My first ever D23 Expo was quite a memorable experience. Before the expo, I did my research and read through all the things I should know, browsed through the Official D23 Expo app, and packed my bag, and thought I was ready.
Little did I know that I will be waiting in a line for most of the morning just to get in. My day started at 7am and the line to just get into the Expo was already wrapping around the Anaheim Convention Center. There were many lines of course, so I had to ask a few cast members where General Admission was. I got in line and my row quickly filled up that they had to start a new row in the next few minutes. I sat there and waited and wished I had brought a book to keep myself occupied. By 8am, the sun was rising and the shade was quickly moving away. By 9am, I could not sit anymore, so I got up and jogged in place. The conversations with the cast members watching the lines were hilarious. A lot of the guests were trying to sweet talk their way up the line. He told them he would let them in 5 minutes early if they can bring Kobe Bryant down to take a photo with him. Another thing that was interesting in line (note there was not much to do in line) was that there were a lot of june bugs flying around. They seem to like to land in people’s hair, so you can imagine the crowd running around trying to dodge them. Yes, fun times.
My first day was the second day the D23 Expo opened up, so I heard from fellow fans that today was much better. By 9am, they let in the gold/silver member lines, and they started scanning our badges while we waited in line rather than at the doors and cause a bottleneck there like the day before. So the last hour passed by quickly, and by 10am, we were starting to move. I was in by 10:12am. The heat and wait outside was brutal but once I walked through those air conditioned doors, it felt amazing.
As I walked through the doors of the Expo floor, I saw Ariel Winter (from Modern Family and Sofia the First) reading to children on a colorful stage. I kept on walking around to explore the place and saw many faces I recognized from the Disney Channel. The cast of “Girl Meets World” was on stage at the ABC Pavilion and everyone was having so much fun.
I started walking around the Expo show floor and absolutely loved all of the photo spots they had out. They had a whole scene from Tangled, Gruff from Tinkerbell and the Neverbeast, Yoda, A Walk Through Vintage Disneyland, Olaf, Pizza Planet Truck, R2-D2, Star Wars Rebels, Wreck-It Ralph, and so much more.
- Walt Disney Studios – This was a fun booth to stop by as there was so much to see. They brought the movies to life with so many photo spots of upcoming movies. They had the sailboat from Moana, the Fox from Zootopia, Olaf and the rest of the Frozen characters, and the Beanstalk from Jack and the Beanstalk. My favorite area in this booth was the green screen where they take a photo of you and superimpose it onto a movie scene. You would tell them the scene you want, do your pose, and they would edit it on the spot and print it out.
- Disney | ABC TV Pavilion – If you wanted to see celebrities, this is the perfect booth to hang out in. There was a new group of Disney / ABC TV celebrities posing for photos every hour. I got the chance to see the stars of Girl Meets World, Descendants, Liv and Maddie, and Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything in just one day.
- Walt Disney Parks and Resorts – The preview of Shanghai Disney Resort looked innovative and amazing. Through the magic of Disney storytelling and artwork, this is one park everyone will look forward to visiting. The newest park is scheduled to open Spring 2016.
- Walt Disney Archives – Disneyland the Exhibit – I could probably spend a long time in this exhibit admiring all of the historical displays from Disneyland. The exhibit itself had a lot of interest so the line for it was quite long. I decided to walk around and view it from the outer perimeters.
The live concerts at D23 Expo were so much fun! They were on the “Center Stage” which was the first thing I saw as I walked through the Expo doors. In just one day, I saw live performances from Sabrina Carpenter (Girl Meets World), Dove Cameron (Liv and Maddie, Disney Descendants), and Sofia Carson (Disney Descendants). Brea Miller also performed later in the day but I missed it.
A lot of Disney fans come to the D23 Expo to shop. There are many limited edition items and other collectables that is a fan’s dream to have.
- Disney Store – I never made it into the Popup Disney Store today because the line was so long. I overheard a cast member telling guests that some people waited up to five hours just to shop in the store.
- Disney Dream Store – I walked by the Disney Dream Store and saw that the line did not look so bad. The wait for it was under 20 minutes! So I hopped in to check it out.
- Uniqlo – If you are looking for Disney-inspired clothes, stopping by Uniqlo is a must. I highly recommend the ultra light down jackets and t-shirts. I know it is the middle of summer now, but these jackets fold up into a small compact pouch and are perfect when winter arrives. Expo discounts ranged anywhere from $5-$20 off retail prices.
The Anaheim Convention had bathrooms everywhere, so I hardly ever had to wait in a line. The best bathrooms are the two in the middle of the D23 Expo show floor. They were large enough where you were almost guaranteed to not have to wait at all.
I was not actively searching for food this day as I brought two cereal bars, an apple, a bottle of water, and chips. My advice is to not do this. I recommend grabbing a burger or pizza even if you are in a rush. There were areas where they sold pretzels and popcorn (just like the one at Disneyland) if you just want to grab a snack. Note, prices are a bit steep, so be prepared.
Attending a Panel and StagePasses
The only panel I attended was “Once Upon a Time: An Evening with Snow White and the Evil Queen” with Ginnifer Goodwin and Lana Parrilla from the hit show. I met up with some friends earlier in the day and we are all big fans of Once Upon a Time. One of my friends waited in line for the StagePass for the panel. These StagePasses guarantees each of us a seat in the session. You are allowed to get StagePasses for people in your group as long as you have each of their badges. Waiting in the StagePass line for the panel was so much nicer than the Standby! They allowed us to go in after a smaller group so the seats were not that bad at all.
So the evening with Snow White and the Evil Queen turned out really nice and was the best part of my day. We learned about their likes and dislikes as well as see some behind-the-scene footage of how the show is made. Special guest, Josh Dallas, also appeared on the panel. We also got to see a one-minute sneak peak at Season 5.
I took a total of 9,853 steps through the D23 Expo (including walking from the car and back.) My longest wait was about 3 hours for the opening of the show floor. My second longest wait was about 30 minutes for the “Once Upon a Time” panel with a StagePass.
My worse memory of the day was feeling unprepared as I waited in the sun for a good two hours without a hat or sunblock on. The Disney fans around me made the time pass by quicker, but the heat was making me more tired and I have not even made it through the doors yet.
My best memory of the day was definitely enjoying the “Once Upon a Time” panel with some friends and laughing with Ginnifer and Josh Dallas. They are great actors and not to mention, very hilarious. It was a fabulous way to end the day. So, I left D23 Expo feeling really happy.
I wanted to do everything but there was just not enough time to be in so many places at once. Even if I had not go to a panel, there was enough on the expo show floor to keep me busy and happy for an entire day. There was just so much to see and do. There is definitely a little bit of something for everyone at the expo. You can make new friends, trade Disney cards, go shopping, take photos with your favorite celebrities, watch live concerts, pick up some memorabilia, pin-trade, see shows, and much, much more.