Two years ago, on a random whim, I ended up in Anaheim at D23 with no expectations and really not knowing what I was walking into. I exited Anaheim Convention Center blown away and looking forward to the next D23. After two years of excited anticipation, D23 returned to Anaheim last weekend, meeting and exceeding all expectations!
The D23 Expo is the “Ultimate Disney Fan Event”. D23 2017 was the fifth time Disney brought the very best of all things Disney together under one roof for three days of one-of-a-kind experiences including exclusive sneak peeks at what’s new and next from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and ABC.
Most major announcements were covered by the press and shared with the world. Including the upcoming A Wrinkle In Time featuring Oprah Winfrey, and live action remakes of the classics, Aladdin and the Lion King. The latter of which I’m most excited for 💁🏽!!
Much like the Disney parks and attractions themselves, hearing news and seeing pictures doesn’t do the actual experience any justice. When it comes to branding and overall consumer (and in this case ultimate fan) experience, Disney is king and doesn’t disappoint. The “Magic of Disney” was on display in every corner of the Anaheim Convention Center. Down to character pancake and latte art.
Unsurprisingly, just like the parks, the most hyped and talked about attractions draw huge crowds that translate to lines with wait times of an hour plus (just gaining access to the expo itself was an hour long wait 🙄).
Among the most notable exhibits and possibly the most popular exhibit of the entire expo was the model of the upcoming Star Wars-inspired park expansion. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is expected to open in 2019 first in Disneyland with an identical location at Walt Disney World shortly thereafter.
Other exhibits included an area dedicated to Pixar showcasing upcoming releases including sequels to popular films like The Incredibles II, Wreck It Ralph 2 and a brand new, colorful, Dia de los Muertos themed film, Coco. Marvel Studios’ exhibit featured the actual costumes from its upcoming films Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok.
One thing I found interesting about the expo was the inclusion and representation of corporate sponsors. I don’t know about you, but when I think of an expo by one of the biggest corporate conglomerates and brands in the world, I don’t expect them to need or have corporate sponsors. The exhibit floor included booths from “Friends of Disney”, essentially high level corporate sponsors. This included Honda (with a “Minnie” van, a Honda Odyssey inspired by Minnie Mouse and created for D23 2017), Havaianas (the official flip flop of Disneyland and Disney World), Sunglass Hut (the official sunglass retailer of Disneyland and Disney World), Funko and American Tourister (the official luggage of Disneyland and Disney World).
Lower level sponsors were dubbed “Partner Retailers” and included LulaRoe, Stance, Jelly Belly and Uniqlo. All of which have existing licensing rights with Disney.
A lot of the Magic of Disney relies on the brands understanding and fearless approach to incorporating cutting-edge technology. D23 included The Lion King 360. The virtual reality experience is the first time the technology has been used inside a Broadway theatre, allowing viewers to experience the show from the actors’ pov. 😱
The expo also featured super cool vendor, Lifeprint. Lifeprint is an instant photo printer that allows you to print live videos. Yes, PRINT. LIVE. VIDEOS. The prints come to life in your hands using Lifeprint’s AR app. It’s like…MAGIC 😜
That, folks, was my experience at D23 2017! Separate from the lines my only complaint is that there was just too much to see in the few short hours I was there. When D23 2019 rolls around, I’ll be sure to get a 3 day pass to better enjoy The Magic of Disney 😊 .