Ready for a rant? Got that hot cup of black coffee and day-old donut handy?
As someone who prompted others to buy tickets even before the full schedule was released, I have to say I unfortunately regret the advice. I had such an amazing time in '09 and thought they kept all four days packed with great panels and presentations. I had so many unique and fun experiences that I jumped at the chance to defend this event and told people they wouldn't want to miss out. This year, however, it's a tough chore to get people excited, even about the abbreviated three day schedule, which should have made it easier to ensure an amazing roster.
Let me take a minute to talk about the Disney Channel. Growing up in the 80's and 90's, that station was a staple of my youth, and through it I was exposed to so many classic television shows, movies, cartoons, and specials that I wouldn't have otherwise seen. It opened my eyes to the full spectrum and rich history of Disney entertainment and not just the animated feature length that would come out in the theaters every year or so. I can say without a doubt, that I wouldn't be the same passionate Disney fan I am today without it.
Today's Disney Channel is a travesty compared to what it offered 2 to 3 decades ago. There is no history and very little diversity other than the choice between toddler shows and tween shows. While it may make a good babysitter for some, I don't know any adult Disney die-hards that truly appreciate the programming themselves (other than maybe Phineas & Ferb, which seems to bridge a generation gap). So why, Why, WHY did the Expo planners insist on dumping so much of this channel and its disappointing content on us? To me, it's just a huge indication that they continue to care less about what makes Disney and Disney fans special in the first place -- which is the history, our appreciation of it, and our concern that it be maintained and promoted.
I understand having some offerings for younger kids. I understand that as much as I dislike the Disney Channel, it is an arm of the company and one they want to promote. But recognize your audience and recognize the demographic of people who come to a 3-day Expo. They are ADULTS, by and large. The adults far outnumbered the children in '09, and honestly, that's the way it should be. We have the patience to stand in long lines, sit still for panels, and endure long schedules over multiple days. We are the ones shopping and spending money on higher-end collectibles and pieces of memorabilia and art. An Expo of any kind, by nature, is tailored for the grown-ups. Why cater so much to the kids?
While most Expos focus the majority of their offerings on current and future projects, I think the Disney Expo should be different. It should be a nice healthy split. I am excited to hear about upcoming projects, I like being the first to hear an announcement, but I also love hearing more about the past! I love celebrating the company's past successes in a community atmosphere. I love having access to the many great minds who helped make Disney what it was. I feel like these elements, while represented in some capacity, were essentially forced to the backseat this time around.
What really drives me nuts is that when there's finally a break in the schedule from the tween-o-rama, the panels I actually want to attend are overlapping or completely conflicting. The Trivia Tournament and Voices of the Park both seem to appeal to a more mature crowd and they overlap. Same thing with the Pixar Creative Team panel and A Good Look At Buena Vista Street. And apparently the schedulers thought you could only appreciate Disney Animation or Pixar Animation but not want to attend both panels celebrating their artists -- those completely conflict as well. I totally understand that during big events like this, you'll never get to see everything you'd like to. I had to make some tough choices in '09. However, it seems with the glut of this Expo being dedicated to a younger audience they could have easily spaced out the events for the older crowd and sent everybody home a little more satisfied that they got their money's worth.
There are definitely things I'm looking forward to in the coming week. I love that Dick Van Dyke is going to be in attendance, although I would have loved to see him with Julie Andrews and Richard Sherman for a Mary Poppins panel! (Seriously, get on that!) I like that the Imagineer legends are coming back, it was one of the highlights for me the first year. The 45th anny of Small World should be great. But they could have and should have done so much more to deliver both sides of Disney. Where's Hayley Mills? Where's an Alice in Wonderland screening and panel? Ms. Beaumont was at the D23 1st Anniversary party, you're telling me you couldn't get her to the Expo? Take advantage of these amazing, legendary people while you still can! That's what D23 should really be about.
As it stands right now, I'm not thrilled about the future of this event... And at this rate, I can see why there may not be much of one left.