2011 D23 Expo Wrap-up Report [Day 2 & 3]
Welcome to DisneyExaminer’s Wrap Up Report of Day 2 AND 3 at the 2011 D23 Expo!
It was only Day 2 and I was already feeling the effects of covering a multi-day event! When covering such a big event, there are many things that come to mind, and with the hurdles we had to cross during the Expo when it came to resources and planning, its something that I had to deal with.
The tiredness, the cost (aka $$$), the concerns of coverage, etc. It all came to mind when I entered through the doors of the Anaheim Convention Center that second day of the Expo.
But I powered through…WE powered through and we were ready for whatever was to be thrown at us!
And that “whatever” was thrown pretty quick. Our first big event of the day – the Walt Disney Studios presentation! From what I saw at the 2009 presentation given by the WDS, I knew that there was to be lots of surprises in store for us and I wanted to make sure we had every detail recorded somehow since all of electronics devices were to be taken away prior to us entering the Arena.
So here it goes! In the format of a LIVE blog and what I wrote chronologically on my stone age pencil and lined paper, here is what we got to see at the WDS presentation -
- Waiting for ceremony to start; I needed a watch (I usually use my iPhone for the time, but the confiscated that too).
- Our good friend Bill came on the PA. It was his prerecorded spiel for the Disney Legends awards instead of the WDS presentation. High-larious. That’s 2, Bill
- Lights dimmed, video is up on the screens. IT’S MARVEL-FILLED. Oh yeah, plus New Pixar split second screens, and other new films I didn’t know about.
- Out comes Rich Ross, WDS Chairman with a warm welcome.
- We’re right to it. First up to present was Walt Disney Animation, with a celebratory nod to 25 years of Pixar.
- BAM. John Lasseter.
- Hawaiian Shirt this time? Cars 2 themed.
- First film to debut – “Planes” – think the world of Cars, just new vehicles.
- Main character will be Dusty the Crop-duster, voiced by John Cryer (2.5 men).
- From the look of the trailer, it looked like a tale of an underdog plane. Looked interesting!
- Set for release in Spring 2013!
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- Next up was Wreck it Ralph, the story of an 8-bit video game character named Ralph.
- This film will literally tell the story of life inside a game when a video game is turned off…so cool.
- Ralph is a “wrecker” in the game and wants to be known as a good person. REDEMPTION. Putting the human aspect in a video game seems so right.
- We got to see the first 4 un-animated minutes of the film! HIGH-LARIOUS too, but tells a true story that we all can relate to.
- Ralph will get to discover his true personality by going through challenges in many other games (that will have a spin on games we do know). I saw a Halo-like game…
- Voice talent will include John C. Riley as Ralph, Jack Mcbrayer as Fix-it-Felix, Jane Lynch as Sgt. Calhoun, and Sarah Silverman as Valvelope.
- And out come Sarah Silverman and Jack McBrayer!
- Film is set for release on Nov. 2, 2012!
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- Next, John talks about the new Pixar films!
- First up is “Brave” – Pixar’s newest and closest to release film. This is also a Pixar original.
- It will be a first in many ways – Pixar’s first “Fairy-tale” and first “Period Film” – every story element (rocks, trees, people) has a history behind it.
- This will also be Pixar’s FIRST film with a FEMALE lead – named Merida, voiced by Kelly MacDonald.
- Story set in Scotland.
- Out come special guests and voice actors in the film Kevin McKidd and Kelly MacDonald. Both very Scottish.
- Story? About bravery, of course!
- This film is slated for release on June 22, 2012.
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- Pixar’s presentation continues with the announcement of Monster’s University!
- This movie will be a PREQUEL, laying down the story on how Mike and Sully meet and grow to become best friends. HINT – they actually started out as enemies…
- Setting will be Mike and Sully’s college days
- There will be A LOT of new monsters.
- But John Goodman and Billy Crystal will be back to play Mike and Sully!!
- Since this is a prequel, Mike and Sully will look younger. We got a first glimpse of what they look like and Sully is skinnier and Mike has retainers…hahahaha
- And out comes Billy Crystal!
- There is no specific release date yet, but they know they are at least 2 years out from a public release in theaters.
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- Pixar isn’t done yet! They are announcing TWO NEW FILMS. So new that they don’t even have a title yet.
- First? “An untitled movie about dinosaurs”!! – Story? What if the meteor that killed the dinosaurs actually missed Earth and the dinosaurs lived? Slated for release in the Holiday season in 2013.
- Second? “An untitled movie that takes you inside your mind” – what’s actually going on in your mind? Osmosis Jones much? Nah. Same concept maybe. Slated for release in Summer of 2014.
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- That ends Pixar’s presentation…but not before a celebratory Happy Birthday and FREE CUPCAKES for everyone!! Congrats on 25 years Pixar!
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- Next up on stage was Andrew Stanton (Academy Award Winning director for “Finding Nemo”) to talk about his new un-animated film “John Carter”.
- Story comes from the original Edgar Rice Burroughs stories and comics.
- It’s about a guy named John (played by Taylor Kitsch) who is a Civil War Vet who gets transported to Mars to ultimately save planet Earth.
- LONG LONG LONG spiel and presentation as Stanton and another special guest William Dafoe speak and show us the FULL story behind John Carter. Such a marketing ploy.
- This film is set for release on March 9, 2012.
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- Next up was a new film by Tim Burton called “Frankenweenie”.
- It will be shot in black and white and all action will be stop motion! Very delicate procedure…check out some videos on YouTube and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
- It will be in Disney Digital 3D, as most movies are these days.
- Story will be about a boy and his dog. His dog gets hit by a car and dies and now the boy is determined to make him alive again! A story about the bond between a man and his “best friend”.
- Film will be released in October 2012.
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- Next we were introduced to The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
- Staring Jennifer Garner, the story is about a couple who cannot have their own child, so one night they write down everything that they wanted their child to be and place those written notes into a box and bury it. A freak storm comes and BAM! A boy is born from the ground…not normal much?
- Slated for release August 15, 2012.
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- Next up was the movie “Oz – The Great and Powerful” Yoda speak.
- Story is basically about how the Wizard came about and how he ended up in Oz. HINT – He began as a traveling magician!
- This movie has an ALL-STAR cast the includes James Franco as the Wizard, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz as the three witches.
- This film will debut in March 2013. It is being filmed as we speak, so no special guests
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- MY PERSONAL FAVORITE was next. THE MUPPETS!
- There to talk a little bit more about the film were the film’s stars Kermit the Frog and Jason Segel!
- Story basically follows the premise of having Segel’s character wanting to build up the Muppet universe again by raising enough money to bring back Muppet Theater and The Muppet Show.
- SO EXCITED FOR THIS ONE – Is slated for release this holiday season, Nov. 23, 2011!!
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- Second to last was Chimpanzee, another Disney Nature series film.
- It’s about…Chimpanzees. Specifically, this actually follows the story of two particular chimps – a mother and her son – and how they bond. Pretty touching, even though I wasn’t too interested at first. Might be worth seeing!
- This film will be released on Earth Day 2012.
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- And last but not least…MARVEL STUDIOS!
- Ken Feige, President of MARVEL Studios came out to say hello.
- He was also their to talk about the thing we’ve all been waiting for…THE AVENGERS!
- They’ve been assembling the Avengers since the release of the first Iron Man back in 2008 till their most recent film Captain America.
- No full story line just yet…
- Out come MOST of the Avengers Cast! (Not present – Samuel L. Jackson and Cpt. America Chris Evans).
- A standing ovation for Robert Downey Jr., of course. Although his spiel (and pretty much the overall Avengers presentation) was lacking. We watched the same teaser…twice. Not cool!
- BUT, this EPIC film will be released in theaters on May 4, 2012!
— AND THAT ENDS the Walt Disney Studios presentation! Phew…so much detail, but after leaving the Arena, we are more excited than ever before to watch every single one of these movies!
As with all the other Arena events, the WDS presentation did end quite later than expected, so we had to haul on to our next event. A VERY important event. It was time to take a sneak peek at Buena Vista Street.
Stage 28 : One of the more intimate venues that produced some of the more intimate, emotional, and special events that the Expo gave.
Imagineers Coulter Wynn, Ray Spencer, and Lisa Girolami were our presenters that day and they were going to take us into an exclusive first look at what’s going on behind those walls in DCA.
With any Disney Theme Park, as guests, we just seem to enter – taking no heed to what’s going on around us. As a frequent park visitor myself, I would have to say the same. I just rush into the Parks for the attractions themselves, not the entry. The Imagineers began with that statement of fact, making sure that we understood the fact that its a story they’re trying to tell us whenever we walk into a Disney Park. It’s that “emotional resonance” that plays itself into why Main Street is Marcelline. That’s why Buena Vista Street will be Los Angeles.
Buena Vista Street itself will be modeled after the Los Angeles of the 1920s and 30s. Buena Vista Street is also actually a real street in Burbank, CA where the Walt Disney Studios (Company HQ) was built. Where Walt really started all the Magic.
The above graphic shows the overview of the whole area under construction. As you can see the whole layout will be reordered, having the Hub be off-center. More on that later.
Here’s what was…
Here’s what’s to come! Notice that they moved the entry gates forward a little to make more room for Magic!
Right from the get-go, Disney wants to make sure that they have a story behind everything they do. BVS is no exception. Buena Vista Street will be modeled after the Los Angeles Walt Disney came to back in the early 1920s. That story needed to be portrayed in the buildings and fixtures that BVS will be because the story is about a man.
The Imagineers wanted to focus on that before we continued on. To know that Walt Disney is not just a name of a corporation, but the name of man who had a great imagination and brought it to life had to start somewhere and it started on Buena Vista Street. When guests enter, WE should ultimately be told that story in order for us to respect and and be aware of who Walt Disney was.
Notice the trees as well. Imagineers chose old rustic oak trees instead of soaring California traditional palms because the palms would have taken our eyes away from the story on the ground and up into the sky. It’s all about story, people!
First new feature of BVS is the Red Car Trolleys! Ever since the Jolly Trolley left it’s jolly home in ToonTown, I wanted there to be some type of trolley at the Resort and BAM. My wish was granted in the form of a period respected LA icon of the past. I personally wasn’t around to see the trolleys move around LA, but I did see Who Framed Roger Rabbit and they were there! Good enough for me to take a ride.
You may have seen the tracks that have already been laid in and around the entry to DCA and we can’t wait till they are used! The trolleys will take you from the Pan Pacific Main Gates, to the Hub, and then end of the line at the Hollywood Tower Hotel. The element of STORY comes into play again here as Imagineers have said that even the height of the electric wire that will power the Cars will not be too high, as to provide a “roof” to the whole street – to keep you in the STORY. Crazy!
Next, the Imagineers took us through some detailed graphics of the new shops and food locations that will line BVS – those slides included facade details AND logos and signage! As you’ll see in most of the photos, Imagineers took inspiration for the facades of these buildings from actual past and present buildings that once stoof in Los Angeles. By taking little pieces of those facades and fusing them with others, each building will be unique in its own right, tellings its own STORY. So if you ever go to LA and see a building that looks like something from BVS, its not…entirely.
Los Feliz – 5 and Dime (Retail)
Elias & Co. (Retail)
An overview of a whole side of BVS. See? Each building is different! Plus, the colors are gorgeous!
Here’s an artist rendition of what the inside of one of the stores (Elias & Co.?) will look like. Imagineers said they will reuse the old “Greetings from California” and other stor buildings and remodel them of course to fit the theme of the period (of the STORY). Also, they said that, just like Main Street, the shops will be connected on the inside, lettings guests use the shops as a means of avoiding the weather elements (and parade crowds) when necessary! SMART.
More detail in Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe.
There you have it, folks! In big white letters – INCREDIBLE LEVELS OF DETAIL. The pictures above in the slide are actual facade elements that will be placed on this buildings. They include CUSTOM made stained glass and stonework figures! How do you get these elements to have that 1920s/30s look and feel? Hire artisans and vendors who’ve been around since that time, of course!
Clarabelle’s Ice Cream – yes, Ice Cream will return!
Another interesting note is that the tile shown above was requested to be so detailed that it would “look good enough to eat.”
Even the buildings that the restrooms and lockers are housed in will be getting the EXTREME RE-THEME (rhymes…haha). But who knew that bathrooms and lockers needed that? Disney knew.
More custom made detail. It’s amazing.
Here’s a slide with a story! Big Rock Candy Mountain was a ride that Imagineers at WED Enterprises, or Walter Elias Disney Enterprises (before Imagineering was called Imagineering) developed early on for Fantasyland in Disneyland. Knowing that the story wasn’t there for it to move from drawing board to reality, they scraped it. Disney has TONS of scraped ideas and decided to honor one of those on BVS by placing a scale model of the proposed attraction in one of the window displays. Neat!
So we literally did a walk from entry to the beginning of the street…it was time to go on to the end…
THE HUB! Lush greenery, benches, and flowing fountains will inhabit the area…
This place is going to be amazing just to SIT in!
As I said earlier, Imagineers decided to offset the Hub and not put it directly in the center at the end of the entryway. Why? Well, check out the picture below.
If you remember Sunshine Plaza, you remember that if you stood in the plaza itself next to the sun “hubcap”, you’d always see Disneyland and its features (the summit of the Matterhorn, Main Street Train Station, etc.). To Imagineers, this brought you out of the STORY. They wanted to make sure that every element of design focus around that, so in doing so, they put the Hub to the left of the actual Street as you come down. That way (as you can see in the above REAL photo taken directly from the construction site), you can see that you no longer see any visible indication that Disneyland is there…well besides the Matterhorn, but they assured us once the new facades go up, it will be gone and you’re left in pure STORY of the new DCA. Incredible detail.
The photo also shows the new Buena Vista Street Fountain, a fountain designed after a real fountain found at the headquarters of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The trolleys will make their way around the fountain and take you into Hollywood Pictures Backlot. But before they do, they make one quick stop at…
The Carthay Circle Theater!
Yup, DCA gets its own “castle” of sorts. This was the place where Walt Disney debuted his first full length feature animation film Snow White. It was a real theater in Los Angeles and has been fully recreated here.
Construction is still booming as seen in the another first publicly released photo from the construction site. Since then, the cupola, or top spire of the theater was installed and can be viewed right now!
We were then taken inside the Theater itself, courtesy 3D modeling and shown the GOODIES!
1) A restaurant! Yes, two levels of a fine-dining establishment will indeed be inside the building. Our sources say that the cuisine will be period sensitive and is currently being developed by Napa Rose Executive Chef and good family friend Andrew Sutton!
2) A theater! The actual theater part of the building will feature exhibits and artifacts from Walt’s early career and will also be showing a film all about the man himself.
WE ARE SUPER EXCITED to see what this will look like inside in person. You can count us being there for sure when it happens!
The presentation was coming to a close now, but not before one last important element that makes a Disney Park a Disney Park. As many of you know, many Disney Parks have a version of the iconic “Partners” Statue, of Walt and Mickey holding hands looking upon their creation.
DCA will be different than any other Disney Park out there because it will show the beginnings of Walt’s life and career – not the wonderful end results of his work. So Imagineers took it upon themselves to create another statue that would grace this new Park that would show just that – beginnings.
After hard work and collaborative meetings with people who knew Walt personally, they came up with this…(which was unveiled for the first time at the Expo!)
The at the time untitled figure shows a younger looking Mickey and Walt standing together with Walt’s travel trunk. It perfectly represents who Walt Disney was at the beginning – young, casual, happy who was determined to do great things. This is the new DCA. This is Walt’s beginning and ending.
Our sources told us and was earlier confirmed by Disney that the statue will be called “Storytellers”. How fitting.
And that ended the Buena Vista Street Sneak Peek. We’re certainly looking forward to the new entry and the way it will greet us to a new Disney California Adventure!
Another presentation down and we had time to spare and we wanted to bring all of you guys up to speed “LIVE”, so it was time to head back to the media center.
The sign read “Media Room Press Conferences – JUST ADDED – Disney Legend Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy.”
COUNT ME IN! We RSVP’d (assuming it would be pretty popular in such a small venue) and we waited.
And then Disney let THE “DOG” out…
Bill Farmer himself in the flesh! Taking questions from pretty much a non-existent crowd of reporters! It was pretty cool to be able to sit and chat with him for the amount of time we did…and we captured it ALL on video for you to enjoy! Take a look below.
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Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Bill! I’m glad that we could connect and I’m looking forward to chatting again soon!
And that was that.
We were pretty much done with our day of coverage after BVS, so it was time to just enjoy our day! We were pretty tired after that and when we looked at it, we realized that the D23 Expo was pretty much over for us!
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Transition to Day 3.
The last day of the Expo would consist of only of two more presentations, one of which we would find out to be just a history lesson. MARVEL Studios took the floor for the last presentation at the D23 Arena this year and pretty much formally introduced itself to the Disney fan base which it’s company history and a repeat of the much anticipated but overblown trailer from The Avengers, which was played when the cast came out the day before. So yeah, it was the end of the D23 Expo pretty much!
Our list of last things to do brought us to our last presentation that was sure to take us to galaxies unknown!
Tom Fitzgerald from Walt Disney Imagineering came to Stage 23 and presented us a history and making-of of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. It was very cool to see this ride come to fruition. During his presentation, he referred to some special slides, which we have below.
When WDI met with George Lucas again to rethink Star Tours, they were sure that they wanted to be able to expand to other stories in the Star Wars saga. So how do you do that easily? More places to go, of course! Above, Tom shows us the first concept matrix they had drawn up showing the different ride combinations and stories they could come up with. Too much for us (and Tom) to count!
They started to narrow their choices down (to be reasonable). Notice they code named it “Star Tours – Episode 1.5.”
And after a couple YEARS, they came up with the final storyboard and ride combinations. Amazing that it took that much time, but after riding the attraction today, we are certain they got it right.
Tom was now showing us the next step in the WDI attraction creation process – characters! You cannot have a show without characters and Imagineers were given a contest to come up with the new droids that would host guests and would be the face of the Star Tours brand! There were lots of submissions…
THERE WE GO. Introducing the new ones!
Disney also wanted to make the queue a little bit more themed and interactive, so they put in some pretty interesting easter eggs that I’m sure you’ll look for next time you jump aboard! First? Let’s scan the bags…just to be safe.
Country Bears traveling in space. It works.
Looks like Wall-E may be going somewhere with his “treasures”…
Madam Leota can levitate already! She doesn’t need a Starspeeder!
Second easter egg? There’s a rebel among us…
Lastly, there was the music. Pixar veteran and Academy Award winning composer Michael Giacchino was asked to create the queue music for the attraction. Tom noted that John Williams, the original creator of the Star Wars music, wanted to do the whole attraction music sequences, and Michael wanted to do the same…there was a compromise. Nevertheless, Michael and John bring together their talents to bring the world of Star Wars to life once again. Just listen to the music next time you’re in the queue. It’ll help put you in the epic story more!
The whole team for the re-theme. Well done guys!
And that ended our last presentation at the D23 Expo! (Sad face!)
We had to get some last minute souvenir shopping done, so we wrapped up our coverage and shopped. We wanted to get in some last glimpses of the Expo as things began to slow down too, so here it is through the eyes of a camera.
Our good friend Kyle Massey decided to stop by before the Expo floor closed. Did you see him with us on the red carpet at the Pirates 4 premiere?!
Just for my cousin Lance – the cast of Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up!”
Pin collecting is a serious business.
ZZZzzzzzZZZZZzzzzz…so distracting. That’s what we all wanted to do!
Yup, all out of Legos.
What?! KINECT and Disneyland?! Special report coming to our front page soon!
“Fish are friends…”
Everyone at the D23 Expo was his/her own act – all a cast of characters!
I wanted to end this whole report with something special. The guy in the middle is no exception to the word “character.” Bill Rogers is the Voice of Disneyland (the guy who does the “Ladies and Gentlemen” spiel?) Yeah. He’s also a good of ours and it’s been such a pleasure to get to know him and spend time with him. It was literally a family reunion when we saw him at the Expo since we haven’t seen each other in a while. Such a fitting way to end our magical weekend at Expo.
On Friday night, we were able to attend a special presentation that we found profound. It was called “Voices of the Parks” and it was what it said it was. WDI brought together the people that give life to the Parks. Whether it be the tram ride in our the Peoplemover out, each one was there. Here’s a video of the “finale” of that presentation where each voice actor/actress relived and presented us their voice talent as they appear in a Disney attraction/place.
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What I loved the most here is the people were recognized. These people come collectively together to create magic that we all get to enjoy! In that same spirit, I wanted to recognize the DE Team that helped throughout the whole Expo and contributed their talents that ultimately made this whole report awesome.
Drexelle Park, Marcos Payan, Russell Purificacion, Harrison Butac, and Mike Ayala.
You guys are all too cool and I’m thankful to God that I am able to work alongside all of you here at DisneyExaminer.
And as Mike Wizowski is clearing showing you, it was time to go. We bought our souvenirs. We covered everything. We got our memories. The D23 Expo 2011 was over.
Looking back at our whole experience, I can say that it was worth the almost 20 hours on our feet for three days. Prior to the Expo, I was scared. Why? 3 days of non stop Disney! We had a small team to come and cover those 3 days and that gave me doubts of whether or not we’d be able to accomplish covering such a big event to our very best.
It’s now about 2 months later and after finally sifting through all the pictures, editing the video, and writing up this whole report, I realized that we did more than our very best. What truly makes each DisneyExaminer report is the content! We had some beautiful pictures and awesome videos and as Editor-in-chief, It really made writing a whole lot easier.
I’ve been able to relive those three August days as I finished this Wrap Up report. It’s been magic. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to finish this up – It’s been a time of saying thank you to my team, admiring their work, and just looking forward to the next D23 Expo in 2013.
I’m sure it was all that (and being lazy…which is not good!), but now that the report is done and posted, I certainly hope that you were able to relive those magical moments that only Disney can create! To those who can’t relive those moments that attendees were able to experience, I certainly hope our report encourages you to attend in two years! It’s something that I’m sure you won’t regret or forget…for two months…for two years…forever.
Magic. Pure magic.
Here’s those 3 days in 3 minutes of video.
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