Day 1 of Disney’s D23: Once upon a time, in Anaheim ...


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It’s a small crowd after all.

Walking around the first day of the inaugural edition of Disney’s D23 Expo, the Anaheim Convention Center seemed massive and the paying public seemed tiny -- about 4,100 or so, which gave the event the energy-sapping feel of a concert with too many empty seats. [Updated 3:05 p.m.: Robert Iger’s opening speech was attended by 4,100 people, so that number is too low for the overall attendance. What’s the right number? Can’t say for sure; Disney officials haven’t served up any crowd data.]


Of course, this is the first day of the first year, and a weekday, too, so there’s plenty of opportunity for the ambitious venture to become a Cinderella story.

Some moments from Day 1:

-- Mickey Mouse, in a spiffy red bandleader ensemble, marched around the trading floor hearing music no one else could hear. It was downright weird to see him (and his Disney handler) completely alone. Kids are in school today and, as I said, the crowd is light, so the most famous character wasn’t being chased by the usual mob that seeks his autograph at the theme parks. At 1:30, Donald Duck was at a small booth at the entrance to the event and there were only 12 people in line for a photo.

-- The D23 Expo is copping the promotional mojo of Comic-Con International’s Hall H and also Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration conventions. One big difference? It may change this weekend, but on Day 1 I didn’t see more than three elaborate fan costumes. There were plenty of Mouse-ear hats, Disneyland sweat shirts and Tinkerbell T-shirts, but barely any of the homemade or high-end character costumes that put the bizarre in those other pop-culture bazaars.

-- Tonight I’ll be introducing ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People,’ part of the ’50 and Fabulous’ classic film series here at the expo. Sounds fun, but the movie starts at 10 p.m. (!) I wonder how many people will be in the audience? Now accepting predictions.

-- I don’t want to make it sound like the day is a letdown as far as programming, by any means. There are some amazing artifacts on display here (and many more on sale in the dealers’ showroom area) and there’s a lot of excitement among the fans here. The D23 community (the expo is part of the paid-membership initiative D23) is geared toward fans who want to feel special in their access and appreciated for their passion (and, of course their purchases). I didn’t see any fans complaining today that the lines were too short.

-- Geoff Boucher



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