Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Weekend at the 2011 D23 Expo, Part One

I spent the weekend of August 19-21 enjoying Disney's second D23 Expo in Anaheim, California.


Two years ago we attended one day of the inaugural D23 Expo, which was described in my posts of September 12, 2009 and September 15, 2009. This time around we signed up for the full three days!

The weekend of the Expo consisted of fun but very long days, and given the college trip to Arizona which followed shortly after the Expo ended, I'm only now beginning to review my photos and organize some thoughts on our experiences! This is the first of a couple of posts which I plan to share over the new few days.

The convention center entrance hall, with signs advertising locations where events would be held on the upstairs floors:


Click any photo to enlarge.

The Disney crowds were out in force:


Almost as soon as we entered the main exhibition hall we ran into Irene, a longtime reader and commenter here at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings. It was great to see her again!

Our first event on Day One was a presentation on the history of the Disneyland Hotel, hosted by Don Ballard, the author of one of my favorite Disneyland-related books, DISNEYLAND HOTEL: THE EARLY YEARS, 1954-1988. Since that book was published, Mr. Ballard gained access to Wrather Archives holding a wealth of additional material, which is shared is his brand-new book, DISNEYLAND HOTEL 1954-1959: THE LITTLE MOTEL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ORANGE GROVE.


I picked up the new book in the Expo's Treasures of the Archives store, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Anyone who loves Disneyland history needs this book on their shelf.

Mr. Ballard's presentation included quite a bit of rare TV footage of the hotel, including film of the hotel's grand opening, with stars such as Yvonne DeCarlo and Alan Ladd present at the ribbon-cutting.

One of our favorite things on the main floor is the Parks and Resorts pavilion, which was this year called the "Carousel of Projects":


The pavilion provides an opportunity for an up-close look at future Disney plans. We especially enjoyed a lengthy chat with a Disney Imagineer who took the time to go over Walt Disney World's Fantasyland expansion with us in great detail. For me, the one-on-one interaction with Imagineers is one of the most unique and enjoyable aspects of the Expo.

Florida's Fantasyland is being reimagined (or should I say re-Imagineered!) to include a forest beyond the Cinderella Castle. Forests, of course, play key roles in many fairytales, and this new setting also provides much-needed shade from the Florida sun.

The new Fantasyland will include a Snow White mine train ride, described to us as a cross between a regular Disney "dark ride" and a thrill ride like Big Thunder Mountain. Here's a model:


As was announced at the Expo two years ago, the ever-popular Dumbo's capacity is being doubled. It will also feature a new style of waiting area, with activities to enjoy while waiting for the ride.


Here in California, the massive overhaul of Disney's California Adventure is well underway. Here are models of the new Buena Vista Street entrance, which is transforming the once-bland Sunshine Plaza into Los Angeles of the 1920s...


...and a closeup of the model of the replica of the Carthay Circle Theater, currently under construction:


One of the presentations we couldn't see was "A Good Look at Buena Vista Street." The official Disney Parks Blog has a terrific video with a bird's eye view showing what the completed street will look like; it's definitely worth the couple of minutes to check it out.

The Disney and More and WDW News Today blogs have video of the Buena Vista Street presentation, and MiceChat live blogged the details shared as the panel discussion was underway.

Our first day ended with a fantastic "Voices of the Parks" panel.


It was great fun to put faces with the voices heard throughout the parks for many years, and it was very entertaining seeing the voice actors reading some of their famous spiels "live." The gentleman who narrates the Mark Twain ride also does a remarkable imitation of Rex Allen Jr., who narrated many of Disney's nature films.

We especially enjoyed the opportunity to see Bob Joles, who went to college with my husband; he imitates John Rhys-Davies as the voice of Sallah on the Indy ride.


Inside the Magic has a 10-minute video of the various "voices" doing their thing, and Orlando Attractions Magazine has posted a YouTube video of the entire panel discussion.

I'll be sharing more photos and links in a future post -- or two! -- as well as thoughts on how the Expo can improve in 2013. I also expect to have a "Disney News" post up sometime in the next few days!

3 Comments:

Blogger Magical Hotel said...

D23 was so much fun and we had a blast. The Legends ceremony was incredible.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

I watched the YouTube video a couple of days ago of the voices. It was great and must have been so neat in person.

Fun seeing you there and when you stop to think how many people were there ... wow.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Nick Thomas said...

Looks like fun, haven't been to DL for many a year.

9:05 AM  

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