Guess what came in the mail yesterday?! The countdown is officially on for the 2017 D23 Expo!
So much information has been coming out about the Expo, that it’s hard to keep track of it all. We learned the hard way in previous years that there truly is just too much to take in, but maybe at least you can get an idea of what you want to see (if you’re attending) or keep an eye out for on social media (if you aren’t).
This post is going to be long enough as it is though, so let’s dive in!
What We Know (so Far) about the 2017 D23 Expo
The event takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center from July 14-16, 2017. From the D23 site, this is the best overview of the event:
Each of Disney’s magical worlds will unite under one roof to celebrate what’s new and what’s on the horizon from theme parks, television, music, gaming, and films, including Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel.
Tickets can still be purchased here; prices range from $53-81 for a One-Day pass, and $153-238 for a Three-Day pass.
The 6800-seat Hall D23 will once again be the location of the “big” presentations. Stage 23, Stage 28, and Center Stage will return as the site of smaller presentations and interactive guest experiences, and a number of other venues exist on the show floor and throughout the convention center.
Stagepass & StorePass
StagePass and StorePass, introduced in 2015, allow guests priority places in line to shop at a variety of venues throughout the event or provide guaranteed seating for some of the smaller panels in D23 Expo Arena, Stage 28, and the Walt Disney Archives Stage.
The StagePass and StorePass distribution centers will be located in Hall A. Guests must present a D23 Expo admission ticket to receive one pass for the selected session/shopping experience.
In my experience, it is easy to get these passes, but only the Stagepass seems to be a guarantee. With the StorePass, it was very hit or miss whether we got to the stores in time before everything sold out… or sometimes, if we got there at all before the standby line. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that some of last year’s kinks regarding passes are worked out!
(Oswald-themed!) D23 Fan Lounge
Located in the middle of the show floor, the lounge has charging stations and photo opportunities, as well as information about D23 Membership. I’m not sure how crowded this will be, but I can’t wait to see the theming!
Schedule of Events
More details can be found on the D23 Expo website, but here are some highlights:
FRIDAY, JULY 14
Disney Legends Awards Ceremony
Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: the Upcoming Films
Pirates of the Caribbean: 50 Years of Swashbuckling Adventures in Disney Parks
SATURDAY, JULY 15
Walt Disney Studios Live Action Films
The Power of the Princess
Level Up! The Video Game Showcase
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
SUNDAY, JULY 16
Tangled: The Series Panel
A Whole New World of Alan Menken
Zero to Hero: The Making of Hercules
90 Years of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Large-scale Presentations & Exhibits
Disney Legends Ceremony
The Disney Legends Ceremony takes time to recognize men and women who have been important parts of Disney history. Historically, Disney Legends have come from imagineering, film, music, parks, television, and even administration. You can read a bit more here, in our Disney Legends Spotlight series (which needs a serious update).
This year, the ceremony will honor Oprah Winfrey, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Stan Lee, Julie Taymor, Clyde “Gerry” Geronimi, Manuel Gonzales, Wayne Jackson, and Garry Marshall. As this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Disney Legends award, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this event make an even bigger splash than it has in years past.
Walt Disney Studios
As in years past, guests can try and find a spot for two presentations from Walt Disney Studios. The first will look at what is slated for Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Studios, while the second will cover Disney’s live-action films, as well as the Marvel and Star Wars franchises.
In 2015, these were hands-down the most frustrating presentations to attend…and also the most incredible. Guests can expect sneak preview footage, interviews, behind-the-scenes stories, and special guests. You can read the recaps here (from John Lassetter’s Animation presentation as well as our overall recap), but I’ll just admit right up front: I squealed like a little girl when Captain American and Falcon stopped by for a visit.
The Studios will also have a large presence on the show floor, with displays, autograph sessions, and more from Cars 3, Coco, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
At the last event, we were blown away with news of two Star Wars lands, big changes to Soarin’, and the surprising announcement about Pixar-themed lands. With those announcements and the recent opening of Pandora: World of Avatar, it would seem this year we shouldn’t expect too much from Parks and Resorts’ Hall D23 presentation… but I know better. I’m anticipating big announcements about Epcot, and to see some things that will get Kyle and I super excited for our visits to Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland later this year!
On the show floor, Disney Parks presents “A Galaxy of Stories”, where guests can get sneak peeks of Star Wars lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Cast Members and Imagineers will share stories, while models, artwork, and media from the lands will be on display. And for the first time ever, guests will get a public look at a fully-detailed working model of the lands set to open in 2019.
Returning once again, Mousequerade is the Expo’s costume contest, with a $2300 grand prize! If you’ve never been to a Comic-Con type event – and honestly, probably even if you have – you’ll be blown away at some of the fan costumes. This year’s judges include Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars Rebels, Her Universe), Kara Saun (Descendents 2), and Yvette Nicole Brown (ABC’s The Mayor).
Walt Disney Archives
This year’s 12,000-square-foot exhibit from the Walt Disney Archives is “A Pirate’s Life for Me”. As we’ve come to expect, it will include props, photographs, video, costumes, set pieces, and more – many of which will be on display for the first time. This year, there will even be Audio-Animatronics from the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland. Pirates from Peter Pan’s Flight, Treasure Island, Peter Pan, and even an unpublished Donald Duck short will have a presence in the exhibit, along with the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. I’m super excited to see Davy Jones’ Pipe Organ! So cool (and creepy).
In addition to their main exhibit, the Walt Disney Archives will also have a smaller display entitled “Fantastical Fashions”. Dresses from six films, including Enchanted, Maleficent, and 2017’s Beauty and the Beast will be on display. Don’t mind me if I just slip in to try on Giselle’s dresses…
A Whole New World of Alan Menken
Alan Menken has a new one-man show that I’m sure will be to die for. In addition to titles Disney fans will expect from movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Aladdin, the legendary singer-songwriter will also likely perform numbers from the Broadway productions of Newsies, Little Shop of Horrors, and Sister Act, plus some of his original pieces unrelated to shows.
I’ve never heard Menken perform, but I’ve seen clips of both his musical performances and his stories from an already-incredible career. One of his two performances on Sunday will be a high priority for me!
“Epic Experiences” from Marvel Studios
On the show floor, Expo guests will find costumes from upcoming Marvel films, Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. They can also play new Marvel video and mobile games (including Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Heroes Omega, Future Fight, and Marvel: Puzzle Quest), and take advantage of fun photo opportunities.
In it’s show space, Marvel will also be hosting several product giveaways and meet-and-greets with Marvel filmmakers and talent.
Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media
The Games Showcase returns to the show floor with brand new games, trailers, and guests, as well as updates and information about Star Wars Battlefront II and Kingdom Hearts III.
As in 2015, a Disney Products presentation on the Disney Archives stage will feature announcements, sneak peaks of Disney products and collectibles, and product giveaways.
Disney Publishing will have information and behind-the-scenes looks at fiction books based on hit TV series’, as well as non-fiction titles like Ink & Paint: The Women of Disney’s Animation and The Kiss Goodnight. Authors like Ridley Pearson (of the Kingdom Keepers series) will be on hand for presentations and autographs.
Oh my Disney! Stage
Oh my Disney! is the biggest online destination for Disney branded quizzes, memes, and “buzzfeed style” articles. It’s the kind of place I don’t want to love, but can’t help liking at least a little…
At the D23 Expo, Oh My Disney! will have surprise guests, toy unboxings, and live streams. They’ll also lend some of their stage space to other Disney Digital Network channels like Disney Style and Disney Family.
Disney Dream Store
The Disney Dream Store is home to exclusive Expo-themed merchandise and Disney Parks merchandise, as well as some additional fan events. This year, we can expect to see items commemorating Pirates of the Caribbean‘s 50th anniversary, Space Mountain‘s 30th anniversary, Epcot’s 35th anniversary, and Star Tours’ 30th anniversary. There will also be 30th anniversary Disney Legends merchandise, and a new droid, “R5-D23”, set to debut that weekend.
D23 has also announced the introduction of the “Interchangeable Bow Collection”, a mouse ears headband that can accept six different bows (sold separately). If done well, I think this will be super cute!
Jewelry, apparel, and artwork will be made available from Steve Adams, Dave Avanzino, Jasmine Becket-Griffith, David Bird, Britni Brault, Choice Collectibles, Joey Chou, John Coulter, Daniel’s Woodland, Disney Fine Art by Collectors Editions, Dooney & Bourke, Craig Fraser, Jeremy Fulton, HARVEYS, Brian Kesinger, Daniel Killen, Ink & Paint Artists, Jerrod Maruyama, Bridget McCarty, Miss Mindy, Mark Page, Mike Peraza, Patty Peraza, Larry Nikolai, Noah, Precious Moments, Linda Rick, Shag, Jim Shore, Javier Soto, George Scribner, Sketch Artists, VinylmationTM, Joe Yakovetic, Kenny Yamada, and more. A number of artists and authors will have signing events inside the Disney Dream Store throughout the weekend.
Disney Music Emporium
I’ve raved about the Music Emporium before, and they return to the expo with a pop-up store. The Walt Disney Legacy Collection Robin Hood soundtrack will be available for the first time ever. Fans can also expect album signings with Michael Giacchino (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out, Disney•Pixar’s Up), Tyler Bates (Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1), Auli’i Cravalho (voice of Moana), Dove Cameron (Descendants 2, Liv and Maddie), Sofia Carson (Descendants 2), and Lorelay Bove (Visual Development Artist, Walt Disney Animation Studios), plus Hollywood Records artists Jordan Fisher and Temecula Road.
While my daughter would be stoked to meet Jordan Fisher, I’m especially looking forward to trying to give Auli’i a great big hug; I love that girl. D23 has stated that wristbands will be distributed with select purchases to secure a spot at corresponding album signings, so apparently I’ll be doing some shopping.
Mickey’s of Glendale
At the last Expo, I was probably most excited to check out Mickey’s of Glendale – the imagineering-exclusive shop that has begun to pop up at Expos and similar events. I’ve had the chance to shop Mickey’s of Glendale a few times since then, and I’m still a big fan.
Just announced on June 20, the Disney Store will once again bring new and Expo-exclusive collections to the event. I’ve got to be honest – I probably won’t go near there unless my life depends on it. In 2015, the line for the Disney Store was always utterly ridiculous, and everything was gone long before most “regular” (read: non-Sorcerers) guests even got in the store. Still, there’s plenty to tempt me…
New products will be revealed from the Disney Designer Collection, Her Universe, The Art of Snow White, MXYZ, and a brand new D23-themed Marvel collection. Some items will be available for purchase at the event, others will serve as sneak previews for merchandise that will be available in Disney Stores this fall. The store will also be celebrating Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s 90th anniversary, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs‘ 80th, and Bambi‘s 75th.
Star Wars fans will find plenty of merchandise to choose from, including Limited Edition Elite Series Premium Action Figure Hero and Villain Duos. And the cause of the pandemonium last year… daily-release, limited-edition Tsum Tsum collections are back.
In addition to experiences mentioned above, guests will be able to purchase a number of titles from Disney Publishing before they go on sale to the public later this year, including A Kiss Goodnight (Richard Sherman, Floyd Norman), Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation (Mindy Johnson), Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons (Dave Bossert), and Art of Coloring: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
D23 Expo Emporium
Unlike the other, Disney-owned or major third-party shopping locations, the emporium allows fans to buy and sell their own collectibles and merchandise.
Celebrity Appearances & Presentations
Appearances from Disney Channel, Disney XD and Freeform TV
The “Talent Central” section of the show floor will host autograph and meet-and-greet sessions throughout the weekend. Thus far, D23 has announced appearances of stars from several television shows, either as part of Talent Central or in panel discussions.
Disney Channel’s Descendents 2
- Dove Cameron (Mal)
- Cameron Boyce (Carlos)
- Sofia Carson (Evie)
- Booboo Stewart (Jay)
- Kenny Ortega (producer, director, choreographer)
Disney Channel’s Tangled: the Series
- Mandy Moore (Rapunzel)
- Zachary Levi (Eugene AKA Flynn Rider)
- Eden Espinosa (Cassandra)
- Jeremy Jordan (Varian)
Disney XD’s DuckTales
- Ben Schwartz (Dewey)
- Kate Mucucci (Webby Vanderquack)
- Beck Bennett (Launchpad McQuack)
- Toks Olagundoye (Mrs. Beakley)
- Matt Youngberg (producer)
- Francisco Angones (co-producer/story editor)
Disney Junior’s Elena of Avalor
- Aimee Carrero (Elena)
- Lou Diamond Philips (Victor Delgado)
… plus confirmed appearances from Freeform casts:
- The Fosters
- The Bold Type
Princesses & Pop Stars
At the very least, the following people are slated to appear for panels and presentations (see above):
- Jodi Benson (Ariel)
- Ming-Na Wen (Mulan)
- Anika Noni Rose (Tiana)
- Auli’i Cravalho (Moana)
- Susan Egan (Megara, Belle (on Broadway))
- Jordan Fisher (Hollywood Records, featured on the Moana soundtrack)
Disney Legends & Friends of the Company
Traditionally, living members being honored at the Disney Legends Ceremony are on-hand for the presentation. If this remains true, we can expect to see:
- Oprah Winfrey
- Mark Hamill
- Stan Lee
- Julie Taymor
- Wayne Jackson
Also scheduled are:
- Leonard Maltin (film critic and historian)
- Whoopi Goldberg
- John Musker and Ron Clements (directors, Hercules)
- Eric Goldberg and Ken Duncan (animators, Hercules)
- Tate Donovan (voice of Hercules)
- John Stamos
- Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy and Pluto)
- imagineers Bob Gurr, Marty Sklar, Tony Baxter, Wayne Jackson, Diana Brost, Jason Grandt, and Chris Merritt
- Dave Smith (founder of the Walt Disney Archives)
- Lesley Ann Warren
- Karen Dotrice
- Pete Docter
- Jim Cora
- Don Hahn
- Bret Iwan (voice of Mickey Mouse)
Other fan experiences:
- Guests can dive into Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin and swim through more than 30,000 plastic gold coins. (Wait, what?! That’s basically a bucket list item for every child of the 90s…..)
- Fans of Doc McStuffins can visit McStuffins Toy Hospital Nursery to give baby toys checkups, and check out a new Doc McStuffins app.
- Learn to draw with animation sessions from Disney animators Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn, and Marvel’s Brian Crosby
Gold Member Benefits
New this year, D23 Gold Members will have a handful of extra benefits. I’m trying to temper my expectations knowing that many in attendance are going to be eligible for these perks. That said, after a bit of a rude awakening at the 2015 event, I’ll take even the idea of working toward treating superfans (oh, and people who spend extra money…) a little differently than people who happen to pass by the convention center and show up for a the cool merch.
There aren’t a lot of details, but this is what we are hearing so far regarding Gold Member perks:
Priority Seating for Presentations in Hall D23 and the D23 Expo Arena
All members of the party must be present at the time of entry to the queue (no saving spots in line). The priority queue will be closed one hour prior to the scheduled session. Priority seating is not reserved seating, but allows first access to general admission seating.
Complimentary Exclusive Print
Gold Members can pick up an Expo-exclusive gift in Hall A
Special Merchandise Offers
Disney partners offering a discount are (as of 6/21/17): Havaianas, Ozobot, Stiff, and Thomas Kinkade
D23 Charter Member Lounge
As always, there is a cool lounge just for D23 Charter Members who (unlike me) maintained Gold Membership from the start.
PHEW! Is that all….?
Believe it or not, this isn’t technically even all of the information we have – and more comes out nearly every day. I’ll continue to update the post as press releases make their way to my inbox, but for your sake and mine, I’ll have to hold some of the details of specific small-stage panels and presentations, etc.
Thus far we’re seeing announcements of sneak peeks of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, panels of real-life princesses, a celebration of Bambi’s 75th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of The Golden Girls, spotlights on the music of live-action films, showcases of the women in Imagineering and voices in the Disney parks, and so much more.
You’re going to want to keep an eye on social media (and on the forthcoming D23 Expo app, for attendees) as the event draws closer!
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!