This past weekend saw the annual D23 Expo come to Anaheim, California. D23, for those of you who don’t know, is the official convention of Disney. Attendees include Marvel, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Pictures, and a huge array of exhibitors, vendors, and more. Some of those “and more”s included the likes of Harrison Ford, James Cameron, Stan Lee, Daisy Ridley, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – the list was impressive.
Around the show floor, attendees could find an amazing exhibit gallery full of Disneyland memorabilia. Items of note included the first Disneyland admission ticket, the first Disneyland cast-member badge, and even the whole dragon head from the park’s Fantasmic show. Also on display was one of the RX-24 pilot droids from the original Star Tours attraction, Annette Funicello’s Mickey Mouse Club costume, and a lot more.
On the movie front, there were costumes and displays from the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the space pod from Guardians of the Galaxy, costumes and props from Ant-Man and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and more. Disney’s acquisition of Marvel and Lucasfilm has really sent some serious power to the D23 Expo. What was once simply a convention for Disney fans is now an expo with IPs with worth in the billions. There were even cast appearances by the stars of various ABC Family and Disney Channel shows like the recent Descendants, about the children of various Disney characters.
Disney theme parks were also in the spotlight, with news on both the Star Wars themed lands coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World as well as the Avatar themed land coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. Also from the Awesome Dept. was word that Star Tours would be getting a new destination, based on the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, added to its mix of possibilities. There were also a ton of displays set up showing off various aspects of Shanghai Disneyland, which looks to be a really cool park, with a TRON light-cycle rollercoaster and more.
The Anaheim convention center was, once again, a great spot to host the D23 Expo. Not only does it have a large amount of floor space and huge number of smaller rooms for panels, screenings, and more – but it is also right across the street from Disneyland. This means that many attendees get whole weekend vacation plans in check, with stays at Disneyland hotels, tickets to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, and tickets to the D23 Expo itself.
Of course, the worst part of the D23 Expo experience, as is the case with MOST conventions, is the food. Convention center food is never that great. Although, here is a tip: If you go to the neighboring Hilton Anaheim hotel, you will find some good eats. Stay away from the small food court in that hotel as it gets overrun with attendees and the lines are atrocious. Past the food court, deeper inside the huge hotel lobby, you will find Mix – an actual, sit-down restaurant. This restaurant costs from $12 to $19 dollars a plate and the quality is way better than the food court or the convention center. Even better is that it seems like most attendees never find this place so there is usually NO wait time to get a seat.
Also in full force at the D23 Expo were the cosplayers – most cosplaying characters from Disney related properties, like the pictured above Sgt Calhoun cosplayer (AmberSkies Cosplay). Surprisingly, I didn’t see that many Star Wars inspired cosplayers, despite Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. I had at least expected some of the 501st Legion to show up. That being said, there were a lot of people present and I could have just missed them in passing.
Overall, the 2015 D23 Expo was a great time. No matter if you were a fan of Disney movies, theme parks, or memorabilia – it had something for everyone.
You can find more out about the D23 Expo at its official website.