D23 Expo: Practically Perfect Disney Animation

expoloozaHi Everyone! The D23 Expo offered attendees a rare first look into the unique and innovative worlds of which Disney comprises. So, when my pal, Mark Petar invited me to join the crowd heading to the opening presentation, Art and Imagination: Animation at The Walt Disney Studios, I could not refuse.

Introduced by Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger and hosted by Chief Creative Officer for Walt Disney OMD D23 Expo Animation Panel John Lasseterand PIXAR Animation Studios, John Lasseter, this D23 Arena presentation did not disappoint. And since the projects discussed are in production, they are all subject to change:

Disney/PIXAR Party Central: Wanna see more adventures of Mike and Sulley at college? (I know I do!) Our favorite PIXAR scare duo creatively secure guests for one fabulous fraternity party. This Monsters University-themed short will be shown ahead of The Good Dinosaur.

The Good Dinosaur: The Disney/PIXAR “What if ?” posed here is what if the asteroid missed Earth and dinosaurs remained? Trouble is still ahead. So, the film’s hero, Arlo and a new-found friend, Spot head off on an adventure to try to restore peace to Arlo’s farming (yes, farming) community. Slated for Spring 2014, The Good Dinosaur stars Lucas Neff, Bill Hader, Judy Greer, Neil Patrick Harris, John Lithgow, and Frances McDormand.

Disney/PIXAR Toy Story OF TERROR: a brand new 30-minute special airing on ABC. A road trip goes creepily awry for our Toy Story gang. When one toy goes missing, will the others soon disappear too? To find out, check your local listings on October 16, 2013.

PPDA D23 Expo 2013 Get a HorseGet A Horse!: Mickey, Minnie, Horace and Clarabelle go out for a hay ride, but Peg-Leg Pete happens upon them just in time to cause mischief. This phenomenal short made its U.S. premiere at the D23 Expo and features Walt Disney, himself, as the voice of Mickey Mouse. Get A Horse! will be shown ahead of Frozen on November 27, 2013.

Disneytoon Studios’ The Pirate Fairy: Tinker Bell and her Pixie Hollow friends are stunned to learn that misunderstood fairy, Zarina joins up with the pirates of Skull Rock. The Pirate Fairy stars Christina Hendricks and Tom Hiddleston (yes, Loki). Embark on the adventure Spring 2014.OMD D23 Expo Animation Panel The Pirate Fairy

Disneytoon Studios’ Planes: Fire & Rescue: Dusty Crophopper is back, this time joining an elite fire and rescue aircraft team to protect forests from wildfires. Starring Dane Cook and Julie Bowen, Planes: Fire & Rescue jumps into theaters Summer 2014.

Big Hero 6: Inspired by the Marvel comic, our hero, Hiro and his close friend and robot, Baymax join a hilarious team of crime stoppers to try to save San Fransokyo from destruction. Big Hero 6 opens in 3D November 2014.

Disney/PIXAR Inside Out: 11 year old Riley just moved to San Francisco. Her emotions are there to craft new experiences she shares with her family and form the memories of adjusting to a new place. (Mark and I discussed that it reminded him of 1990s sit-com Herman’s Head, which felt spot on based on this sneak peek). Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, and Bill Hader take us inside of Riley’s mind June 2015.

Disney/PIXAR Finding Dory: Our favorite forgetful blue tang is reunited with her own family in this sequel to Finding Nemo. Swimming to us in November 2015 is Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, and Ty Burrell.

The long-awaited Frozen, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen: When Arendelle becomes trapped in snow and ice, the adorably plucky Anna sets on a quest to find her sister Elsa, whose powers hold the key to saving the kingdom. Anna is also joined by Kristoff and his side-kick, Sven, as well a snowman named Olaf. On stage, Idina Menzel gave a breath-taking performance of the song Let It Go. Starring Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Alan Tyduk, Frozen blows into theaters on November 27, 2013. (While there is going to be a holiday overlay featuring Frozen at DCA’s World of Color, I am waiting to see if any tie-ins happen over at Epcot’s Norway Pavilion. What about you?)

Other projects presented were the Disney Fairies adventure, Legend of the NeverBeast, slated for Spring 2015 and Zootopia, slated for 2016.

On stage celebrity appearances included: Bob Iger, John Lasseter, Burny Mattinson Bill Hader, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, Christina Hendricks, Tom Hiddleston, Lucas Neff, Judy Greer, Dane Cook, Phyllis Smith, John Ratzenberger, Andrew Stanton, Chris Buck and Pete Docter.

And memorable moments included:

D23 Expo 2013 Animator Burny MattinsonBurny Mattinson celebrates 60 years with Walt Disney Animation Studios this year, and John Lasseter surprised him by marking his anniverary at this presentation. Still going strong at the studios, Mattinson is one of the remaining artists who worked under Walt Disney himself.

We were given an inside look at a day in the life of Disneytoon Studios as well as finding out that their commissary is the most popular in the Disney/PIXAR campus.

The John Lasseter Hawaiian shirt wardrobe changes: Monsters University, Planes, then Wreck-it Ralph themed. Each represent the three studios he heads and the latest films released from them.

Tom Hiddleston coerced by the crowd to sing the chorus of The Bare Necessities when told his favorite movie growing up was The Jungle Book and that he once sang the song for an audition at school.

Bill Hader made several appearances for the films announced here (in addition to John Lasseter introducing him as the slug from Monsters University). So, we were delightedOMD D23 Expo Animation Panel PLC John Ratzenberger DL Marching Band  when John Ratzenberger surprised us on stage along with the fanfare of the Disneyland marching band. Though Hader is going on his 4th PIXAR appearance, Ratzenberger hilariously defended his title as PIXAR’s “lucky charm”.

The D23 Expo’s Art and Imagination presentation was a true highlight of the exciting animation projects ahead for the Walt Disney Company. Stay tuned, because there is sure to be much more to come.

All photos, except where noted are courtesy of D23 and Oh My Disney.

And a special thank you to Mark Petar.

For Fran Cassano, paper crafts have kept the magic of Disney a part of her everyday life. Fran invites us capture our own memories through Practically Perfect DISNEY Crafting… Break out the tools that have been gathering dust. And let’s figure out how, together!