We’re a few days removed from this past weekend’s D23 Expo where Disney gathered its most hardcore fans to show them a peek at everything coming their way in the near future. The House of Mouse showcased films, television, gaming, media programing, and treasures from their illustrious history. Since the first D23 Expo, Disney has acquired the major pop culture staples of LucasFilm and Marvel. In fact, the 2011 expo saw the debut of footage from the Avengers film, something even Comic-Con didn’t get.
So how did D23 rank amongst pop culture shows this summer?
The show did phenomenal. D23 delivered on the promise to give Disney faithful an experience they couldn’t get by spending a normal day at Disneyland or Disney World. From the time you walk by the 40ft tall Phineas & Ferb Waffle-inator in the Anaheim Convention Center courtyard, through the spacious exhibit hall and up to the presentation stages, fans are immersed in a mixture of Disney past and present. Some of the best parts of the show floor included the Collectors Area, which was like a vividly Disney decorated flea market where attendees could shop for hard to find original art, pins, toys, and even with vendors usually not found in their theme parks.
One of the biggest and most interesting exhibits from the company was the Journey Into Imagineering; where every division from art, special FX, ride engineering, and technology gave fans an inside look into the process of building Disney. Mouse loyalists could also go behind closed doors to get a peek at the original plans for Disneyland; a massive pencil sketch print that should be hanging in the Smithsonian. It was a sight very few ever get to see and worth the price of admission alone.
D23 also had a presence from their interactive division. Studios working on upcoming games like Infinity and Fantasia let people get hands on with all the toys their kids will be putting on their list this coming holiday. Disney Interactive did a marvelous job of bringing a small slice of their E3 magic to the Disney general public.
Then there were also the presentations. Different levels of interaction from picking up the pencil to learn character drawing, all the way to just sitting in the arena as Disney’s film division made a case for your movie going dollar. For anyone looking to see how Disney would leverage Marvel a few years after their purchase of the comic book giant; your answers were all found on the arena stage watching the first footage from Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In addition to the hype created by unleashing a machine gun of Marvel film celebrities, fans were also shown the entire pilot of ABC’s crown jewel of the Fall television season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
With all the fun and excitement that happened throughout the weekend it was easy to overlook some of the missing exhibit elements from companies Disney own, which could have used the expo to broaden their fan bases. Hopefully when the show returns in 2015 they’ll figure out a way to get a full fledged Marvel booth inside the exhibit hall. Marvel’s footprint at the show outside of the presentations was limited to a few standees throughout the expo floor. Oddly enough that was still more than what we saw out of the LucasFilm division. Please don’t conflate the message, overall the expo was a wonderful time that fans genuinely appreciate, but newer companies under the Disney umbrella have an enormous opportunity to reach an audience that may not already be on their side. Disney may want to start thinking of limiting Marvel’s Comic-Con presence amongst a crowd that’s already buying what they’re selling even before they get to San Diego. Instead, grow a presence inside D23 and sell the comic book division to the Disney fans at D23 who have kids that may not be aware of comics. Same goes for you Darth.
Ultimately this is a fabulous show. The best part is that there is still potential that hasn’t even been tapped yet.
While it’s been confirmed there will be a 2015 D23 show, the exact dates have not been announced but Nuke the Fridge will bring them to you as soon as they are.