D23 Celebrates 100 Years of the Disney Studio

Last weekend was the long anticipated event, D23 Expo (originally slated for last year, but pushed back due to COVID), return! The three day event celebrates all things Disney and takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center (conveniently located just across the street from Disneyland) and includes exhibits, panels, and shopping. It’s something I’ve attended each time since we moved to California, and is always fun!

A large silver Mickey statue stands outside of the Anaheim Convention Center.

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company, and much of the event’s focus was on that, as well as showcasing upcoming projects and highlights from recent films and series. Because the Expo is about all things Disney, it includes of course classic Disney properties, as well as Star Wars, Marvel, and even American Horror Story (because remember Disney also owns FX) so there is something for everyone to enjoy. I especially love the exhibits, which often include costumes and props from the variety of films and series, even ones that aren’t out yet, such as a trio of costumes from the upcoming Indiana Jones film. Speaking of exhibits, every D23 Expo the Walt Disney Archives chooses a subject to focus on. This year the Archives highlighted landmarks from each decade of the Walt Disney Company’s 100 years, which included early merchandise from Snow White, costumes and props from Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy, and the iconic neon from Flynn’s Arcade in Tron.

An artist works to create a mural of multiple chrome Mickeys. Gold script above reads "Disney100"

The entrance to the Archives exhibit, a large mirrored walk-thru sculpture spells out "100" and I stand in the first 0.

A small glass bottle sits on a card featuring Snow White and the seven dwarves, and reads "Walt Disney's Snow White Perfume" the bottle features an image of Snow White and reads "Snow White Gardenia" A nearby card dates the piece to 1938.

The purple, cartoon-esque horse that Mary Poppins rides in the Jolly Holiday sequence.

The "Jolly Holiday" costume worn by Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. The white frilly dress features ruffles down the center on the upper chest, the middle portion features a red corset like feature over the top.

The orange and red, cartoon-esque horse that Bert rides in the Jolly Holiday sequence.

A large blue timeline wraps around the Archive exhibit showcasing important dates in Disney history, this photo shows that the Walt Disney Archives were established in 1970.

The red and neon sign reading "Flynn's" from Tron.

Close-up of a black and white frisbee that was made up to become the "identity discs" in Tron. A card next to it reads "Identity Disc Tron (1982) Used by Gaming Programs in The Grid.

Various costumes from Dick Tracy, including a blue suit, red suit, and black sequin gown, a blue and pink neon sign reads "Club Ritz"

The iconic yellow trench coat and fedora worn by Warren Beatty in the film.

Another highlight from the Walt Disney Archives was Walt Disney’s plane, which was recently restored. In 1964 Walt replaced his first private plane with the Gulfstream, which was fully customized for him, right down to dividers that featured leaves from the tree in his front yard, his wife’s idea, so they would always have a piece of home wherever they went. Outfitted for 15 passengers, a pilot, co-pilot, and one stewardess, Walt used this for his cross-country trips from Burbank to Orlando while working on “The Florida Project” or what we now know as Walt Disney World. After Walt’s death, the plane continued to be used for promotional projects, and was even used in two Disney films starring Kurt Russell, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes in 1969, and the sequel, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, in 1972. A little over ten years later, in 1985, the plane was relocated to Orlando, where it received a new paint job. In 1992 the Gulfstream was retired, and put on display as part of the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, until 2014 when the attraction closed. Later it received an extensive restoration to get it back to its Walt era look and debuted here at D23.

A large yellow and orange banner reads "Micky Mouse One: Walt's Plane" and below is a small, private, propeller airplane, painted white with a golden orange stripe across the center.

A mock-up of part of the interior of the plane, with a tan chair, tan curtains, and an oval window.

A brown, square flight bag, reading "Walt Disney Productions' Gulfstream N732G" and features Mickey sitting on the plane.

A cocktail napkin from the plane features a cartoon of Mickey and Minnie in a plane.

Myself standing in front of Walt's Plane.

I absolutely adored the flight bag, and was excited when I found out that a version of the flight bag, as well as other items inspired by the plane are (or soon will be) available on Amazon. However, as of writing, I don’t see the flight bag, even though they showed it at the Expo as an item that would be for sale. As for the plane itself, very soon it will go on display at the Palm Springs Air Museum, which I visited back in 2017, and you can take a look at that visit here. Why Palm Springs? Walt loved it there, having a home, and frequently visiting Smoke Tree Ranch. Keen eyed observers will notice Smoke Tree Ranch’s brand on many of Walt’s ties in various footage of him. So common were these ties that it was immortalized on the Partners Statue in Disneyland.

The Walt Disney Archive has also put together Disney100: The Exhibition, which will kick off a world tour showcasing many Disney artifacts, starting at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, before heading to Chicago (the birthplace of Walt) and Kansas City, Missouri (near Walt’s hometown of Marceline) and then it’s headed to Munich, Germany. Where it goes from there I hope will soon be revealed!

Scarlet Witch's intricate red costume, with a detailed and texture bodice, fingerless gloves, cape, and tiara.

Thor's costume from Thor: Love & Thunder, which features a blue and gold chest plate, red cape, and holding "Stormbreaker" a large ax. Behind him is a large goat puppet.

The intricately woven white suit of Mr. Knight from Moon Knight.

The mummy-esque costume of Moon Knight, which features layers of bandages wrapped around, a crescent moon sits in the center, the top features a hood that goes into a cape.

Costumes from the upcoming Indiana Jones film, including Indy's iconic brown fedora, brown leather jacket, khaki shirt, pants, whip, and bag. In the background is a figure in a black leather trench coat and black fedora.

A costume for a female character in the upcoming Indy film, wearing a white panama hat, white shirt, died at the waist, and off-white pants, and two-tone brown boots.

As animation is what started the Walt Disney Company, there was a delightful area dedicated to the history of the Animation Studio, complete with a look at the backside of animation cells, which is where the painting is done, resulting in a humorous, uncanny valley version that the audience never sees. There was also a demonstration of the ink and painting process.

Animation section features an interpretation of the iconic sorcerer's hat that is part of the animation building at the studio. Text below the hat reads "Animation" and behind that a logo featuring Mickey reads "100" and below that "Walt Disney Animation Studios"

The front of a cel of Flora from Sleeping Beauty, who wears a red-ish orange and gold costume.

The back of the cel of Flora, which showcases how the cels are painted front to back.

An animator sits at a desk painting a cel of Mickey Mouse.

There is always a portion dedicated to what is new for the Disney Parks and Resorts, and I was excited to see a model of the upcoming attraction inspired by Princess and the Frog, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which is replacing Splash Mountain, as well as a model of the revamp of Toontown.

Entry into an exhibit about upcoming projects for the Disney Parks and Resorts, featuring a quote from Walt reading "There's really no secret about our approach. We keep moving forward - opening new doors and doing new things."

Model of the upcoming Tiana's Bayou Adventure, a revamp of Splash Mountain. The attraction is a log flume ride, with a large drop, and foliage of the New Orleans swamp areas. A screen above features Tiana in an adventuring outfit of pants, jacket, scarf and had.

Model of the revamp of Toontown, an area at Disneyland featuring cartoon buildings.

The revamp of Splash Mountain is long overdue, and I’m excited that one of my favorite Disney princesses is receiving her very own attraction. I’m just bummed it’s such a long wait, as it is slated for a late 2024 opening.

A large backdrop reads "Greetings from D23 Expo Anaheim, California"

Sadly I didn’t snap any real outfit photos, but they were just repeats of the dresses I made not too long ago, which you can check out here and here.

I’m excited to see what 2023 has in store across the Disney Parks and Resorts and how they continue to celebrate the first century of the Walt Disney Company. Eager to attend the D23 Expo? Well, I hate to break it to you, but it only happens every other year. In the meantime you can visit their website, and maybe even join to become a member of the “Official Disney Fan Club.” In the meantime you can get a glimpse at past D23 Expos here on the blog.

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