The 2019 D23 Expo is in the books, and it was an exciting weekend for sure! The day started off very early as I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center on Friday, August 23 at about 6:30 am. I went through security and then was given a lanyard for my Expo badge, a reusable Expo bag, and an Expo souvenir guidebook. I then walked to the North Hall of the Convention Center where I waited for my friends to arrive. Once they got through security, we headed into the North Hall where we were lead to the basement to wait to access the show floor. We were led out of the North Hall and to the main show floor around 9:40 am. At 9:45 am, we were officially in the convention center for the Expo!
I didn’t have anything planned until 12:30 pm so I had plenty of time to explore the show floor. I saw a Disney on Broadway and Cars Land display, along with the Disney+ Pavilion. A little after 10 am, I saw a tweet from Caitie that she was going to be on stage at Center Stage for a Disney Tsum Tsum Festival demonstration. This game is coming to Nintendo Switch in November, so the game was being tested out at the D23 Expo. So I headed to Center Stage to see Caitie play the game. I took video and photos of her playing the game with the others who were also a part of it, and Caitie won! That was super exciting!
After the Tsum Tsum Festival game, Disney Artist Miran Kim was brought on stage to draw Mickey Mouse. Not only did she draw Mickey’s head, but the rest of his body as well! She even shared how she draws Mickey’s feet and gloves, which is easier than you think it is, and that was fun!
Soon after, it was time for lunch before going to the D23 Arena for ‘The Music and Sounds of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.’ This was a very interesting presentation because you got to hear how the music came to life. Of course, it all starts off with inspiration from John Williams’ very well known theme and underscores. From there, it’s figuring out how the music will fit in the various locations found at Galaxy’s Edge. And yes, John Williams did write the music for the new area. Sounds of ships and fighters were added and it made the entire experience feel and sound real. The highlight of this presentation was hearing Judith Hill and her band perform one of the songs from Oga’s Cantina live! Plus, those in attendance received a data card that would allow you to download the soundtrack to Oga’s Cantina!
Following that presentation, there was just enough time to head up to the Walt Disney Archives Stage for another presentation. This was called ‘Making Walls Talk: Disney Historical Sites and Museums In Conversation.’ Representatives from the Carolwood Foundation, Walt Disney Birthplace, Walt Disney Family Museum, and Walt Disney Hometown Museum spoke about how each of these locations are important in the history of not only The Walt Disney Company but Walt Disney himself as well. We were shown photos and clips of the various historical sites and how it is all connected to Walt.
After this presentation, it was time to head back to the show floor and explore some more! I stopped by the Pixar booth and saw a van and stand-ups for ‘Onward,’ which is the next Pixar feature! Plus there was a display that featured Forky and various concepts and designs of Forky.
Next, I explored the Parks and Resorts Pavilion. It was called ‘Imagining Tomorrow, Today.’ Most of the Pavilion focused on Walt Disney World, primarily Epcot. There are many exciting changes coming to Epcot. Two banners, in particular, were covered with a black cloth with a sign saying ‘Revealing Sunday.’ That was the day of the Parks, Experiences, and Products presentation. But looking at what’s coming to Epcot is very exciting!
After checking out what’s coming to the Parks, I went to check out the Emporium to see what was available. There were lots of vendors selling collectibles, pins, Funko POPs, and lots of other merchandise. I explored that until the Expo ended at 7 pm. Day one of the Expo was now in the books as we looked forward to day 2.
Day 2 for me started off like day 1. I arrived shortly after 6:30 am, and off to the North Hall we went. We waited in there until about 8:20 am when we were then moved to the doors of the convention center. The doors around 9:10 am, and off we went! The first thing I did this time around was to go back to the Parks & Resorts Pavilion because I completely forgot about Avengers Campus!
It was definitely interesting looking at what’s coming to Disney California Adventure next year. There was an interactive portion of this area, which was pretty awesome to experience!
After exploring the Avengers Campus, it was getting close to head up to Stage 28 for a presentation about ‘Amphibia’ and ‘Big City Greens’ on Disney Channel. All I know is that it was hosted by Kermit the Frog, but I didn’t know much about those particular shows. Kermit was great at hosting until he disappeared because of a calamity box issue. But that was okay because the showrunners kept everything going. We did get updates from Kermit as he had been transported into the worlds of ‘Amphibia’ and ‘Big City Greens,’ and that was fun!
The voice casts of each show were in attendance, and they did a mashup which fun to see and hear! We were given an ‘Amphibia’ and ‘Big City Greens’ notepad along with a Muppets Studio pencil. Little did we know that we were going to draw two of the shows’ characters. One cast member from each show was brought up to draw that same character. We drew Polly Planter from ‘Amphibia’ and Cricket from ‘Big City Greens.’ Kermit reappeared after the drawing segment, and Laurence Fishburne did as well! He announced a new show coming to Disney Channel from Marvel – ‘Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.’
After this presentation, it was time for lunch. I explored the show floor again after lunch before heading to Hall E to wait for the Disney On Broadway 25th Anniversary Concert. The concert was definitely the highlight of the day! The concert featured music from ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘The Lion King,’ ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘Tarzan,’ ‘The Littler Mermaid,’ ‘Aladdin,’ and many more!
Gavin Lee, Ashley Brown, Kissy Simmons, Alton Fitzgerald White, Heidi Blickenstaff, and Josh Strickland were the featured performers! They were all great, and definitely brought lots of energy and emotion to the entire room! The show ended with a group performance of ‘Let It Go’ from ‘Frozen.’
About 45 minutes after the show, there was a conversation with all six performers at Center Stage. They each shared their experience with Disney On Broadway, as well as their experience performing on stage before being cast in a Disney show. This conversation ended Day 2 of the Expo!
Day 3 of the D23 Expo started like the previous two days. I arrived after 6:30 am, headed to the North Hall to wait, and shortly after 9 am, we were let on to the show floor. I had a little bit of time to explore the show floor before going to the Walt Disney Archives Stage for ‘Sounds Delightful!’ And it was very delightful! Stacia Martin is a Disney historian and artist, and a record collector. She shared many recordings from her record collection. My favorite recording she shared was one of Aurora Miranda talking about ‘Los Tres Cochinitos’ or ‘The Three Little Pigs.’ I understand and speak Spanish, and looked up at one point to see that there were subtitles on the screen! However, it was funnier in Spanish! Stacia Martin never disappoints with her presentations, so if you ever have a chance to see her, please do so!
After ‘Sounds Delightful,’ it was time for lunch. I had loaded macaroni and cheese! It had shredded cheese, bacon, and Pico de Gallo! It was a huge portion for $10, and it was easily the best value during the entire Expo!
After lunch, it was time to explore the show floor one last time before going to the Disney Character Voices presentation. There was lots going on, including the Expo Street Party, which was always fun to see! It was right before the street party that I met up with Mr. DAPs and Caitie. We saw the street party, then headed to Center Stage. We stayed there for a while before going to Hall E to wait for the Voices presentation.
Once inside Hall D23, it was time for the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Disney Character Voices! This was definitely the highlight of the day! Rick Dempsey and Les Perkins opened the presentation talking about the history of Disney Character Voices. Rick also showed a clip of Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor as the voices of Mickey and Minnie performing at a department Christmas party. Rick got emotional after the video saying that a Wayne had passed in 2009, while Russi had passed nearly a month ago. We gave Rick his moment to honor and remember his dear friend, and you could even hear some sniffling and crying for Russi.
Rick then brought our Bret Iwan, the official voice of Mickey Mouse, Bill Farmer, the official voice of a Goofy & Pluto, and Tony Anselmo, the official voice of Donald Duck on stage to talk about their careers. When asked what their favorite part of portraying these special characters, Bill said that it was making those hospital calls to kids. He shared on story about how Mickey told one child that Pluto got better when taking his medicine, and lo and behold that call inspired that child to take their medicine and go through treatment. It’s moments like those that make what Disney Character Voices very special.
Bret shared how he and his brother would perform ‘Fantasmic’ for their parents, and how everything came full circle years later when Bret re-recorded dialogue for the updated ‘Fantasmic!’ Bret and his brother were at Disneyland the night the updated show premiered. Bret was under the impression that Wayne’s version of ‘some imagination, huh?’ would be left in the show as a tribute to Wayne. But it was actually Bret as Mickey that made it into the final show. It was definitely a special moment for Bret.
Soon after, Jim Cummings was brought out on stage to perform as Pete, along with Bret, Bill, and Tony in a skit specifically written for the D23 Expo! This was a lot of fun to watch! Corey Burton and Jim Cummings also did a skit as this various character voices. Anthony Gonzalez, the voice of Miguel from ‘Coco’ and his brother Alex, along with the Mariachi Divas were brought on stage and performed ‘Remember Me.’
The focus of the presentation then shifted to the princesses. Anika Noni Rose, Linda Larkin, Paige O’Hara, and Jodi Benson were introduced. They shared how they are like their respective characters. Paige O’Hara even presented Anika, Linda, and Jodi with a painting of their characters. Ginnifer Goodwin was then brought out on stage, and she talked about portraying Judy Hopps from ‘Zootopia.’ Auli’i Cravalho, the voice of Moana, also appeared, and closed the presentation by performing ‘How Far I’ll Go!’
And with that, the D23 Expo wrapped up! It was a lot of fun going throughout the Anaheim Convention Center exploring the different pavilions and seeing friends! Being with those who love Disney just as much as you do is what makes the D23 Expo a lot of fun! See you in 2021 for the next D23 Expo, and hope to see you in the Parks soon!