Let’s look at it this way… The D23 Expo is the mecca for anyone who considers themselves to be a Disney fan. It is incredible. It’s the biggest bi-yearly event in the Disney community where all of the big Disney names and legends are invited to participate, speak, and present. There are panels, company-wide announcements, and an overall buzz of excitement shared between the Guests and the cast.
This year, Bobby and I finally had the chance to experience it ourselves for our first time ever! We made the journey out to California just for this and it was well worth it!
July 14th, 2017
We woke up bright and early for our first day of D23 and could not wait to see what it was all about! We made our way to the Anaheim Convention Center, waited about an hour, and made our way inside.
One major thing to take note of is that this convention is packed. You will spend hours waiting in lines and it can be quite overwhelming to some people. My biggest piece of advice is to give yourself ample amounts of time for every single activity you plan to participate in! (especially getting in initially in the morning!)
Our coordinated outfits for the day were our Tokyo Disney character shirts! They were a big hit!
The first convention day was a little crazy because we wanted to get our shopping out of the way. We went to the Disney Music Emporium and got wristbands to meet Auli’i tomorrow as well as some vinyls for my record player. Then we waited in a 2 hour line for the Disney store on the off-chance they would still have Mary Poppins tsum tsums left for Bobby. Sadly, they were all sold out by the time we made it.
Another lesson: if you want certain merchandise from D23, make it a priority to get it very early on the first day and be prepared for a very long wait!
Then I waited in line for Mickey’s of Glendale which is my favorite shop of them all. MOG is the shop that resides on the Imagineering Campus in Glendale that always has amazing attraction specific merchandise and unique items that you can’t find in the parks. I found some great Adventureland pieces to add to my collection!
Half of the fun of D23 were all of the photo ops that were around the convention center. Some of my favorites were: Moana’s boat, the new Minnie vans, the Pirates of the Caribbean dog and key, and Pixar balls!
July 15th, 2017
We started off the second day of D23 by going to “The Power of the Princess” panel which was honestly life changing. It featured the voices of Ariel (Jodi Benson), Belle (Paige O’Hara), Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), and Moana (Auli’i Cravalho). They told us stories about how they originally got cast in their roles. It was especially fun to hear stories from Jodie and Paige about how different things were back in the earlier Disney Princess generation!
The most impactful part of that panel to me was Anika’s explanation of what “Almost There” means to her. The overall synopsis was that you can either look at the song and it can symbolize discouragement because you’re almost there but not quite there yet. Or you can look at is as finding joy in the journey and appreciating all of the steps in the process, knowing that someday your dream will come to be. It was beautiful, inspirational, and very relatable for people (such as myself) who are trying to figure out their life paths.
(If you watch the panel video, Anika’s “Almost There” segment is 25:50-28:10 – it’s SO WORTH IT!)
Then, one of the biggest highlights of D23 (and my life) happened: I got to meet Auli’i Cravalho aka the voice of Moana! I cannot put into words how much I admire this girl. She encapsulates complete poise, grace, and class. She is extremely well-spoken (especially for only being 16!) and she treated every single person she interacted with as a special individual even though she probably met hundreds at a time. Disney was so lucky to find someone who radiates such a bright, positive light and who is genuinely happy to share it with the world. It was truly such an honor to meet her!
July 16th, 2017
Our final day of D23 was jam packed with incredible activities! This was the one day we got to dress up and Bobby and I were Bert and Mary Poppins! Akiyo was even Mr. Penguin!
We got to go to three panels on our last day. The first panel was Zero to Hero: The Making of Hercules which was hosted by Ron and Jon. It featured the voices of Hercules (Tate Donovan) and Meg (Susan Egan). Susan Egan sang “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” LIVE and it was one of the greatest things I have ever heard.
The second panel we experienced was The Voices of Disney Parks Panel, which featured 10 voice actors from various areas of the park. From Scuttle and Timothy Mouse, to Pirates of the Caribbean, to The Country Bear Jamboree… these actors presented a wide array of talent and it was incredible to see (and hear!) the people who bring our parks to life right up on stage.
The coolest part of that panel for me was seeing the voice actress, Allison, who does Mission: SPACE computer voice, and learning that she is also Dr. Jackie Ogden from Flight of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s newest themed land Pandora – World of Avatar. Such a crazy connection!
The last presentation we got to see was A Whole New World with Alan Menken which was an unbelievably special experience. Alan Menken took us through the journey of his career and played snippets of his songs that he has composed over the years. He shared stories of setbacks, success, and everything in between.
After that whirlwind of beautiful emotions, D23 was officially over! I couldn’t believe how much we got to experience in such a short amount of time. There is nothing like going to D23 – it’s like one big community gathering and it is something that I will truly remember forever! If you ever have the opportunity to go I would highly recommend it. It is very crowded and you do spend a lot of time waiting, but if you are open to getting to experience as much as you can, you’ll be surprised at how many magical moments will come your way!