After an incredible Day 2 of the 2013 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, Day 3 had a lot to overcome in order to match the quality of panels and excitement that Day 2 offered. Sunday, August 11, 2013 had one important thing to offer that the first two days did not: five Imagineering presentations in a row featuring some of the most important Imagineers alive. Unlike the other two days, there was not a huge presentation taking place in the morning in the D23 Arena, but Disney Interactive did show off some of the things they have up their sleeve later in the day, but back to Imagineering.
The central theme of this year’s D23 Expo was definitely Imagineering. Throughout the weekend there were about ten presentations on the topic of Imagineering or led by the Imagineers themselves, not to mention the Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion was an Open House into Imagineering. The first panel included Marty Sklar as moderator and joining him was X Atencio, Alice Davis, and Bob Gurr. It would be a hard task to find more legendary Disney Imagineers in one room. The topic of the first presentation was ‘Working With Walt’ and and this one was full of stories. Sklar was able to chime in with some stories about writing scripts for Walt. X Atencio relived the difficult process of Walt assigning him to write scripts for the rides when he had never done anything like it before. Alice Davis took the audience all the way back to the days of animation, but focused a lot on the classic “it’s a small world”. Bob Gurr, with his impeccable sense of humor, told a tale about the Walt cough that would happen before he was about to enter a room, so everyone present knew to shape up.
Another presentation, ‘Craft of Creativity’ touched on how Imagineers got their start and then focused on some of their favorite projects. This panel included Chris Montan, Tom Fitzgerald, Eric Jacobson, Daniel Jue, Joe Lanzisero, Kathy Mangum, and Joe Rohde. Joe Rohde discussed details about how he conceived the idea to make Aulani a truly Hawaiian resort, because that didn’t exist and the way he was able to do so was by making Aulani about Hawaiians. Kathy Mangum admitted that her start to the Disney company was working at a merchandise cart and spending more time flirting with men instead of focusing on the job. Tom Fitzgerald opened up about being 16 and wanting to work for Disney, so he got into entertainment and started off his career as the butt of an elephant in a parade.
‘Leading a Legacy’ involved Bruce Vaughn, current Walt Disney Imagineering Chief Creative Executive, and Marty Sklar as they discussed what it is actually like to lead the way of Imagineering. Another presentation ‘The DNA of Innovation’ featured Asa Kalama, Scott Trowbridge, and Bob Gurr discussing the art of storytelling and how no matter what branch of Imagineering you are apart of, there is always a way to tell or advance the story.
The final Imagineering presentation of the day was ‘Leave ’em Laughing’ and featured Dave Fisher, Joe Lanzisero, Kevin Rafferty, Jason Surrell, and George Scribner. Each panelist had such a great sense of humor and talked about Disney’s past of adding gags into attractions as well as how they continue on with the tradition today. Jason Surrell went into a lot of detail about the humor that Marc Davis added into “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Haunted Mansion”. George Scribner had a tablet with him and sketched throughout the entire presentation, all featuring Donald Duck being tortured. Joe Lanzisero showed how he added humor to Disney Cruise Line, and Kevin Rafferty explained a lot of the unheard gags in Toontown.
The big presentation of the day was ‘To Infinity and Beyond: Disney Interactive Takes the Stage’ in the D23 Arena. Co-Presidents Jimmy Pitaro and John Pleasants were on hand to show and tease what was coming up with Disney Interactive. A lot of people probably don’t know that Disney Interactive is not just games for Playstation, X-Box, Nintendo, and PC/Mac, but also includes every app developed for smartphones and tablets, as well as the Disney website. Coming to the Disney website is Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story that premiered during the presentation and will in fact be a full web series. One of the new apps that was showed off was Animated. This app takes you into the world of Disney’s animated tales, full-length and short, and lets you look at storyboards, concept art, and much more. It is essentially a Disney “Art of…” book in one app.
In terms of video games, the main two on the line-up are Disney Infinity and Fantasia: Music Evolved. Most of the details about Disney Infinity have already been out for quite some time now, but Disney did announce that there will be several new figures coming out in the next couple months, including Anna and Elsa from Frozen as well as Sorcerer Mickey who will premiere in 2014. New figures of course means new interactive lands and experiences for gamers. Disney Infinity is set to release August 18, 2013. Fantasia: Music Evolved is a musical based game by the makers of Rock Band that will take gamers into the world of Fantasia. However, this doesn’t mean that the music from the movie is involved. The game takes a variety of songs ranging from Queen to Bruno Mars and turns you into a “conductor” as your movements help to orchestrate the songs.
Another big event took place in the D23 Arena and that was the debut of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. The buzz and general reaction of the audience is that the series is going to be a huge success and definitely picked up for a couple seasons. Other presentations included ‘Secrets of the Lost Chords‘ led by Disney music historian Randy Thorton, ‘Sounds Delightful! An Illustrated Audio Adventure’ featuring Disney artist Stacia Martin playing rare Disney Vinyls, ‘Women of Pixar’, ‘ESPN FIlms Screening of The ’99ers‘, ‘Disney Ambassadors’, and ‘The Jack Wrather Organization Featuring The Disneyland Hotel’.
That concludes our coverage of the 2013 D23 Expo, but continue to check out The DIS YouTube Channel for all our videos from the weekend.