Disney D23 Expo 2nd Update

Well, I made it home after a day of driving through construction traffic on I-5.  Nothing like that to take you back to reality.  I unfortunately had to miss the Toy Story double feature on the final evening.  I was hoping to get home in time to see my girlfriend a bit.  But the drive ended up being too long and I only saw the elusive creature as she left for work this morning.

Anyway, the event was fantastic.  On Saturday I saw the presentation on new theme park rides and updates.  Disney World is getting a bunch of new stuff in Fantasyland, but most of it is princess based.  DCA of course is getting Carsland, which looks like it will have some cool things.  There will be the Radiator Springs Raceway which is akin to Test Track at WDW.  But even longer and faster according to the imagineers.  There will also be an updated version of the classic flying saucer ride, but with tire shaped vehicles.  And a better operating system to make it more successful than the short lived version in the early 60’s.  My mother will be thrilled.  She’s told me about those things my whole life.

Disneyland itself will be getting an updated 3D version of Star Tours.  See the pic below for the spectacle when they announced that one.  It will be open in 2011.  They showed us a clip from the new ride.  A podrace in 3D.  Cool, but I’d really like to see them build a good new E ticket in the magic kingdom.  Maybe after they finish trying to salvage DCA.

Ran into my good friend and fellow comedian Tim Babb on Saturday too.  I knew he had to be there. 🙂

I also saw a great panel of imagineers talking about how they got into the business.  Basically there’s so many disciplines in that department that everyone got there a different way.  Above all, passion and a willingness to go into territory you hadn’t thought of or don’t know much about.

“Growing Up Disney” was a good panel with Roy Patrick Disney, Roy O’s grandson.  It was fun to hear family stories from someone on the inside.  Everyone was a little bummed that Roy E didn’t make an appearance though.

“Disney’s Lost Chords” was a fantastic concert featuring songs that didn’t make it into Disney films for whatever reason.  They were performed by the Disney Cast Member Choir.  When a movie goes into production they write several songs before they get to the ones that make it in.  These didn’t, usually due to a change in feel or direction of the movie.

The live auction on Saturday night was really cool.  There’s some very wealthy Disney fans out there that I’d like to know better….. The first auction went for $4000.  The 2nd for $6000.  The Peter Pan ride vehicle sold for $35,000.  To answer your question, nope, I didn’t bid on anything.  Crazy prices.  But fun to watch.  One highlight was seeing some of the original mousketeers come out to model some couture mouse ears that were up for auction.

Following that I saw a screening of the new BlueRay version of Sleeping Beauty.  It looks really fantastic.  Always nice to see Disney films on the big screen.  Had a nice time talking to two Disney fans in line.  One guy from Virginia.  And the other all the way from Australia.  Mary Costa ( the voice of Aurora) and one of the animators (whose name I’m spacing on – but he animated the three fairies) were on hand to talk about the film before it started.  Mary Costa stuck around to sign autographs afterward, but the line was literally 3 hours long to get to her.  I waited for an hour and gave up.

On Sunday, John Lasseter gave us the rundown on new Disney and Pixar films coming out.  No big surprises here.  We saw a clip of Princess and the Frog, which I’m very excited to see.  Rapunzel is still in production.  Cars 2 and 4 (count ’em!) 4 new straight to video Tinkerbell movies.  We also saw a trailer for the new Toy Story 3 which looks good.  And a couple of new Cars shorts.  Mater has really taken the lead role in the Cars world.  I like the character, but I’m not a big Larry The Cable Guy fan.

“The Science Of Imagineering” was a show that was originally given at the New York Science Fair last year.  It was interesting, but a little too kid oriented.  I think many in the audience would have like to seen fewer corny jokes, and a little more adult and detailed explanations of the some of the scientific principles involved in ride design.  You could see the looks on the imagineers faces when a few of the jokes hit the ground with a thud.  Welcome to my world, imagineers.

Just before I left, I had a nice conversation with the head of the Courvoisier Gallery and S/R Labs, Ron Stark.  He summed up the whole event well.  It’s about passion.

I was amazed and happy to see how accessible many of the Disney people were.  Tony Baxter was sitting int he row behind me at the Sleeping Beauty screening.  As if he hasn’t seen it a zillion times.  Dave Smith was in the audience at almost every presentation I went to.  And he even waited in line with the rest of us peons.  The passion was evident in every person presenting anything.  It was quite inspiring.

And the passion of the people attending was no less.  Everyone wanted to honor these people in any way they could.  There was applause anytime a name was mentioned during a panel discussion.  They applauded every title screen of credits during the films.  I saw three teenage girls going out of their minds that they got to meet Mary Costa.

And everyone was pleasant and willing to chat and meet new people.  I sat with an older, very conservative looking couple, at the Lost Chords concert.  People who normally wouldn’t think to chat with a guy that looks like me.  But we struck up a quick conversation and had a great time.  There were people there of all races, ages, and economic levels.  None of whom looked askance at one of another because we were all on the same wavelength.

Amazing what art can do… I can’t wait to go again next year.

Here’s some more pics from event:

This is the main arena just before the presentation of the new rides and updates at
the theme parks.


Here’s a couple of Stormtroopers with mouse ears on.  The one on the left was just
taking her helmet off.  Yep… her…. Female storm trooper.  Many geeks now have a
new fantasy.

stormtrooper in ears

Here’s the full size Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage from the Disney Weddings booth.

pumpkin carriage

This is Disney legend Marty Sklar moderating the “So You Want To Be An Imagineer” panel.


At the Lego booth, they created these amazing portraits completely out of Legos
over the 4 days of the convention.  The panel in the middle is the “official” event painting
of the event.  The guy on the left is the artist that created it.  And he got to put in the final lego.


If you don’t know, you better ask someone….


There was no end to the incredible art by both Disney and Non-Disney artists.  These
next two were at the Barker Animation booth.

dwarf painting

ducks screaming painting

When they announced that Star Tours would be closing (temporarily), a contingent of
stormtroopers and Darth Vader himself arrived to demand of Jay Rasulo (Parks and Resorts chairman that the opening date be moved
up two years in order to appease the emperor.

darth vader

This castle was constructed entirely of canned foods donated during the event for an
Orange County charity.

can castle

Update… Mary Costa’s publicist found my post and discovered that I wasn’t able to get her autograph at the event.  So she sent me a lovely autographed photo by mail and it’s now hanging prominently in my office. 🙂  Thanks Mary!

Phil Johnson

MP3 Song of the Day: “Happiest Place On Earth” from my DVD “What Color Is Your Laugh?”
We all know Disneyland is expensive, but they have secret ways of making money that you don’t even know about.

Did you get your 8 free MP3s from me yet?  http://www.RoadsideAttraction.com/8-free-songs

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