What not to miss at the D23 Expo

Taking its name from the year in which Walt Disney arrived in Hollywood (1923), the D23 Expo brings a wide-angle approach to Disney. The all-things Disney fan convention, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Anaheim Convention Center, will not only have exclusive merchandise but also a costume contest; deep dives into Disney history, including a museum-like exhibition that looks at 60 years of Disneyland; and peeks at upcoming movies.

Disney declines to share attendance forecasts, and the company will not reveal how many attended the last D23 Expo in 2013, though a ticketing page on the D23 website says that more than 65,000 fans were at the 2013 event. And earlier this year, the Anaheim Convention Center played host to both Star Wars Celebration and Wondercon, which were estimated to draw in the 60,000 range. Clearly, big crowds are expected — the official D23 site encourages fans to “have a first, second, and third choice for things to do.”


Tickets for Saturday, when Disney has promised to tease films from the “Star Wars” and Marvel universes, are already sold out. But Friday and Sunday tickets are still available. What follows are some day-by-day highlights.



D23 Expo begins with an early-morning ceremony honoring this year’s crop of Disney “Legends,” which recognizes faces from across the Disney theme park, film, television and sports empires. Inductees this year include director George Lucas, composer Danny Elfman, animator Andreas Deja (see story) and actress Susan Lucci (for her work on ABC’s “All My Children”). Throughout the day, panels and presentations will include a look at what it takes to bring a Muppet to life, a chance to hear from “Inside Out” co-director Pete Docter, a sneak peek at animated films and the opportunity to listen to tales from Imagineers and skippers who have worked on Disneyland’s famed Jungle Cruise ride. Late Friday, be sure to catch the “Imagineering: 60 Years of Disneyland” panel, in which top park designers will offer insights into the creation of the original Disney theme park.


Expect the light-sabers to be out in force as the D23 Expo opens the day with a peek at the live-action films in the works. Special guests from “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” are likely to be on hand, as are those from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The big news on Saturday may come later, however, as Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will host a 90-minute discussion on what’s in store for Disney theme parks around the globe. Expect a look at the “Avatar"-inspired land coming to Florida’s Walt Disney World, as well as plenty of info on Shanghai Disneyland. Late in the day Saturday, the D23 Expo shifts its focus toward some animation greats, offering retrospective panels on “Toy Story” and “Aladdin.”


Disney’s interactive division gets the spotlight Sunday morning, with the bulk of the attention going to the soon-to-be-released “Disney Infinity 3.0" at the “It’s Game Time” panel. We also expect some sort of peek at the latest in the “Kingdom Hearts” series. But if you’re interested in technology of the more vintage sort, head to “Disney in Concert: A Silly Symphony Celebration,” in which a 32-piece orchestra will create the sounds that scored Disney’s historic animation pieces from the 1920s and 1930s. D23 Expo will wind down with a celebration of the original Mouseketeers. Among those slated to appear are Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Tommy Cole, Darlene Gillespie, Cubby O’Brien and Doreen Tracey.

Twitter: @Toddmartens