Monday, August 12, 2013

D23 Expo

I’m still recovering from this past weekend’s D23 Expo, the three-day fanfest where all things Disney are promoted, passionately debated, and sold. Like I wrote two years ago, the last Expo experience was far from ideal. And yet, Tim and I got up at the crack of dawn, Friday and Saturday, to schlep out to Anaheim and stand on line with thousands of other fans. Exhausted, we decided to stay home on Sunday.

Although not as wacky as Comic-Con, some fans do
dress as their favorite Disney characters

A big part of Expo is learning about new and upcoming Disney projects. Each day we waited more than two hours to see clips and performers from Disney’s slate of animated and live action movies due to be released over the next three years. Celebrity presenters included Bill Hader, the voice of various characters in three upcoming animated films (so this is why he left Saturday Night Live!), Tom Hiddleston (cue the screams!) and Christina Hendricks, both lending their voices to characters in the new Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy DVD, Dane Cook, the lead voice of Planes, Natalie Portman, Sir Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston (again), all starring in the Thor sequel being released this November, Chris Evans, without his Captain America costume, a very funny Ty Burrell (Tim’s favorite), talking about Muppets Most Wanted due out next spring, and Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak, who play the famous songwriting Sherman brothers in Saving Mr. Banks, a dramatization of the making of Mary Poppins. Schwartzman, who has a very good singing voice, by the way, and Novak were joined by the real Richard Sherman to sing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” The audience, of course, went wild and, without invitation, sang along.

We were not-so-secretly hoping Tom Hanks, who plays Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, would appear, and were holding our breath in anticipation of George Clooney, who’s been cast in next year’s strangely mysterious live action movie Tomorrowland. Instead, we got Angelina Jolie, who stars as the title character in Maleficent, an origins story about Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis and my all-time favorite villainess (evil but beautiful!). Jolie looked thin but fit and was extremely gracious, relaying her enthusiasm for the project as well as the character. In fact, everyone appearing on stage proclaimed his/her life-long love of Disney, prompting Tim to whisper a pointed comment about “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Hmmm . . .

Me sporting Maleficent head-gear

The real deal

For me, one of the best things about Expo is meeting like-minded people who love the same things I do. It’s amazing how quickly one can make new friends while standing on line for two hours. Among the more interesting folks we met: a member of the Disneyana fan club, who lives here but frequently flies to Orlando to attend Walt Disney World events; a British podcaster, who plans his family’s trips to the U.S. around Expo dates; and an 18-year-old, who knows everything about every Disney ride ever created. I felt completely at home.

Tim and Monsters University characters

The Dark Side and me

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