Animation, movies, music, television, Theme Parks, theater, and more -- the magic of Walt Disney's incredible vision has touched the lives of millions in so many ways. Each with special memories, fans are always eager to see what's next from the House of Mouse. Even after 81 years of sparking imaginations worldwide, the most ardent Disney enthusiast couldn't have predicted the Company's latest stroke of genius. From September 10 through 13, the Anaheim Convention Center will host every Disney experience conceivable as the first-ever D23 Expo thrills the city of Anaheim, California, right down to its last glimmer of pixie dust.
Steven Clark, head of D23, shares the exciting details. "The Walt Disney Company has never done anything like this before. It's the biggest, truly most impressive gathering of all things Disney. Every part of the Company will come together to celebrate our rich history and legacy on an enormously grand scale."
Here's a floor-by-floor rundown ...
Starting in the 5,000-seat arena, visitors can hear keynote speakers from every area of The Walt Disney Company. "President and CEO Bob Iger kicks off Thursday's talks at 11 a.m. with a Company-wide overview ... and a few surprises along the way," says Steven. Other department heads will also speak during the four-day extravaganza, along with star-studded presentations, live performances, and behind-the-scenes exclusives. Steven promises Guests are in for the biggest "wow" possible and reveals that the lineup will be spectacular, with appearances from some of TV's hottest stars. "Though everyone's sworn to secrecy, I can tell you one thing -- it's going to be awesome!"
Next up is the arena event Steven anticipates most. "I'm thrilled we were able to bring the Disney Legends Ceremony to the expo ... for the first time ever it won't be held on Disney property. It's exciting that Cast Members and fans will be able to participate in this 22-year-old, time-honored Disney tradition." With the ceremony scheduled for 12 p.m. on Thursday, this year's honorees -- selected from live-action films, animation, Imagineering, and Theme Parks -- will be announced later this summer. Past legends are always invited and Steven confirms it will be well attended by Disney celebrities.
Over in Halls A, B, and C, individual pavilions will display each business unit's latest and greatest in true Disney style. From the models and concept art for Parks and Resorts to Radio Disney and the ESPN Lounge, there's something for everyone in the family as well as hardcore fans. Fashion shows, book signings, activities, pin trading, and the D23 Expo Dream Store are just the beginning.
Check out the Donald Duck Art Competition at the Fan Art Gallery, where D23 Members illustrate their take on the feisty fowl. "This is the first time the Company's given fans the opportunity to interpret a Disney Character, let alone become the official portrait artist. The winner will receive a 'Duckster' award, created by Walt himself. Not many are handed out and there are only a few left in the vault. It's highly coveted," Steven points out. Entries for the D23 2009 Fan Art Contest -- showcasing Members' art of the Fab Five -- will also be displayed.
The Collector's Forum is where fans can showcase, buy, sell, or trade their own personal collections. "There have been similar Disneyana events at other conventions and unofficial clubs. They're incredibly popular and allow fans to meet each other," explains Steven.
Saturday night's D23 Expo Auction will include one highly desirable lot sure to cause a stir amongst collectors. "Even though there are about 35 lots of extraordinary collectibles and historic memorabilia, lot 23 will be the one fans go crazy over since it represents the year Walt formed the company ... it contains an extra-special surprise."
Venture upstairs for another special event Steven really looks forward to. "I'm excited about the 'Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives' exhibit. Over the years, the Disney Archives has loaned props, costumes, memorabilia, and historic assets to various museums. For the first time ever, the Archives will host its own display of rare and iconic items from classic films as well as contemporary shows ... these pieces are the 'crown jewels of Disney' and most have never been seen prior to the expo. Having the chance to enjoy Disney history this way is almost an event within an event," Steven continues.
Guests can also preview the auction or catch a sneak peek of the new fall lineup at the ABC theater. Stage 23 will feature presentations from Disney authors, the Archives team, Imagineers, and more. Steven describes the program from Walt Disney Theatrical Productions. "We'll have a choir and music from 'The Lion King,' with Tom Schumacher and director Roger Allers giving the genesis of how they created the music. It's going to be an amazing musical event."
Moving upward, Walt Disney Studios occupies the entire third floor with a state-of-the-art digital cinema and galleries showcasing concept art, models, and production elements from various movies. "Filmmakers and talent will be on hand for a behind-the-scenes look at upcoming films like 'The Princess and the Frog,' 'Disney's A Christmas Carol,' Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice,' 'Prince of Persia: Sands of Time,' 'Toy Story 3,' and a special look at 'Rapunzel,'" Steven says.
"We'll have advanced screenings of 'Tinker Bell and The Lost Treasure' and the Diamond Edition of 'Snow White' with a guest panel. Our '50 and Fabulous Film Festival' features nightly screenings of Disney classics turning 50, including 'Darby O'Gill and The Little People,' 'The Shaggy Dog,' and 'Sleeping Beauty.' It's going to be an annual tradition."
With so much to see, where does one start? Steven replies, "People can find event info online to plan their must-sees ahead of time. We've taken over hundreds of thousands of square feet for four full days of exciting Disney entertainment."
Dust off your Mickey ears ... the countdown to the D23 Expo is on!