s voice as Mickey Mouse using audio pulled and stitched together from Walt Disney’s previous performances of Mickey. The effect is seamless and it’s really special to hear Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse again in a new cartoon.

Also teased were Disney’s upcoming film “Zootopia” (2016) which takes us into a world of anthropomorphic animals without humans as well as the Marvel-inspired animated film “Big Hero 6”

Let the Adventures Begin:
Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios

One of the biggest events at the Expo was the big Disney live action presentation in the D23 Arena. Fans had high expectations for the show, many with the hopes that Disney would make a big announcement for the upcoming Star Wars sequel. Despite fan hopes, Disney stayed true to their promise that no Star Wars news would come out of the Expo but fans were treated to presentations from Disney’s live action studio as well as Marvel Entertainment which featured sneak peeks, celebrity appearances and more.

Marvel brought out stars from Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy

Disney also showcased its own slate of upcoming films including “Muppets Most Wanted” starring Ty Burrell, Ricky Gervais, and Tina Fey

“Maleficent” (2014) starring Angelina Jolie

As well as the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks”

…and the upcoming “Tomorrowland” movie.

Disney Legends Awards Ceremony

The D23 Arena also hosted the 2013 Disney Legends Awards on Saturday.

The ceremony kicked off with a presentation honoring Disney Legends that passed away over the last year including Annette Funicello, Robert Sherman, Ginny Tyler and others.

America’s Funniest Home Videos host Tom Bergeron and Disney CEO Bob Iger hosted the awards ceremony which began by honoring Imagineer Tony Baxter. Bob Iger introduced Baxter by mentioning he was the creator of EPCOT Center’s Dreamfinder and Figment characters, noting that Disney “learned the hard way” just how loved the characters are by fans.

Baxter accepted his award by asking “When are we getting Dreamfinder back?” which got big applause from the audience.

Baxter’s acceptance speech centered on a discussion about his keys to success, recapping his early fascination with Disneyland, to his pursuit of a career with the company and how he achieved the things he did over his very rich history with Disney.

Awards also went out to those who have passed away including actor Ed Wynn, Imagineer Colin Campbell, and television icon Dick Clark.

Awards also went out to “Monsters University” stars John Goodman and Billy Crystal.

Retired Disney animator Glen Keane was also honored at the event.

As well as the late Steve Jobs, who was largely responsible for Pixar Animation Studios being alive today. Pixar head John Lasseter, a close friend of Steve Jobs, accepted the award on his behalf with a very emotional speech.

Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken:
The Disney Songbook

The D23 Arena ended Saturday with a spectacular concert with Disney Legends Alan Menken and Richard M. Sherman who are responsible for countless songs in Disney animation and theme parks.

Host Tim O’ Day welcomed Richard Sherman and Alan Menken to the stage

Richard Sherman took to the piano first, sharing stories behind his classic Disney songs and performing a variety of hits from “Winnie the Pooh” to “Mary Poppins” to Disneyland’s “Enchanted Tiki Room” and beyond.

Below, video excepts from the concert with performances of “Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” “One Little Spark” and a performance of “A Spoonful of Sugar” with surprise guests Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak from “Saving Mr. Banks”

Alan Menken performed songs spanning his incredible career with Disney, from “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” to “Newsies” and “Tangled.”

Below, video excerpts from the concert featuring “One Step Ahead” and “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin and a cut song and “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas

The concert ended with an amazing duet of “It’s a Small World.” Video from our friends at Disneyland Live

Undiscovered Disneyland

On Friday, Disney Imagineer (and new Legend) Tony Baxter joined Imagineer Josh Shipley with an amazing presentation of rare color footage of Disneyland from its early years. Unfortunately, I missed this presentation but our friends at Disneyland Live have video that every Disneyland fan should see of Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley showing rare video of Disneyland’s Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland.

The presentation also included an announcement from Disney Parks head Tom Staggs that Disney will honor Tony Baxter with a window on Disneyland’s Main Street. Baxter later spoke with the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog about his career working at Imagineering.

The Art and Artistry of Aulani

Friday afternoon, Imagineers Joe Rohde and Jeanette Lomboy led a discussion on The Art and Artistry of Aulani, Disney’s new resort in Hawaii.

Rohde and Lomboy discussed in-depth the design choices made for the new resort, which all go back to celebrating the people and culture of Hawaii. The Imagineering team went to great lengths to get the Hawaiian people involved with the development of the hotel, ranging from calling on local Hawaiians to create art for the property, to having local musicians create the background music for the resort, to having native Hawaiian spiritual guides help with the planning of the resort.

The end result is a resort that has earned the respect of the Hawaiian people and is the only hotel on the island of Oa’hu that celebrates the living culture of the Hawaiian people.

Below, video excerpts from the panel discussion.

Broadcasts from Buena Vista Street

On Saturday, voice actors that make up the cast of the radio programs you can overhear on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure joined together and performed one of the programs you can listen to in its entirety live for the audience. It was a remarkably entertaining experience and afterward the cast talked about their careers and experiences working on Disney projects.

Below, a clip from the live performance

Sounds Delightful!
An Illustrated Audio Adventure

On Sunday, Disney artist and historian Stacia Martin led a fantastic discussion on early Disney records, which included audio samples from rare recordings including early songs recorded about Mickey Mouse, to records from Mickey Mouse Club star Annette Funicello.

Stacia talked about her life-long love of Disney music and record collecting

Stacia also treated the audience to demo recordings made for Walt Disney of songs from the never-completed “Rainbow Road to Oz” film. Stacia played demos of the songs that were made for the film and walked the audience through the movie’s story, explaining where the songs would have fit in. The songs had never been heard by the general public until this presentation.

Walt Disney Imagineering 60th:
Craft of Creativity

Walt Disney Imagineering celebrated its 60th Anniversary with a series of panel discussions on Sunday, including “The Craft of Creativity” with Disney Imagineers

The Imagineers talked about their history with the company (Kathy Mangum started out as a store clerk at the Adventureland Bazaar) and sharing their thoughts on what makes a good Imagineer (Joe Rohde: “To be an Imagineer, “you have to be the kind of person who wants to share.”)

Walt Disney Imagineering 60th:
Leading a Legacy

Sunday also included a discussion between Imagineers Marty Sklar (former head of Walt Disney Imagineering) and Bruce Vaughn (current head of Imagineering) on leading Walt Disney Imagineering. The presentation kicked off with the teaser trailer for an upcoming documentary on Walt Disney Imagineering by Leslie Iwerks.

Below, video excerpts from the discussion:

Collectors Forum

Back on the Show Floor, the Collectors Forum hosted various fan sites, fine artists, and collectibles booths that fans could browse, meet Disney celebrities, or find treasures in.

The MiceChat booth was once again host to an amazing lineup of Disney celebrities including frequent visits from Disney Legend Bob Gurr.

Bob Gurr talking to Doug Barnes from the Season Pass Podcast and the MiceChat Podcast

Susan Egan

MiceChat’s Keith Gluck interviewing Bob Gurr at the Walt Disney Family Museum booth

…and Bob Gurr surprising Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula, at the Gifts by Small Fry booth.

Thoughts on D23 Expo 2013

The 2013 D23 Expo has come and gone and proved to be a big success for Disney, with Friday and Saturday both selling out. The success of this year’s event prompted CEO Bob Iger to announce Saturday that the next Expo will take place in 2015.

Despite its success, not everyone in attendance was wowed by what Disney had to offer at this year’s event, with the main issue being the lack of big announcements and breaking news. It’s true that each Expo continues to grow in size and success for Disney, but how long can that success be sustained if Disney continues to pull back on its major announcements? The first Expo in 2009 set a precedent for the D23 Expo to be a major platform for Disney to showcase its future with unexpected announcements and in-depth previews of what was new and what was next. This year, however, Disney seemingly threw all of that out. Instead, major movie studio presentations mostly just expanded on projects that everybody was aware of, keeping the lid on things that would keep fans and the media talking for weeks. No new theme park announcements, no major movie announcements and hardly a peep on the recently acquired Lucasfilm or upcoming Star Wars sequel.

It would be one thing if Disney had never used the D23 Expo as a platform for major announcements, but the first two Expos were just that – the place for Disney to proudly show off its new toys and get people excited with big announcements on major new productions. Despite Disney announcing before the Expo that no new announcements would be made, the lack of information still stung fans and burned the blogosphere. Entertainment magazines and film blogs aren’t being shy about openly discussing the disappointment of Saturday’s live action presentation; Variety opens an article on the subject with “The disappointment was palpable at D23 Expo as Walt Disney Studios promoted 11 movies that it will release through the end of 2015.” Obviously, the biggest letdown from the studio was the lack of Star Wars announcements but that disappointment bleeds through to just about every other major division of Disney, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Are fans asking for too much? If Disney wants to host its own version of Comic Con then it needs to deliver something. You can’t buy up Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar and run the world’s premier vacation destinations without fans expecting you to make new announcements at your huge, biennial conventions. Aside from cosplaying and surprise celebrity appearances, major announcements are what conventions like this are known for. Instead, the 2013 D23 Expo just spent three days sharing information that had mostly been released already and celebrating the company’s history, rather than previewing the future. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the company’s history, and D23 (a product of the Walt Disney Archives) does quite well at producing events that do just that. Still, those events are much smaller than the Expo and cater to a niche market. There’s certainly a place for Disney history at the Expo, but can the Expo really support company history as its primary draw? It’s a question that Disney is now going to have to weigh when they start planning the next Expo. It isn’t just the vocal Disney fan community voicing disappointment anymore – with Disney now owning Lucasfilm and Marvel, there’s more at stake than ever. Hopefully Disney will plan accordingly for the 2015 D23 Expo and bring their best game like they did in 2009 with major new announcements.

Despite the lack of breaking news or exciting new announcements, the D23 Expo improved greatly in other areas from the last convention in 2011. The most impressive improvements were increased capacity and better handling of crowds. Disney obviously listened to complaints and concerns from 2011 where attendees waited for hours to get into popular panel discussions only to be told there was no space left. Both Stage 23 and Stage 28 were significantly expanded with bigger seating and viewing areas and I had no issues getting into any of the presentations that I attended. Similarly, the D23 Arena included an overflow viewing area with screens for those who were unable to make it into the huge arena.

The new D23 Expo StagePass service was also a success, allowing attendees to secure seats for popular presentations in Stage 23 and Stage 28. I heard some frustrations from Expo attendees about waiting in long lines for StagePass, but I think it would be foolish to expect a first-year service like this to not have some kinks to work out. Hopefully StagePass returns in 2015 with improvements to the system, but its debut year seems to have been successful. I heard numerous attendees talking about how it allowed them to see more than they otherwise would have been able to, which is great.

Also worth noting is the continued growth of the D23 Expo’s show floor offerings. The trend here points toward bigger pavilions with more varied offerings and that’s great to see. The show floor in 2009 had a lot of potential for growth and it’s great to see Disney taking note of this and growing the show floor. There was always something happening – whether it be live performances, celebrity appearances, signings, demonstrations or giveaways. It’ll be interesting to see how the show floor continues to grow in the coming years.

So what the D23 Expo lacked in content this year, it made up for in production value, crowd management and event planning. From what I could tell, this was the easiest Expo to date for attendees thanks to smart scheduling, great planning and efficient crowd control. Congrats to the D23 Expo team for a successful event. Here’s to 2015!

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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
August 12 – 18, 2013
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
Daily: 8am – 11pm Daily:
8am – 10pm
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]
[b][center]Disneyland Park[/center][/b]
  • [b]Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:[/b] Closed for extensive refurbishment through October 30.
  • [B]Mad Tea Party:[/B] Closed August 19-22 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Matterhorn Bobsleds:[/B] Closed August 19-22 and September 3-5 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Haunted Mansion:[/B] Closed August 26-September 12 for Haunted Mansion Holiday installation.
  • [B]Big Thunder Ranch:[/B] Closed September 3-12 for Halloween overlay installation.
  • [B]Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island:[/B] Closed September 3-4.
  • [B]Mickey’s House:[/B] Closed September 3-26 for refurbishment.
  • [B]King Arthur Carrousel:[/B] Closed September 3 – October 10 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Mark Twain Riverboat:[/B] Closed for one day, September 9.
  • [B]Space Mountain:[/B] Closed September 9-12 for Ghost Galaxy overlay installation.
  • [B]Sailing Ship Columbia:[/B] Closed September 17-19 for refurbishment.
  • [b]Market House:[/b] Closed for conversion and expansion for new Starbucks location. Opens fall 2013.
  • [B]Alice in Wonderland:[/B] Expected to close early 2014 to install permanent safety railing on outdoor ride portion.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • [b]Muppet*Vision 3D:[/b] Closed September 9-12.
  • [b]Toy Story Midway Mania!:[/b] Closed September 16-19 for refurbishment.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
A weekly look at projected crowd levels at the Disneyland Resort.[/center]

August 12 – 18, 2013


About This Week’s Estimates
Our Addictometer™ crowd estimates are designed to give you an idea of how busy the resort feels using historical data, crowd sourcing, and proprietary algorithms used in the Mouseaddict iOS app. Among the variables affecting crowd levels this week are:

  • Hotels have plenty of occupancy this week.
  • Southern California and SoCal Select passports are blocked every day this week. Deluxe passports are blocked out this Saturday.
  • This is the last week of summer before schools are back in session.

Are you already a Mouseaddict? Be sure to submit your wait times to help us help you!

Download the free Mouseaddict app for iPhone and iPad for current crowd estimates, crowd maps, and wait times along with 60 categories of searchable resort information and your favorite MiceChat blogs.

[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • Actor John Stamos is taking a 19-year-old survivor of a life-threatening bacterial infection on a date to Disneyland.
  • The Holidays at the Disneyland Resort will return November 12-January 6 with returning favorites as well as new offerings including a holiday version of “World of Color”
  • The Disneyland Cast Member canoe races recently celebrated its 50th anniversary
  • New chef at Disney’s PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier Hotel reinvents the restaurant’s menu with spicy new offerings.
  • The limited availability Hat Box Ghost Haunted Mansion t-shirt is only available on DisneyStore.com until Thursday!
Okay, that wraps up this huge special edition of Dateline Disneyland! Thank you, as always, for reading. And a special thanks to the folks who said hello at the Expo and those of you who visited the MiceChat booth to get one of the Dateline Disneyland buttons. Your enthusiasm and continued readership keep this blog going – so thank you! I hope all of you had an excellent D23 Expo weekend, whether you attended in person or followed along from afar!

If you’re still looking for more D23 Expo coverage, check the D23 forum on MiceChat for threads, discussions and more from the expo!

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For more Disneyland news, be sure to read MiceChat’s weekly In the Parks blog. And be sure to check out our sister blog, Dateline Disney World – a fantastic weekly photo blog covering Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!

Thanks for reading. See you at Disneyland!
[B]- Andy[/B]

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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!