This coming weekend is THE event for Disney nerds: D23 Expo. Held at the Anaheim Convention Center this Friday-Sunday, August 14-16, D23 Expo is the ultimate fan event that celebrated everything under the Disney umbrella. Be it Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Muppets, music, television, games, or theme parks and resorts, THIS is the place for it.
Think of it like San Diego Comic-Con but exclusively for the Disney brand.
The last event was held in 2013 and drew about 65,000 fans. This year’s event promises to be even bigger.
There are ALL KINDS of events going on and things to see and do, and I’ll try to walk you through some of it. I’ll be there, on the scene, representing GeekDad the best way I know how: by geeking out with the best of them. Feel free to follow along on Twitter (@theroarbots); I’ll be doing my best to stay on top of everything I see.
Today, let’s take a look at the big boys: the Hall D23 panels.
Hall D23 is the D23 Expo’s equivalent to San Diego’s Hall H. It’s where all of the huge, mega popular “event panels” are being held, and it’s from where most of the biggest news items will emerge.
Friday morning: Disney Legends Awards
To be named a Disney Legend is the highest honor the company can bestow upon someone. Each honoree receives a two-foot-tall bronze Disney Legends sculpture that signifies the imagination, creativity, and magic they have brought to the company.
This year’s ceremony will be hosted by Disney CEO Bob Iger, and the honorees are George Lucas, Danny Elfman, Andreas Deja, Susan Lucci, George Bodenheimer, Eyvind Earle, Julie Reihm Casaletto, and Carson van Osten. Including this year’s honorees, a total of 257 Disney Legends have been named.
Friday afternoon: Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films
John Lasseter brings us newsy tidbits about the upcoming animated film slate, including The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, Zootopia, and Moana on the immediate horizon.
We’ve already gotten a full trailer for The Good Dinosaur and a teaser for Zootopia, so I’m hoping to see something about the other titles or maybe a full trailer for Zootopia (which so far looks upsettingly similar to Chicken Little).
Saturday morning: Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at Walt Disney Studios
Could we see a third trailer for The Force Awakens? Could we get more details about the plot? Might we finally see Lupita Nyong’o and Max Von Sydow’s characters? Might we finally see Lupita Nyong’o and Max Von Sydow?
How about more info or a proper teaser for the first Star Wars Anthology film: Rogue One?
Could we see a trailer for Captain America: Civil War? Maybe something about the other Phase 3 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spider-Man, and Thor: Ragnarok are the soonest (all scheduled for 2017), so we may get something. I’m most interested to know if they’ll say anything about Spider-Man.
We’re also bound to get more than we care to know about the bevy of live-action remakes headed our way, whether we want them or not, including Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Pirates of the Caribbean 6 (or is it 7?), Dumbo, Mulan, Winnie the Pooh, etc.
Saturday afternoon: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
The biggest news here is that we’re likely to get more details about the meltdown that is currently Hollywood Studios. In the past year, the American Idol Experience, Studio Backlot Tour, American Film Institute Showcase, Legend of Jack Sparrow, and The Magic of Disney Animation all closed permanently. And the central Mickey Sorcerer’s hat (which had become iconic for many as it has loomed as the park’s centerpiece at the end of Hollywood Boulevard since 2001) was completely dismantled and removed.
Many other attractions are also rumored to be closing soon (Muppet*Vision 3D, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular are all rumored to be on the chopping block), so the big question is what’s coming? Of course, let’s ignore the fact that it would’ve made sense to announce the replacement(s) prior to shuttering all of those attractions, especially since Disney has a history of taking their time with new attractions (e.g., Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Avatar Land, Disney Springs), but no bother.
We already know (or think we know) that Hollywood Studios will undergo a rebranding and renaming to better align with what the park is intended to be, moving forward. We might learn that new name. But will we also get news of a Star Wars Land? Pixar Play Land? Enormous Olaf head to replace the sorcerer’s hat?
Star Wars Land is the biggest wild card at this point. So many people have been talking about it for so long, and it’s assumed we’ll hear something about it. But will it go to Anaheim instead of or in addition to Orlando?
Obviously, we’ll hear about plans outside of Orlando as well. More details are sure to emerge about Shanghai Disneyland (which opens in 2016) and the Iron Man attraction currently being built at Hong Kong Disneyland. We might hear something about an expansion in Anaheim, and I’m sure we’ll hear something about the wonderful things going on in Tokyo.
Sunday morning: It’s Game Time: Disney Interactive Takes the Stage
This is where we’ll get more details about Disney Infinity (including three as-yet-unannounced Disney Originals figures for the 3.0 version of the game), Star Wars Battlefront, and several other titles. If you’re a gamer, this is one you won’t want to miss.
Sunday afternoon: Frozen Fandemonium: A Musical Celebration!
I’m just going to go ahead and paste the press release info here. (Hint: This is the one I’m skipping.)
Join host Chris Montan, president, Walt Disney Music, and the Oscar-winning songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez as they take you on a once-in-a-lifetime musical journey through the world of Frozen. This one-day-only performance features your favorite friends from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film–including Anna and Elsa–with sing-along experiences and fascinating stories behind some of your favorite Frozen songs.
If you’re still reading, come back tomorrow for a peek at what else is happening at D23 Expo: smaller panels, expo floor sessions, and more!