The 2011 D23 Expo scheduled for the weekend of August 19 to 21 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. Today, we continue our "Countdown to D23" series with a preview of the two presentations scheduled for second day of the convention, Saturday, August 20.
As the Expo approaches, each division of Disney is revealing what they plan to bring to the convention. Today we also look at the announcement from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (WDPR).
John Travolta. Jerry Bruckheimer. Robert Zemeckis. The Muppets. Tim Burton. Nicolas Cage. Miley Cyrus. Johnny Depp. Finding a way to top the amazing line-up of celebrities who invited by then-chairman Dick Cook to the Walt Disney Studios presentation at the 2009 D23 Expo will be a very neat trick indeed—but that's exactly the task facing current Walt Disney Studio Chairman Rick Ross. Fans who attended the incredible production in 2009 left the arena almost stunned by the constant stream of surprise celebrity appearances, and those who skipped the presentation vowed not to make the same mistake again.
The Studios have said only that Ross will host the presentation this year, and that Sean Bailey (president of Production, The Walt Disney Studios), John Lasseter (chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios), and Kevin Feige (president, Production, Marvel Studios) are all scheduled to attend. No word on which Hollywood notables may turn out this year for the promised "live performances, filmmaker discussions and star appearances," but you can look to planned Disney and Pixar films for an idea of what you might expect.
With The Muppets due in theaters November 23, an appearance by the cast and their human co-stars Jason Segel and Amy Adams would not be unexpected. The upcoming 2012 science-fiction release, John Carter, also has a large cast, including Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, and Thomas Haden Church.
Disney has released some stunning images of Brave (formerly The Bear and the Bow), and it would be wonderful to see a longer trailer than the one-minute teaser currently available. With Kevin Feige on the panel, Marvel fans can expect at least a preview of The Avengers, and perhaps appearances by the film's stars like Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Samuel L. Jackson, or Scarlett Johansson.
Johnny Depp is reported to be attached to or in negotiations for several upcoming Disney films, including The Lone Ranger, The Night Stalker, Paul Revere and a possible fifth movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Could he top his 2009 appearance as Captain Jack Sparrow, perhaps with a preview of his Tonto character?
Depending on how much of a future peek Ross wants to provide, there may also be previews of Frankenweenie (2012), Swiss Family Robinson (2012), the resurrected King of the Elves (2013), or Pixar's next sequel, Monsters University (2013).
Though the guest list will remain a mystery, you can be certain that the Walt Disney Studios presentation will be the hot ticket of the Expo. If you hope to see this year's spectacle, plan to enter the Expo as soon as your ticket allows Saturday morning (remember, D23 members have a one-hour advantage over non-members), and head right to the line that will form outside the Arena entrance.
The 3D version of Disney's 1994 animated smash hit The Lion King hits theaters on later this year, on Friday, September 16, but D23 Expo attendees can see an exclusive preview on the second night of the convention.
Disney is likely hoping to generate some positive buzz for the film in advance of the national re-release. Some critics have complained about "enhancing" the mostly hand-drawn film with 3D elements, with one likening the process to the colorization of classic black-and-white films.
Learn "what's new and what's next" at the Disney theme parks, resorts and Disney Cruise Line, as well as the Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney, at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion. The pavilion will give Disneyland Resort fans an even closer look at Cars Land (currently under construction at Disney California Adventure park), with "actual figures, props and ride vehicles for Radiators Springs Racers." Walt Disney World fans can see "concepts, models and plans" for the massive expansion and renovation of the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland.
Disney Cruise Line will present a preview of the Disney Fantasy, the fourth ship in its fleet. Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii, will be the highlight of the Disney Vacation Club presentation, and Adventures by Disney will spotlight their new and returning itineraries.
There was often a line to get into the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion in 2009. Once inside, fans were greeted by some of the Imagineers, providing a rare opportunity to chat face-to-face with the people who are bringing these projects to reality. The Imagineers also displayed some rarely seen technology, including the animatronic Lucky the Dinosaur and Wall-E figures.
For 2011, Disney has promised that fans will have "the opportunity to meet a classic Disney icon in an entirely new way." Disney won't provide additional details, but this may be the first major appearance of the talking Mickey Mouse figure that was tested at Disneyland last year. We're completely speculating here, but it would not surprise us if the D23 event credentials contained RFID technology, and if Disney is using the Expo as an opportunity to test out some of the interactive elements of the super-secret Next Gen project.
In addition to the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion, Walt Disney Imagineers and cast members will participate in nine presentations during the Expo, including a panel on Radiator Springs Reality with John Lasseter; the making of Star Tours - The Adventures Continue with Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald; a preview of Buena Vista Street with Imagineers Lisa Girolami, Ray Spencer, and Coulter Winn; and the Legends of Walt Disney Imagineering with retired Imagineer and Disney Legend Marty Sklar. Disney has yet to release the schedule for these presentations.
Finally, the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion will open a temporary branch of Mickey's of Glendale, the employee-only store at Walt Disney Imagineering. D23 attendees will be able to shop from a selection of WDI merchandise, including clothing, accessories and souvenirs with the Carousel of Projects logo.
Tickets are still available for the 2011 D23 Expo via the event website. One-day tickets are available, and D23 members receive a discount on admission. The early discount period is now over, and advance purchase tickets cost the same as you'll pay at the event, but by purchasing in advance you'll save time at the Expo, and avoid the possibility that the day(s) you want to visit might sell out.
Expo organizers are still announcing new events, screenings, artist signings and presentations for the 2011 D23 Expo, so check back for the latest updates. While it won't help plan for this upcoming Expo, the 2009 Guide Book is still available online, and first-time visitors might find the schedules and maps helpful in understanding the scope of the Expo.
MousePlanet will provide coverage of the event, and will once again have a booth in the Collectors Forum.
The MousePlanet LOUNGE is the place to come mix and mingle with MousePlanet readers and staff, and meet your fellow MousePad members and Community Leaders.
Kick up your feet and relax in our comfortable LOUNGE, check your e-mail, browse MousePad, and even print your boarding passes for the flight home. While you're there, be sure to pick up a special MousePlanet button designed just for the EXPO, and register each day to win a prize from one of our MousePlanet Sponsors.
Mouse Tales author and MousePlanet columnist David Koenig will be at the MousePlanet LOUNGE on Saturday and Sunday, August 20 and 21 to meet readers and sign copies of his books (books will be available to purchase at the event, or you can bring your own copies). Copies of Vault of Walt by MousePlanet columnist and Disney historian Jim Korkis will also be available for purchase.
We will once again offer our popular Camera Check service, where you can safely leave your electronics before you head into any presentations where cameras and phones may be prohibited.
MouseAdventure players, be sure to stop by the booth each day for a new challenge. Bring your "A" game, and you can win cool MouseAdventure prizes!
To help our readers who are attending the Expo, we've set up a special Twitter account just for the show. Follow @MPatD23Expo on Twitter for live updates, announcements and contests throughout D23 weekend.