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California - Here They
And Saw and Ate and Played and Bought and Enjoyed
"Made in California" - WDAC Convention 2002
I remember that it was way to early in the morning and we were in one of the small conference rooms in the Convention Center of the Grand Californian Hotel - July 22, 2001 - Id been part of other Disney merchandise focus groups before - even one way back in 1992 where something called the Walt Disney Collectors Society was discussed - and was ready for the kind of high-anxiety-blue-sky-idea-mongering that the company is famous for. There were about 20 of us in the room - WDAC management - Tim ODay, Wendy Eike, Lee Zoppa (none of them with the company any longer) and David Nicklin, and a couple others - there was a web contingent, Doobie and Rebekah were there - two collectors clubs, NFFC and OUAC - and a couple of other folks who had attended several of Official Disneyana and NFFC Conventions. I thought that it was a good group.
Over the next three hours - and through some caffeine, both hot and carbonated - we discussed each and every facet in the production of the convention to come - from art to theme and from signature events to the special touches that could only be found in California - we left nothing aside - we were encouraged to give every whim and notion and idea we had. We all felt that there were things that were quintessentially California that could be easily incorporated - the use of orange crate styled art and a focus on the Walt Disney Studio were two of the easiest - from our points of view. As I enjoyed my way through the three days of "Made in California" the WDAC 2002 Convention - I saw each one of our points come fully to life.
Walt Disney Art Classics is among my favorite merchandise divisions in the Disneyana marketplace - simply put - this is a group of merchandise managers who "get it" - they understand their product line, the world-wide marketplace and - most importantly - they understand their audience. They are the fine art and collectables division of the Walt Disney Company, responsible for the generation, marketing and distribution of singular collectable pieces of art - and product is the key. There isnt much that cant be developed for the worldwide fan base. WDAC also administrates the Walt Disney Collectors Society and oversees the high-end licensed collectables merchandise to be released through the Disney Showcase Collection. They are also responsible for the Walt Disney Classics Collection line marketed through fine gift and collectible stores, select Disney Store locations and the Disney Theme Parks around the world. Quite a job.
(In next months column Ill take you on a tour through the world of Walt Disney Art Classics and the web sites and clubs that support it - this column will focus on the merchandise available during the convention)
Let me give you an idea of two of the ways in which WDAC understands their audience - the two most important things to a collector are product and price. The price for the "Made in California" event was $495 for locals (or those not needing a DLR room and $920 for a single accommodation with two nights stay. In the world of collectables this is affordable - certainly not extravagant - and exclusive with a cap at 500 registrants. Included in that price was a limited edition event gift, a limited edition button and pin (limited to 550 pieces) - not to mention three wonderful seminars, a welcoming reception, a luncheon, a theme park party, a trip to the Disney Studios and the many event gifts and perks for attending. But it wasnt all "things" to be given but experiences to he had and memories to me made. Ill be interested to see the price-point for next years event - just how well can a convention and a cruise be priced?
The line was long - but it moved very quickly - as a perk of the convention - and through the corporate sponsorship of FedEx - shipping of convention items was free. Not that this mattered to the 12 miles to my home - but those from Great Britain or Japan really enjoyed it.
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As to product - I cant imagine many who didnt find something to add to their collections. And for those who did shop - yeah, me too - there was free shipping offered via FedEx - they are the Official Express Shipping Company of The Disneyland Resort after all. Registered conventioneers could take advantage of this service for their convention merchandise as well as any other purchases from the Walt Disney Classics Collection from four specific retail locations from April 19th through April 21st by 9:00pm - even to International shipments made although conventioneers were responsible for paying any International taxes and duties. Thats synergy for you. I hope that this perk will be incorporated into all of the DLR Merchandise Special Events in the future.