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Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor
2001 Official Disneyana Convention Part 1 - 9/12/01


When Sue Kruse and I took on the assignment of covering the 2001 Official Disneyana Convention, MousePlanet editor Al's suggestion was that we "keep it simple – everyone who really cares about the convention is already there." As the week progressed, we realized that this was not exactly the case. In fact, we discovered that there were a lot of people who would have registered for the convention had they known more about it - and we include ourselves in that number.

This giant scrapbook formed the entrance to the convention area.

Perhaps the reason for this was that the convention gained local exposure by being held in Anaheim again, after years years in Florida. Perhaps the event has been so well attended in prior years that there hasn't been the need for a marketing push to gain new "ConventionEars." Whatever the reason, we found that many people have no idea what the Official Disneyana Convention was about, nor what happens there. We want to give our readers, especially those who have never attended a convention, a better understanding of this event that attracted over 1500 guests from all over the world.

The right side of the "scrapbook" was a popular spot for souvenir photos

At the same time, we know that a breathless, hour- by- hour recap would most likely put the majority of our readers to sleep. Fortunately for you, (and Al) we won't subject you to that. If are looking for "just the facts," allow me to direct your attention to the press release to give you exactly that. If you would just like to see t–e photos of the limited edition merchandise, we can accommodate you nicely on this page. And if you are interested in the photos of the auction items, we have a page to bring you those.

Still here? Good! Since you are, let me assume that you want to know what a convention is like. What can ConventionEars do and see? And, let's be honest – why would anyone spend all this money to attend a convention? In this multi- part series, Sue and I bring you the 2001 Official Disneyana Convention from the eyes of two first-time unofficial ConventionEars, discussing various aspects of the convention and focusing on the parts that especially intrigued each of us. Today's topic: Pre-convention and opening day.

People who registered by a certain deadline received this exclusive sculpture. The license plate on the car bears Walt Disney's birthdate, a nod to his 100th birthday celebration this year.

After people registered for the convention, they were invited to visit the restricted area of the official Disneyana Web site, where they were able to view previews of the merchandise, sign up for special events for the convention, and chat with other attendees in a trio of pre-moderated message boards.

The registration packets were mailed to guests in May, and included information about logo merchandise pre-orders, special activities ÷ called "Discoveries" ÷ a listing of scheduled seminars and more details about the convention itself. Another information packet was mailed in June, listing more Discoveries offerings, and giving ConventionEars another teaser about all the events waiting for them.

Pre Convention Activities: Although the convention did not officially begin until Tuesday, September 4, pre-convention activities kicked off Saturday with a trip to see The Lion King play in Hollywood. On Sunday and Monday, ConventionEars who registered for the optional "Walt's Historical Tour" were treated to a bus tour past Los Angeles landmarks that have ties to Walt Disney. Included were several houses and offices that Walt owned, the current Disney Studios, and lunch at the Tam O'shanter, one of Walt's favorite haunts. Several of the Disneyana Discoveries were offered Sunday and Monday as well.

Where you dropped off the forms...

Others used the free days before the convention visiting Disney's California Adventure for the first time, or catching up with friends they had not seen since the last convention. Early arrivals could pre-register on Sunday, and were allowed to pick up their preordered logo merchandise, as well as submit their Random Selection Process (RSP) forms for the limited edition convention items.

Tuesday morning marked the official start of convention activities. Registered ConventionEars were invited to preview the limited edition items, and to turn in their RSP forms. You can see all 70- plus items, with photos and descriptions, at this link. The limited edition merchandise included paintings, lithographs, sculpture, a quilt, hand- painted goose eggs, holiday ornaments ÷ a mind-boggling array of collectibles in almost every medium imaginable.

Some ConventionEars waited in line six hours to be the first into Walt's G–rage

One of the most anticipated parts of the convention is Walt's Garage, where the Disney company's warehouses are cleaned out and buried treasures are available for sale. At prior conventions, ConventionEars waited in line overnight to have the first shot at this merchandise. This year when the crowds began to form at 9:00 the night before, they were asked to return no earlier than 6:00 the next morning.

Eager collectors run for the merchandise tables when the doors opened

The doors to Walt's Garage were thrown open promptly at noon on Tuesday, and the waiting crowds rushed into the room to snatch up the loot. Each of them had been given a clear trash bag to use as a shopping cart, which many were eager to fill up.

A row of shiny Autopia car bodies were lined up, ready to go home with collectors.

There were two big items for collectors: car bodies from the old Autopia attraction, and the blue metal parking lot signs from the parking lot that became DCA. Both items were offered for $150 each. The most popular of the signs, like Tinkerbell and Eeyore, were quickly snatched up. Autopia cars were claimed, and became the holding area for their new ownersČ other purchases.

One ConventionEar watches over his purchases, as his friends go gather more items

Another hot item were stacks of framed artwork, taken from the rooms of the Disneyland Hotel during the recent remodel. These prin–s were offered at $10 each. The most coveted image was a sketch of Sleeping Beauty Castle, drawn by the late Herb Ryman. Later in the convention, that same image was offered unframed for only $5.

Shoppers gather around bins of framed artwork. The parking lot signs are in the background.

The most popular image was this Herb Ryman rendering of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Among the other items offered for sale in Walt's Garage: Blue stroller covers from Disneyland, invitations to the new Tomorrowland press event at Disneyland, a wide array of printed promotional material from Disney movies and cartoons. There were Lion King T-shirts, teddy bear and doll convention clocks, promotional watches that wouldn't work even new batteries, large foam props and photo backgrounds from around the park, and the fabric banners that hung in front of Disneyland's Castle during the 45th anniversary celebration. Some new items were added each day, including Country Bear and Hitchhiking Ghost mini bean bag plush, and more unframed artwork from the hotel.

Movie posters and promotional artwork from Disney cartoons.

Some ConventionEars complained that the selection in Walt's Garage was not as extensive as they saw at earlier conventions. Others felt that the pricing structure was a little strange. They felt that the $10 paintings could easily have fetched much higher prices, yet wondered why light pole signs from Walt Disney World's Millennium Celebration and Disneyland's 45th Anniversary were priced at $100 and up. The lines to check out on the first day however were almost an hour long, and many guests seemed happy with their new acquisitions.

An attendee inspects Disneyland's 45th anniversary signs for damage.

Minnie is sold!

Our next stop was the Animation Showcase, where Sue and I got a sneak peek of Lilo and Stitch. Sue will walk you through the presentation, since we were prohibited from taking any photographs in the showcase:

Sue: Throughout the week, the ConventionEars got a lot of sneak previews of coming attractions from the various segments of the Walt Disney Company. The sneak peek on Day One was a look at the Feature Animation offering for June 2002.

The first big event of the convention, Animation Showcase was located in the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel. It provided ConventionEars with the rare opportunity of being the first to see what next summer's animated film, Lilo and Stitch, will look like. Added to that was the chance to talk with some of the film's animators, see their work, and view the film's trailer.

Lilo and Stitch artwork as seen in California Adventure's Animation exhibit

The room was set up in a maze-like pattern that was filled with original artwork from the film. There were storyboards and background scenes. On hand were: Chris Sanders, director / voice of Stitch; Dean DeBlois, director; Ric Sluiter, art director; Paul Felix, production designer; Byron Howard, supervising animator for Cobra Bubbles; and Peter Moehrle, background painter.

Art Director Ric Sluiter, responsible for the look of the film, the color, the design of the backgrounds, and the lay of the environment, gave a presentation about the style of the film. He is to animation what a set designer is to film.

Ric explained that to come up with the design of the film, the art director first goes back to the source, the story. Is it a comedy? a drama? This gives an indication of how the designs should look. Then, he looks at the environment of the story. In this case, Lilo and Stitch is set in Hawaii, so that provides an influence as well.

After spending a week in Hawaii, getting to know the locals and painting in both oil and water color, the production team discovered a few things they wanted to bring to the film: namely a bright color palette and the feeling of light.

The next step was to decide what medium to work in. Watercolor was chosen, since they wanted the film to have a softness, without hard edges or straight lines. Watercolor also does an interesting thing when laid down on white paper; it is a clear stain that lays on top of the paper so the white of the paper acts as a light source, giving the animators that push of color and light they observed in Hawaii.

The trouble with watercolor though, is that it is very difficult to work with. And Feature Animation had not used the medium since Dumbo in 1945. To hear Ric tell it, watercolor is pretty scary to work with. You can literally paint and entire scene, then blow it with that one last brush stroke. Not having worked with watercolor for so long, they weren't quite sure what paper to use. They researched Snow White only to discover the Windsor- Newton paper used on that film was long gone. Ric explained that there were a lot of trials and tribulations along the way.

Once the style of the film was locked down, workshops began. A year was spent in acquainting the background artists with the watercolor style so as to keep the feeling of light and color they saw in Hawaii.

The production team interviewed Maurice Noble, one of the original watercolor painters on Snow White and went into the "morgue," pulling out paintings from the 1930s from such film shorts as Hawaiian Holiday and Through The Mirror.

It is clear that all their hard work paid off. After looking at some of the backgrounds, I am terribly excited to see this film. While the story line seems a little "been done before" to me, I have to say the look of the film is spectacularly beautiful. What a treat it was for the ConventionEars to have the chance to personally ask the directors and animators how they feel about the little Hawaiian orphan and her encounter with an alien named Stitch.

Next, it was upstairs for the opening of the Antiques and Collectibles room, as Sue continues here:

Sue: One thing that makes the Disneyana Convention special is the opportunity to purchase hard- to- find items. Inevitably, when Adrienne and I quizzed ConventionEars about their motives for attending the convention, the answer would be, "The chance to find things I can't get anywhere else."

There were several venues set up within the convention to buy these much- sought- after items. One of the most popular of these was the Antiques and Collectibles room. Dealers from all over the country set up shop. The room was laid out in a series of aisles, each packed with dealers. If you have ever been to an NFFC (National Fantasy Fan Club) sale, you get the picture.



Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.

In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.

If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.


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