As Disney Takes Over Earth, D23 Expo Is for More Fans Than Ever

Everyone from the Avengers to the Golden Girls were represented at the Anaheim Convention Center

The cosplayers, eBay resellers, and professional Disney fanatics have left Anaheim as another edition of the mega Disney fan convention D23 Expo has come to an end. Thousands of die-hards camped out overnight at the Anaheim Convention Center each of the three days to get a peek at upcoming shows on the Disney-owned outlets (including their new streaming service Disney+), hear about new attractions at Disneyland and other parks around the world, buy limited edition merchandise, and mingle with legions of like-minded fans. (Full disclosure/plug: your columnist was at the expo signing copies of Walt Disney’s Disneyland.)

A map of Disneyland hiding inside a skirt at the D23 Expo

Photo by Chris Nichols

Film critic Leonard Maltin spoke on a panel about some of his favorite films (including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Old Yeller) that will be on Disney+ and then surprised me with a photo bomb!

Photo by Jessie Maltin

The official fan club has hosted the show every other year since D23 was founded in 2009, and every division of the company seems to participate. I expected the mega booth from subsidiary ESPN, but it’s going to take some getting used to before considering The Simpsons as part of the Disney family. I’m still not used to The Golden Girls, and the 1970s Schoolhouse Rock shorts being under the Disney umbrella, but merchandise was available for all three. I guess that’s what the Expo is for!

Golden Girls display at the D23 Expo

Photo by Chris Nichols

The Incredible Hulk overwhelms a guest at the D23 Expo

Photo by Chris Nichols

Panels and discussions on the TV empire seem to have garnered much of the attention and most of the theme park development seems to be centered on Florida, where Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021 with a reimagined EPCOT Center, and the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction. We get ours in 2022 at the new “El CapiTOON” theater in Mickey’s Toontown. There will be a new daytime parade called “Magic Happens” at Disneyland with a theme song by singer/Broadway star/Rupaul’s Drag Race choreographer Todrick Hall, and a whole new Avengers-themed land in Disney’s California Adventure coming in 2020.

The Hatbox Ghost from Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion celebrates the attraction’s 50th anniversary.

Photo by Chris Nichols

A map of Disney’s California Adventure hidden inside a skirt at the D23 Expo

Photo by Chris Nichols

Avengers Campus display at the D23 Expo

Photo by Chris Nichols

The expo’s display for the Avengers Campus (located on the former site of A Bugs Land) featured giant interactive screens with those “gesture-based” interfaces everybody tried to copy after Minority Report made them look so cool. Hopefully we get a bunch of that stuff in the new land, which will open without its E-ticket ride a la Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Oh! And there’s a restaurant based on Ant Man and the Wasp where the food will be served in unexpected sizes. I’m betting more tiny than gigantic.

Vintage attraction posters for sale at the D23 Expo

Photo by Chris Nichols

There were also announcements about a bunch of new cruise ships, a new Cirque du Soleil show, and a Star Wars-themed hotel suite in Florida that will run $3,300 for a two-night stay.

Attendees at the Disney D23 Expo

Photo by Chris Nichols

Aside from the flashy product launches, the Expo served as a meeting place for fans to exchange notes, meet Disney legends one-on-one, and revel in the universe that “all started with a mouse.”

RELATED: Disneyland Attendance Is Down—and Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Could Be to Blame

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