Being a shameless Disney fan, it makes sense that I decided to go to the D23 Expo this year. I hadn't attended one since the early 2000's.
For those not in the know, "D23" is the official Disney fan club. The D stands for Disney, and the 23 stands for the year the Disney company was founded. While you can attend D23 events year round. the D23 Expo is held every 2 years in Anaheim, CA. The D23 Expo is essentially a Disney convention,
My friend Joleena and I were curious about the event but did not want to commit to the entire weekend, so we opted for Saturday tickets, even before the event lineup was announced. How could we go wrong with any day at a Disney convention?
A few weeks before the Expo, the event lineup was announced, along with the news of a reservation system for panels, signings, and other activities. Fortunately and unfortunately. the reservation system was not first come first serve, but was in fact a lottery system, meaning guests would be randomly selected for panels. Standby lines were available, but there was no guarantee you would enter the panel.
Thankfully I was lucky enough to score a reservation to the Lucasfilm/Marvel/20th Century Fox panel, and Joleena got a reservation for Disney's Epic Entertainment Showcase: The Musical: The Extravaganza. Yes, you read that correctly.
Truth be told, we did not know what to expect, but we planned our fun Disney-themed outfits and looked forward to the adventures ahead.
I was pretty darn proud of the look I put together - a dapper Shang Chi! It was so fun to work on this outfit, including painting my ten rings and sculpting tiny figurines for my homemade fascinator.
The morning of the Expo, we arrived several hours before our panel, to ensure we got a decent spot. Even having a reservation was not a guaranteed entry. The lines were very organized, with plenty of helpful volunteers to guide us through the process. Unlike conventions like San Diego Comic Con, we had to scan our badges and verify our reservations before we could get in line.
Once it was almost time for the panel, volunteers walked each "chute" to Hall D23. Once we entered the hall, we were shown to our seats - also unlike San Diego Comic Con, there was more order with how everyone was seated.
I won’t go into all of the details of our panel, but we had a blast seeing the casts and creators of the upcoming Lucasfilm projects (Star Wars, Indiana Jones and more) plus upcoming Marvel Studios projects (a ton of MCU movies, Disney+ series).
I would be amiss in my recap if I didn’t mention one of the highlights… When the marvel Studios portion of the panel started, Kevin Feige came out and mentioned how jealous he was that other panels started with musicals, etc. Well, his dream came true because we got to see Rogers: the Musical LIVE!
It was absolutely incredible – a broadway-style musical number, with a live band and everything.
We left the panel early (at the beginning of the Avatar portion) because we had a shopping reservation. Yes, you read that right! At 6AM every day of the Expo, virtual queue availability opened up on the D23 Expo App and guests could join a virtual queue for the shops/marketplaces available during the expo.
As we were exiting the panel, I was asked to participate in a fun little video for Marvel's official Youtube channel! You can see me in the video here.
We made our way over to the Expo Marketplace for our reservation, and were soon let in to shop. I'm not one to collect many things, so the shopping wasn't too dangerous for my wallet. I did walk away with a Darth Vader sweatshirt that I really love!
There was some time before our next panel, so we took the opportunity to explore the floor and really enjoy the heart of the Expo. We ran into some of our favorite influencers, took fun photos, admired everyone’s amazing outfits, and absorbed all of the Disney content we could.
There was so many booths representing the many facets of Disney - limited edition merchandise, Disney weddings, animation, upcoming films, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and a few specialty exhibits celebrating the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the Disney company.
The 100 year exhibit took guests through the history of Disney, showcasing some iconic milestones and fan favorites. It was amazing to see just how far the Walt Disney Company has come.
One of the most popular parts of this particular exhibit was the Disney Channel section. The famous Mickey ear photo op had the longest line, and rightfully so! All of us were brimming with nostalgia, and it was wonderful watching guests giggle as they lived out their Disney Channel dreams.
Seeing costumes, props and behind-the-scenes peeks at our favorite Disney attractions and films was very special. Unlike other conventions like San Diego Comic Con and Wonder Con, the D23 Expo focuses on one brand, and that is Disney. It was a sensory overload at times, but this event is truly heaven for Disney fans.
It was time once again for a panel, so we found our way back to Hall D23 for Disney’s Epic Entertainment Showcase: The Musical: The Extravaganza. My friend had gotten the reservation for this panel and didn’t really look into it. I convinced her it was a good panel to try out, and I’m so glad we did.
The panel was definitely a musical extravaganza, showcasing a plethora of upcoming Disney+ series, complete with musical numbers and performances (including Electric Mayhem!), all hosted by Raven Simone and Lilly Singh. We got to see the cast and creators of so many amazing upcoming series, and many of those included some big names like Tim Allen, Lawrence Fishburne, Rick Riordan, Ke Huy Kwan and Michelle Yeoh.
The Santa Clauses portion of the panel even brought snow to Hall D23!
Once the panel was over, our day began to diminish at an accelerated pace. We were tired, hadn’t eaten since the morning, and were trying our best to squeeze the last bit of magic out of the day.
The Expo had several photo ops that utilized our badges - we scanned our badges, took the photos and they were sent directly to our email. I really loved the convenience of that system, and we got some great photos!
Our last stop was Walt's plane, which was brought across the country for the Expo. It was quite surreal seeing such personal artifacts that belonged to Walt himself. I think it was the perfect ending to our very Disney-filled day.
At 7PM, our pixie dust ran out, and our day full of Disney magic ended as the Expo closed. Truth be told, I am already so excited for the next one! I am hoping to go for multiple days instead of just one.
If you love Disney and can make it out to Anaheim, I highly recommend the D23 Expo!
Until next time,