Monday, August 7, 2017

D23 Expo 2017 - Tips, Tix, & Our Highlights

We survived our first D23 Expo! When we say survived, we mean WE SURVIVED.


We read a ton of information online before our trip. We wanted to know it all - the good and the bad. There was so much information out there that it became overwhelming instead of being helpful. 

We didn't want to be disappointed by over-hyping the event, so we decided to go into the Expo with low expectations and lots of optimism.

We've compiled a few tips that we hope you'll find helpful.

Tips

1. Stay nearby. It was so convenient to be within walking distance of the convention center. We stayed at Disney's Paradise Pier and it was about a 15 minute walk to get to the center. It was nice not having to worry about parking. See the parking rates and information about the various parking lots on Anaheim Convention Center's website... It was enough to deter us from thinking of driving!

2. Wear comfortable shoes. Your feet will thank you!

3. Be prepared for long lines and lots of waiting. We knew there were going to be a ton of people there and I'm so glad we mentally prepared ourselves for it. The crowds were unlike anything we've ever experienced before. We waited 2-3 hours each day just to get into the venue, but the lines don't stop there. There are lines for everything - to go into the exhibits, to go into the stores, to purchase food, to go into the restroom. Some exhibits had minimal wait as the day went by and some exhibits always had a long line (for example - Scrooge McDuck's Money Bin always had a line!).

4. Bring portable batteries so you never run out of juice. We are so glad they had Wi-Fi at the Anaheim Convention Center. Having wireless data access helped make the time pass by while we were waiting in line. It was spotty at times, but I was so grateful to have it.

5. Bring bottled water. Save money and bring your own bottled water! The letter we received before the Expo said that food and drinks were not allowed, but bottled water is the exception. We also brought light snacks with us and weren't reprimanded. I was hoping that there would be Disney food at the convention and unfortunately that wasn't the case! We ate at the Anaheim Convention food courts... The meals were expensive and tasted less than mediocre. There were food trucks at the convention too, but there was a long line to get back through security. We decided to dine at the food trucks for dinner instead. The food trucks were expensive too, but at least the food offerings were plentiful and flavorful.

6. Prioritize what you want to see. Especially when it comes to the panels. Some people wait hours to get into the highly coveted panels, such as the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts panel. While it would have been AWESOME to be there in person and feel the energy of excitement from the crowds, to us it wasn't worth waiting 4 or 5 hours. We saw all the updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram while we were doing other things, so we don't feel like we missed out on anything.

We wish they presented panels multiple times throughout the Expo, but they don't. The only presentation that had 2 sessions was A Whole New World of Alan Menken (which was AMAZING!).

7. Save money and leave room in your suitcase for D23 Expo exclusive merchandise. There were a ton of cool D23 Expo exclusive merchandise! The lines to get into the Dream Store and the Disney Store was always at least 45 minutes long to get in. We didn't buy a lot of things, but we saw people with BAGS AND BAGS of stuff. American Tourister hosted a bag check area and I believe their fee was a reasonable $2/bag for them to hold.

8. Beat the heat - bring a personal fan. We just used paper fans and they worked great. They don't take up a lot of space and you don't need batteries for them.


Tickets

There's definitely an advantage of buying Expo tickets early. This image is from D23's website:


We bought 3 day tickets during the Early Bird special. I don't see why anyone would pay for non-member pricing, signing up for the basic tier of D23 is free!

They also have premium "Sorcerer Package" tickets which are pricey at $2,250/ticket. Not sure how many of those tickets are available, but we heard that they did indeed sell out. Check out what is included on D23.

Our Highlights

Voices of Disney Parks panel

Have you ever wondered who the voices behind your favorite Disney attractions are?! This was such a magical experience! My little sister's favorite ride is "It's A Small World" and her face lit up when she saw the narrators of the attraction - B.J. Ward and Yeni Alvarez. We also saw Bill Rogers and Camille Dixon. We loved seeing the dynamics between all of the presenters!

View the video on YouTube, uploaded by Inside the Magic.

Once Upon a Time panel

One of our favorite shows of all time is Once Upon a Time. There was no way we were going to miss this panel! The stage host was Jeffrey Epstein and Colin O'Donoghue, Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz graced the stage. It was a cool treat to see Colin sing his song from he Musical episode.

We are sad to see several of our favorite characters go, but we are also excited to see what they do with the show. I'm sure we'll see each of them in future episodes anyway, in true Once Upon a Time fashion. :)

D23 has a great review article on their site and Disney Dwayne uploaded a highlights video on YouTube.



A Whole New World of Alan Menken presentation

The Alan Menken performance was a once in a lifetime experience. Never in our lives did we think we'd get to witness Alan Menken perform in person. He wrote music for The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, Newsies, Hercules, Tangled, etc.! It was neat learning about his life and learning how some of the greatest songs came to light.


Meeting Charis Lincoln

Okay, I (Lin) have been following Charis on various social media platforms for a while now. My sister and I have always admired her optimism for life. She lives in Alaska too! In North Pole. We've always wanted to meet her and we got our chance at the D23 Expo. She is just as bubbly and warm in person as she is in her YouTube videos.

If you need a daily dose of positiveness and happiness, definitely check her out!

Instagram
YouTube



Thomas Kinkade painting


We have several Thomas Kinkade canvases and we added this Mickey & Minnie Mouse canvas to our collection! Thomas Kinkade Legacy artist, Dirk Wunderlich, even signed it.





Fun Photo Opportunities

There were plenty of fun photo opportunities all over the place.






Was it all worth it?

There is definitely more room for improvement. Our suggestions that could have made the experience better: have a more efficient crowd control system, show panels multiple times throughout the schedule, and tell Anaheim Convention Center to serve better food.

We had a great time overall and we look forward to going again in 2019!

With love,
Sean & Lin

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