by Alyssa and Brandon Wiseman
Over a year of planning for this event could not have prepared us for what we experienced over the two days of the Expo we attended. There were things that surprised us both, but also things that we learned for the next time we attend the convention. Both Brandon and I wanted to share our ideas, tips, and experiences from a weekend that was full of Disney magic.
Because this expo changes from year-to-year and also because there have only been two previous Expos, there is no way to completely plan out your entire day. We, however, thought we could and had both Friday and Saturday completely filled with presentations we were going to attend. Here was our original schedule:
[2:00]-??? Legends Ceremony ***No Stage Pass
And here are the presentations that we actually ended up attending:
We were confident that we were not over-scheduled and would be able to see all of these presentations and also have time to be on the show floor. We couldn’t have been more mistaken or more surprised the closer we got to the Expo. And while we could have probably fit in a few more presentations, there was so much to experience outside of them that we didn’t want to miss things outside the convention hall.
Arrival and Further Discussions:
Brandon and I actually arrived in California the week before the Expo and had the entire week to tour the parks (we had never been before and wanted to see where the magic all began). We had several days to get acclimated to the area and where the Expo would be taking place (on a side note, we stayed at the Desert Palms and it was a perfect hotel for access to both the parks and the convention center). By Thursday we had discussed the Expo with several people, some of whom had attended in previous years, and we were beginning to see that our expectations were completely unrealistic. By this point we knew the two main sessions that we wanted to experience were the animation and live action ones. And our plan was simple: get up early, get in line, see these two presentations, and then head to the show floor.
Day 1 (Friday):
My alarm went off at 5:15am to start getting ready for a long day of standing in line and waiting, but I knew it would be worth it and pulled myself together. We arrived at the convention center and, while we had an offer to get in line with Fran Cassano and Mark Petar, we decided to take our chances and get in the line where everyone else was at that point.
Queuing for both the animation and live action presentations:
Disney had taped off 5 lines going from the arena doors all the way around the arena. These lines did not weave back and forth, they would take one entire line and then start the second line, so it was actually much better than having to keep moving the entire time. They would not let people into the convention center/arena until 7:30am, so you did have to sit outside for a few hours. Once inside, your phones were immediately sealed in bags and given back to you with the warning that if you opened them or your electronics went off while in the presentation, you would be removed and not allowed back inside. You were then corralled into a huge empty room with 45 queues taped on the floor. I believe we waited here until they started seating people in the arena around [9:00] or 9:30am. It was nice to finally be inside, but at the same time, we didn’t have our electronics and it did get a little boring.
Okay back to day 1. We finally arrived at the queue around 6:15am and were about 1/4 of the way back in the second line of the outdoor queue. We knew that we had made it into the presentation! We were relieved, but still had no idea what to expect. Here is where we ran into our first roadblock. We had assumed that we would be able to get Stagepasses for one of the later presentations while we were waiting for the morning presentations to begin. Since the arena presentations did not begin until 10am and 10:30am, respectively, we knew that the Stagepass distribution began at 9:00am. The distribution area was right beside where we were queued and I went right over to pick up our tickets. That was when we were informed that we had been screened and searched in order to attend the arena presentations. If we wanted to get a Stagepass, we would need to exit the convention center, get the Stagepass, and then get back into line for the arena presentation. It was not worth giving up our spots in line at this point, so we just began discussing other ideas for the day.
What we did not count on with plan B was the second roadblock: the presentation began 40 minutes late and went 50 minutes over. Of course we had no idea what time it was as neither of us had a watch (tip for newbies: wear a watch), turns out the presentation lasted until 1:45pm which meant that we had missed our second presentation and found out on the D23 Expo app that Stagepass was already completely passed out for the 3:00pm presentations. The arena presentation was completely worth it, as we saw and heard from producers, directors, and stars from upcoming animation films.
We took this setback as an opportunity to head to the show floor and see what that offered. As our luck would have it, we ended up at the WDW Radio/MEI booth and got to meet and listen to some amazing Disney representatives. I believe that first day we got to meet Jason Surrell, Dave Smith, and Ridley Pearson! It was so much fun to get to meet all of those people and just have them come to you instead of standing in line to meet them!
Day 1 also included a visit to the Imagineering area, which was pretty amazing and fun to see how much detail goes into each and every attraction that ends up in the park. The cast members in this area were also super nice and answered many questions that we had. I even got to try on one of the Magic Bands that will be rolled out in the parks! This came about because we were talking with a cast member in that specific booth and I told him about my hesitation about wearing a bracelet all day (and honestly having funky tan lines), so he just took his off and told me to see how I liked it! While it wasn’t too bad, it was still a little thick and I might just end up keeping my ticket.
The show floor closed at 7:00pm and I think that we stayed that late before heading over to Downtown Disney for some dinner and then off to bed for the next, even earlier, morning.
Please keep an eye on the WDW Radio blog for part II of our Expo report where we will discuss Saturday and our schedule that day, as well as some of our tips for a productive Expo experience!
Alyssa Wiseman (also known as ajwiseman09 in the box) and her husband Brandon reside in central Indiana (too far from Disney) with their 4 year shih tzu London Bridget and brand new Bulldog, Maggie Mae. Alyssa and Brandon enjoy traveling to Disney several times a year to see what is new and enjoy classic Disney. While traveling, and at home, Alyssa is frequently shopping for Disney products and making a list of items to buy while in the parks. Please follow Alyssa on twitter @ajwiseman09.