D23 – The Ultimate Disney Fan Experience

Over the weekend Patrick and I went to the D23 Expo, a three day event that is best described as Disney convention, but it’s all things Disney, including Star Wars and Marvel. There are exhibits to view, places to shop, and many panels to attend. Some are massive, and cover big announcements for upcoming films or projects at Disney parks, while others are small, and focus on unique small tales related to the Company. Most of these smaller, detailed oriented panels are put on by the Disney Archives, which is where we spent most of our time. However the biggest downside to the Archives panels is that photography, videography, or audio recording is not allowed. So, I got to see and heard a lot of great information, but often walk out empty handed with things to share with you. However, there were many amazing exhibits, most of which were costumes, and one panel on the Haunted Mansion did allow photography!

Outside of the Anaheim Convention Center, a massive white statue spells out "D23 expo"

A massive cartoon castle is featured on a sign reading "Dream Store"

An image of Anna and Elsa being made up entirely of Jelly Belly jellybeans.

Entrance to the Pixar area, with a large sign reading "Pixar Animation Studio"

The van from the upcoming Pixar film Onward. The van features a mural of a white pegasus and a moon shaped window.

A wall made up of the iconic red, blue, and yellow Pixar balls.

The sign for the Disney Animation area. A large sign reads "Animation" with the iconic blue, conical sorcerer hat.

Statues of Anna and Elsa from Frozen II. Anna wears a red and purple cloak, and Elsa wears a full length blue ensemble.

One of the Autopia vars, which is a red, go-cart like gar, with a sign reading "Mark VII 1967-2000"

Each D23 the Disney Archives puts together an exhibit, and this year it was all about costumes, showcasing many costumes from the various live action movies and television shows over the decades, however most focused on the more recent films. In the first part of the exhibit they took the character of Cinderella as a case study and showed the different interpretations of her, from the 1997 made-for-TV version to the 2011 show Once Upon a Time to the version from film musical Into the Woods, and the live action version in 2015.

Sign for the exhibit. Text reading "Heroes & Villains" appears as if it on a clothing label.

The fairy godmother and Cinderella costumes from the 90s made for TV Disney version of Cinderella. The Fairy Godmother gown is a long gold sheath gown with a cape, Cinderella's gown is blue, with straps that hang off the shoulder, and a peplum at the waist.

The Cinderella costume from the Disney show Once Upon a Time. The dress is a blue, sleeveless formal gown, with swirls embroidered on it, and some beading detail.

Cinderella's gown from Into the Woods, which is not very full, and gold. It features gathered cap sleeves.

Cinderella's gown from the later theatrical live action version of Cinderella. The gown is blue and very full, and features butterflies along the neckline.

Overall image of the Archive's costume exhibit, which features multiple costumes on raised platforms.

The stepmother and stepsister costumes from the live action Cinderella. The stepmother wears a vibrant green and black ensemble with large black hat. The stepsisters wear matching floral embroidered dresses, however one is pink, the other is yellow.

The fairy godmother's dress from the live action Cinderella, which is a full white gown that sparkles.

The various Mary Poppins costumes from the original 60s film, the sequel, and the Broadway production. The original features a dark overcoat and a white blouse with red bowtie, pink scarf, and carpet bag. The sequel features a bright blue overcoat and red hat and red shoes, the Broadway features a red overcoat, and black hat.

The costumes of the Sanderson sisters from the 90s film Hocus Pocus. Mary wears a red blouse under a red corset top, and purple apron like overskirt over a magenta skirt. Winfred wears a green cloak with a purple dress under. Sarah wears a purple fishnet top under a pink corset top, and a purple and red skirt.

Many of the other booths also featured a variety of costumes, including the Marvel and Star Wars areas, and even the upcoming streaming service Disney+, which will be producing its own content, and they showcased costumes from The Mandelorian and live action version of Lady and the Tramp.

A row of various stormtrooper uniforms stand on a raised platform.

Loki's costume from Avengers, a black, green, and gold caped ensemble.

Vision's cape from Avengers, which is pink and gold and features a pattern that looks like circuit boards.

Dr. Strange and Scarlet Witch's costumes from Avengers. Dr. Strange wears a navy ensemble with multiple brown leather belts, and a red cape, his iconic eye shaped necklace hangs. Scarlet Witch wears a tight fitting red ensemble.

The bounty hunter costume from the upcoming Disney+ series, The Mandalorian. A brown, gold, and cream armor outfit of the Star Wars universe.

Costume from the upcoming Disney+ live action Lady & the Tramp, the costume features a pink plaid top with a green zig-zag print skirt.

Lady's collar, a blue collar with gold buckle and a heart shaped tag reading "Lady" in a fancy script, and the number 194 below.

As this year marked the 50th anniversary of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, there were many panels dedicated to the ghostly attraction, including one hosted by Christopher Merritt. While Merritt has written many books about Disney, he also co-authored the amazing Knott’s Berry Farm book, Knott’s Preserved.

Christopher Merritt presents a panel on the Haunted Mansion and shows the very first concept art of the Haunted Mansion, which is a dilapidated Victorian.

Christopher Merritt presents a panel on the Haunted Mansion and shows concept art for a fortune teller/medium type area, that is very colorful with banners and a crystal ball.

While I love looking at the past, and valued the various exhibits and panels about Disney’s history, the Walt Disney Company, especially the Parks and Resorts team is always looking toward the future, and takes D23 as an opportunity to announce and showcase what is coming. The main focus this year was really on EPCOT, but here in Anaheim, they released plenty of details of the upcoming Marvel area, named Avengers Campus, which will feature a Spider-Man ride, and a Black Panther ride, as well as an Ant-Man themed restaurant.

The sign for the Disney Parks area, which reads Imagining Tomorrow, Today

An Ant-Man experiment, tiny dumpsters, and trash cans, including one found by the attraction, it's a small world, with a sticker reading "Experiment No.: R-1401 By: Hope Van Dyne Notes: Seems promising! W/Red Pym Particles we can reduce our environmental footprint by literally reducing the size of items to be shipped, recycled, etc."

A large lighted board featuring images, text, and map, from the new Avengers Campus for the new Avengers themed area of Disney California Adventure.

D23 is also a time for people to create amazing cosplays, and even offers a “Mousequerade” for those to show off their unique creations. I chose to whip together a quick and extremely obscure cosplay for Friday, which I’ll share in my next post!

The great bummer to D23 is that it only happens every other year. But at least between now and then we have Star Wars celebration to look forward to next summer!

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