Just back from a week off that started with the three-day D23 Expo in Anaheim, which also allowed for time in the parks. No better way to distress than three days of all things Disney.
If you’ve been waiting for the summer crowds to thin before heading out to Disneyland, now is the time. Try to get in before Labor Day weekend. Then after the holiday weekend until about the middle of October the crowds should be pretty thin, especially on weekdays.
Be sure to check the entertainment schedule at Disneyland.disney.go.com for park hours the days you want to go, so you get the most for your money. The schedule also tells you what rides may be down for routine maintenance.
Some new stuff is coming to the Anaheim parks for the holidays, including additions to the Haunted Mansion “Nightmare Before Christmas” decor, and I’ll tell you more about that later.
This was the third expo put on by D23, the “official” Disney fan club. The event, loaded with exhibitions, live performances, giveaways and panels featuring Disney creators on all levels, is put on every two years.
It was a busy, tiring weekend that included a lot of standing in line for hours but the payoff at the end was always worth the wait.
I most look forward to the sneak peak at upcoming Disney animated and live-action movies. In the past, this has been one long presentation. This year, it was split up with animation, led by animations studios chief John Lasseter, on Friday morning, and a look at the upcoming feature-length films led by Alan Horn, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios.
Breaking them into two days allowed for fuller presentations. Animation was a three-hour event while feature-length was 2 ½ hours. Both included a parade of celebrities tied to some of the movies and sneak looks at scenes.
“Star Wars” lovers, however, didn’t get any insight into the next movie since Disney bought the rights to Lucas Films this year.
There was something for everyone, including live performances and opportunities for kids to meet their favorite stars of shows on the Disney Channel, such as the cast of “Teen Beach Movie.”
Most disappointing for me was not getting in to see the presentation of Disney Broadway productions and the performance of some of Disney’s most remembered songs from movies by Richard Sherman and Alan Menken.
Top expo 10 highlights, for me:
- Appearances Angelina Jolie, promoting “Maleficent,” scheduled for a July release; and Sir Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston for “Thor: The Dark World,” due in theaters in November. We were treated to extended looks at both films and I can’t wait to see them.
- The animated film presentation offered a sneak peak at some extended scenes from “Frozen,” due for release in November. The three-hour presentation ended with an awesome performance by Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go” from “Frozen.”
- A sneak look at “Get a Horse,” the animated short featuring Mickey Mouse – voiced by Walt Disney – which will be shown along with “Frozen.” It’s a great mix of yesterday and today done by Pixar and an added bonus for movie-goers.
- The audience was also treated to clips from the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks,” in which Tom Hanks portrays Walt Disney in his decades-long effort to get the movie rights for “Mary Poppins” from author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). The movie is set for a December release.
- A “Tomorrowland” exhibit offered a look at some items in a black, coat-size cardboard box dated “1952” that has sat in storage for decades and is the inspiration for a new feature-length movie due to be released in December.
- A preview of the new ABC drama, “Once Upon A Time in Wonderland,” a spinoff from the hit series “Once Upon A Time.” The panel audience was shown the 19-minute pilot for “Wonderland.” Awesome!
- The Disney Treasures exhibit was filled with Mary Poppins costumes and props in celebration of the movie’s 50th anniversary next year.
- Everyone who attended also got a chance to give back to the community at the VoluntEARS booth where I planted some seeds for vegetable gardens in some of the local schools.
- A costume contest encouraged many who attended to dress as their favorite Disney character and it was fun to see how creative some people got.
- A look at the original drawing for Disneyland that has been preserved and was well guarded as we made our way through the exhibit area.