I had a really wonderful time at this weekend's 2015 D23 Expo!
It was an incredibly packed weekend which for me included six panel presentations, two concerts, and an amazing exhibit by the Walt Disney Archives, not to mention shopping and all the other interesting things to explore on the show floor.
D23 still has a few rough edges to smooth out; for instance, although I was early enough to queue indoors on Saturday and Sunday morning, some fans were very uncomfortable standing in line in hot weather for a couple of hours. Surely there was an alternative location for the line?
Something also needs to be done about in the insane lines for the live action movie panel; in that regard, D23 is becoming a little too much like Comic Con. I dropped my daughter off at 6:15 a.m. Saturday morning, before going to park, and she was only in a "standby" line for the panel, which didn't start until 10:30 a.m.! (Fortunately she got in, and she got to see Chris Pine, Chris Evans aka Captain America, and Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford.) If Disney doesn't come up with an alternate plan for this popular event, like a StagePass or ticket lottery, in 2017 it might be the only way to get into that presentation is to spend the previous night in line, as many people did this year. That's just not fun.
Getting the other negative comments out of the way first, the Shopping Pass was a bust, with store passes gone in 20 minutes the first day. Surely something more could be done to speed the shopping experience, including more registers at the deservedly popular Mickey's of Glendale store. And could they please add capacity to the StagePass distribution line? The line Friday afternoon was insanely long, and we had to give up on it in order to get to our next events.
Finally, there had been no apparent changes to the wretched food options in the Convention Center; having learned from past experience, we ate our meals at the Hilton food court next door to the Convention Center. I'm sure there are contracts and other legalities involved, yet it's absurd that all parties involved accept the unacceptable status quo in this regard.
By and large, however, D23 continues to refine and improve the experience each year.
Last year's introduction of the StagePass reduced the time spent sitting in lines, and this year the Expo greatly expanded capacity by adding a larger 7500-seat venue and also offering repeat performances of two concerts. This meant I was able to attend every event I wanted to see, with the exception of giving up on seeing the Parks and Resorts presentation due to the long line.
There was also a much better balance of "new" and "old" Disney this year, with more panels focused on Disney history. The intimate Archives stage, where many of the "Disney history" talks took place, was a wonderful addition.
There were also enjoyable presentations by animators on the show floor, with open spaces where you could drop in and sit down for a while to listen. It was really special for me to have the chance to tell head animator Brian Scott how much I loved the short film FEAST (2014).
The presence of Imagineers in the Parks and Resorts Pavilion is an annual highlight; it's wonderful listening to their enthusiastic insights about their work.
There was, in short, an amazing array of things to do and see each day. Look for more details and lots of photos in the days ahead!