I’m not going to lie and say 2009 has been a great year.  The nation has an economy that is still struggling and we lost many that are near to us, including Wayne Allwine and Roy E. Disney.  And we won’t even bring up Disney Pictures’ live-action slate.  To be honest, I can’t wait for the 2009 calendar year to be over.  2010 has the promise to be a better year.  Things seem to be turning around in our nation and Disney has some exciting projects on deck such as World of Color and Tron: Legacy. 

But when I look back at 2009, there is a bright spot.  And I know I’ll sound like a shill when I say this, but D23 has been the source of most of the joy I received in 2009.  While the highlight of the year was the birth of my “nephew” Gideon, D23 events have probably taken up the other 9 spots on my top ten.  The D23 Expo might even be the highlight of my Disney life. 

I am the first to admit that D23 has had some missteps in its brief life, but I am happy with how they have recovered from their charter year stumbles.  I have wanted Disney to do something like D23 for quite some time.  I felt that Disney and its fans sometimes felt like they were on two different sides.  The connection between those that care deeply about Disney and the corporation had to come closer.  And I think the glow from the Expo has proven that they have started to be successful. 

I was lucky to have a heads-up on the announcement of D23, so I went to the shareholder meeting with anticipation and I signed up immediately.  And to be honest, for the first few months, I wondered if my hopes were warrantless.  Then came the Up event.  Being surrounded by all that positive Disney energy made me regain my hope that D23 will be something special. 

As the year went on and I attended more events, I grew ecstatic.  My D23 year ended with the Magic and Merriment event at Walt Disney World.  That event showcased what D23 was about, being a part of an insider Disney community with fellow fans as well as Cast Members.  The small D23 team made us feel like the valued part of Disney that we are. 

And now I see they are having a special holiday promotion that Charter Memberships are now 10 bucks off, and I want nothing more than to encourage Disney fans to be a part of this special designation.  While you might have missed out on some of the charter year free events and special goodies (hence the 10 dollar discount), you will never have another chance to join the club from the beginning.  I don’t receive anything from D23, and in fact, I’m sure many members of the D23 team might like to receive a little less “communication” from me.  That being said, trust me when I say the D23 amounts to more than the sum of its parts. 

I know D23 isn’t for everyone.  Many of us have had to make sacrifices this year.  But if D23 fits within your lifestyle, I want to pass on my opinion that it has been something special for me, and I hope it will be the same for you. 

I would be remiss, if I didn’t share my perspective of Roy E. Disney.  I got to meet Roy several times, and while I am sure that there are many sides to the man, I felt a connection to him.  It wasn’t that he was Walt’s nephew or looked like Walt… It was that he took the time to talk to a college aged Disney fan and make me feel like I mattered.  He encouraged me to follow my dreams and do what is right.  His picture with me is the only Disney celebrity picture I treasure, as he has become my role model. 

When we went to Philadelphia for the second Save Disney war, I saw the same man up on stage who I had met in more intimate settings earlier.  It was a man who didn’t want to cause a fuss and would rather be on a yacht or in Ireland, but was doing what he was doing because it was the right thing to do for the Disney legacy, its fans, and the company’s shareholders.  Roy, I will miss you and my thoughts and prayers go out to your family and loved ones. 



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