Let me start out by saying I am a frequent sufferer of Disney Envy. When people are in the parks and I’m at home, watching their Facebook feeds, I feel a pang. When Lou has a meet of the month and tweets pictures of people having a grand time, while I am home folding a mountain of laundry, I get cranky. And when there are special Disney events, like the opening of Carsland, the New Fantasyland, or Destination D, and thousands of people have assembled, but I am at home!!!—-well, my shade of green resembles that of the Wicked Stepsister in the mosaic in Cinderella Castle. Yes, I am a small person.
I confess this to you to clarify my intent in writing this little Expo diary over the next few days. So often I am watching Disney through a laptop, and I know there is so much more happening that I can’t see (cue “Just Around the RiverBend.”). So I thought I would try to write each day about some of the things the Box doesn’t see, as a way to help you share the experience with us. You are probably a much better person than I am and do not suffer the Disney Envy of which I speak…. but I hope you enjoy these reflective entries nonetheless and that they help you to more fully experience the Expo.
I will spare you the pains of my journey from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles, California. But I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center Thursday around 1pm local time. I was blessed to have been here two years ago, so I thought I would be a bit more blasé about the sites and experience. WRONG.
The first thing I wish I could convey on paper is the sheer enormity of the convention center. It is massive, as in a “I am so small” kind of way. Lou, Tony, Beci, and John had already completed much of the set up, so I arrived at the booth to discover the balloon sculpture being completed. (By the time you read this, it will have been revealed–I hope it is as impressive online as it is in person.) With little that I had to do immediately, I sat down for a few moments and looked around, trying to once again soak in the experience. The smell of new carpeting. The sound of boxes being ripped apart. The palpable energy in the air. Feeling poetic, I then recorded some words that captured the moment:
Expansive. Exciting. Exhaustive. Humbling (Sorry to break the alliteration there…. I was tired.)
I’ll try now to explain each of these to you.
EXPANSIVE: All around the cavernous center, people–”our people”–Disney people were milling, working, and laughing. It was quite warm inside (a prickle of perspiration had developed on my brow just sitting there), and you could hear the hum of forklifts–look quickly and you see them scoot by with a huge bolt of red carpeting to be laid in the aisles between the exhibits. As I looked at the booths of artists (Noah is right next to the Mouse Fan Travel / WDW Radio booth!) a little piece of my brain that was still thinking (and not overwhelmed and exhausted) wondered how many boxes some of these exhibitors had to pack to safely get their materials to the convention center! The massive ceilings make you feel smaller than you even do when walking through the queue to Toy Story Midway Mania. It is…. BIG.
EXCITING: It’s Disney, so there is always an air of excitement, but this is a different kind (or maybe more precisely, a more extreme kind). It’s kinetic. It’s anticipatory. It’s the “I’m going to Disney World tomorrow and I’m too excited to sleep” excitement. The difference is EVERYONE has it–the synergy leads to a whole new type of feeling–it is invigorating and empowering. I saw it on the faces of the people leaving the Expo Store with bags full of treasures. It was visible in the group of yellow-shirted exhibitors I walked behind on the way to the hotel, as they were giggling and reminding each other “who does what in the booth.” I saw it in John Capos’ face. John is attending his first Expo, and has that quiet sense of “what’s going to happen? I can’t wrap my brain around this,” all while beaming from ear-to-ear.
EXHAUSTIVE: I don’t mean exhausting (though that is true as well.) I mean, THIS is Disney… and it is MUCH more than the theme parks. You can’t name a part of the company that isn’t here. The expo guidebook is just that–a BOOK (122 pages) that details every part of the company represented–Consumer Products, Publishing, Investor Reations, Imagineering, Movies…. you get the idea. Then there are the companies who AREN’T Disney but license their products–Hallmark, Sephora, Party City, Mattel…. It is EVERY part of the Disney Company we Disney fans have ever encountered. All. Under. One. Roof. Which leads me to my final descriptor:
HUMBLING: I use this word often when it comes to Disney, but this word, ultimately, is what encapsulates the Expo Experience for me. It just reminds me of the sheer enormity of Walt’s legacy, which sometimes makes me feel so small. But because of the power (magic?) of the message, I ultimately feel called to do more, to help more, to dream more.
I need to start getting ready to go over for Day 1 of Expo. It’s 5:30 AM here (though my internal clock says it’s much later). My feet are still throbbing from yesterday, though I doubt I will notice once I walk through the doors of the convention center. I will be sure to stop and absorb the experience for you, and I will report back tomorrow.