Disney Announces a Deconstructed D23 Expo for 2024

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

During the Destination D23 in Orlando on Saturday, Disney announced major changes to the format for the next D23 Expo, scheduled for August 2024 at the Disneyland Resort. The announcement offered very few details about the upcoming event, but what was disclosed has us wondering how exactly this will all work.

For those who already want to mark your calendar, the event will take place August 8–11, 2024. Disney is departing from the D23 Expo name, and is calling its next convention "D23: The Ultimate Fan Event." (We suspect most people will still use "Expo" as shorthand.) However, the biggest change seems to be a departure from the everything-under-one-roof format of past expos, with events being scheduled at Disneyland, Anaheim Stadium, the Anaheim Convention Center, and even at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

The 2024 D23 event will have a new name and format. MousePlanet file photo.

The deconstructed D23 will begin on Thursday, August 8, 2024 with a "kickoff celebration" at the Disneyland Resort. We're not sure if this will be an after-hours party or an all-day mix-in, but Disney did confirm that this will be a separate ticketed event.

Many of the typical D23 Expo activities will still take place at the Anaheim Convention Center August 9–11, 2024 with the usual assortment of exhibits from Disney brand partners and shopping opportunities, plus the smaller panels and presentations. But then Disney says the fun will "extend into the evening" at the Honda Center, where the marquee shows will take place.

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D'Amaro presents future plans for the company at the 2022 D23 Expo in Anaheim. Future presentations like this may take place before a much larger audience at the Honda Center. Photo courtesy Disney.

We expect the Honda Center will be where Disney holds the Disney Parks and Resorts panels, the presentations from Disney Live Action, Pixar Animation Studios, and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and the showcase from Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm. Or, Disney could choose to hold those panels at the Convention Center, and move events like the Disney Legends Ceremony or the feature concert to the Honda Center. We note that past D23 Expos had two presentations per day in Hall D23, so something will have to give.

Moving the biggest panels to the Honda Center offers some compelling benefits to Disney. Depending on the configuration, the Honda Center can hold more than 17,000 people, far more than either the 7,500-seat arena at the Anaheim Convention Center, or the 6,900-person "Hall D23" auditorium created for the last few expos. Disney could offer stand-alone tickets just to the panels in addition to full expo passes, for those who only want to be there for the major announcements.

Honda Center seating is stadium-style, a vast improvement over the large flat venue of recent years. The arena also features a lovely newish scoreboard, which can bring the action closer to those in the cheap seats.

With seat-specific ticketing, people who want to sit closer to the stage will likely have the option to pay for that option, eliminating the endless queues and jockeying for the best position in the venue. Honda Center is better equipped to screen and get large numbers of guests to their seats, and offers more in the way of amenities to visitors, from parking capacity to food service options.

Another bonus is that attendees may have more time on the show floor itself if they aren't having to wait in hours-long lines to get seats for a panel presentation, and may be able to attend the smaller panels they might have sacrificed at past events.

Feature exhibits like the Disney Parks Pavilion will still be a big draw at the Anaheim Convention Center. MousePlanet file photo.

There are also some down sides to this approach. The Honda Center is three miles away from the Anaheim Convention Center, more than most people will want to walk—especially after an evening event. Those who are staying at a hotel near the Convention Center have a few options: walk, ride the city bus, take a taxi or rideshare, or drive to the Honda Center and pay to park. Those who drive in to the expo will potentially have to pay for parking twice: once at the Convention Center, and again at the Honda Center. Those $20 and $30 fees add up quickly over the course of a three-day event.

It's also possible that Disney will offer some sort of shuttle service between the venues, but the logistics of transporting 8,000 people across town make it unlikely.

There's no way to know how moving the major panels to an off-site venue will impact traffic in the Convention Center, and exhibitors may not be happy with the change. If visitors really are able to spend more time (and money) on the show floor, that's great news for vendors. However, if attendees opt to skip the convention center entirely in favor of the bigger panels, that could make for some disappointed exhibitors.

If you want to make a full week of your D23 experience, Disney has scheduled a D23 Day at Angel Stadium on Sunday, August 4. This Major League Baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the New York Mets is also a separately ticketed event.

Tickets for "D23: The Ultimate Fan Event" will go on sale in Spring 2024. Until then, this is the perfect time to make your hotel reservations for that week, and our partners at Get Away Today are ready to help.

Book now at Get Away Today or call 1-855-GET-AWAY, and be sure to mention you saw them on MousePlanet.