a short (but long) D23 round-up

Last Thursday, my mom and I flew to SoCal to meet up for the D23 convention. As I said before, the convention was essentially designed as a fan-gathering for all things Disney: Disney theme parks, merchandise, ABC, animation, Pixar, movies (including Miramax & Touchstone), music, theater, etc. My mom and I had attended similar conventions way back in the day (think 1994 & 1998), but they were more geared towards collecting ridiculously expensive Disney stuff, so when they announced the convention we knew we had to go just for the fun of it.

Now, no one pulls out the “magic” like Disney… so it was really no surprise to see WALL-E in lifesize form rolling around and waving and interacting with guests…

…Or to see a ridiculously large but scaled replica of the future CARSLAND ride at Disney’s CA Adventure.

While “amazing and cool” things were being discovered in the Theme Parks area… you just new “cute” was around the corner somewhere…

…like Pook-A-Looz … the “homemade” looking fleece plush toys from Disney’s Consumer Products. These people were the greatest, and I really can’t wait to nab the first releases from Toys R Us in November!

But there wasn’t just cute and fuzzy — there was actually real art to be seen as well.

There were lots of Disney-commissioned artists around, like NOAH, who were both creating art (like this 5′ tall Vinylmation mickey) and signing items for guests and fans.

There was also a STICH: 626 exhibit showcasing how artists would reinterpret Stitch if they could… some were very abstract, and others were based on Lilo or Stitch or an element of the movie. All of them, however, were amazingly creative.

The highlights of the convention, however, were the key note speakers and panels, all of which were highly orchestrated and produced with the true fan in mind.

The first panel we attended was put on by Walt Disney Pictures and President Dick Cook. It started with a 15-20 minute movie montage of everything from Fantasia to Pretty Woman, and the scenes were accompanied by a full orchestra and 6 vocalists singing “Disney” tunes. Then came the celebrity appearances and 3-D previews, with Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton, John Travolta, Kelly Preston & daughter Lula Bella, and Nick Cage. “Hannah Montana” herself came out to perform “The Climb” … and in all honesty, she rocked. I mean, I’m not a Miley fan by any means, but you gotta give credit to anyone who can belt a kick-ass tune like that. Definitely a little bit higher caliber than old Mouseketeer Brit-Brit.

About 30 Muppets also surfaced to sing “Rainbow Connection” on stage LIVE…  in honor of the new Muppet movie coming out very soon.

The highlight came at the very end of the 90 minute panel… a surprise no one expected and had everyone in the audience doubting it was actually happening:

Yes… Jack Sparrow appeared in person. He asked if anyone else had seen a talking frog (in reference to Kermit’s earlier appearance)… then went on to mutter under his breath that he likes frog… it tastes like chicken. It was a great ending to an amazing presentation…

We also attended presentations on Disney animation, the theme parks, and the muppets to name a few… but the real reason we went down to Anaheim in the first place:

My mom’s birthday!!! :)   Disneyland let her in for free, of course, and we got to play around in the park in the hours that we weren’t at D23.

In all, it was a great weekend and left me yearning for the yesterdays when I worked at the park… or just visited on the weekends for a fireworks night with Mr. M. But a taste is better than starving for a visit, so I’m happy that I got to go at all! :)