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D23 Expo Revisited – Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

The 2013 D23 Expo was last weekend, and it truly a a magical event for all Disney fans who attended!  This was my first D23 Expo and I enjoyed every minute of it: I met Disney Legends, new friends, and learned what being a true Disney Fan was all about!

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Once we got into the convention center, the first day’s main event was the Animation Session hosted by John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer for Pixar and Walt Disney Studios as well as Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering.  We were given glimpses into the next several movies in the pipeline for Pixar, Walt Disney Animation, and Disneytoons Studios.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories
We were even treated to guest appearances from voice actors Dane Cook from Planes, Bill Hader from Monsters University, and Josh Gad and Kristen Bell from Frozen, the much anticipated new animated feature from Walt Disney Studios.  We even got a special appearance from John Ratzenberger!

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Bill Hader from Monsters University and Pixar Veteran, John Ratzenberger

At the end of the session Broadway great Idina Menzel sang “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen and brought the house down!

After the main session, which ran five hours, we were all hungry and headed outside to the row of food trucks that D23 had brought in. I enjoyed a meatball sandwich that was incredible.

After lunch, it was time for walking around the Collector’s Gallery, where Disneyana collectors from all over the world were gathered to buy, sell, and trade Disney collectibles from vinylmations to animation cells from classic Disney features.

Pat Carrol, the voice of Ursula from Disney’s Little Mermaid, Imagianeer and Disney Legend Bob Gurr were also there signing autographs and taking pictures, it was incredible.  There were also some amazing collector’s items that were available for sale.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Disney Legend Bob Gurr

The next day was filled with smaller sessions in the morning until it was time for the Walt Disney Studios Live Action Feature Movies panel.  We were treated to previews from Marvel’s Thor: Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Captain America.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Angelina Jolie for Maleficent at D23

The highlight of the day was the presentation for Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the story of Wait Disney and P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins.  It was a great preview and concluded with an appearance from Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak who portrayed the Sherman Brothers in the movie.  Schwartzman and Novak were accompanied by Richard Sherman, one half of the legendary Sherman Brothers songwriting team.  They sang “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” from Mary Poppins as they were surrounded by kite flying dancers.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Disney Legend Richard Sherman, B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman

On the final day, we were able to sit in a session with Disney Legends, Bob Gurr, Marty Sklar, Alice Davis, and X Atencio called Working with Walt.  These are some of the very Imagineers who actually worked with Walt Disney.  It was an incredible experience to listen to their stories and learn more about some of the great Disney movies and the creation of Disneyland.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent walking around the vendor booths and some of the incredible Disney Consumer Products.  We got to experience some of the upcoming Disney products before they were released.  We even got some signed lithographs from Disney Consumer Product Artists!

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

 One thing we learned was to divide and conquer.  One of us would wait in line for whatever main event we wanted to see, while the rest of us were able to walk around or sit in on other smaller sessions.  If you attend the next D23 event, don’t forget to bring tons of patience, the lines are super long, but it does give you the opportunity to make new friends and read all those emails you have been meaning to get to!

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

D23 was an incredible event.  We are already looking to the next one in 2015.  We discovered that we were not alone in our love and passion for Walt Disney and all of his wonderful creations.

NEW VIDEO: Imagineer Rolly Crump Looks Back on Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room on Its 50th Anniversary

Disney Legend Rolly Crump remembers the day Walt Disney asked him and fellow Imagineers to create a restaurant with a Tahitian décor. Rolly sculpted Tiki gods, while other Imagineers created birds that chatted. That was the birth of the new Audio-Animatronic technology. Their hard work and creativity was so over-the-top entertaining that instead of a restaurant, Walt made it an attraction – Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room! We were fortunate enough to visit Rolly at his home recently, where he took us on a trip down memory lane, back to 1963 — back to the drawing board with Walt Disney. Enjoy!

Vintage Walt Disney World: Old Maps of Walt Disney World Resort

In the early years of Walt Disney World Resort , this artwork decorated the guest rooms of the Contemporary Resort Hotel and the Polynesian Village Resort Hotel . The piece showcases the spirit and vast, all-new offerings of the “Vacation Kingdom of the World,” including Magic Kingdom Park , golf courses, beaches, watercraft, monorail transportation, Bay Lake and its eventual Discovery Island, Fort Wilderness and Tri-Circle-D Ranch , STOLport, the Polynesian and Contemporary Resort hotels, and three “future” resorts: the Asian, Venetian, and Persian.

Vintage Walt Disney World Map and three “future” resorts: the Asian, Venetian, and Persian. Resorts

While announced to the public in 1969, the Asian, Persian, and Venetian Resort hotels never materialized. Eventually, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa  would open on the site of the Asian Resort, and the sites for the Venetian and Persian Resorts would remain undeveloped. Here’s a look at our property as it’s been developed today.

Current Walt Disney World Map with all 4 Theme Parks and Downtown Disney

As Disney legend goes, because so many of the original Walt Disney World Resort maps were printed for guest rooms, a cast member used the excess ones as wrapping paper for Christmas presents one year. A gift wrapped in Disney magic!

Animating the Disney Parks: Marc Davis

Marc Davis

So far, we’ve covered how Claude Coats and Herb Ryman brought their skills as artists to the creation of the Disneyland Resort; this week, we finish the “Animating the Disney Parks” series with a look at the contributions of Disney Legend and animator Marc Davis. At D23’s Destination D event last month, Imagineer Tom Morris shared insights and remembrances about this remarkable artist.

One of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, Marc Davis started with Disney in 1935 as an animator on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” He went on to create iconic Disney characters like Bambi, Cinderella and Tinker Bell. When the time came to develop Disneyland, Davis brought his skills in story and character development to bring attractions to life within the park.

 Pirates of the Caribbean through the eyes of an animator and storyteller

“If the parks didn’t have great animators from the Walt Disney Studio,” Morris said, “I don’t think Disneyland would be what it is today.” Davis, he said, approached an attraction like Pirates of the Caribbean through the eyes of an animator and storyteller.

“I drew every scene you see there as an animator would,” Davis once said regarding the attraction – whose characters were brought to life with the help of his wife and fellow Disney Legend, Alice Davis.

Disneyland's  Jungle Cruise

Davis also brought his animator’s eye to attractions like “it’s a small world,” Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise. Two scenes personally added by Davis to the Jungle Cruise – the elephant pool and the trapped safari – have become guest favorites throughout the attraction’s 57-year history.

Animating the Disney Parks: Herb Ryman

Disney Legend Herb Ryman

Last week, I told you about a presentation I attended during the recent D23’s Destination D – “Animating the Disney Parks.” We’ve already learned about Claude Coats and how he brought his talents as a Disney artist to designing Disneyland. Today we’ll take a look at Disney Legend Herb Ryman, as remembered by former Imagineer Eddie Sotto at D23’s Destination D event.

original concept drawings for Disneyland

An art director and designer, Ryman was hired by Walt Disney in 1954 to create the original concept drawings for Disneyland. Walt needed something for his brother, Roy Disney, to show to investors during his initial pitches for the new park.

“Herb was a place master,” remembered Sotto. He understood production design and used historical context to bring real meaning to the places he created at Disneyland. When designing Sleeping Beauty Castle, he visited the famous Neuschwanstein castle in Germany; his visits to New Orleans during the development of New Orleans Square brought a realism to the area.

New Orleans Square

Ryman’s work was “placemaking of the highest order,” according to Sotto, who went on to say that it was his understanding of soul and emotion that made the places he created believable. Ryman knew that life is what informs action – “It’s not just places; it’s what we do in the places” that matters, Sotto said.

Sotto remembered that Ryman was known for this piece of advice: “Be specifically vague.” He meant that designers should create something that anyone could relate to. “He allowed us to see ourselves there,” recalled Sotto.

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