Countdown to the 2011 D23 Expo: Opening Day

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

The 2011 D23 Expo is scheduled for August 19 to 21 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. The estimated 40,000 fans who attended the first Expo in 2009 were treated to surprise appearances by celebrities like Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage and Miley Cyrus; had the opportunity to chat with Imagineers about the new Cars Land expansion at Disney California Adventure; got an advance look at Cars 2 and the new Winnie the Pooh movie two years before their theatrical debuts; watched the first Disney Legends Ceremony to ever take place off of Disney property; and shopped from dozens of exhibitors and at the Disney Dream Store. Those are just a few of the highlights of the four-day event that filled 815,000 square feet of convention space, and featured over 100 Disney divisions and independent exhibitors.

The first D23 Expo in 2009 drew thousands of Disney fans to the Anaheim Convention Center. Photo (c) Disney.

The 2011 Expo is a day shorter, but the organizers promise a schedule packed with presentations, exhibits, personal appearances and shopping opportunities for Disney fans and collectors of all ages. With just one month until the Expo begins, we want to help MousePlanet readers prepare for the event. What better place to start than at the beginning, with the presentations scheduled for opening day, August 19. There are two or three Arena presentations scheduled each day of the D23 Expo, which should give fans plenty of time to explore the exhibit floor. Still, the convention center Arena holds only about 4,000 people, so be sure to keep an eye on the lines to make sure you don't miss out on the presentation you really wanted to see.

2011 Disney Legends Ceremony

Arena, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The Disney Legends award dates back to 1987, when actor Fred MacMurray (The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Happiest Millionaire), was recognized for his contributions to the Walt Disney Company. Since then, 237 people (counting this year's honorees) have been named Disney Legends for their work in areas as diverse as animation, music, television, administration, publishing, and character merchandise. The Disney Legends Ceremony was traditionally held on Disney property, but in 2009 the presentation was held off-property at the D23 Expo. The 2011 Expo will begin with the Disney Legends Ceremony, and “Dancing with the Stars” host Tom Bergeron will return to emcee the ceremony.

The 2009 Disney Legends Ceremony marked the first time the presentation was made outside of Disney property. Photo (c) Disney.

The large group of honorees includes Muppet creator Jim Henson, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" host Regis Philbin and "Zorro" star Guy Williams; Disney partners and executives including Disneyland Hotel builders Jack and Bonita Wrather, Ray Watson (former Chairman of Walt Disney Productions) and Bo Boyd (Disney Consumer Products Chairman); and five actresses who voiced Disney princesses, including Jodi Benson (Ariel), Paige O’Hara (Belle), Linda Larkin (speaking voice of Jasmine), Lea Salonga (Mulan and singing voice of Jasmine), and Anika Noni Rose (Tiana).

At the last Expo, the Disney cast member choir provided a vocal backdrop to the ceremony. Given the number of singers on this year's roster, is it too much to hope for a brief Disney princess concert? With Jim Henson being honored posthumously, another D23 appearance by some of the Muppets would not be unexpected.

The Legends Ceremony is one of the most popular events of the Expo, so plan on arriving right when the doors open to reserve your place in line. Remember that D23 members can enter at 9am, while non-members have to wait until 10am.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation

Arena, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

At the 2009 Expo, Darth Vader and an entire legion of Stormtroopers were on hand as Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo announced plans for the 3-D makeover of the Star Tours attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Hopefully current Chairman Tom Staggs, host of the 2011 presentation, has something equally impressive up the sleeves of his Jedi master robes, but the official description of this "behind-the-scenes glimpse into some of the exciting projects currently underway at Disney's parks and resorts around the world" seems intended to downplay any expectation of a major announcement.

The Muppets appeared during the keynote presentation by former Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook at the 2009 D23 Expo. MousePlanet video by Steven Ng.

Instead, Staggs will probably spend some time talking about the new Shanghai Disneyland Resort, and you're almost certain to hear the word "Aulani" mentioned a few dozen times, as Disney's new resort in Hawaii nears opening day. Staggs will also likely provide a brief recap of the Fantasyland expansion in Walt Disney World, and the Cars Land project in Disney California Adventure. Fans will certainly be disappointed if there is no new news in the presentation, but it just might be too soon to talk about 2013 and beyond.

Ultimate Disney Trivia Tournament Finals

Arena, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

New this year is a trivia tournament designed to find "that uniquely talented individual who knows more about Disney than anyone else," but don't expect to show up on Friday and enter - the competition actually begins at 8 a.m. on Thursday with the first of four qualifying rounds. To have a shot at moving on (or even entering the convention center!), you must correctly answer a random Disney trivia question posed by a D23 staff member at the convention center doors. Miss that question and you're done for good; answer correctly and you'll be allowed through the doors and sent on to Round 2, a 25-question, multiple-choice, Scantron-scored test.

The top 500 finishers from Round 2 will move on to Round 3, to be held Thursday afternoon in the convention center. Round 3 is a live trivia challenge, with contestants vying for 18 semi-finalist spots. Those 18 winners, along with the winners of the Trivia Challenge winners from the 2010 Disneyland and 2011 Walt Disney World Destination D events will move on to the semi-final rounds, to be held Friday morning. Round 4 will further winnow the field down to just six finalists, who will compete in the Friday evening finals.

The winner, who will surely need a vacation after two grueling days of Disney trivia, will receive a three-night cruise to the Bahamas, Nassau and Castaway Cay on board the Disney Fantasy, the newest Disney Cruise Line ship.

Celebrity autograph sessions

Though much of the D23 schedule has yet to be finalized, celebrity management company Coolwater Productions has released a list of celebrity autograph sessions, to be held at their booth in the Collectors Forum. Friday is "Marvel Day," with two performers scheduled to appear:

  • Doug Jones – Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Billy Butcherson in Disney’s Hocus Pocus. He will be signing images from both films
  • Matthew Wolf – Voice of Thor in the animated film Thor: Tales of Asgard

No specific time was given for these signing events, and autograph tickets must be purchased at the Coolwater Productions booth.

Purchasing Expo tickets

Tickets are still available for the 2011 D23 Expo via the event website. One-day  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.

Follow MousePlanet for D23 Expo updates

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.

Visit the MousePlanet LOUNGE during the Expo

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 @ on Twitter for live updates, announcements and contests throughout D23 weekend.



  1. By Nikara

    I'm very excited about all of the upcoming events! I'm sure the MP Lounge will be my favorite hang out spot for the weekend. Look forward to seeing everyone there!

  2. Discuss this article on MousePad.