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Disney D23 Expo 2013


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AMAZING report! Can't help but get a little "misty-eyed" listening to Richard Sherman sing and play Small World.

I have to admit I felt the same way. In my "past life" in the video games business, I did some work with the Sherman Brothers when I was producing Disney games and at one point we took a group of animators to lunch with those guys to hear some stories of what it was like for them to work with Walt, and that turned into an impromptu sing-a-long in the middle of a restaurant at South Coast Plaza in Orange County for 30 minutes!

 

In short, the Sherman Bros were full of "heart" and absolutely loved sharing their experiences over the years. Have a lot of respect for them, and I gotta be honest, Dicks still seems in pretty good shape for being 85 years old!

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^&^^ I saw Into the Woods on Broadway with my mom before we moved out of NYC. It is still my favorite musical and I can't wait to see what Disney does with it!!!

 

That one and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street are my two favorites. How's that for variety?

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^&^^ I saw Into the Woods on Broadway with my mom before we moved out of NYC.

 

We saw that revival, as well..... it was fantastic! We still have a photo hanging in our office of us in front of the inflatable giant's leg hanging off the top of the theatre. An acquaintance of ours was the wardrobe mistress on that show and we met several cast members by default when she would just burst into their dressing rooms to show off their costumes.

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^&^^ I saw Into the Woods on Broadway with my mom before we moved out of NYC. It is still my favorite musical and I can't wait to see what Disney does with it!!!

 

It's probably the only Broadway musical I really liked.

Just not a Broadway musical fan.

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I love that Into the Woods is the most commented on new project from Disney here... like everyone else, I think it's a heck of a show and am very curious how the adaptation goes - but with Rob Marshall directing, it has major potential.

 

Plus have you seen the cast? Cannot wait to see Anna Kendrick in this. And Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Tracy Ullman (!), Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep... I mean, murderers row stuff.

 

Also very intrigued by Brad Bird's Tomorrowland - guy hasn't delivered anything I'd consider below very solid - but the whole "mystery" stuff is getting a little heavy. Let's just say we aren't saying anything, and wait for it to come out.

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Definitely intrigued by what the take on Into the Woods will be, and also curious about the Cinderella version specifically if they go with a darker take on it. Maleficient I am really iffy on since she is my favorite Disney Villain and not too sure how the live action will pan out. Only time will tell.

 

Great coverage David, seems like it was a blast for your and Spears.

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Day 1 Coverage: Page 1

Day 2 Coverage: Page 2

Day 3 Coverage: Page 4

 

Here’s our coverage from day three (Sunday, August 11, 2013) of the D23 Expo:

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Welcome back! This is our third and final 2013 D23 Expo report with coverage from the last day of the Expo. (Photo provided by Disney)

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We started off day three at Honda’s ASIMO stage.

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ASIMO is Honda’s advanced humanoid robot. The letters stand for: Advanced Step in Innovative MObility.

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The robot can balance, walk, run, kick a soccer ball, and even dance! These things are easy for humans to do, but for robots that’s quite an accomplishment.

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Spears loves ASIMO!

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As a special perk at the D23 Expo, you could get a limited edition Innoventions coin and lenticular ASIMO card for liking ASIMO on Facebook! If you missed the D23 Expo, don’t worry, you can still see ASIMO. He performs regularly at Disneyland in Innoventions. And we got the super top secret scoop: ASIMO version 3 will be coming to Disneyland, hopefully within a year from now!

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Walt Disney Imagineering is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, so Disney brought 1401 Flower St. to the convention to give fans a behind the scenes look at Imagineering.

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Lets “Journey into Imagineering!”

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We teleported to 1401 Flower St., the home of Imagineering. You can tell because Disneyland is now listed as 32 miles away, rather than right next door. Tokyo Disney, why must you be so far? Someday I’ll return!

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Visitors were given guest badges before going in.

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Once inside, there was a short video to introduce guests to Imagineering.

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Then the doors opened, and we were free to explore.

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Inside there were tons of displays and things to look at. They really did a great job! And there were real life Imagineers on hand to explain things and answer any questions.

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A model from 1977 for a space pavilion at Epcot.

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An early concept model for a scene from Western River Expedition.

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A closer look. It looks like it would’ve been fun.

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Here’s a Disney Springs model.

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We met R2D2! The boxes behind us are a teaser for something Star Wars. One is labeled, “Orange Harvest,” a reference to “Blue Harvest,” the working title they used for “Return of the Jedi” while it was in production. What exactly they’re teasing is still a mystery, but this confirms that something is in the pipeline.

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Over at the “Experience Development Lab” booth they were showing off Magic Bands.

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And ways to personalize your Magic Bands.

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Of which there is no shortage.

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You didn’t expect Disney to miss out on a merchandising opportunity, did you?

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The Magic Sliders, Magic Bandits, and Cover Bands did all look pretty neat.

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There’s mine in green!

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So if you don’t know what Magic Bands are yet, they’re basically a band you wear on your arm that creates tan lines, tracks you, and allows people to steal your personal info. (I kid, I kid - just mocking the critics). In reality, it’s a smart wristband that lets you enter the parks, pay without cash, enter your hotel room, reserve a Fast Pass, have customized experiences (characters and rides can theoretically interact with you by name, or could know it’s your birthday and wish you happy birthday), etc., etc., etc. The system has a lot of potential to improve the way guests experience the parks. It’s currently rolling out in Florida, and I’m guessing it won’t be long until it hits the other DIsney properties.

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Here’s Spears showing off how they look.

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There was a whole display about Mystic Manor, the new dark ride that recently opened at Hong Kong Disneyland.

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There were props from the attraction.

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A model of the manor.

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Here’s Albert the monkey from the ride. The ride wasn’t based on any pre-existing IP; the story and characters were created just for the ride. Large amusement park attractions are increasingly being based off movies nowadays, so it’s refreshing when one is made from scratch.

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There were boards describing all aspects of the ride, from the engineering to the landscaping. Here’s the Interior Design board.

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The Graphics board.

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Moving on, there were lots of models of ride vehicles on display throughout the exhibit.

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Two Autopia car models.

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Could this be the future of Autopia? Technically the ride is in Tomorrowland, and cars and freeways are hardly futuristic anymore.

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The Research and Development booth had lots of interesting things on display.

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The Amazing Destini was a robot that guests could control.

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There was a control panel that let you control every action on the character.

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These servo motors would respond to the guest input, pulling wires that would control the robot’s movable parts.

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So you could make him look at the camera like this!

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They also had a musical plant on display. It was a real, living plant that would play music when you touch its leaves. Pretty amazing!

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Abe Lincoln’s head was also on display! And it moved! Creepy! This is the real one use in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland.

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They also had a finger sample so you could feel what the skin material feels like.

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Spears’ new nickname is “Lincoln Fingers.”

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The highlight of the R&D booth was El Fortuno, a fortune telling animatronic.

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You put a coin in...

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And El Fortuno comes to life! He talks and moves just like a real fortune teller.

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He asked Spears if she had a talent, and she said she could do a cartwheel. Since Spears was wearing a dress, and El Fortuno only had a top half, they both did the top half of a cartwheel, which basically looked like this.

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El Fortuno then gave us our fortune. We are destined for wealth!

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El Fortuno never gets it wrong. You are looking at two soon-to-be very wealthy people.

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The Illusioneering Lab had various special effects.

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The projector on the right is used to project ghosts in The Haunted Mansion. The round film wheel in back rotates in the light, creating the moving image to be projected. This was designed by Imagineering decades ago and is still used today.

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A lightning making machine. It projects lightning bolts onto a surface.

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This lamp could display customized messages to viewers. It was programmed to say “Hi Alice” at the event, but they said in the future it could interact with the specific person viewing it. (Cough, cough, Magic Bands?, cough cough)

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Hidden Mickey!

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These polarized surfaces were neat. They change color based on the light hitting them.

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Eyes used in rides.

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Outside the booth there was a Spaceship Earth early concept model.

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R2D2 was driving around checking everything out. He learned tons about Imagineering.

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Next up, the Dimensional Design booth.

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There was some live sculpting going on.

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Jiminy Cricket in printed and sculpted form.

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Here are some 3d printed sculptures. 3d printing allows for rapid prototyping, and as the technology improves I’m sure this will be used more and more by Disney in the future.

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They even had a 3d printed model of one of the arms from the Dumbo ride. It had actual moving parts, just like the ride.

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A model of one of the best ride vehicles on Earth! The car from Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySea.

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Outside the booth there was an early concept model for The Land Pavilion at Epcot.

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There were so many details in the all the models. This balloon ride looked like it would be amazing.

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I would love to ride something like this!

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Here’s the Show Animation booth. (i.e. animatronics!)

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5 Alive!

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Brakes, brakes, WHERE ARE THE BRAKES?!?

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Mater was having an out-of-body experience.

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They had a bunch of figure surfaces and finishing materials that you could touch.

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Spears would make a wonderful bearded animatronic.

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Look at all the fun stuff to touch!

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There was even a bird animatronic that you could control.

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He says, “Oh no, I am at the mercy of Spears!”

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But the highlight of the Show Animation booth was definitely the Hatbox Ghost towering over everyone.

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They claimed they built it just for the D23 Expo, but rumor has it you may see him in The Haunted Mansion soon!

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The Creative Technology Group was showing a Dish Digital Immersive Showroom.

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It was a giant wraparound screen showing a computer generated ride-through of Mystic Manor.

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They use this screen to get a feel for the timing of things and how things will look once they’re complete.

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On to Show Production...

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In case you wanted to know how to paint a castle.

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An artist was doing a live blacklight painting.

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Painted vs. unpainted. If you only saw the painted version, you’d probably believe that the rope is real.

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A lot of work goes into making “fake” things look real and aged. And when it’s done well you don’t even notice all that hard work because it just looks natural.

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There were no new Avatar announcements per se, but there was an Avatar area set up. The Imagineers said all of these things were things they brought back from their research trip to Pandora. So an Avatar land or attraction is still coming in some form, but no real details were given.

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Spears tried on the huge and heavy backpack, and lifted the huge and heavy shoe.

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Noted!

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That concludes our Journey into Imagineering. The only thing we couldn’t show (because photography wasn’t allowed) were the original drawings and paintings of Disneyland. Several of the original images of Disneyland that were drawn while it was still in planning and construction were on display. One painting even had blacklight paint to show how Disneyland would light up at night - it was fascinating to see it transform from day to night. Some things you just have to go to the D23 Expo to experience for yourself!

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At the exit of the Imagineering exhibit was Mickey’s of Glendale, a store filled with exclusive Imagineering merchandise.

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An overview of the store.

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There were all sorts of Imagineering goodies. Hats, pins, shirts, sweaters, notebooks, etc.

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Some hats.

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Pins.

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More pins.

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But that wasn’t the only store at the D23 Expo. There were also the Disney Store and Disney Dream Store. Here’s the Disney store. There was pretty much always a line to get in, but they had a spokesperson entertaining the crowd which made things seem to move a little faster.

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At one point an employee tried to get a wave going in the line. She had moderate success.

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Inside there were some nice merchandise displays.

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There was something for everyone. Here’s some Steamboat Willie merchandise.

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Small World dolls.

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They even had the dolls on spinners so the Display felt like a scene right out of the ride.

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Nightmare Before Christmas 20th anniversary merchandise.

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A special D23 Vinylmation.

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Lets take a look at the third major store at the convention, the Disney Dream Store.

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There were paintings for sale.

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Blank Vinylmation characters.

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Hand painted artist Vinylmation characters.

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D23 Expo Duffy Bears.

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D23 hats.

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D23 watches.

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D23 pins. Pretty much everything D23 you could want.

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After checking out the stores we headed upstairs for an Imagineering discussion. On the way we had to stop and take a picture of these costumes because they were great. We asked Linguini to take his hat off, and sure enough Remy was underneath!

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We also ran into Barbie from Toy Story 3.

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It’s time to see some Imagineers in the “Leave ‘em Laughing” panel.

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Dave Fisher hosted the panel with Kevin Rafferty, George Scribner, Joe Lanzisero, and Jason Surrell.

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They discussed humor in Imagineering.

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George drew photos throughout the presentation showcasing his belief that you can never torture Donald Duck too much. The more you do to him, the funnier it is.

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They showed off some rejected ideas for the stern characters on the Disney Dream cruise ship.

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My favorite is the one on the bottom right. It would’ve been hilarious to see that being towed behind the ship!

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This is what they decided on for the ship. When you ride the Aqua Duck water slide be sure to keep an eye out for Donald.

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They played some outtakes from the recording of Mr. Potato Head’s Midway Mania track.

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And they explained the story behind Mater forgetting the lyrics and singing “something, something, something” in Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. It turns out Kevin Rafferty was singing the song to John Lasseter and he forgot the lyrics, so he just filled it in with “something, something, something.” Lasseter thought it was hilarious and said, “You gotta do that!” And the rest is history.

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The panel was a lot of fun, and did leave us laughing!

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As we left, we checked out the Disney Center Stage where Bill Rogers, the Voice of Disneyland, was recording voicemail greetings for guests. The line to have it done was already closed off when we got there, but we hung around and listened to him record greetings on other people’s phones and they were really cool. He even customized the greeting based on your favorite attraction. Maybe next D23 Expo we’ll have another opportunity to do this!

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So that’s the D23 Expo! The event is a lot of fun, and offers some unique experiences that you just can’t get anywhere else. Over the three days we met celebrities, talked with Disney Legends, got to see previews of the next several years of projects Disney is working on, peeked behind the curtain of Imagineering, and saw world-class performances. I’d say that’s three days well spent!

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Thanks to Disney for inviting us to attend, and thanks to you for checking out our report! Don’t miss the next D23 Expo when it returns to Anaheim in 2015!

Edited by robbalvey
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I'm glad I didn't go to this as it would have been really hard not to steal that Journey model!!!!

 

^This exactly! - I guess i'll make to make do with the small model I bought instead.

 

Great report. Really enjoyed reading and wish I could have been there.

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I'm glad I didn't go to this as it would have been really hard not to steal that Journey model!!!!

 

Yes, that would be a great temptation for me, too--one of the coolest ride vehicles ever built.

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Great trip report. It looks like you all had a blast. The entertainment line up was amazing. I too am very interested in how they will do "Into the Woods." I didn't even know they were working on it. I love AWESOMEO! He's one of my favorite South Park Characters. Did the little man inside of him get to come out on stage and introduce himself?

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Truly an amazing report. I think one of my bucket list items would be to attend a D23 Expo one of these days. It really brings out the hidden Disney nerd in me. The Imagineering stuff was freaking AWESOME! I love all the details and hard work that goes into making things seem so real at Disney.

 

Great report guys!

 

Jimmy "D23 2015" Bo

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