It's the end of day 1 of the 2013 D23 Expo, and I am very happy to report that overall it was a pretty good day. I can honestly say that I had a good time, and am far less frazzled than I have ever been after an Expo day. Not that everything is perfect, but those of you who have read my blogs on previous D23 Expos know how frustrating I've found them in the past. D23 seems to have finally learned a few things this time around and made some improvements to reduce the frustration level.
So here are a few of my observations from Day 1. Sorry that there are no photos - just no time to go through them, though I posted some to my twitter account: @allearslaura
1. There are still only three event venues: the Arena, Stage 23, and Stage 28, but the latter two are much larger this time - 2000 seats in Stage 23 and 850 in Stage 28. In addition there is an overflow area for the Arena that holds 2,000. (I didn't get a chance to see how that works yet.) Most of the Stage 23 sessions were not full.
2. This year they have implemented a "Stage Pass" feature. Expo guests can get a "Fastpass" type of ticket for sessions in Stage 23 and 28. This was one of my suggestions after the last Expo so I was eager to try it today, and I thought it worked quite well. Pending availability, guests can get two Stage Passes per day: one for a morning/early afternoon session and one for a late afternoon/evening session. Passes for the early sessions are available when the exhibit floor opens, passes for the later sessions become available at 12:30. There's a huge sign that tells you what passes are available, so you don't wait in line only to find that what you want is gone. At the venues, those with Stage Passes queue in a separate room and are allowed into the room first, about 15 minutes prior to the start. There can be a very long line to get the passes, though - I waited about 25 minutes to obtain my second pass of the day for the Broadway & Beyond evening session, which was quite popular (all passes were gone less than an hour after they started distributing them). But I'd much rather wait in a 25 minute line when I know I'll be able to see something, than waste time waiting in a two hour line just to get in to a room!
3. The Imagineering pavilion on the show floor seems bigger to me, and there were lots of things to see and do. There's a walk-through of some really wonderful Disney art which includes copies of the original drawings of Harper Goff's designs for a Disneyland near the Disney Studios in Burbank. And then, what I found most special, is the original pencil drawing of Disneyland by Herb Ryman. He drew it with Walt Disney looking over his shoulder - they worked on it for 42 hours. That was amazing to see. (No photos allowed in that exhibit.). There's also El Fortuno, an incredibly sophisticated audio animatronic fortune teller - but we'll have video of him. He was in the R&D section, where they had a lot of other neat "toys", too. It's also fun to talk to the Imagineers about what they do.
4. I thought that there was more to do on the exhibit floor. Most of it I didn't have a chance to get to (yet), but there's sections featuring Frozen, Planes, and Once Upon a Time, and a big Disney Interactive area. Lee and I saw a little bit of a demo of Honda's ASIMO robot. There's a lot of celebrities and special presentations at the Talent Round-Up and the Disney Channel Pavilion. Also live entertainment on the stage in the exhibit hall.
5. For the most part they have the the queue areas set up in areas that are away from the main traffic areas, which makes getting around somewhat easier. Things seem much more organized and planned this year.
6. There were a lot of guests wandering around in costume - there was a Costume Contest this afternoon which Lee and I attended. Really some amazing costumes - we'll have more photos and video coming.
7. Tonight DebK, Lee, Jason and I all attended the Broadway & Beyond event. (This was definitely a "Thank goodness for StagePass!" occasion.) It featured five very talented singers who have all performed in various Disney musicals on Broadway, singing songs from ten different Disney musicals. It was an amazing evening. As Lee said, THIS is the kind of event that makes coming to the D23 Expo worth it all - even if this was the only event we attended.
I know I've forgotten things, but I hope that gives you an idea of how it's going. It's not perfect, but it's better.
And now we'll see what Day 2 brings!
The previous post in this blog was Menken and Sherman Q & A: Together Again for the First Time.
The next post in this blog is D23 Expo 2013 - Day 2.