D23 Expo: Recap of the 2013 Event by Paul

Today we want to introduce to our Readers another new Official OTPN Reporter, Paul! He has written for us a very interesting article that analyzes in depth this past D23 Expo. Enjoy!:

So last weekend Disney fans on all levels joined the press at Anaheim Convention Center...

... for This Bi-Annual Expo, three-day event known as the D23 Expo. It covers every nook and cranny of The Walt Disney Company imaginable: from Animated and Live Action Movies, through the realm of Disney Music, Video Games, Products, Memorabilia, items out of the Disney Archives, and more. This year I was unable to attend, so I followed (for three straight days) all my sources and resources for my new Rumor Round up posts, as there were out there. I am sure all of you OTPN readers out there are interested more in the theme part aspects of the Expo. I will get to that in a moment, but first here you are some other highlights of the Expo.

There was so much to do and see on the floor of the convention hall,  that I could spend hours summing it all up, so I won’t go into details on everything (even though some simple Google searches will get you everything you could want to know and more!).

Sessions focused on a variety of topics: from panels with Imagineers, to those that focused on and shed light on some upcoming projects in both Animated and Live Action films, as well as the presentation of a new class of Disney Legends.

The programs both Friday and Saturday night were focused on the realm of music. Friday’s Broadway and Beyond took us on a walk back in time through the history of Disney onstage and featured performances from many Disney Broadway Alumni. Saturday night I was in awe, as I sat in my bedroom in Missouri watching snippets and videos of the show as composers Richard Sherman and Alan Menken placed their fingers on the piano, projected their voice into the microphone, and opened the Disney songbook. These men are responsible for so much movie and park music, and had so many personal stories to supplement the evening, that even at home I was brought to tears.

It all ended with Richard asking Alan to join him in singing a song that many might not know, but may catch on to quickly (said with a smile, obviously a joke) as he began to play “it’s a Small World After All” that he and his brother originally wrote for the show at the NY World's fair and is now located at our favorite parks. 

I could go On and On and On about the Expo, but seeing as I am the OTPN Rumor guy, I will jump now on over to the Park’s Pavilion and tell you what Imagineering had on display. The theme was celebrating their 60 magical years of "dreaming and doing." And it was an open house type feel, like they were taking you into the Imagineering offices. 

Here is how they described it:

You’re invited to enter the Imagineering “dream factory” at “1401 Flower Street” to get a rare opportunity to meet and interact with an eclectic array of Imagineering’s creative minds—ride engineers, model builders, pre-visualization artists, architects, special effects designers, inventors, and show animators—and join them as they share their skills and talents. In addition, you’ll have the chance to glimpse the “workspaces” of several project teams from around Disney’s global portfolio of parks and resorts, perhaps spotting a few clues to coming attractions.

• A first look at MyMagic+, a collection of tools debuting soon at Walt Disney World
Resort that will give guests more opportunities to customize and personalize their
entire visit.
• A sneak peek at Disney Springs, a reimagining and reinvention of Downtown
Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort that transform it into a timeless and
vibrant place that celebrates the turn-of-the century lakeside towns that dotted
the Florida landscape.
• The opportunity to meet one of Marvel’s Avengers before he sets sail on a new
• The chance to experience some recently opened Disney attractions in a unique way.
• A play test of a great new Disney experience in which you can participate and
provide feedback.
• A glimpse into the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library that will feature
rarely seen models of concepts that were never built, as well as historical and
revered original concept art from the early days of Imagineering, including Herb
Ryman’s sketch of Disneyland and Peter Ellenshaw’s “surprise” rendering for the
Disneyland television show.
• Mickey’s of Glendale, an outlet of Walt Disney Imagineering’s employee-only
store, to shop for unique souvenirs and collectibles and Walt Disney Imagineering
merchandise not available anywhere else.

So, what are those glimpses that might have been caught?

There was a model of Disney Springs on Display, it was large and detailed, but that project is announced and underway, so that is not new and exciting really.

Three Months after the 2011 D23 Expo, AVATAR Land was announced, but we haven’t heard much else minus reading here on OTPN that the last main item in the proposed area for the expansion, “Festival of the Lion King,” is getting a new home currently under construction. Well, there was an elaborate set up of an “Imagineer’s desk”, with props and drawings and things from his recent “trip” to Pandora. There were some displays of glowing and musical playing plants. I think this area may be way better than some of us thought 2 years ago when the announcement was made, but I think it is time for some announcements to be made, pictures and models to be shown. As always we will keep you up to date here at OTPN.  

There other big items on display were these crates:

What could it mean? In keeping true to the announcement that no new park announcements would be made at this year’s Expo, only speculation can be made. There is an R2-D2 shaped hole in that one crate, and he was roaming the pavilion, (even got a demonstration of MM+). Orange harvest may be a hint, as the working, production title of Return of the Jedi, was Blue Harvest. One of those crates seem to have some Top Secret Plans, but that’s about the best we can gather for right now.

So there are some teases: AVATAR Land is definitely moving forward, and seem like something Star Wars-related is in the works as well. Will it come to Florida? Well nothing can be certain until it is announced, but there is land, a struggling park, and ORANGE Harvest? We can only hope, a New Hope, if you will!

Here is a video Disney released with a peak in the Parks & Resorts Pavilion:

Other rumors/news coming out of D23:

Dreamfinder and Figment were around at the Expo, making meet-and-greets and appearing with Tony Baxter as he received his Disney Legend award. Tony - the man who led the creation of the original Journey Into Imagination attraction - asked “When are we bringing Dreamfinder back?” CEO Bob Iger plainly stated that he agrees [that it is time to bring these two characters back together]. “I don’t think Figment is going anywhere any time soon. I promise,” he told the crowds at the 2013 D23 Expo.

So maybe the rumored refurbishment of the Imagination Pavilion is happening, and it may return to its bearded roots...

Lastly, not really a rumor, but a promise, Joe Rohde (longtime Imagineer, promised that the Expedition Everest Yeti, will be fixed and he is leading the charge to take some plans that are in development to fruition.

Until next time readers, stay tuned, and I’ll keep my ear to the ground, and eyes all over the internet scouring all those rumors for you our loyal readers!

Paul Gibson is our new rumor round up reporter. As an avid Disney fan and longtime reader of OTPN, Paul brings a passion, and understanding to providing you with a round up of rumors from around the Disney fan inter-web universe here at Orlando Theme Park News. Look for updates as he consolidates things here for your reading pleasure.

- Paul

Thank you for reading, and a big "thank you!" to Paul!

PHOTOS: Copyright of © 2013 Disney and D23. All rights reserved.

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