Tuesday, July 25, 2017

D23 Expo: Ultra Mega Day 3! Star Wars! Pirates! John Stamos!

Hello, Everyone!

I'm SO sorry to be late on this but it took longer than expected AND I'm nursing a lovely summer cold. 

But...it'll be worth the wait for the last day of the D23 Expo! 

A Pirates Life for (Tired) Me....

After grabbing a StagePass, thankfully the Archives exhibit for Pirates had a short line.  That's something else I can recommend, jet over to where you need to go EARLY in the morning.  Hopefully, you get in before there is much of a wait. 

They exhibit was a truly remarkable mix of the attraction's history, the movies, and pirates all around Disney's world.

Nice little barker bird from Walt Disney World. Since they removed him, he pops up places every so often.  When I went to Walt Disney World in 2007, he was hanging out in the World of Disney store in DownTown Disney.

Davy Jones' organ from Dead Man's Chest.

The costumes all over the exhibit were truly incredible.  They not only have to be in period, but also with a certain amount of special effects elements.

The props are similar in that respect. I wish they'd had up a statistic about the number of barnacles that had to be made and applied.

This is NOT something you just buy at your local flea market!

"I got a jar of dirt! I got a jar of dirt!" 
Anyone who saw this jar of dirt and didn't immediately start singing in their head is LYING! 

The set pieces of different ships from the films were incredible.  I went to the D23 Archives Exhibit that travelled to the Ronald Reagan Library, and still, to see ships at least 20 feet tall, and that's still only a small scale model, is just mind-blowing.

Like I said earlier, the exhibit didn't just deal with Pirates of the Caribbean, but pirates ALL over Disney's history.

King Poseidon, from an old Silly Symphony...

Donald's own pirate exploits....

Original storyboards in beautiful shape.

Costumes and poster concept art from Muppet Treasure Island! Truly no stone unturned!

A little bit of concept art from Treasure Planet. I guess they didn't want to push the movie a LOT, but not representing it would have been a problem for the five people that saw it.

Pirates from James and the Giant Peach.

Art and costume designs from Swiss Family Robinson.

Story art from "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates".

And.....the inimitable....Captain Hook!

A lovely little Captain Hook that used to reside in a window on Main Street at WDW's Magic Kingdom.

Let me just say, on a side note, I love that they seem to keep the significant window displays from Main Street. When the 50th anniversary happened, Disney pulled out a bunch of old window displays and put them up in Main Street.  Even though the quality wasn't always perfect, it was so nice to see that evolution.

And I KNOW they were the originals, because the Ariel holds a special place in my heart.  In a picture of me with Mickey Mouse from my first trip to Disneyland in 1990, you can see that same Ariel in the background!

Ok, back to pirates, sorry!

Costumes from the Disney channel monstrosity, "The Descendants".  I took the picture for completeness, not because I have any interest in a storyline that seems to absolutely trash the villains.

Jake, Mr. Smee and Hook in "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" form from the Disney Junior Live(!) show.

An original Pirate ship from Peter Pan's Flight.

Since Pirates first sprouted in New Orleans Square, it was really nice to see a lot of the plans from the land's development.

I mean...I'd buy this and frame it!

An unused show scene from the attraction.....and frankly...put this in!

Now, I haven't spoken on the blog about the "politically-correct" auction scene that is due to come to Pirates....and I will in about a week or so. But this scene above....I see how something like this lends credibility to Disney's argument that they have stuff from Marc Davis they can implement to make the ride..."modern" but stay true to the artists who put the attraction together.

By the way, I have a far more elegant solution to their problem...so, Imagineering...are you listening?

Good,.....let me know you're listening and maybe I'll tell you my idea, free of charge. 😉

There were also many interesting documents from within the company, detailing the development of the attraction and land. I wonder if the Archives could ever do a book or website JUST of documents.

(Really, Iger, $10 a month for historical documents from the company? Get that website up and running! Along with an OnDemand service for old shows and shorts. That's another $10 a month. I'm not sure why I have to come up with all the good ideas...)

Here is a beautiful architectural shot. I wonder if the Archives service selling prints would ever sell a print like this? Again, there's a nice weird little market for it.

In this one piece of Marc Davis' art, I just love the indication of "Finger beckons".  Another little piece of Marc's animator's DNA coming into the parks.

They had a really nice collage of behind the scenes pictures of the development of the attraction.

Is the female Imagineer there...is the Leota Toombs-Thomas?

Here we have the fabulous Alice Davis!

This is loved, and I'm not sure why.  It's the title card for the Wonderful World of Disney special about the opening of Pirates and 1967 Tomorrowland. The in-house quality of those days just keeps the magic...magical.

Marty Sklar's own hand approving posters for New Orleans Square. Again, the day-to-day smoking guns of Disney.

A pencil mock up of the poster we all know pretty well today.

OK, these buttons come with a great story.  Disney World didn't open with Pirates of the Caribbean, because Phase 2 was going to include the Western River Expedition.  However, initial guests complained because they saw footage of Pirates on the Wonderful World of Disney and wanted to ride it.  To keep customers from asking, Cast Members were given these buttons.  Now, I'd heard that story from Jim Hill on the Disney Dish Podcast, but it was nice to see the evidence of that story.

You ALWAYS need the money shot of those ticket books!!

Ok, who else had these? The fabulous Pirate Doubloons you could have printed at the Pieces of Eight shop?

And here is the machine!

I spoke to a lovely guy from the Archives, by the name of Ed.  When Disneyland pulled this machine backstage, he tried to get it for the archives, and over the years was repeatedly told they were going to fix it up and put it back in the parks, so it couldn't go into the Archives.  When it came time to collect items for this exhibit, he asked again and Disneyland finally handed it over.

It's a nice story because you see how hard and fervently the Archives people work (hire me, please!), but it's sad to see that for whatever reason, Disney didn't end up putting the machine back into the park. So, if you have your own doubloon, treasure it!

I know I have one from my birthday one year. It's somewhere with all my random stuff.

Other games from Pieces of Eight. 

A postcard machine.

Really, Disney, do something like THIS!!!!

An actual Pirate!

He was no available for autographs.

A pig and a dog! Aren't they cute.  What amazes me, in the sculpt, you can see the personality of Marc Davis' art in the pig's face in particular.

Was Blaine Gibson the sculptor on these? I believe so. It's a continued tribute to his talent, and the combination of talents Walt surrounded himself with.

He still won't give me the keys...

Head molds of the actors who graced Pirates (and Tom Sawyer's Island).

A Davy Jones from Shanghi Disneyland's Pirates attraction.

Anyone see video of that version of the attraction? The effects are unbelievable. Truly.

Also, I would like to note my discipline in not making a Davy Jones/Monkees joke.

Bak to movie props...

The treasure that started a phenomenon...

And a compass that keeps getting us in trouble.

A lovely little model for the filmmakers.

More fabulous costumes.

Monkey sized costumes for Little Jack.

I think that sign is there because how many women would touch the chair and say, "Johnny's butt was here!"

Which is why you also shouldn't touch the costume.

I mean, look at this model!
It's taller than me!

No height jokes....

Costumes from the recent "Dead Men Tell No Tales".

I became so fascinated with the costume for Carina for its detail in destruction.

Burn marks, scorches.

Dirt on her collar and bodice.

Maybe it's the mother in me, but it was just fantastic.

Overall, it was a great exhibit. I would LOVE to see the building all this stuff from the Archives is warehoused in, because this wasn't EVEN scratching the surface of ONE subject.

The nerd in me would never leave the Archives warehouse!

You'd just once in a while hear maniacal cackling....

Women in Imagineeing

Very smartly, on Stage 28, there was a panel of women in Imagineering.

Overall, the department hires and operates in over 140 different disciplines, so they tried to get a good breadth of those fields in a small group.

D23's Jeffrey Epstein came in to introduce Kathy Magnum.

Kathy essentially hosted the panel, introducing us to Imagineers in accounting, engineering, story, show writing, production and many other sectors of the company's division.

It was remarkable to see so many women, including one who's little baby was in the audience (And when noted, her husband would hold the baby up like Simba), talk about their significant contributions as well as their own unique paths into the company.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

And now...the thing you probably came here for....


There...we set the mood.

So, last time at the Expo, the focus was on Shanghi (yay!) and Pandora: The World of Avatar (boo!).

This year was, as I'm sure you know by now, the debut of a tremendous model of Disneyland's version of Star Wars Land.......Galaxy's Edge.

Now, the model represents ours, but WDW's is supposed to be similar, just with only two entrances.

Disneyland's will have entrances at Critter Country, Frontierland, and Fantasyland. This is not just for flow (though I'm sure it's a contributing factor), but also for story.  As I understand it, you pretty much enter the story from a certain angle or perspective, depending on which entrance you take.

The pavilion was beautifully done, just from the outside.

The "theme" of the pavilion (and some of Imagineering's merchandise at Mickey's of Glendale) was a "Galaxy of Stories".


One interesting note revealed at the Parks & Resorts panel that our old friend Rex (voiced by Paul Reubens....Pee-Wee Herman!) will be a part of the land, as a DJ in one of the restaurants.

I think it's a great way to extend his little story, and keep beloved Rex as part of Star Wars canon, where he belongs!

It might also be pandering to theme park fans, but I admit it, I'm falling for it.

But, it also reminds me of Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe's little star Sonny Eclipse.  And THAT is the kind of Audio-Animatronics/Imagineering quality I can get behind.

And...for those who don't know about Sonny Eclipse....he's a cute little Animatronic lounge singer who pops up and plays while you eat your quick service burger in WDW's Tomorrowland. I think elements like this are starting to become more extinct in the Disney Parks, so if you can get that kind of entertainment back in, it's a good thing in my book!

Besides the large model, there were great displays of elements of the world we're going to get into in 2019.

The concept art we've seen previously covered the walls.


It's HUGE!

This lovely Imagineer, Jason was there to answer questions.

He mentioned an attraction where you are being escorted by the First Order. I asked if this was the rumored attraction where you actually get OUT of your vehicle.  He was not allowed to answer that.

I'm going to take that as a yes.

Anyway, the model was so big, they had an Imagineer on both sides.

This here is closer to the Critter Country entrance, so it's more forest-y.  As you go further towards the Millennium Falcon attraction and the Fantasyland entrance/exit, it gets more populated...cosmopolitan, if you will.

I don't know how much to comment, because all I have to say is WOW, and allow my inner child a moment to freak out.

Here is a look at one of the entrances. The idea that it will be large enough tho obstruct your view is mind-blowing and exciting as all get out.

This is a view towards the Fantasyland edge.

Looks a bit more "Force Awakens" over here.

A TIE Fighter!

What's this thing called again? *ducks from people who don't know I'm joking*

Another major aspect of this land is that it will not be populated with Cast Member's but characters who actually live and work in the land, a la Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Why Disney took so long to get into that game, I don't understand, but this is the place to do it!

Musical instruments from a band who I'm guessing will play in the land somewhere, adding to the reality of the world.


Ok, who let my inner child back out!?

THIS is the vehicle for the First Order attraction.  Do you think we can all climb outta that thing? 

Miscellaneous Magic

Ok, I have a bone to pick with Pixar......you got this lovely wall with your Luxo balls....and TWICE, this time and in 2015, you have given them out and my mother and I haven't gotten one....WHAT GIVES?!!?

If we go to the 2019 Expo and my mother doesn't get a Luxo ball....she's gonna end up breaking that wall....

Animation had a little display for Wreck-It-Ralph 2, and the Animation panel had the exciting announcement that ALL the Disney Princesses will show up in the sequel because....lest we forget, Vanellope is technically a princess! 

Anyway, even though these displays can be a little, well, just displays, they're still really nice and build up a little excitement for the upcoming movies.

No one ask me about Marvel! Not only did I pass it by without much care, I wouldn't understand what I was looking at anyway!

Expo Emporium

One area that's a little difficult to describe is the Expo Emporium.  This is where all the third party, not related to Disney vendors go.  What I mean by not related to Disney is just that while they deal in Disney products, they're not "Friends of Disney", not licensed.  However, Disney encourages them to come, so they at least seem to understand there is a market for this kind of thing.

And these groups and companies run all over the place, websites, re-sellers, antiques, independent Disney authors....cosplay companies.  It's sort of the Wonka factory of Disney, but the DIY end. 

You might want to keep an eye out, though, I've seen many luminaries of the Disney universe coming through there to see booths for themselves, as well as a few Disney Legends who will sign autographs there instead of at Talent Central, where the official autograph sessions set up by D23 take place. 

Van Eaton Galleries, for example, is just a miscellaneous auction house, but often has Disney themed auctions.

Who wants to go in halvsies on this sea monster from the Submarine Voyage?

Here's a look at the general Sunday crowds.

Another display I passed by but didn't get to spend a lot of time with was the Minnie Mouse fashion display! These were actual costumes worn by Minnie Mouse in the parks.  I really want that yellow one!

The 3 O'clock Parade

A new addition to the Expo this year was a daily parade.  Because what's Disney without a parade?

Every day, Cast members would come by with a band, these huge balloons (how much helium!?), dancers, characters, AND a "Grand Marshall". 

I'm not going to lie, it's a little odd to have this big loud extravaganza inside this convention center but....ok. I'll go with it.

So, Friday, it was Mark Hamill and Stan Lee, fresh from getting their handprints done as Disney Legends.

Saturday was the cast (and unfortunate director) of the Descendants (because we all care SO much!)

And Sunday, was Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi! Rapunzel and Flynn Rider! Yay!

Legends of Imagineering

The last panel of the Expo was the "Legends of Imagineering", hosted by Disney fan John Stamos, talking to Marty Sklar, Tony Baxter, and Wayne Jackson about their colleagues in Imagineering.

I'm not sure of John asked for this, or if Disney is testing him to do this kind of thing more often, but...

....Disney? Are you listening?


Mr. Stamos did a FANTASTIC job.  He knew his stuff, no doubt, but he also knew when to lead, when to act like he didn't know something.

Yeah, Stamos, I know you know it's the American Adventure and not the American Story!

Anyway, it was great to hear Marty and Tony talk about anything and everything Imagineering, but also through the perspective of their colleagues.

It was around 20 minutes into the panel, we were told we couldn't take pictures...

But I got these so, I won't complain.

At the end of the presentation, head of Imagineering Bob Weis took the stage. Much of Wayne Jackson's career impact is in Tokyo, so Weis presented Jackson with a beautiful gold replica of Tokyo's Cinderella Castle, a gift from the Oriental Land Company (Disney's partner in the Tokyo resort) for all his work for Tokyo Disneyland. 

So...that's the Expo! 

After a few days, to further digest information from the Expo, I'll give a little overall opinion of the Expo, what Disney did wrong, what they improved on, and what I expect for 2019. 

Everyone, have a great week! 

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