Co-written by Andrew Prince and Vanessa Prince
Join us on our adventure at the D23 Expo 2017 at Disneyland! D23 is the Official Disney Fan Club. Every two years they hold an expo where future movies (both live and animated) and plans for the parks and resorts are revealed. Plus, there were panels covering topics such as Imagineering, Power of the Princess, Merchandising, Pirates of the Caribbean, DuckTales, electronic games, and many more throughout the weekend. There also were many shopping opportunities at the Disney Dream Store, Mickey’s of Glendale, and The Disney Store. There were other vendors selling everything Disney related, too. The Emporium area had collectors and several Disney fan podcast booths, including the WDW Radio/MEI Mouse Fan Travel booth, where Lou Mongello and Beci Mahnken spent most of their time. We had 3-Day Passes for this year’s Expo and covered as many panels and presentations as we could.
Getting ready for the Expo
Before we tell you about the Expo itself, we thought you should know how we prepared for the long weekend. Andrew has been a D23 Gold Member since 2011, which allowed us access to special pricing on tickets that went on sale July 14, 2016. So, when that day arrived, we purchased our 3-Day Passes and began our year-long wait for the Expo. The Expo is held at the Anaheim Convention Center (ACC), which is next to Disneyland and surrounded by Disney Good Neighbor Hotels. We actually booked our hotel room before the tickets were available, as the hotels closest to the ACC sell out fast. But, we changed hotels, as D23 offered exceptional savings for certain hotels. We ended up staying at the Hyatt Place Anaheim Convention Center on Harbor Boulevard, which is less than a half mile from the ACC and one mile from the Disneyland Resort. We really enjoyed our large room and amenities at this hotel and would recommend it for future Expos. A few months after buying our Expo tickets, an email arrived with a link for reduced prices on Disneyland Park tickets, so we took advantage of the offer. During our wait for the D23 Expo, we also joined a D23 Expo 2017 Facebook group, where we could see what fellow D23 guests were talking about. Our actual expo passes arrived in the mail in June and were the first thing we packed, so we wouldn’t forget them.
For Event Schedule click here.
About one week before the Expo, D23 released the updated D23 Expo App, which we quickly downloaded. The app was a great resource as it had the events schedule for each day, list of vendors, and a map of the three floors so we could get acquainted with the floor layout. We could read descriptions of the events, save some as favorites, and set reminders so that we would not miss anything.
One of our biggest concerns when attending a D23 Expo is “What are we going to eat?” This year, we were fortunate that our hotel had a great free breakfast, so we made sure to eat well before leaving the hotel. Although outside food and beverages are not supposed to be brought into the ACC, we did bring in a few snack bars and fruit snacks. While waiting in queues, we noticed other people with homemade lunches and other food they brought in. Even in security, the guards noticed the snacks, but still let us pass through the line. Each day, we did enjoy a Mickey shaped pretzel as lunch. Don’t worry if you do not want to risk having your snacks confiscated; the ACC has quite a few food options including pizza, pasta, mac & cheese, BBQ, coffee, ice cream and more located inside the venue. Once the lines to get in cleared, about 12 food trucks appeared, and you were able to go in and out of the ACC as long as you kept your ticket with you.
WDW Radio LIVE
For those who could not attend the Expo itself, Lou was live broadcasting from the Emporium floor on the WDW Radio Facebook page. Lou also asked people to use #D23ExpoLIVE on their social media as he had a Twitter wall at the booth so you could see what people were sharing. People also posted the hashtag on Facebook and Instagram. Check these out to see what was happening at the Expo! Here are the videos from this year’s D23 Expo Live coverage by WDW Radio.
Day One – Friday, July 14, 2017
The big day finally arrived. Some fans actually camp in line outside the ACC starting the night before the Expo so that they can be the first to enter. Being that this was our second Expo (we also went in 2013), we still do not understand why people do this every night. We arrived at the ACC by [7:30] AM and joined the general admission queue. To our surprise, this queue kept moving as we wound around the ACC and eventually went inside by [8:10] AM. Once inside, we had our passes scanned, went through security (bag check and metal detectors), and picked up the 2017 souvenir guide, Expo bag, and lanyard. Next, we were told to go to the second floor, where we got into another queue that was waiting for the actual Expo to open at 9:00 am. Since Andrew is in a wheelchair, they had a separate queue for us since we would need to take the elevator back down to the first floor. Not sure why they did not keep the wheelchairs/scooters somewhere on the first floor, as the elevator only held a couple people at a time and was slow. It was nice to be able to sit on carpet and out of the heat. We don’t know how many people they let inside to wait, but there was still a long line outside.
The Expo has a main floor and five stages with separate queuing areas for each stage. One lesson we learned at the 2013 Expo was to get in line early if there is a panel/presentation that you really want to see. Sometimes this required just sitting/standing in line in a big, empty, cold room with lines on the floor outlined with tape. We’re not sure if D23 keeps notes from year to year or even day to day, but it seemed like every day the queuing system changed, and not always for the best. If you ever plan to attend a D23 Expo, be sure to bring layers of clothing as it is very cold, and pack a lot of patience.
Eventually, we made it down to the Expo floor around [9:10] AM, where we went to get our D23 Gold Member gift while the line was short. Then, we headed back up to the second floor for our first panel on Disney Product Legacy and Merchandising. During this panel we learned we would receive a “bag of goodies” at the end of the presentation – over $125+ worth of free Disney merchandise! After this panel, it was time to hit the main floor, but first, we stopped to explore the Family Play Zone, where kids could unwind and watch a movie, play games, or do a craft. On our way to the WDW Radio booth, we stopped at the Disney Citizenship booth, where we “VoluntEARed” to help Disney pack some bags for local charities. As we walked through the Expo, it was amazing to see so much Disney in one place outside of a theme park.
After a quick hello to everyone in the booth, it was time to head down to Hall H, a separate area for queuing for large presentations held in Hall D23, to get in line for Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films, hosted by John Lasseter. Again, this is where layers of clothing and a lot of patience came in handy. John Lasseter was a great host, as he walked us through scenes and ideas of upcoming films.
Once the presentation was over, we walked around on the Expo floor and stopped at the WDW Radio booth again to chat live in “The Box” with Lou and other WDW Radio family members. Day one was fun, and it did not seem overly crowded. The Expo closed at [7:00] PM, so we headed back to our hotel to eat dinner and get ready for day two.
Day Two – Saturday, July 15, 2017
Saturday at the Expo usually has the largest crowds, and this held true for this year as the tickets sold out before July. At [7:45] AM, after walking a mile to find the end of the line, we found the line in a totally different area from the day before. The Disney “tape people” were at it again with queue lines taped on the ground, and we heard the line eventually went down Western Avenue around the convention center. While we waited in line, it was fun to watch the people passing by, cosplaying as many different Disney characters and attractions. The queue moved differently today, and we ended up going through bag check and security outside the ACC. We finally entered the building at [9:35] and headed directly to Stage 28 for The Power of the Princess panel. We really enjoyed this panel full of fun personal information from four voice actors from Disney animated films. We again enjoyed VolunEARing at the Disney Citizenship booth and made bags for the Children’s Hospital.
Today’s big event was in the afternoon at [3:00] PM: The Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation. Based on the previous day’s line issues for Hall D23, we headed down to Hall H at noon to get in the queue. We will say that this line seemed more managed. We headed directly to the wheelchair/ECV queue, where a Cast Member asked how many were in our party and if Andrew could transfer or not, which determined where we would be sitting for the presentation. During this presentation, we learned what will be coming to all of the Disney Parks and some hotels, especially to Walt Disney World as it approaches its 50th Anniversary in 2021. We were also excited about the Disney Cruise Line’s announcement of a seventh ship being built.
Before the presentation was over, a Cast Member came out and read a letter from a Dad. The letter explained how his son with autism only wanted a green Mickey balloon during their visit, but none were to be found. His wife went and asked two CMs about green balloons. The CMs somehow found a balloon and gave it to the mom. Their son was so excited to get his green Mickey balloon. After the letter was read, CMs came out with thousands of green Mickey balloons to hand out while “When You Wish Upon A Star” was playing. Not many dry eyes at this point.
At the end of the presentation, we were given a special pin and a ticket for the Fantasmic! soft opening at Disneyland for either that night or Sunday. The big catch was you had to stand in another line for two hours to get your wrist band for the show. But it was so worth it. After the presentation, we stopped at the booth, where we were Live at the Expo with Lou and other friends and chatted about what we were excited to hear coming to the Parks. We met up later that evening with Andrew’s sisters and enjoyed the new Fantasmic! show together.
Day Three – Sunday, July 16, 2017
This morning, we found the end of the line at [8:00] AM, which was near Katella Avenue, about a mile from our hotel. The tape lines were back and in a different configuration from the day before. These lines are pretty precise and wind around in patterns that compact the queue. The queue moved quickly, and we only had a few times where we were standing for over 15 minutes in one place. This was probably due to the large number of people they let into the ACC at a time. Again today, the security and bag check were outside, after which we had to join a large group of people waiting to get in. Just a side note, get your Expo bag the first two days, as there were none available on Sunday morning. The groups moved up quickly, and by [9:30] AM, we were finally on the Expo floor. Our first stop was the Disney Citizenship booth to VoluntEAR one last time for The Boy’s and Girl’s Club of America. Then, it was off to walk around the Emporium and look at collectables and the rest of the Expo floor.
Around [11:30], we headed to Hall H to get in queue for the 1:30 pm A Whole New World of Alan Menken concert. For this Expo, they had two performances of the same concert, which was an improvement from the 2013 Richard Sherman concert where we only made it into the overflow arena and had to watch it on a large screen. The Alan Menken concert was really fun, and we heard so many favorite songs from Disney movies.
After the concert, we walked some more on the Expo floor and visited the booth again. To our disappointment, all of the major store queues were cut-off by [3:00] PM, even though the Expo closed at [7:00] PM. Needless to say, we learned our lesson and will definitely shop earlier at the next Expo. Next, we headed over to the D23 Expo Arena queuing area, where we managed to get in the D23 Gold Member queue. This is one added benefit to being a Gold Member: a separate queue while space is available. While in line, we enjoyed our Mickey pretzel and chatted with other attendees. Inside the arena, we had excellent seats to hear John Stamos lead a discussion with Disney Legends Marty Sklar, who recently passed away on July 27, and Tony Baxter on Imagineering. As we exited the panel, the large doors were down, signaling the end of the D23 Expo 2017. So, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the next day’s activities at Disneyland.
We really enjoyed our time at the D23 Expo 2017. Not only did we see some wonderful panels and presentations, but we also had time to visit with our WDW Radio family and to meet some new friends along the way. This Expo may be over, but we are already making notes for the next Expo in 2019. We hope to see you there!
Check back later to read D23 Expo 2017 posts on the following:
The Walt Disney Company’s Celebrated Product Legacy and the Exciting Future Ahead
Disney Parks Imagineering: Galaxy’s Edge
Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films, hosted by John Lasseter
The Power of the Princess
A Whole New World of Alan Menken
Legends of Walt Disney Imagineering
WDW Radio/MEI Mouse Fan Travel Disneyland Quest 2017
For more information on the Expo from other WDW Radio bloggers visit…
For official Disney videos please go to this playlist on YouTube click this link.
(D23 Expo logo, event guide, schedule, and app images © Disney, map screenshots © Google, other photos property of Deanna Mongello, James Hansen, and Frank Hart. All other photos are property of the authors.)
To learn more about Andrew Prince and read his recent posts for WDW Radio, please click on his name at the top of this post.
To learn more about Vanessa Prince and read his recent posts for WDW Radio, please click here.