Wednesday, September 16, 2009

D23 Expo: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Well, my trip to the expo was filled with mixed emotions. Looking back, I had a lot of fun but probably would not make the trip again.

The Good:
The Princess and the Frog: Despite this being heralded as a return to classic animation and the beginning of a new age of great hand drawn films I had absolutely no interest in seeing yet another Disney princess film. Until I saw the first 30 minutes. If you have any doubts about seeing this erase them from your mind. This will be a GREAT FILM!

Star Tours 2: The announcement was cool and I got a limited edition poster! It will be in 3-D! Don’t worry, I have it on good authority it won’t be just podracing.

Parks and Resorts display: The only display at the show that totally blew me away. Lucky the Dinosaur, WallE, the magic tv entrance, the talking Lightning McQueen figure, the Hong Kong Expansion, Storytellers Sandbox. More to come on this experience.

The Boys and I: Wow! What a great film for fans of the Sherman Brothers. It was wonderful to see Richard Sherman in person again and have him play for us.

Star Power: I’m not somebody who gets autographs or goes gaga over celebrities but it’s fun to see them. John Travolta, Donny Osmond, Betty White, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, Robin Williams, Miley Cyrus and lots more.

Wizards of Waverly Place: Since I absolutely hate the current Disney Channel I wasn’t there for this but the people who were obviously had a great time and the stars of the show got what I would call rock star attention with security literally having to keep people from mobbing them on their way in and out of the autograph session.

Muppets: Again, wasn’t there but heard great things about it.

Imagineers past and present were everywhere you looked . The ones working in the Parks display area were happy to talk to you about anything you wanted to talk about. I personally heard a room by room description of what will happen to guests visiting Hong Kong’s Mystic Manor when it opens and it sounds really cool.

Old Dogs: Again not a movie I would have actually gone to see but the clip they showed of what happens to John Travolta and Robin Williams when their kids accidentally mix up their daily pill planners had me laughing oso hard that my throat started hurting. If the whole movie is that funny I don’t know if I can live through it.

Disneyland History: The two panels I attended were wonderful.

The Bad
Perhaps bad isn’t the right word. Disappointing would probably be a better description.

Dream Store: not my dream store. Only things I bought were the Sherman Brothers and Haunted Mansion CD’s and a hat my mom wanted. I could have gotten the cd’s online. We’ve been listening to them this afternoon and heartily give them a four thumbs up. You should buy both as soon as you can. So what didn’t I like? There just wasn’t anything that I found very interesting. They did have some broadway merchandise including snowglobes that I enjoyed seeing but I really expected a lot more product to be offered.

Disney Store display: Snow White and Princess and the Frog merchandise were on display. Again, very nice but that was it. How about some product designers we could chat with and prototypes of future product? I’d love to see a display of artist conception, to model, to finished product. This was pretty much a display you might see in a retail store window. Thanks to Velvet, you can get a better idea of future product here on this blog.

Fabulous Film Festival: Their “state of the art theatre” turned out to be a movie screen set up in front of rows of folding chairs all at the same level. I ended up skipping the movie every night because of the late hour and because of the uncomfortable seating. I barely made it through Tron during the day and most people left because it was so uncomfortable. To their credit, Disney did make some changes by the fourth day, moving more popular presentations to larger rooms and the toy story films got moved to the arena which actually did have theatre style seating on the upper levels. The lower levels had folding chairs. If you attended the Toy Story screenings you may have wondered why they weren’t using the folding chair seating on the lower level that wasn’t actually on the arena floor. I heard from one of the ushers that John Lasseter had come through and sat in every section of the arena to judge sound quality and then forbid them to let anyone sit in those areas.

Disney seriously misjudged what would and what would not be popular. This was not a crowd interested in what was on ABC or whatMiley Cyrus is up to.

The Ugly:
Disney sold tickets for $5 a day ro Disney employees. What does my D23 membership get me again? If all the D23 members get is an hour early entry then maybe it should be called Disney Expo and not D23 Expo which probably just confused anyone not familiar with D23. We talked to many cast members at the Disneyland Hotel who weren’t even aware there was an event taking place and the ones who did know didn’t know exactly what it was.

Transportation: The transportation itself was fine once you figured out how to use it. The first day we arrived at the Disneyland Hotel, we went to guest services and inquired about the bus transportation because the guidebook said it would be stopping at the Disney hotels but the route map indicated it only stops at Harbor Blvd which if your going to walk that far you may as walk all the way to the Expo. The first response was that the Anaheim Resort Transit does not stop at the Disney hotels. When we showed the info we had, it became they don’t normally stop at the Disney hotels. The person in guest services called to clarify but nobody answered because it was the Monday holiday. I should mention that the cast member was helpful but also in a bad mood and didn’t have any problem telling us that they were the last to find out anything. The next day we went through the process again (with a much nicer cast member) who called and found out that the busses would be stopping right outside the lobby during the expo and also found out they would have a desk in the lobby where you could purchase tickets for the bus. That was good because the only ticket machine is way over on Harbor Blvd and it was broken when I checked the day before. It was all news to the cast member in guest relations. I guess they really are the last to know.

Disney Store presentation: Seriously? I left an imagineering panel before it was over to make sure I could sit there for 90 minutes and not find out anything about future plans? The head of the Disney Stores spouted for almost the entire presentation about the history of the stores (like we don’t know) and their philosophy. It felt like orientation for new cast members except that would have probably been more interesting. My feeling was that they believe the Disney Stores are fine with the product selection they have and a target audience of 0-12 year olds (really? How many 0-12 year olds drive to the mall?) and all they need to do is retheme the stores and provide some toys for the kiddies to play with while they are there. It’s a good thing Disney has lots of good film coming out to drive people to these stores because I don’t think they would survive if they had to exist just with this plan. They had a fashion show of kids in halloween costumes at the end that was cute and they gave everyone 25% off their next purchase as they exited. I really was all set to hear some exciting things and theyliterally told us nothing. You want to generate some excitement? Start off with announcing pin trading will be coming to the Disney Stores. Tell us you realize the need to have things that will appeal to adults instead of whineing that there isn’t enough room in the stores to carry everything. Why did you even have a presentation?

Arena Lines: I swear, if one more cast member screamed in my ear that I had to surrender all electronic devices and have my bags open for inspeciton every 60 seconds or so I would have punched them in the face, Even if it was a girl. Is it that hard to make us some signs or use the existing announcement system? They literally screamed at the top of their lungs while standing within a foot of guests. I did not spend thousands of dollars on travel and hotel to experience this.

Poor Planning: Th entire event was planned very poorly with Disney obviously having no clue as to what would be popular. Instead of planning an event for the fans, Disney planned a press event that the public could pay to get into. They really need to hire some people who have attended Disney events as paying guests and know what we would be interested in and what we get upset about.

I’m available and will work for snowglobes :)

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