Heaven for any Disney fan. A place where thousands of people come together and have fun. Celebrities and inspirations finally get to talk to one another face to face. What am I talking about? The D23 Expo. Being on the East Coast and a 14-year-old high school student without a job, I didn’t even have a slight chance of going to the D23 Expo, even though my family has a D23 membership. Luckily, Lou was broadcasting from the Expo all three days, and I was online the entire time! I learned a lot about different things and got to hear stories from amazing people. Here is my recap of the D23 experience from “inside the Box.”
The broadcast began with Lou welcoming everyone and giving an overview of the Expo. He then began telling us about general things, like some of the bigger booths and some people who were walking around. We then walked to the Disney Consumer Products section, and waited for the opening of the Disney Store. Once it did, we saw some of the products, including the “Fairytale” doll and a limited edition Snow White dress that Beci said she would wear if Lou bought it (she “claims” that her size wasn’t available…)
Lou then took us over to the Tervis Cups display where you pick a patch and have it inserted inside a cup. You can even have your name put on it! Here’s how it works, you take one patch of your choosing as well as the D23 patch that you’d like inserted in your cup. Then you put that cup layer inside ANOTHER, larger cup, which is then molded together. Next, you pick a lid, and ta-da! You just made your own glass! Lou picked a Captain America patch and his name was on it. How cool is that?
Next came the Disney Infinity area. Lou played the game on a few different consoles and posed in a Cinderella carriage- on Monster Truck wheels. Of course, Lou had to try it out.
Another booth Lou took the Box over to see was the Gravity Falls Meet and Greet with the voice of Mabel (Kristen Schaal) and the director (Alex Hirsch). Lou had such fun! Lou showed off the shirt with a barfing gnome that he won.
Throughout the whole event, cosplayers stopped by the booth and Lou would talk to them, or in some cases, tried to guess who they were. For those who don’t know, Cosplay is a combination of the word “costume” and “play” and basically means that people dress like their favorite characters and try to get every detail right. Sometimes they even talk or walk as their character would. One very memorable cosplayer stopped by at this time. It was a man dressed as Mary Poppins! After that… we had a VERY special guest in the booth…. not JOHNNY DEPP! That’s right, NOT Johnny Depp was in the booth! Well, he also goes by the name Stefan Lawrence. He just looked like Johnny Depp, and when Lou was talking to him he never introduced him to us, so we all assumed it was Johnny Depp. Stefan created the previous cruise logos, and also created the newest one. When Lou turned the camera around, two Imagineers were there just joking around – it’s great who just pops up! After that, the cruise logo was revealed when Ridley Pearson and his assistant, Brooke, appeared in the Box after Stefan! The new cruise logo is very classy and elegant and its inspiration by the Kingdom Keepers book series is evident through the logo.
We then talked to Disney legend Dave Smith, who is the founder of the Walt Disney Archives and has written many books on the subject. His visit was followed by Alex Maher who stopped by the booth and talked about Cosplay and his favorite Disney artists before one of the Box’s favorite cosplayers talked to Lou. She was Giselle, from Enchanted, and looked EXACTLY like the original character. She even sang for us! Margaret Kerry, otherwise known as Tinkerbell, sat in the hot seat and told us a story or two after Giselle. Before we knew it, the show floor was closing and the broadcast ended for the first day.
On Saturday, we headed over to the Imagineering pavilion. The preshow was very creative and had a very nostalgic feel to it. We then ventured into the actual pavilion and toured areas including an area dedicated to Avatarland, show production and how audio animatronics work… including the Hatbox ghost making a return (with NO hatbox!) My favorite section had to be with Artoo (that is how you spell it, according to his name tag). R2D2 was just beeping and turning in this little area. HOPEFULLY we will see him roaming the parks–how awesome would that be? We interviewed Artoo for a little bit and talked to Imagineer Jason Surrell. Lou noticed the words “Orange Harvest” were written on a box. When Return of the Jedi was being created, it was nicknamed “Blue Harvest” before they announced it so people wouldn’t catch on to another sequel. Could it be this technique being utilized used here? And as for the orange? Hmmmm … Florida oranges perhaps?
What happened next was something unexpected. Have you ever want to see Lou dressed as Thor? Well, you got your wish! Beci picked out a costume for Lou to wear and, of course, she picked her favorite Avenger. Somehow, Beci snuck out of her side of the deal, which was Lou picking a costume for HER to wear.
Later that day, we headed to the mysterious blue curtain that would be dropping to reveal a secret booth, which ended up being Tomorrowland! No video or pictures allowed, so the Box only got to see the sign before we made the trek back to the Collector’s Forum. Instead of heading back to the booth, we detoured and explored the rest of that zone. People were selling jewelry, art and phone cases. Once back at the booth, JenniLynn (from Orlando Attractions magazine) hung out in the Box for a little bit. They discussed what she and Lou should Cosplay as for the next D23 Expo.
I don’t want to give a second by second recap because I know that there are other blogs coming out this week about the Expo, so I will just skip ahead to Day three. Plus, to tell the truth, I was a little distracted because Christy was on a Nick Pitera scavenger hunt for me and she was messaging me updates. What?! You don’t know who Nick Pitera is? Well, what are you waiting for…. google him!
Sunday began with an interview with Tom Morris, an Imagineer. That lasted for a little while before we jumped to Scott Brodeen who began making models for a high school project, which eventually led to making 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Licensing models. Lou actually received a fishing lure shaped like the Nautilus from Scott. I don’t know if you can catch anything but squid using that…
Next up was Jeff Epstein, who is one of my favorite Disney people. He is always so upbeat and immersed in Disney magic that it’s hard not to smile when you are around him (when he said my Box name, I may or may not have freaked out a little). He was the former host of D23 Geek and is in the marketing aspect of D23. Then we got to speak to Steven Clark, who is the head of D23. Next up to the plate was Jenn, who kinda caught us up on things in the Expo that the Box was missing, like little details in the Imagineering pavilion and the other panels that she had visited. As Jenn was speaking, a girl named Rosita came by with a wooden bird and said that she would trade a story for the bird. Lou made up a story that involved the first Expo of 1955, a campfire, and hanging out in an orange grove before receiving the bird. What was really cool was that it was basically an awesome walking advertisement for the Imagineering pavilion, which included an area about Adventureland, which had to be hinting at something. We just don’t know what.
We roamed around a little bit before coming back to the booth to talk to Kevin Rafferty, the Executive Creative Director of Imagineering. We got to hear cool stories from the opening day of Carsland and his thoughts on what he thinks Walt’s opinion would be on a variety of topics. Then it was lunch time for Lou and the crew, and there was an hour break. For the first forty-five minutes, I was writing this blog (actually this sentence right now).
During breaks in the coverage over the three days, we played a number of games in the Box. Fellow Box Person krisbee2000 and I organized trivia questions (from Lou’s trivia books, of course…) We also had a Box version of “reverse lightning round.” Instead of everyone asking one person different questions, one person asked many people different questions! I asked a few standard ones like “favorite character that’s an animal?” and “Toy Story vs. Monsters Inc” but then kicked it up a notch with “if you had to change the music group that is used in the Rock ‘N Roller Coaster from Aerosmith, what group would you change it to?” and “If you had to change the color of the castle, what color would you make it?” I got a lot of interesting responses! Plus, I learned a lot about some Box people that I don’t get to talk to often.
We also played a made-up game–kind of a combination of Family Feud and Apples to Apples. I would private message a word to 5 active people in the Box. Some words I used included Winnie the Pooh, Epcot, Castle, and Lou Mongello. The recipients of my word would have to reply to me the first word to pop into their minds. For example, the one word given for Winnie the Pooh was “honey.” Then I would go back into the Box and say “The word is honey.” Everyone had to guess what the original word was; in this case, Winnie the Pooh. Get it? My favorite moment from this game was when I sent someone the word “Beci.” What did they reply with? Princess. So I rolled with it, thinking I would need another word after a few people guessed. Boy was I wrong. The first three guesses were Beci! I guess Beci really is a princess and the Box knows it!
On Sunday afternoon, Lou began talking to some random people sitting around the booth. There was a Peter Pan who we talked to and a few British people (we couldn’t see them, we only heard them but hey, who can get that accent wrong). When ‘Ghostbusters’ found the booth, Lou, who didn’t know what Ghostbusters were, had to have it explained to him (tsk tsk Lou!). Lou’s inner fangirl came out next when a Grungle Stan cosplayer stopped by and we began talking to him. Really, Lou?
It was time for Lou to eat (Lou says that he didn’t actually eat during the lunch break but, thanks to Christy, his lunch had just arrived) so Beci and Tony took over the Box. We talked about the Disney interactive announcements and other things that were released at the Disney Interactive presentation. After more ranting and raffles, KERMIT THE FROG showed up. How great is that? We sang The Rainbow Connection as a group! Then Disney Legend Tony Baxter was in the booth and the Box for a little while. Next up was Stacia Martin who is an artist for Disney and a historian. She was so sweet and so precious.
We walked around floor and made a “dream” dedicated to Walt’s hometown. The Box’s dream was to get rid of the Dream Team project once and for all because we wouldn’t need it anymore since everyone’s wishes would have already been granted. After making this very important detour, we saw Steve Harvey bags (based on very insistent Box chatter, NJCheerGirl will surely need one of these when she is a teenager) and other awesome things at the Collectors forum. The Box went back to the booth and Jeffery was back to talk to us. He recognized me from earlier, so that was kinda cool. Disney Artist Noah hopped in the booth next. Noah, being the amazing person that he is, decided to have a spur of the moment auction for the Dream Team! The box bid on a few art pieces and we raised an amazing $2,650 dollars for the Dream Team Project.
The D23 Expo was drawing to an end. We discussed the Expo a little bit and took the balloon ship down before the off air sign flickered on my screen. The Expo ended too soon and the Box was shut down for the final time that weekend.
Only a select few stuck with me through all 30 hours, and, if you are one of them, congrats, we did it! I had a lot of fun and made a lot of memories, even though I wasn’t physically there. Do you have a favorite part of the D23 Expo? Leave a comment below! I would love to read your response.
See ya real soon!
Quote of the Week: “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.” – Rafiki, The Lion King
Makena is a 14 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.