For the uninitiated, the D23 Expo is a fan/media event which takes place bi-annually at Disneyland. Think of it as Comic-Con for Disney freaks. The event is a launching point for most of The Walt Disney Company’s initiatives, both in the parks and in their entertainment sectors, for the next two years. The D23 Expo in 2015 was full of incredible jaw dropping announcements such as the construction Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land, the switch of the Soarin’ ride film from only California scenery to iconic locations around the world and the detailed slate of Disney live and animated movies.
D23 is made up of different presentations and panels. These events cover the gamut of Disney from Disney Parks to Disney Entertainment to simply celebrations of Disney’s rich history. Here are the four panels you need to make time to follow.
Friday, July 14 – 10:00am – 12:00pm (All times Pacific)
The Disney Legends presentation is always a heart-tugger for true Disney fans. This year will be no different as Disney will bestow legend status on some of the most iconic personalities in the Disney lexicon including a touching posthumous presentation to Carrie Fisher. Joining the ranks of Disney super stars such as the Sherman Brothers, Julie Andrews, Kurt Russell, Dick Van Dyke, Sir Elton John, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Steve Jobs, John Goodman, Marty Sklar, and George Lucas will be:
- Carrie Fisher (actor)
- Clyde Geronimi (animator)
- Manuel Gonzales (animator)
- Mark Hamill (actor)
- Wayne Jackson (imagineer)
- Jack Kirby (comic book author)
- Stan Lee (comic book author)
- Garry Marshall (director)
- Julie Taymor (director)
- Oprah Winfrey (entertainment icon)
While this is the published list of honorees, nothing is final until the presentation concludes. We learned this two years ago when Johnny Depp was given a surprise award for his roles in Disney movies throughout the years.
Disney Pixar & Animated Movies
Friday, July 14 – 2:30pm
John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, will host this panel which will include never-before-seen footage from Coco and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. There will also be surprise announcements, musical performances and appearances.
Disney Live Action Movies
Saturday, July 15 – 10:00am
Disney Parks & Resorts
Saturday, July 15 – 3:00pm
This panel typically features a showstopper or two. We can almost certainly look forward to an announcement related to the re-imagining of Epcot at Walt Disney World to be more character-centric and possibly even the sun setting of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
Other Panels of Note
Ink & Paint – The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation
Friday, July 14 – 4:15pm
Mindy Johnson, author of the forthcoming book “Ink & Paint – The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation”. She will introduce you to some of the amazing women who have made remarkable contribution to Walt Disney’s Animation.
Melodies in Walt’s Time – The Music of Disney Live-Action Films
Friday, July 14 – 6:00pm
Hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and featuring Lesley Ann Warren, Karen Dotrice, and other renowned guest stars, live musical performers, and a 20-voice chorus, this panel will celebrate the music of Walt’s live-action films with live performances of songs from Summer Magic, Mary Poppins, The Happiest Millionaire, The One and Only, Genuine, and Original Family Band.
The Power of the Princess
Saturday, July 15 – 10:00am
Princess portrayers Jodi Benson (Ariel), Paige O’Hara (Belle), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana) and Auli’I Cravalho (Moana) discuss their iconic films and the impact their characters have had across the globe. This panel is hosted by Walt Disney Animation Studios animators Amy Smeed and Kira Lehtomaki.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
Saturday, July 15 – 2:30pm
This panel will feature exclusive and behind-the-scenes footage of the newest Frozen holiday short film Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.
Once Upon a Time
Saturday, July 15 – 3:15pm
Co-creators and executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz join Colin O’Donoghue (Captain Hook) for a discussion of what’s in store for our favorite returning characters and new additions.
A Kiss Goodnight with Disney Legends Richard Sherman and Floyd Norman
Saturday, July 15 – 6:00pm
Anytime Richard Sherman is in a room something magical is bound to happen. In this panel Sherman and Norman discuss their upcoming book, “A Kiss Goodnight”.
Celebration of an Animated Classic: The Lion King
Sunday, July 16 – 10:00am
This will be a celebration of the magic, music and majesty of the movie and will feature special guests and reveal secrets behind the making of the movie.
Inspiring Women of Imagineering
Sunday, July 16 – 12:15pm
Like the panel on the women of animation, this panel highlight the contributions of women to the creative and technical advances in Imagineering.
Zero to Hero: The Making of Hercules
Sunday, July 16 – 12:30pm
Directors John Musker and Ron Clements, animators Eric Goldberg and Ken Duncan and voice stars Susan Egan and Tate Donovan share their stories of the making of the film.
PopDisney: Six Degrees of Separation
Sunday, July 16 – 5:00pm
Archivist Justin Arthur and Disney voice character Bret Iwan present a fun exploration of Disney’s place is pop culture, strange historical facts and little-known connections across the years. This panel will feature rarely seen clips and imagery.
A Whole New World of Alan Menken
Sunday, July 16 – 1:30pm & 5:30pm
The Disney music library of Alan Menken is rivaled only by the library of the Sherman Brothers. In this one-man show, Menken showcases his vast selection of songs from movies such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Enchanted, Tangled, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas. And let’s not forget his Broadway catalog from shows Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Act, Newsies and A Bronx Tale.
If you are relegated to watching from afar, have no fear. Typically, the main hall events are broadcast live on the internet. Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog or d23.com for any broadcasts.
Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel. She splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @MQPodcast.