Wednesday, July 19, 2017

D23 Expo: Day 1 Recap

Hello, everyone!

What day is it? I'm not even sure!
After a whirlwind D23 Expo, it takes time to get yourself back on track! My feet are still kind of angry at me, truth be told....

But, it's time to talk about the plethora of news, exhibits and merchandise (you know, the important stuff).

Now, because of the way the Expo works, it's a LOT of information to sift through.  I'm going to start with just what I did during the Expo, the events I attended, etc.  It may be disorganized in terms of full coverage, but it makes sense in terms of what I have in front of me.  After a three day trip report, I'll comment on the Expo as a whole: what worked and what could get better. Then, if you all would like, I'll comment on news from the major Hall D23 panels I didn't get to attend. Just let me know in the comments below what YOU need to know.

What is the D23 Expo?

I didn't think this was a tough question, but it's come to my attention that I should answer is...since it appears the media coverage of the event did not. 

D23 is the "official" fan club of the Walt Disney Company. 23 stands for the year Walt and Roy Disney founded the company.

Every two years, the company holds its own Expo. The simplest way I can describe it for the uninitiated is Comic-Con for Disney fans. There are panels and events of various sizes, a show floor where most divisions of the company show off what is new and upcoming, third party companies who Disney has licensed their characters also come to show what they sell.  Lastly, there is an area called the Emporium where smaller groups not affiliated with Disney come to sell or show their products.  This can range from websites that cover the parks, authors, re-sellers, etc. 

Again, like Comic-Con, the Disney Company uses the Expo as a means of spreading news about its upcoming projects here at the Expo. There are four major events that are the hardest to get into: The Disney Legends Induction Ceremony, the Animation Panel, the Live Action Panel, and the Theme Parks and Resorts Panel.  There is also a Gaming Panel, but that one isn't as in-demand.

There are smaller panels that take place mostly on Stage 28, and a slew of panels on the Walt Disney Archives Stage. 

On the show floor, there is a Center Stage, which literally was in the center of the action, had other events with people from Consumer products to Animation legends.

There is so much to do and see, it is absolutely impossible to see it all.  You have to make your priorities and be willing to be flexible when your option may no longer be available or conflicting with something else. 

The Disney Legends Induction Ceremony

One of the nice changed since the inception of D23 and the Expo has been the Disney Legends.  Before the Expo, the Disney Legends ceremony was annual and held privately.  Now, members are inducted at the Expo in front of the many Disney faithful that got them to legend status (not literally, Disney has its own nomination board for that, but you know what I mean).

This year's Inductees were Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (Marvel), animator Clyde Geronimi, cartoonist Manuel Gonzales, Imagineer Wayne Jackson, director Garry Marshall, theatrical director Julie Taymor, and Oprah Winfrey of....Oprah-ness. 

Also, a surprise inductee was announced in the morning, Whoopi Goldberg, which is kind of perfect because Carrie Fisher did uncredited script doctoring of Sister Act (I was glad to see Disney acknowledge that fact). Plus, Whoopi and Oprah are friends and former co-stars of Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple.

Whoopi shows off the Minnie Mouse shoes she wore for the day.

I will say, the last Legends Ceremony was the first time I ever encountered CEO Bob Iger in person (well, in the same vast, large cavernous room...) and at least as a host for the ceremony, he does a pretty fantastic job.  He's commanding but not overbearing or stiff. I remember at the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, how almost robotic Michael Eisner was.  It's never fun to be in front of an audience that dislikes you but at least give it a shot, man! 

Also, if there was an ongoing side theme of the ceremony, it was Iger's kindness and advocating for the Legends.  Having come from ABC when Disney bought it, he has a friendly history with Oprah, and apparently continued to be not just an executive but a friend to many of those who worked for the Company. 

To start off the ceremony, Disney Legend (and voice of Princess Tiana) sang "Go the Distance" from Hercules while a video montage played of previous Legends. At a couple of points in the show, Dancing with the Stars dancers came out and performed numbers inspired by the Inductees.

And to end the ceremony, the cast of the Lion King performed (right after Julie Taymor's lovely speech) "He Lives In You" from the show. With so many posthumous inductees, including the timelines of Carrie Fisher, it was a perfect tear jerker way to end the presentation. 

Thank You For Being a Friend

Like I said, there are plenty of panels over the weekend covering a variety of topics.  We chose to check out the panel celebrating the legacy of The Golden Girls.  Why, you ask, is this part of the Disney family? Well, because it was produced by Touchtone Television and Distributed (to NBC) through Buena Vista television.  Not to mention, after a few seasons, a recreation of the house in the show was placed in the backlot area of Disney-MGM Studios in Florida (until 2003). 

The panel was hosted by Morgan Richardson, an Imagineer who is also a big fan of the show (and was wearing a snazzy theme shirt to prove it!), and spoke to writers, production designers and the author of a book on the show. These kinds of panels are general, but also a really nice way to try to understand why a show like this has endured.

Before the presentation even started, while people were being seated, clips of the show ran, focusing on musical moments of the show and to hear the din of everyone singing along, many just to themselves out of consistent prior exposure to their favorite moments, really cemented the idea of Golden Girls contributing to the Disney magic, all the way from 1980s Miami. 

Ink & Paint

The last panel I attended on Friday was "Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation".  I was very excited about this panel because it coincides with the release of the book by the same name.  In recent years, Walt Disney's legacy has been marred by accusations of being sexist and bigoted.  This book, well researched by author Mindy Johnson, is a large beautiful coffee table book...with a LOT of information in it.  I will be reviewing it for the blog, but not right away (I'm sorry, I'm trying to get through so many books lately!). 

There are the women in animation you know of (*cough*MARYBLAIR!*cough*) but not only were there so many more, Johnson found that statistically, Walt hired more women than any other studio.

Johnson also had a panel of women from pretty much all eras of the studio to talk about their time at in animation.  The theme here was that everyone loved and enjoyed their time working for the company.  Now, while that seems kind of trite to some, if they didn't like it, they didn't have to talk to us. It was a wonderful celebration of what the Walt Disney Company's legacy really is, and I wish this one had been recorded and published online.  It was very enlightening. 

Shopping: Part 1 

After that, we managed to get into a relatively quick line for the Disney Dream Store.  

But let me backtrack a little bit....

As far as shopping, there are three main places you want to go: the Disney Dream Store (for Expo specific merchandise), the Disney Store (easy enough to understand, but they tend to have products here available for the first time, rolling out new collections), and Mickey's of Glendale (the Imagineering shop, also where to find pins, but I'll address this when necessary).

These three shops all are available for what is called StorePass.  It's like FastPass, just for these three shops.  You are allowed one a day, and you get a half hour window; they ask you to arrive at least 5 minutes prior to your listed time.  I would not suggest using your StorePass on the Disney Dream Store, it tends to have the shortest wait and the smoothest moving line.  The Disney Store is the best place to use it.  On Saturday, it was 9:30 and the stand-by line was 2 and a half hours long already.  

It was close to the end of Friday for us, and I think we waited about 30 minutes. In this store, they had, amongst other Expo related merch, new Alex & Ani bracelets, Harvey's, Precious Moments dolls, art from the Wonderground Gallery artists, a lot of limited edition stuff. There was also D23 specific jewelry for Gold members only (why haven't they done a Members Only jacket?)

Friends of the Walt Disney Company - Bésame Cosmetics

Quite a few companies that have entered licensing agreement with Disney gets booths around the show floor, often to show off upcoming collections and products. One that I would like to highlight is Bésame Cosmetics, located in Burbank. I know their make-up was used in Marvel's show for ABC, Agent's philosophy is using period-specific colors with modern hypoallergenic make-up technology.  For those who might not know (I'm looking at the men in the room!), make up used to come in a LOT fewer varieties of color than they do now.  For a time, nail polish was literally only in red, clear and nude. I think a turquoise was the next BIG thing.

So, Bésame will let you be in period dress down to your make up! And the upcoming series they have is based on......*drumroll*......Snow White.  While some of their products were pre-order only, they DID have a lovely $68 large palette, encased in a storybook resembling the one from the movie, and all the colors representing Snow White's own color palette, not just in make up but also in dress and shadow.  

So, that's Day Day 2, we'll tackle more shopping, more panels, so keep an eye out for the next post! 

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