2011 D23 Expo Wrap-up Report [Intro and Day 1]
Hello everyone and welcome to DisneyExaminer’s SPECIAL EDITION WRAP UP REPORT of the D23 Expo 2011!
We had a BLAST at the Expo this past weekend and we are so happy that we have a place where we can show all of you what we did and maybe even entice all of you to go to the next Expo in 2013! As with all DisneyExaminer reports, our aim is to do just that – being able to just emerse yourself in the magic that is Disney. That’s why we started this website and now we’re even more excited to share the magic with all of you, our dedicated fans! So thank you again for making DE your family and your home away from home…if you’re home is Disney-everything-land.
So without any further adieu, let’s get started!
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But wait a second…
Of course! The first day of the Expo, Friday morning had to be filled with extra craziness! Have you ever been in that situation where you’re headed to do this and all of a sudden, things happen that distract you from everything? Yeah. That happened.
First, the site went down. A lot of you readers pointed that out and luckily I got the emails from all of you. Although I was 20 minutes out from my house, I did indeed have to return back home and fix it because hey, why cover an event if you’re reporting to no one?
*A special thank you to those who wrote in in the morning. You saved us!
Anyways, so that was that! More trouble to come though. Let me lay down what exactly was awaiting me at the Expo.
FIRST – LINES. I don’t like lines, but as a seasoned Disneyland Passholder, I would say that I’ve grown accustomed to them. BUT THIS LINE…
“There’s a line.” – Text from Marcos at around 7:30 AM
Yes, what you see above was the D23 Member line for early entry into the Expo and it stretched beyond what you see in this photo. AND as you can see to the right, it zig zagged to the right as well.
SECOND – No true press access/perks
Folks, I promised myself I wouldn’t get too uptight about this and I won’t I just want to let you know of the limitations and the costs associated with our coverage opportunities.
No doubt we wanted to cover this Expo since the 2009 Expo, but having attended many other Disney press events, there were lots of things in place that made covering such HUGE events a little less burdensome. Whether it be free food in the press room, bag checks to let loose some gear that we weren’t using, free internet to REPORT, or even access to the internal events that we wanted to cover, all of that made covering events like these EASIER.
Now don’t get me wrong, we loved going to the Expo and just experiencing it as a mere Disney fan, but there was burden at this event and it showed in just the overall coverage opportunities we were given. But we did the most with what we had and after sifting through all the photos, I found that our team did a most excellent job regardless and I’ll introduce you to all of them at the end of our report.
That was it. Only two things and I just had to get that off my chest before we continued for all of you to realize just exactly what we experienced beforehand and hope you find it understanding…
Anyways! Time for the fun stuff! I met with Marcos and (my ate) Drexelle around 8 AM in the lobby of the Anaheim Convention Center to check in, get our credentials, and start with our coverage.
No line for us. YES!
The check in desk(s).
The Expo floor wouldn’t open until 9 AM, so we took this opportunity to adjust one of our rental items we thought of using for our video recaps! A Steadicam.
A Steadicam! Have you guys every noticed how fluid movie/LIVE TV show shots are captured? Well they most likely use a contraption called a Steadicam. Basically what it does is relieve any motion your hand transfers to your movie camera, thus instead of a shake shot, you have very fluid movements and transitions as you move your camera about.
Cool, huh? Only one problem…the Steadicam model that we were using is very particular and does take HOURS to set up. We only had ONE HOUR and believe me, this thing needed to be adjusted to an exact spectification in order for our fluid recordings could be captured. We eventually gave up on it and decided to go the old fashioned way, which saved time and actually turned out better than I thought (as you will see in our videos later on).
BUT DON’T WORRY! We will be using the Steadicam again soon, adjusted and all, at a later event. Be excited!
9 AM hit and the Expo doors were flung open!
And off they go! The first people onto the floor!
It was very organized and calm as guests entered the Expo floor for the very first time. We waited for the first guests to go in before we did, just to be fair!
While we waited, Drexelle got some shots of the many cast of characters that uber-Disney fans decided to dress up as! While it is not dressed up as Anime Expo or Comic Con, it was great to see that some embraced this event to its fullest by dressing up! Great job!
Yes, Thor himself made an appearance. Why? Well, MARVEL is now a Disney division and was their first time presenting itself as such at the Expo! More on MARVEL to come…
It was time for us to go in, so…
We went in. haha
We were greeted by artifacts! Stuff that was obviously too big to be put upstairs in the Walt Disney Archives exhibit.
This was an actual model of the Black Pearl, used on the set of many Pirates films. Do you remember in At World’s End when the Pearl and Jack first encounter their “rescuers”? The magic crabs actually brought the above ship. The magic that is optical illusion did the rest.
This is Walt Disney’s Limo. Famously used at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood for the 1964 premiere of Mary Poppins!
That van from LOST. Sorry, not a LOST fan. If you are, there it is!
We had some time to spare from our first big event to attend, so we decided to hit up one the THEE most important exhibits at the Expo – Walt Disney’s Carousel of Projects : from Walt Disney Imagineering!
As with all little Disney fans, my childhood dream was to become an Imagineer and create attractions and shows that made my love for Disney grow to what it is today, so to be able to speak with some as they showcased their own projects was something of a treat for me and as you’ll see coming up, a treat for you too!
There’s a great big beautiful…room of projects!
My favorite division of the Walt Disney Company!
Before anyone entered the actual room where the projects were showcased, you are greeted by a video of the various projects, past and present, that WDI has created over the years! It was presented on a semi-circle screen, spanning 180 degrees around the room! Half a carousel is fine with me!
HERE ARE THE PROJECTS!
We were first greeted by a large model of the new Fantasyland being built in WDW. After being to WDW many times in the past, seeing this new land in it’s detail is something that blows my mind! The place will not look the same, and with the addition of some new attractions, it is sure to be a land that is right out of the world of Fantasy!
One of those new attractions being built in the new Fantasyland is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster. Think Big Thunder with a dwarf’s touch. What’s particularly cool about this coaster is that the ride vehicles sway side to side as you travel on the track, simulating the “Heigh-Ho” work action. During the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation we attended later that day, we were shown an exclusive ride-through first look at what the ride will look like once completed!
Pretty cool huh?!
Next we saw stuff that hits home…quite literally!
An actual ride vehicle from Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree!
“Red” from Cars! His eyes were animated…its amazing to see that just through the movement of his eyes, you can bring such a lifeless thing…to life filled with so much emotion! Red will be put into a ride scene in Radiator Springs Racers.
In the background, you can see Lightning McQueen as a real ride vehicle for Radiator Springs Racers as well! The “Test Track” of the West!
This is an actual hood that will be Ramon’s Body Shop inside Radiator Springs Racers! There are hidden Mickey’s on each of these hoods…can you spot one on this hood?!
There was a portion of the exhibit that featured a “No Hard Hat Required” tour of the Cars Land construction site – basically another 180 degree screen showing time lapse video of the various projects happening as the Land is being built! Here’s a still shot of a portion of the track for Radiator Springs Racers.
Next we were able to take a look at the new Buena Vista Street entrance to DCA!
An overview of the new entry. We attended the in-depth look presentation of the new entry with some exclusive shots of the construction, as well as the up and coming buildings. That’s coming later!
The new icon that greets you to the new DCA is the Carthay Circle Theater, a re-creation of the place where Walt Disney first premiered his first full length motion picture Snow White!
We also go an inside look at what exactly will be inside the Theater and we will have a special section just for that later in our report. But just to entice you for later, yes. There will be a restaurant!
Those were some of the highlights from the Carousel of Projects. There were also models of Shanghai Disney Resort and Aulani, but that was pretty much it! One thing I just happened to stumble upon was Destini…
Who is Destini? Think Esmerelda the Fortune Teller on Main Street for the 21st Century! How? Well he analyses you.
Basically what that screen shows is that through cameras and motion detectors, Destini (aka an AI) can communicate with you! As he is still in the testing stages, It is really cool that he can actually interact with you, as if he was a person. Scary, I know but I got the chance to have Destini himself show me my fortune, which can be seen below! You’ll be able to see how solid he is with his conversation with me. I promise there is NO person doing a voice behind a curtain…nothing! He’s a self-sustaining AI.
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Yes, he made me do that face.
And that was it! We are so excited how these projects will finally look and feel like once they open and you can bet that we’ll be there to bring it to you all! Thanks for the preview WDI and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts!
It was about time to head to the D23 Arena (aka the Dome) for our first BIG presentation of the event – The Disney Legends Awards Ceremony!
The Disney Legends Awards are basically a way for Disney to recognize certain individuals that have contributed to the magic of Disney in such a way…well, that deserves some recognition! This year’s recipients were from all walks of life, some living and some passed on. There was the group of very talented women that gave voices to the Disney Princesses and there were people like Jim Henson and Regis Philbin who changed the way the magic is shown – through a laugh.
The D23 Arena. This was the beginning of the “sell out” crowds that packed the Arena for every presentation held in there!
You know what I appreciate more than anything else? When Disney has a LIVE band to play LIVE music during these big events. Thank you Disney for letting the music be center stage some days! The music you create can be the magic itself.
The Legends Award Statuette.
President and CEO of the Walt Disney Company opened with a pre-recorded video of himself greeting all of us. He couldn’t make it because of a pre-planned family vacation. Well deserved.
Good ‘ol Tom Bergeron was the host again this year for the ceremony.
It was time to finally call all the Legends winners to come to stage and accept their award. First up was the Disney Princesses!
Our first recipient from this group was Anika Noni Rose, voice of Tiana from Disney’s Princess and the Frog.
Anika is the youngest person to ever recieve a Disney Legends award! What a well-deserved honor!
Next to recieve the Legends award was Linda Larkin, character voice of Jasmine from Aladdin.
Directly after her was none other than Lea Salonga, A PROUD FILIPINO and singing voice of Jasmine!
UPDATE – As most of you know, we did say that we would get an interview with Lea at the Expo. Unfortunately, there were unforeseen circumstances and miscommunications between us and Ms. Salonga’s representation and were unable to get one. Hopefully we’ll be able to redeem ourselves, but we apologize for not getting that interview!
Paige O’Hara received a Legends award for her voice contribution to the character of Belle in Beauty and the Beast!
Last but not least was Jodi Benson, the amazing voice of Ariel, The Little Mermaid.
Now, I do have stop real quick and point out Mrs. Benson. At most of her events where’s she either sang or spoken, she always had mentioned her faith. I’ve gotten the chance to speak with her before and I’ve knew she was a Christian, but as most Christians, including myself, we can find it difficult to share our faith and who our God is. Even with most celebrities, a majority of them use God as a footnote to their success or just hide it altogether.
But not Jodi Benson.
Mrs. Benson broke down that wall during her acceptance speech and truly exposed Christ as the one who gave her the gift of song and that she is using it to give glory to Him! Amen! I was really encouraged by what she said and just doing what she did. Once she quoted Scripture and proclaimed Christ, there was indeed silence, but amidst the silence, there came cheers and claps! My prayer is that what she did through the power of the Holy Spirit break the hearts of stone and become vessels for the work of God here on earth!
Watch Jodi’s acceptance speech in its entirety below.
Praise God for your life, Jodi!
That was it for the Disney Princesses…or was it?! No there was more and this next moment I won’t forget for the rest of my life! Disney has never done this before and it was only here that they brought all 4 princess together on one stage to perform their respective roles and then close with altogether with the Disney swan song.
See the “Princess medley” below. You won’t be disappointed. I was sooo glad to be part of that and hear them live. Pure magic.
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Up next to receieve the Legends award was Ray Watson, former pPresident of the Irvine Company (where I go to college!), was recognized for his contribution as part of the Walt Disney Productions Board of Directors and oversaw the expansions at WDW with the opening of EPCOT and River Country, Disney’s first water park. He is the Donald Trump of Disney.
Next to receive the award was Bo Boyd, a grandfather of Disney merchandising. He started the Disney Stores, as well as oversaw the implementation of the Disney name and characters into products! He recently passed away, but his daughters have accepted his award on his behalf. Whenever you look at your plush Mickey, think Barton “Bo” Boyd.
Guy Williams was honored next. Guy was famous for being Zorro on the Disney television series. Since he also passed away, his children and grandchildren had accepted the award on his behalf. They also brought along Zorro’s actual sword and saluted us in the way of Zorro too! Too cool.
Next to be awarded was Jack and Bonita Wrather, husband and wife land development team that struck a deal with Walt Disney himself back in 1954 to build the world-famous Disneyland Hotel. The Hotel, of course, has played host to Kings, Queens and the average family and will forever be the original Disney hotel that started them all. Love that they are renovating the whole hotel now too – keeping the Weather’s legacy alive. Both have passed away already as well, so their son accepted their award on their behalf.
Next to be honored was funny man and TV icon Regis Philbin! All your morning TV people know him from LIVE! with Regis and Kelly, which he will be retiring from after this next season. Regis has a Gennnies World Record for the most TV time any person has had and a majority of that time was working for Disney playing host to many shows like Who Want to be a Millionaire (formerly on ABC) and the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade. Thanks for the laughs, Regis! Enjoy retirement!
The last person to be honored was none other than Jim Henson, creator of the Jim Henson Company and of course THE MUPPETS!!
Jim had a great relationship with the Walt Disney Company and his cast of characters from The Muppets will be having another movie release under the Disney name this November! Watch out for it! Jim’s award was accepted by his daughter…and his son, Brian.
Brian Henson even performed one of Jim Henson’s first puppet shows called “I’ve Grown Accustomed to your Face”, created by Jim Henson back in 1956. Comedy changed forever from that point on…check out the video of it below! HIGH-LARIOUS.
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And with that high note, the 2011 Disney Legends Awards Ceremony came to an end. The ceremony lasted a little longer than expected (because they did start late for almost every Arena event), so were unable to attend a few of the presentations upstairs in the Stage rooms.
So we took the opportunity to go up to the front and get some shots of the recipients as they were putting their names and handprints on their plaques that another Disney Legends tradition. Each Legend’s plauqes are placed in Legends Square at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank for all to see!
Regis washing his hands after putting his hands in cement…hahaha
We got our shots and my tummy was rumbling, so it was time to grab lunch! We ate at one of the in house restaurants called the Inn-Between BBQ. I had a burger that reminded me of the old burgers that Tomorrowland Terrace used to sell. Wasn’t too yummy, but it was food and I needed it! After a couple visits to the Press Room to charge up my reporting gadgets, it was time to head down to the Arena once again for the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation!
Trust me, it’s not photoshopped. Ate Drexelle is just THAT good.
After picking up my colleagues Mike and Harrison, it was time to take our seats. The Arena was still being filled when the presentation was about to start…I was worried that we’d miss another presentation upstairs. We did, but it’s ok! Lots of news to bring from this event.
What a wonderful world…
The talking Mickey made his first appearance at the Expo on stage playing the drums – He can also be seen in the new Disneyland Soundsational Parade…also playing drums! It’s all about a hip Mickey for the new generation…disagree much?
Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs was our host for this event.
The first thing that Disney had on the chopping block was the NEW Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in WDW.
We went deeper into the details of this whole NEW Land, that is currently under construction right now to get a closer look at what’s going to be added. One attraction that they did hit on was their version of Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, the exact same attraction here at DCA…with one big difference – the queue.
GASP. Yes, the queue is a big thing! I’d have to say that the hype around this attraction was a little too big because after just two rides on preview days for AP, I pretty much had enough…sadly. But YES the queue for the DCA version is so beautiful! So true, my friends…but like always, DCA has to have a better more beautiful anything. Disney has stated that they will be having a queue in the setting of entering Prince Eric’s Castle, as seen in the photo above. Not only does it look better, but the queue will be interactive as well! The little ones (and the big ones!) will be able to be entertained as they walk through the line, bringing you the story from the very beginning.
This certainly has to change. Disney if you’re reading this, please, please, PLEASE give the same amount of attention to detail and just experience to DLR-ians! We’d appreciate it…
Belle’s Cottage will be a new addition to the new Fantasyland and will also be a very interactive experience that will be a meet-and-greet with Belle herself. What makes this meet-and-greet more enticing would probably have to be of the announcement that WDI is creating their most sophisticated Audio-Animatronic figure in the form of bringing Lumiere, the candelabra, to LIFE – flimsy arms and all.
As we stated earlier in our report, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will be a welcome addition to Fantasyland, as this will be a new kind of dark ride kiddie-coaster that solely focuses on the story behind the Dwarfs themselves!
Next up on the presentation was the new Disney Resort in Hawai’i known as Aulani.
Aulani, which means “the place that speaks for the great ones” or “the place that speaks with deep messages” in Hawaiian, will be the first Resort Disney has made in Hawai’i and will truly focus on the great story that is the culture of the Hawaiian Islands.
Disney will indeed be bringing the Hawaiian experience with a touch of magic when the Resort opens on 8/29 (THIS MONTH) and you can count on DE to bring you the latest surrounding the opening. Stay tuned for that!
Imagineer Joe Rhode is known for his huge imagination and attention to detail. It’s crazy and it looks like it got the better of Mr. Staggs…
Up next was Bob Weis, lead project manager for the Shanghai Disney Resort. He came up on stage to give us some insight on the Resort, which will be Disney’s second Park in China.
Like most Disney Parks, this Park will have the Lands and attractions be spread out like the spokes on a wheel, with the Hub and Castle at it’s center.
The biggest announcement to come to this presentation is the Castle. Enchanted Storybook Castle will be the BIGGEST castle in any Disney Park. The main building will have four stories, three upper and one lower, and will house a table service restaurant, their version of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a performance space for live entertainment and…a RIDE. What.
Yup, a ride will take guests through the grottoes of the castle that will contain fountains, crystals, and a story that has yet to be revealed. This is also a first in Disney history and we’re excited to see what this will look like!
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Tom Staggs returned to the stage to give us a little more detail on the massive DCA expansion. We slightly hit on Buena Vista Street, which will include the Red Car Trolleys of the old LA that will take guests from the “hub” to Tower of Terror. He also confirmed that the Carthay Circle Theater will indeed include a full service fine dining restaurant. More on all this later on our report…
Up next on stage to take us further through the presentation was Kathy Mangum, WDI project lead for Cars Land.
She showed us some first shots of the construction site and it’s finally starting to look like Radiator Springs!
The Cozy Cone Motel is coming along…it will not be a motel, of course. Instead it will be a outdoor vending location.
Luigi’s Flying Tires is now ride testing! For those who saw Disneyland in its hay-day, think of the old Flying Saucers attraction. Same concept!
Next, she showed us some photos of the E-Ticket attraction that is Radiator Springs Racers – the Test Track of the West! Do you remember the scene where Sally and Lightning take “a drive” and pass the waterfall and all that scenery? This is a portion of that ride scene and it’s going to look beautiful.
She also brought us another scene that will be a part of Radiator Springs Racers called Tail Light Caverns. The old taillights from those old Chevy’s will be the stalagmites and crystals in this cave. This was to be in the original Cars movie, but was cut. A lot of Radiator Springs Racers will include things that were not a part of the movie. Think deleted scenes brought to life!
No DVD required.
As a special treat, they told us that the Cast Members working Cars Land will be wearing Hawaiian shirts with “Cars” prints on them, inspired by none other than John Lasseter’s Hawaiian shirts of course!
Next person to join Tom on stage was Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis.
Getting right to it, George brought up some new experiences that guests, especially SoCal passholders like ME, will come to appreciate.
Disneyland executives and Cast Members MIGHT become available starting next year in 2012…how about having dinner inside the Haunted Mansion with Imagineers who designed it? Or how about a Tea Party with some of your favorite Disney Princesses? Of how about getting the chance of getting to experience old attractions of the past, like America the Beautiful in a 360 degree theater?! Wow.
Can’t wait till we get more details on this…hopefully the price tag for these experiences will require us to take out monthly payments…
I’ve been blessed enough to have been able to dine at Club 33 multiple times, but I know a lot of my friends and family have wanted to dine there as well! Your wish has been granted…I think. George brought up that there will be “expanded” access for guests to dine at Club 33! Not so sure if it’ll be private as before, but it’s ok! I imagine that price will be an issue with this one as well, but I’m all for it!
George also announced a new guest experience called Fantasy Faire. The current “Fantasy Faire” experience near Mickey’s Toontown has been a hit so far with the young girls so far and Disney has decided that they would expand it to a new location.
To be held at the present location of Carnation Plaza Gardens, Fantasy Faire will be broadened in scope and will immerse guests in their favorite fantasy story like Tangled.
The current Plaza Gardens stage will be changed to hold a live theater for live performances and meet and greets with Disney Royalty and active storytelling and music.
Currently, Disney uses the stage for it’s nighttime swing dance experience, that most older guests have been attending for years upon years! Its something that I love to do too and I was concerned that Disney would get rid of it when Fantasy Faire moved in.
But no, they will not! George assured us that swing dancing will stay!
And with that, the concluded the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation! I would have to say that it wasn’t the “best” news I would have liked to hear, primarily that they didn’t exhaust much news on my local Disneyland, but I was glad with what we got. We’re looking forward to bringing you more on these topics later in the year as we get more news about them later on.
Tom Staggs later addressed the “underwhelming” presentation with the fact that “while timing isn’t always right to announce another big project, we like to use opportunities like the D23 Expo to update fans like (us) on the great progress we’re making.”
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And with that long presentation we ended our day of important news coverage at the D23 Expo! It was time for us to explore and have fun! We have some photos below to show you guys of some more costumed Expo attendees and some of the booths that were being showcased. We also have a video of everything Cars that was at the Expo that includes some great footage of us and John Lasseter!
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Below is the BEST TEAM I’ll ever get to help me. Thank you guys for your hard work and God-given talent!
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On to Day 2. I believe it will be a “MARVEL”ous day…or so I thought.
Thanks again for choosing DE for your Disneyland LIVE EVENTS coverage! Like our work? Your best compliment is your word of mouth! Please continue tell your friends and family about us…we can’t do it with out you!