A few random thoughts from the first day of the D23 Expo

I expected those cool digital signs around the Convention Center to direct me to a good lot. They weren’t being used. I ended up in a bad one and it took a while to get to the entrance

Got inside around 9a (the first presentation was at 10a) and had a zero-wait registration

Because of the very strict recording restrictions on Bob Iger’s presentation (because of the 30 minutes of The Princess and the Frog shown) it took quite a while to get into the Arena as everyone had to check all their equipment including cell phones, then get wanted.

As a result of the above, it took a while to get everyone in and the presentation started about 30 minutes late.

Bob Iger

One of the D23 tag lines is “A club made for you and me.” That was proved as the song playing as I walked into the Arena was my favorite modern Disney song “I’ll Try” from Return to Neverland.

The sizzle real shown was awesome and it was fun hearing which things got audible reactions – Alice in Wonderland, Johnny Depp, some Disney Channel stuff and the biggest of all – Tron. The first mention of Walt also got a big applause.

One sizzle real disappointment – the first part ended with the “Disney Difference” logo. That phrase has become too corporate to me since it’s used at the shareholder meetings all the time.

Iger wore a suit and tie which didn’t surprise me, but I thought it at least possible he’d go a more casual approach with this audience.

Iger was surprised at the large applause Radio Disney received quipped “Who’d have thought?”

Iger made mention of the Marvel acquisition. There was, I felt, moderate applause for it and no boos that I could hear.

The largest applause I remember hearing during his whole speech was the intro for Princess and the Frog where he mentioned it being a return to traditional 2D animation.

The first 30 minutes of The Princess and the Frog were shown with “87% completion”. Some scenes were in black and white and some score and sound effects were temporary. Going in I had moderate excitement. I love that it’s a traditionally animated musical that’s a throwback to the second golden age. I didn’t like that the music is by Randy “doe, dee, doo doo doo” Newman and the trailer for it with her meeting the frog didn’t interest me at all….

…However, the movie is awesome! I love the music. I love Tiana’s character. Her best friend is hilarious. And the message is simple and good as it should be in a kid’s movie. I can’t wait to see the rest! Our showing ended with the scene mentioned above that turned me off. In context here, it played wonderfully. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I think it’ll fit right in with the Little Mermaid – Lion King era (sorry Rescuers Down Under) – at least with me – and hopefully kick-off a third golden era.

Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana, then sang the opening song live while clips played behind her. What a treat After she walked off Iger commented she’s suffering from bronchitas. What a trooper!

Next the mayor of Anaheim joined Iger on stage for a surprise – a recently unearthed interview with Walt where he talks about how great Anaheim is and how they’re the envy of every little city with their new stadium and brand new convention center. As he came on stage Iger mentioned Anika was a tough act to follow. Every the fast thinking politician he quipped that they were the princess and the frog.

As a last surprise one lucky person in the audience looked under their seat and found they one a night in the Disney Dream Suite. The winner, Dan, came onstage as nervous as could be but did manage to get out that he’s a long time Disneyland fan since his father was a street sweeper.

Disney Legend Ceremony

Even thought LP has covered most of the recent Legend ceremonies, this is the first I was personally able to attend. It’s an incredibly special event that reminds you of the amazing history of this company.

It opened with the Disneyland cast choir singing a medley of Disney songs as all the past legends were shown on a screen above them year-by-year. Of course several received applause with the largest being for the voice of Mickey, Wayne Allwine, who passed away very recently. Of course fellow Disney Legend, wife and voice of Minnie Mouse Russi Taylor was in the audience to hear it.

The MC of the event – along with Iger -was AFV and Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron and he was a great choice. He learned early on exactly where he was as he explained something (I can’t remember what) that everyone was way ahead of him on and said “I’m preaching to the choir”

Harry Archinal, the former president of Buena Vista International, was the only name I wasn’t familiar with but they quickly told me why I should’ve been as he pretty much invented the international film distribution industry according to his introduciton.

It was a family affair – Don Iwerks made much mention of the influence and assistance of his famous father Ub. The awards for the late Leota Toombs was accept by her two daughters (one of whom is Imagineer Kim Irvine) and their admiration for her was evident. And Golden Girl Bea Arthur’s award was accepted by her two songs who said few words but still managed to convey how important this awards would’ve been to her because of the high regard with which Disney was always held in their home.

The voices of Donald and Goofy/Pluto, Tony Anselmo and Bill Farmer were named Legends. Each told just how much of a family the character voices department is and mourned the passing of Wayne.

Tom Bergeron thanked Tony Anselmo for – unlike Donald – wearing pants. After taking the mike following Tony and Bill’s speeches (each of whom used their voice a fair amount) Bergeron quietly said “that was cool.” One of my favorite moments of the day.

The format was Bergeron would give a very short intro then say the new legend’s name. Their picture would then show on the screen as a more extended bio was read by Bergeron and Iger. Then they’d come on stage for a photo and short speech. But Rose Nylund errr… Betty White also does things her way. As soon as her name was mentioned she came on stage obliterating her bio and gave a wonderful speech with began with her dispelling some ugly rumor that’s been going around … that she was Walt Disney’s baby sitter. She was awesome.

The finale was Robin Williams and he didn’t disappoint. Hopefully you’ll have the chance to see his video somewhere on the net (we didn’t get it as initially we were told there was no videotaping and by the time we found out that had changed, it was too late). My favorite line of his was when he turned to Bob Iger and asked if when they opened Shanghai Disneyland would they have to have a “Mickey Mao”. He also took the time to give a big thank you to the animators who did Genie for taking such changes.

Other Stuff

Due to the new baby and some other work issues, those were the only two major presentations I saw. Yet, I feel like I had a full day because there’s so much other stuff to do. So far I’ve mostly see the fan forum area. I hear the Disney Parks pavilion is awesome and I’m looking forward to Lost University.

One of my favorite things about the Expo so far is accessibility. 22, I believe, former Disney Legends were in attendance and all were seated in the front of the theater available to meet guests and sign autographs both before and after the ceremony. There were no barriers, no security, just free access and as best as I could tell everyone was respectful and there weren’t any issues at all. I’ve also seen quite a few Disney personalities just roaming the halls and they are always accessible.

The hall has lots of open space and very wide walkways so it didn’t feel busy. I have no idea how attendance is but I personally expected to see lots more people  on the floor. I do hear the merchandise section is hectic of course. I’ve stayed away from there.

We closed the night with the screening of the boys: the sherman brothers story. Tim O’Day hosted. It started with two live acoustic guitar performances (from two different artists) from the Poppin’s Guitars CD featuring acoustic guitar versions of Sherman Brothers songs.

Next the entire film was shown. My first time seeing this amazing and sad story. If you get the chance, see it. I promise you’ll appreciate it.

Next the two filmmakers, the sons of Richard and Bob were interviewed about why they made the film.

Finally, Richard Sherman came on stage and played perhaps a dozen songs with introductions on why there were special.  Of course, afterwards all were up front to meet everyone.

Overall Impressions

Personally, the best part is the family reunion feel. In that respect it’s very much like Disneyland’s 50th. It’s great to catch up with so many friend that we rarely see anymore now that we’re in Florida.

But overall, I’m impressed. Both presentations and the movie were done very, very well. The crowds seem enthused. There’s just an overall great feeling of it’s great to be here. It’s great that Disney did this and it’s great to be a part of it. And least that’s the vibe I’m feeling.

Based on my and Rebekah’s experiences alone it seems pretty well organized save the backup caused by having to check everything at the Arena. Getting out and picking up your stuff was tough as well. But other events were recording weren’t permitted they’ve just enforced it inside rather than make you check everything.

I don’t know how events in the smaller venues are going – if there’s issues with space or anything. I hope to find that out today.

But overall, I think it’s going well and I’m looking forward to Day 2!




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