The D23 Expo returned following a one year delay and from September 9 through 11, 2022 the Anaheim Convention Center was crowded with tens of thousands of fans from around the world to celebrate all things Disney. Disney’s convention generally took place on odd numbered years since its inception in 2009. However, they decided to postpone a year instead of running in 2021 out of caution over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But in returning, they wanted to do so in a big way to show that this was still the place to be. Moreover, it provided an exciting opportunity for fans to celebrate the company’s forthcoming 100th anniversary.

As I have noted, and will probably continue to do so, my first D23 Expo in 2015 was such an amazing experience that I rank it as one of the best conventions I’ve attended to date and instantly made me into a regular attendee for as long as I’m able. Each year seemed to pull something special that left me floored and dazzled that I couldn’t wait to return for more. This year was no different overall. In fact, it made me that much more thrilled to see what Disney would cook up next as they continued to showcase virtually all aspects of their company with amazing spectacles that even the San Diego Comic Con would have trouble rivaling.

As the first D23 Expo to run with the pandemic still going, they did a number a things quite differently from previous years. A very notable change was that there would be no overnight queuing at the Convention Center. It was understandable under the circumstances. But it made for some uncomfortable time spent attempting to get in line super early when they were trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to keep folks from queuing until 4:30 am. Most folks were willing to line up on Convention Way overnight any way and risk getting yelled at or kicked out as a result. Another reason for no overnight queuing was an emphasis on the reservation system.

The reservation system introduced in 2019 was a disaster. This year was improved in that there would be no first come, first served set up. Instead, attendees would only get one reservation per day. Mixed reception was on the randomization of which reservations attendees got. While it did provide a greater chance of getting something that one would want, there was as much risk of not getting the more preferred programs. And reservations were not limited to just the presentations. One of the reservations could end up being for something like the Pixar ball giveaway on one of the days. I heard someone unfortunately ended up with two of those.

Of course, in wanting to be fair, they maintained standby queues. It would be because of this that the pressure to get in line as early in the morning as possible would make things extremely stressful. This was very apparent for Saturday morning as there was no question folks would be willing to fight one another to get into the Marvel/Lucasfilm presentation in Hall D23. It turned out they had so few openings for standby that frankly it would have been better served if the presentation was reservation only. People who came super early in the morning only to not get in were tremendously unhappy that they essentially had no chance any way.

I felt rather fortunate with how the reservation system worked out for me as I ended up with reservations for three presentations that were of high preference to me: the Studio Showcase on Friday, The Muppet Christmas Carol on Saturday, and TRON on Sunday. Everything else I wanted to get into I had to be in standby for. There were a couple presentations I wasn’t able to get into, though aside from the Marvel/Lucasfilm debacle I ultimately figured I didn’t have the time to try a few of them either because a presentation I was in went beyond its scheduled end time or I determined it wasn’t worth the hassle. Those I got into weren’t stressful and I had a really good time.

Disney Legends Awards Ceremony

The Disney Legends Awards were established in 1987 to honor and recognize individuals who made extraordinary and integral contributions to the Walt Disney Company. The equivalent of a Hall of Fame program, ceremonies were originally private before being made public as part of the D23 Expo when first started in 2009. The Disney Legends Awards ceremony would since serve as the primary opening event of the convention, a platform for which the company, through their Chief Executive Officer, would recap past events and made some announcements for future endeavors before turning the spotlight over to those who would be inducted as Disney Legends.

My standby group was held up from getting into Hall D23 in time for the start of the ceremony due to a busted escalator. After some terribly long waiting, we were finally able to get in after missing out on a mash-up performance by members of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Frozen national musical tours and most of the announcements by Bob Chapeck. This was the first year with Chapek as CEO, who was not well liked by many fans. We heard he received boos from some members of the audience. It was perhaps because of this that he didn’t serve as host like his predecessor Bob Iger did, instead the role being given to acclaimed TV host Tamron Hall.

This year’s inductees as Disney Legends consisted of Ellen Pompeo (Television), Rob’t Coltrin (Imagineering), Patrick Dempsey (Film & Television), Doris Hardoon (Imagineering), Anthony Anderson (Television), Tracee Ellis Ross (Television), Robert Price “Bob” Foster (Administration), Chris Montan (Music), Jonathan Groff (Film & Voice), Kristen Bell (Film & Voice), Josh Gad (Film & Voice), Idina Menzel (Film & Voice), Don Hahn (Animation & Film), and Chadwick Boseman (Film). In a way, the ceremony spoke of the cultural impact of characters from Grey’s Anatomy, Black-ish, and Frozen alongside Boseman’s performance as Black Panther.

Nearly all of the newly inducted Disney Legends were present to give brief yet touching speeches. Coltrin and Hardoon were humbled at the honor, and the positive reception from attendees, they were receiving. Dempsey got to acknowledge how his work with Disney helped him open The Dempsey Center in response to his mother’s prolonged bouts with cancer. Both Anderson and Ross took individual selfies holding the award on stage. Gad ended his hilarious speech calling out the Disney World staffer who rejected him for a job on the Jungle Cruise at age eighteen. Menzel managed to sing a snippet of “When You Wish Upon a Star” to cap her speech.

Those who weren’t present were Foster, Hahn, and Boseman. Hahn’s absence was at the last second and he would eventually reveal on Facebook that he had tested positive for COVID and therefore had to isolate himself. Foster had passed away at the beginning of the year with his daughter Debby Swenson accepting on his behalf. She related her fondest memory of his treating her to a birthday visit to Disneyland and being able to skip lines with a flash of his administration card. The ceremony become emotional for Boseman, who passed away two years ago from cancer. Accepting on his behalf was his brother Derrick, who gave a very heartfelt speech.

Perhaps to end the ceremony on a lighter note, they had a surprise performance of “We Don’t Talk about Bruno” from Encanto. Present to perform were cast members Carolina Gaitán (Pepa), Mauro Castillo (Félix), Adassa (Dolores), and Diane Guerrero (Isabela), so they got to sing additional lines. Honestly, it was a wonderful way to close out the festivities and was a great performance on its own. I had been meaning to check out the Disney Legends ceremony for a while and I’m glad I was able to attend this one. I missed the opening content and I did wish there had been more animation inductees, but overall it was lovely event to experience.

Studio Showcase, Day 1: Celebrate the Magic of Disney and Pixar

There’s no bigger draw to the D23 Expo than the Disney Studios presentations. For over two hours, Disney would dazzle the nearly 7,000 who managed to get into Hall D23 with a showcase that was second to none in promoting their upcoming releases. It’s quite impossible to describe in words the sensation one would feel seeing a cavalcade of stars on stage getting fans excited for the Disney projects they would be appearing in. And those same fans would be getting their money’s worth as they would be the first to see footage and content months before Disney would show a good majority of them to the public, which made these presentations must-see events.

It was the Disney studios presentations that won me over and they would always be at the top of presentations to prioritize. I managed to secure a reservation, so my seat was ensured. Once we were brought up to Hall D23, we enjoyed playing along to the trivia screens and watching promos for what was happening on the main floor. A few of us unconsciously sang along to “You’re Welcome” from Moana when it was playing overhead. It was about a minute before the presentation was about to start when we noticed folks were hurrying over to a seat just a couple rows in front of me. It turned out Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige was sitting there.

The presentation opened with an emotionally beautiful sizzle reel of Disney films from its 100 year history, closing on the reveal of the new company logo. Company chairman Alan Bergman came out to kick off the festivities and saw that we liked the new logo so much that he played it again to our delight.

Bergman handed things over to Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, to begin with the live-action slate. Bailey brought up the live-action Pinocchio feature, which had just been released the previous day on Disney+, leading to a lovely performance of “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Cynthia Erivo (The Blue Fairy).

The first preview would be Hocus Pocus 2, the long-awaited sequel to the cult classic. The final trailer would premiere with a video introduction from stars Bette Midler (Winnie), Kathy Najimy (Mary), and Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah). Part of the introduction was Midler claiming she had magic abilities, resulting in some fun trick effects such as causing an object to appear in Bailey’s pocket and messing with the house lights. Hocus Pocus 2 would premiere on Disney+ a few weeks later.

Next was Disenchanted, the highly-anticipated sequel to Enchanted. Bailey brought out the full cast of Jayma Mays (Ruby), Yvette Nicole Brown (Rosaleen), Gabriella Baldacchino (Morgan), Idina Menzel (Nancy), James Marsden (Edward), Patrick Dempsey (Robert), Maya Rudolph (Malvina), and Amy Adams (Giselle) to say a few words about their roles and how many had changed and differed since the first film before introducing the trailer. Disenchanted would premiere on Disney+ later in the year.

The last film previewed that would be exclusive to Disney+ was Peter Pan and Wendy. Stars Alexander Molony (Peter Pan), Ever Anderson (Wendy), Alyssa Wapanatâhk (Tiger Lily), and Jude Law (Captain Hook) were introduced to talk about their attempt at creating a live-action feature that maintained the spirit of the animated classic while trying out new things, such as a further exploration of Peter and Hook’s rivalry and an expanded presence for Tiger Lily. The first trailer was then showed off with the feature coming out the following year.

Bailey moved into the films that would have theatrical releases beginning with a new version of The Haunted Mansion. Director Justin Simien came out to talk about the film while also bringing up that he previously worked at Disneyland with his work badge displayed. They then moved into showing off an extended first preview of the film, which would be released the following year. They wrapped up with an appearance from one of the stars, arriving on one the ride’s Doom Buggies. It turned to reveal Jamie Lee Curtis, who would play Madame Leota.

Next up was Mufasa: The Lion King. Talking about the prequel tale would be acclaimed director Barry Jenkins. He explained how the film would see Mufasa in a new light as an orphan who would ascend to be king. It was added that the story would be told by Rafiki, presumably to the newborn Kiara, only to be disrupted by Timon and Pumbaa complaining about their not being in the tale. A trailer was then shown of what was ready ahead of the film’s release in a couple years.

Bailey moved on to revealing a teaser trailer to the live-action Snow White. The first glimpse of who would be playing the Evil Queen got fans excited. Then being brought out to the stage were stars Rachel Zegler (Snow White) and Gal Gadot (The Evil Queen). Both explained how they looked forward to modernizing the tale while maintaining some of the classic animated feature’s magic. Snow White was scheduled to be released in a couple years.

Rounding out the live-action features would be The Little Mermaid. Director Rob Marshall appeared to talk about the challenge of adapting the beloved animated classic in a way that would be both faithful and unique. While they had just started post-production, Marshall felt the D23 Expo was as good of an event as any to show off the “Part of Your World” sequence in full. The footage looked pretty good, even if it needed fine-tuning, and it won over the audience. Star Halle Bailey came out right after the scene ended and expressed adoration for the opportunity to play Ariel. The teaser trailer was then shown with the feature coming out the following year.

The presentation moved over to animation, opening with Pixar and its chief creative officer Pete Docter. First up would be Elemental. Director Peter Sohn and producer Denise Ream came out to explain how Sohn drew upon his parents’ struggles as immigrants in communities that mixed multiple ethnicities to tell the story of a fire elemental and a water elemental bonding. Stars Leah Lewis (Ember) and Mamoudou Athie (Wade) appeared, accompanied by some exciting entrances, to explain their characters while showing off concept art and footage ahead of the film’s release the following year.

Next was the studio’s first full-form television series, Win or Lose. Directors Michael Yates and Carrie Hobson talked about the series exploring the lives of participants in an upcoming little league game. They showed off a very nifty trailer which was followed by a video message from star Will Forte (Coach Dan) to introduce a scene, though he was amused that the scene didn’t involve his character. The scene went over very well with the audience ahead of its release on Disney+ the following year.

Docter would be interrupted with a sudden “Bring Us Your Leader” message flashing on the screens, which led into presenting the studio’s next feature Elio. Director Adrian Molina and producer Mary Alice Drumm, with concept art and production art of the characters displayed, briefly explained the film would tell the story of a socially awkward young boy who would mistakenly become the ambassador for Earth by aliens wishing to know more about humanity. Stars Yonas Kibreab (Elio) and America Farrera (Olga) appeared to talk a bit about their excitement for the feature coming out in a couple years.

As Docter was wrapping things up, a familiar voice was heard and out came Amy Poehler. Poehler couldn’t contain her Joy as she joined Docter in officially announcing Inside Out 2 to great fanfare. What little could be announced was that Riley would be a teenager and new emotions would be discovered. Directing this time around would be Kelsey Mann while Meg LeFauve returned to write the screenplay with release scheduled in a couple years.

Rounding out the presentation would be Walt Disney Animation Studios and chief creative officer Jennifer Lee. She started on a couple of their Disney+ programs, showing off a trailer for Zootopia+ that tickled funny bones. She then introduced Kugali Media, a Pan-African entertainment company they were helping to launch their first project Iwájú. Creators Hamid Ibrahim, Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, and Tolu Olowofoyeku showed off concept art and explained the series would explore themes of class, innocence, and challenging the status quo. They finished by showing off a trailer to the fascinating limited series releasing the following year.

Next would be the forthcoming Disney animated feature Strange World. Director Don Hall and writer Qui Nguyen talked about the science fiction venture serving as the backdrop to the core story of generational rifts and understanding among the Clade family. Stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Searcher), Jaboukie Young-White (Ethan), Dennis Quaid (Jaeger), and Lucy Liu (Mal) came out to briefly explain their characters before showing off a new trailer and a dazzling extended preview clip ahead of the film’s release later in the year.

Closing the presentation would be the official announcement of the feature to be released the following year. A montage clip played of a common theme in the Disney animated films, the wishing star. This would be the basis for the film Wish. Directors Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn showed off some beautiful test animation and concept art while explaining the premise of a princess seeking the wishing star to overcome an evil that threatened her land.

Appearing in the film would be the company’s current “good luck charm” Alan Tudyk. The fan favorite went over his previous roles in Disney animated features to date, even voicing them as they were displayed, before revealing his character in Wish, a cute little goat named Valentino. They showed off a nice and humorous test animation of Valentino, whose wish to communicate yields an unusual result. In addition to Tudyk, Buck noted that there would be a lot of Easter Eggs fans would have fun looking out for.

The full presentation came to an end with the directors revealing that the songs would be done by Julia Michaels. Lee then came out to introduce star Ariana DeBose (Asha) to perform the song “More For Us”. Set to even more concept art and test animation, the performance was a show-stopper and blew away every attendee in Hall D23. As the song finished, star confetti rained down on the adoring fans. And even long after the wonderful presentation had wrapped, confetti continued to be poured out to delighted amusement. The whole presentation was a magical time to be hand.

Watch the cast and crew of Elemental enegise the fans below.

Magic in the Air: 30 Years of The Muppet Christmas Carol

The loss of Jim Henson in 1990 left the future of his company and the Muppets in question. It would be suggested to Brian Henson to adapt A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Envisioned as a television special, Disney would instead turn it into a theatrical feature. The Muppet Christmas Carol, starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, was released in 1992 to positive critical reception and a modest box-office run. Since then, it would become a widely beloved Christmas hallmark that continued to enchant audiences of all ages. A 30th anniversary celebration of the film would be one of the most anticipated presentations at the D23 Expo on the Premiere Stage.

The presentation began with Gonzo introducing the host Nina West. West had a heavy presence throughout the weekend, hosting many programs including the Mousequerade, and her hosting the anniversary presentation of The Muppet Christmas Carol became a delightful time for all. She introduced other Muppets to join Gonzo in Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Robin. Gonzo stayed in character in that he presented himself as Charles Dickens. Each of the Muppets looked back fondly at the film with the Muppet antics one would expect, such as Piggy and West sparring verbally. After a few minutes of fun, they screened the blooper reel to fan enjoyment.

West then started the panel proper introducing director Brian Henson, songwriter Paul Williams, costume designer Polly Smith, and performer Dave Goelz (Gonzo). Among the factoids brought up was that in Britain the film was often voted as both the best and the most faithful adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Henson reasoned this was because of writer Jerry Juhl’s interest in having the Dickens prose present, resulting in the inclusion of Gonzo playing Charles Dickens. Goelz felt this added another dimension to Gonzo, starting as an outsider who then became an enthusiast before the film developed him into being a soulful figure.

Williams noted that when Henson asked him to work on the film it was incredible timing. He analyzed the Scrooge character as an addict of finance and greed who would experience a spiritual awakening to become a better man, similar to how Williams at the time had finally gotten sober after years of substance abuse and used it as inspiration in writing the songs. Smith admitted that she initially wasn’t prepared to design costumes for the film as she was still working on the Dinosaurs television series. She had her team work off photo copies of sketches from the actual period until she was able to properly focus and design for the main characters.

Discussion would come back around to the songs, specifically the deleted “When Love is Gone” scene. Henson reiterated that the scene was cut from the theatrical release because then-chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg didn’t think it appealed to the younger audience. When it came time for a high-definition release, Henson wanted to add the scene back in only to discover that the negative went missing. While the original negative had yet to be found, the Disney archivists did find a “first strike inter-positive”, which allowed them to restore the scene into the film and would be added to Disney+ on the exact day of the 30th anniversary.

This led to a big surprise of the presentation with a performance of the song by Jodi Benson. It was quite a lovely moment with Benson able to hit the notes just right to connect with the emotions of the lyrics. Some more behind-the-scenes stories were told afterward, mostly by Henson and Williams. Henson talked about the advantage of shooting the film entirely on sound stage and not on location for fear of forces of nature. Williams noted that when he introduced himself to Michael Caine as they were recording songs, a perplexed Caine responded, “Are you out of your mind? We spent an entire weekend together at the White Elephant in London.”

Following a few more stories, the panelists each got to share their lasting thoughts and reflections on The Muppet Christmas Carol and its impact on their lives. When they finished, they departed and West closed out the presentation performing alongside the Muppets a melody of the songs from the film. Goelz once again performed as Gonzo with Eric Jacobson as Miss Piggy, Peter Linz as Robin, David Rudman as Fozzie, and Matt Vogel as Kermit. The Muppets themselves book-ending the presentation made it all the more delightful and joyous. This was overall one of those grand moments that left me feeling all warm and fuzzy throughout.

Watch Jodi Benson perform “When Love is Gone” below.


Watch the Muppets and Nina West perform The Muppet Christmas Carol melody below.

A Celebration of Disney Animation’s Encanto

Encanto was released in 2021 as the 60th feature from Walt Disney Animation. Coming out as the pandemic was still ongoing, it was reasonable that, like the preceding film Raya and the Last Dragon, it would not garner the magical box-office run the recent string of Disney animated features had been experiencing beforehand. And yet the film managed to find success and adoration. Encanto earned critical acclaim, was one of the most streamed programs to date, and would set music records thanks to the addictive songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. With the film fresh on everyone’s minds, a celebration would be set up at the D23 Expo on the Premiere Stage.

As would be expected, the room in which the presentation was held in was nearly packed from wall to wall with excited fans. Serving as host would be Tamron Hall, just a day removed from hosting the Disney Legends ceremony. Hall would split the presentation into two halves, starting with the filmmakers. This method would be commonly used in other presentations throughout the weekend. Appearing for the filmmakers were director Jared Bush and producers Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer. They only lightly touched upon the genesis of the film and talked briefly about their fascination in Colombian culture as pre-production progressed.

They were soon joined by Jamal Sims, who served as choreographer. They showed off his reference video for “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, only with Miranda’s demo left in. Sims added how he had trouble putting the dance together at first as Miranda sang for every character in his demo. This led to the presentation’s most fascinating moment where, using 5G technology, they brought in Lin-Manual Miranda via live hologram. For his brief appearance, he noted how he was writing the songs while staying with his in-laws at the height of the pandemic. This provided him some inspiration in building the lyrics around family.

After Miranda logged off, Hall moved into the second half with members of the cast. Appearing were Wilmer Valderrama (Agustín), Mauro Castillo (Félix), Carolina Gaitán (Pepa), Diane Guerrero (Isabela), and Adassa (Dolores). It was apparent as they spoke that the entire cast virtually said “Yes!” to joining the film based on the pitch before the script was even written. Gaitán couldn’t contain her excitement at meeting Miranda at the airport, and how it seemingly helped to get her cast. Bush revealed to her shock that she met Miranda just as he had returned from the research trip to Colombia with him and fellow director Byron Howard.

Each of the cast members got to explain a little insight into their approach to voicing the characters. They further noted that they managed to feel like a family even though they hadn’t properly met or been together until the premiere. To cap off the presentation, it was first announced that the whole cast would be performing a live-to-film concert at the Hollywood Bowl later in the year. Castillo, Gaitán, Guerrero, and Adassa then closed things out with another performance of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, this time with attendees singing along. A very nice presentation to attend overall and certainly one that fans of the film would relish.

Watch the cast of Encanto perform and lead audiences in a sing-along of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” below.

Sneak Peek at Zootopia+ from Walt Disney Animation Studios

The success of Zootopia superseded virtually all expectations. The 55th feature from Walt Disney Animation would garner massive critical acclaim as it grossed over $1 billion at the box-office and earned numerous accolades since its 2016 release. It seemed only natural that there would be more to the film, if nothing else than to expand upon a lush and vibrant world rich in unique characters. Six years later, Disney would finally return to the anthropomorphic metropolis with Zootopia+. It would be an anthology series of shorts that explored the lives of some of the supporting characters in parallel to events in the film.

Interestingly, this was the one presentation of those I attended that had a complete electronics lock-down one would have expected for the Hall D23 showcases. This likely had to do with shorts being screened in full, even it if was only two of the scheduled six, months ahead of the release. Heading the presentation on the Backlot Stage were the directors Trent Correy and Josie Trinidad. Both had worked on the film previously, Trinidad was co-head of story with a “Story by” credit and Correy was an animator who notably worked on the DMV sequence. Correy had been venturing into directing and would conceive of Zootopia+, asking Trinidad to join him.

Correy and Trinidad briefly described the six shorts that encompassed the series: Hopp on Board, about Judy’s parents racing to rescue their infant child; The Real Rodents of Rodentia, a reality show parody focused on Fru Fru; Duke The Musical, exploring Duke Weaselton’s desire for success; The Godfather of the Bride, where Mr. Big narrated his backstory; So You Think You Can Prance, with Clawhauser participating in a dance competition; and Dinner Rush, a rom-com look at Flash taking Priscilla on a date. The two that were screened were Hopp on Board and The Godfather of the Bride, the latter picked out by the directors as their favorite.

There was time after the screenings for audience questions. I liked that a good portion of the questions were from rather young attendees asking for advice on breaking into the business even if they believed they did not possess any artistic abilities. Correy and Trinidad themselves liked these questions and were more than happy to open up about the different paths one could take outside of being able to draw. I was one of the few that focused on the series itself, asking if they had considered other stories aside from the six made. Correy revealed one of the discarded ideas was a horror parody with the sloths that a lot of us really liked.

Dan’s Review: Based on the two shorts that were screened, Zootopia+ looked to do enough to whet the appetite of fans anxious wanting more of the anthropomorphic metropolis. Hopp on Board was a cute way to involve Judy’s parents in an adventure racer without altering their personalities. But, like the directors, The Godfather of the Bride was an outstanding short. Everything about it was done with loving affection for the story being told while having fun parodying the gangster genre. Across both shorts, the animation was beautiful and the narratives were told with the right amount of pacing to not feel too short or even too long.

Disney Original Documentary’s Sneak Peek of Mickey: The Story of a Mouse

As Walt Disney himself would often say, “It all started with a mouse.” The unparalleled success of Mickey Mouse following the release of the first synchronized sound cartoon Steamboat Willie in 1928 would become the foundation upon which the entire Disney enterprise would be built. Without Mickey Mouse, there would be no D23 Expo and the global landscape would be far different than what it was today. In the approach to Disney’s 100th anniversary, a documentary would soon be released on Disney+ that looked to chronicle the global and cultural impact of their flagship mascot, the good and even the bad, called Mickey: The Story of a Mouse.

The Backlot Stage was just above being half full, which I imagine was more to do with the Parks and Experiences presentation taking place at roughly the same time in Hall D23 than anything else. Nevertheless, those who did decide to give this one a shot were rewarded with a very nice discussion regarding Mickey, the documentary film, and some fascinating information about Disney folks might not have known beforehand. The presentation kicked off with a screening of the first ten minutes of the film, which included a look at the Disney family farm. The footage hooked in everyone as they definitely wanted to see more when the ten minutes were up.

Serving as host was the current voice of Mickey Mouse in Bret Iwan. It was nice including him in the presentation as he came off less like a moderator and more a participant himself. Present to talk about the film and other things Mickey were the documentary’s director Jeff Malmberg, producers Chris Shellen and Meghan Walsh, animators Eric Goldberg and Floyd Norman, and head of Walt Disney Archives Becky Cline. The filmmakers noted what an insightful journey it was making the documentary, exploring the full scope of Mickey’s cultural impact. They hoped they would offer audiences some new information about the character based on what they discovered.

Brought up was that there would be new animation specifically for the film called Mickey in a Minute. Goldberg talked a little about the project as he would be shown working on it in the documentary alongside Mark Henn and Randy Haycock. He explained that it was developed to fit into the film’s theme of Mickey’s evolution through the years. The premise would be that a reminiscent Mickey would get sucked into a whirlwind vortex and go through all of his previous iterations within the span of one minute. “My favorite kind of animation is animation that appears to enjoy itself,” Goldberg noted. “And who better embodies that than Mickey Mouse.”

A fun moment near the end was the question of which design was each panelist’s favorite and they all chose Fred Moore’s. “There’s just something so charming about his interpretation of Mickey Mouse,” Norman explained. Goldberg went further and pointed specifically to the cartoons from 1941 like The Little Whirlwind and The Nifty Nineties. “He was never more fluid or more joyous than in Freddie Moore’s hand,” Goldberg stated. Malmberg, Shellen, and Cline would add that, while some folks would have a personal favorite design, it didn’t really matter as one could jump between different cartoons and it would still be the same Mickey.

Back to the Grid: 40 Years of TRON

In 1982, Disney was struggling to recapture its past glory prior to the passing of Walt Disney. This resulted in many curious experimentation, often at the risk of losing touch with what made the company successful in the first place. Taking a chance, they released a film called TRON. While it had a modest box-office run upon release, it would grow in reverence over time. It’s pioneering use of computer graphics would lay the foundation for a groundbreaking evolution of visual entertainment. 40 years later, TRON would be hailed as a landmark milestone for Disney and a celebration was in order to be held at the D23 Expo.

Exhilarated fans filled the Backlot Stage to capacity in anticipation for a wonderful look back on the 40th anniversary of one of the most influential films in the business. I managed to actually be seated near one of the film’s visual effects artists. She was just as excited as the rest of us for the presentation, having not seen some of the others in the years since the film’s release. Hosting the proceedings would be TikTok influencer Juju Green and original TRON publicist Mike Bonifer. To kick things off, Bonifer had a surprise for his co-host as producer Donald Kushner come out to gift Green with a TRON jacket specifically for him.

The first half of the presentation would focus on the groundbreaking visual effects. To talk about that would be visual effects supervisors Richard Taylor and Harrison Ellenshaw, effects technical supervisor John Scheele, and animation compositing camera operator Glenn Campbell. Noted TRON fan David Fleming, dressed up in his replica Flynn costume, was present to provide assistance to Taylor. Fleming also walked down the aisles to show off features of the costume. Once the discussions started, the screens would cycle through displaying numerous concept artwork and behind-the-scenes production stills that Bonifer had in his possession.

Taylor and Ellenshaw would restate a lot of what they had said before about the challenges they faced in develop something that had never been done before. They’re no less fascinating to hear, though. Scheele brought along in hand some of the cels as Taylor and Campbell explained the complex process they had to go through in getting each frame animated and then added to film, well before it could be done digitally nowadays. With Fleming showing off, Campbell further talked about the need for the costume to have areas that were black in order to achieve the backlighting effect. Attention was humorously pointed to the rear end area.

Green would prompt Taylor into explaining the process into which a film went through to be nominated for the Visual Effects Academy Award and that the voters seemingly made up their minds already that they cheated. Ellenshaw added that, while he was disappointed, he wasn’t surprised that the film was refused to be recognized. “The Academy, in those days, was basically white, old… some things never change,” he said. It just so happened that the screen displayed photographs of the visual effects crew and Ellenshaw pointed out how part of the film’s revolutionary approach was to hire artists who were young with many being women.

After each of the panelists had a final say on the film’s lasting impression on them, the deleted “Love Scene” was screened to serve as the transition from the visual effects crew to the production crew. Taylor stayed behind, watching the scene with us in a very touching moment of an artist seeing his work appreciated. For the second half of the presentation, they brought Kushner back out and he was joined by the film’s DGA trainee Carol Green and star Bruce Boxleitner (Alan/TRON). Later on they would play a video message from Cindy Morgan (Lora/Yori) as she expressed fond feelings and memories in celebration of the film’s 40th anniversary.

Kushner explained that what ultimately got TRON made at Disney was a combination of timing, when the executives were experimenting with the types of films they made, and his tricking them into believing that another studio would pick-up the film. In retelling how he got involved with the film, Boxleitner added he signed on in wanting to make up for missing out on playing Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and also being a big admirer of co-star Jeff Bridges. He would later touch upon how the two had since maintained a friendship with Bridges often calling him “Tronster” and Boxleitner would respond by calling him “Flynnster”.

Carol Green brought up just how different it was working on a feature film, specifically a special effects film, versus television in terms of volume and how meticulous the process was. “You do TV, you [shoot] like eight, nine, [or] ten pages,” she explained. “So [on TRON], it’s like, ‘Yay! We did an eighth of a page of work today!’ [and that’s] like, ‘Wow! This is a whole different pace.'” She added that part of her job was to convince the largely male actors of the fun they would have in leotards. “They didn’t like it,” she chuckled. She noted some of the extras quit rather than wear them, taking one look at Boxleiter and going, “Oh, hell no!”

When prompted on how to budget a film like TRON, Kushner gleefully explained that they “backed into the number. Disney had an appetite to make this film for a certain number. So that’s the budget we gave them. And as we went on, the budget started to increase.” He further noted how he used then-studio chief Ron Miller’s football background to get more money for the film. “If USC would win [on Saturday] and the Los Angeles Rams would win [on Sunday], we’d go into his office [on Monday] and we’d show him some slides of what the picture looked like and it was easy to get the money after that.” Everyone was applauding with laughter after hearing this.

Bonifer took a moment to give some appreciation to Miller, saying that he was an unsung hero of the film and treated everyone at the studio like family. “[TRON] wouldn’t have been able to run the gauntlet if it hadn’t been for Ron Miller looking out for Donald, Harrison, Richard, [and writer/director] Steven [Lisberger],” he noted. “Once he committed to the film, he stuck with us.” Near the end of the presentation, Boxleitner gave a nice tribute to David Warner (Dillinger/Sark/MCP), who had passed away over a month prior. He had hoped Warner would’ve been able to make it for this event and called him, “A man that was totally inspiring.”

After the panelists gave their final memories on making the film, Bonifer introduced Scot Drake, the executive creative director of Walt Disney Imagineering. Drake was present to formally announce the TRON Lightcycle Power Run attraction would open at Walt Disney World in spring of the following year. Drake briefly explained the details of the ride and showed off footage from its successful introduction at Shanghai Disneyland. Those present on stage and Scheele posed for group photos to end the presentation, but Boxleitner spent a good ten minutes sticking around to interact with the fans. It added to what a wonderful and illuminating presentation it was.

Disney Princess – The Concert Live at D23!

It would go without saying that music would be just as an important of an element to the longevity and success of Disney over the company’s 100 year history. A good majority of the world grew up listening to songs from Disney features and many going on to garner their own mainstream popularity. Disney had taken advantage of this over the last few decades, launching music-based events and programs. Following a successful series of concerts known as the Broadway Princess Party, it was decided to expand the concept further and go on the road with Disney Princess – The Concert. It only seemed fitting that one of the stops would be the D23 Expo.

I kid you not in saying that there was justification for the concert being held in Hall D23. Those with reservations might have been quite small in comparison to the other presentations, but the line for standby was massive enough to practically fill the room. It’s a very strong testament to the adoration of Disney music. The potentiality of surprise performers might have also had some weight, but in the end attendees really were there for the concert regardless of who was singing. At the piano was the music director, or “Fairy Godfairy”, Benjamin Rauhala, who was previously an Original Program Producer of the Broadway Princess Party series.

The tour would rotate four out of ten performers with an emphasis on having been in the cast of a Disney stage musical. For the D23 Expo concert, the performers were Susan Egan, Anneliese van der Pol, Syndee Winters, and Isabelle McCalla. Egan was the most well-known, having been the voice of Meg in Hercules and the original Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. van der Pol was the last to be Belle on Broadway and had starred in the That’s So Raven and Raven’s Home shows. Winters had played Nala in The Lion King in her Broadway debut. McCalla was the first to play Jasmine when Aladdin went on tour and got to transfer to Broadway.

They began the concert with a quartet rendition of “Starting Now” from the 2021 Ultimate Princess Celebration campaign. Next was van der Pol singing “When Will My Life Begin” from Tangled, followed by McCalla singing “Reflection” from Mulan. Winters next sang “Touch the Sky” from Brave with the others doing backing vocals, and then Egan and van der Pol sang a special duet rendition of “Home” from the Beauty and the Beast musical. They did a little bit that playfully poked fun at Egan’s age against the others, leading into her anticipated performance of “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” from Hercules with the others as the Muses.

In addition to Rauhala, the ladies would be joined by the resident “Prince Charming” Adam J. Levy, who was coming off of being a performer in Moulin Rouge! on Broadway. Levy would sing with McCalla “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. Winters followed by singing “Shadowland” from The Lion King musical. Egan started singing “All is Found” from Frozen II with the others joining before they all sang a lovey quartet rendition of “Into the Unknown”. Levy then sang a crowd pleasing Hero Melody consisting of “One Jump Ahead (Reprise)” from Aladdin, “Go the Distance” from Hercules, “Out There” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and “Lost in the Woods” from Frozen II.

The ladies returned for a piano quartet rendition of “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas. This was followed by van der Pol performing a Princess Melody consisting of “Someday My Prince Will Come” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, “So This is Love” from Cinderella, “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty, and “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella. Winters then sang the Anna portion of “For the First Time in Forever” from Frozen before being joined by Levy in singing “Love is an Open Door”. Egan then did a delightful performance of “Mother Knows Best” from Tangled with van der Pol backing as Rapunzel.

The final solos were then performed, starting with McCalla singing “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. The audience were ecstatic when van der Pol next sang “Journey to the Past” from “unofficial Disney Princess” Anastasia. Winters followed with “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog. Egan then did a Beauty and the Beast mix, beginning with portions of “Belle” and finishing with “Beauty and the Beast”. The finale was all four singing a wonderful quartet rendition of “Let It Go” from Frozen, accompanied by snowflake confetti at the end. After the bows, Levy joined them for the encore in singing “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio.

Dan’s Review: The concert was a real fun time to be had. With the emphasis on the songs themselves moreso than the performers allowed for a greater appreciation. I rather liked how the renditions of songs to allow multiple performers turned out, resulting in some unique melodies to hear. Egan remained a delight to hear sing and I enjoyed her performance of “Mother Knows Best”. van der Pol singing “Journey to the Past” was a big stand-out and I felt that Levy could’ve stolen the spotlight a little, thanks in no small part to the Hero Melody. Overall, this was an fantastic edition to the Disney experience and one worth checking out.

Watch Susan Egan and company perform “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” below.


Watch Isabelle McCalla and Adam J. Levy perform “A Whole New World” below.


Watch Susan Egan, Anneliese van der Pol, Isabelle McCalla, and Syndee Winters perform “All is Found” and “Into the Unknown” below.


Watch Adam J. Levy perform the Hero melody below.


Watch Susan Egan perform “Mother Knows Best” with Anneliese van der Pol below.


Watch Anneliese van der Pol perform “Journey to the Past” below.

Conversations with Disney Character Voices

Setting up a closing presentation for the D23 Expo could be quite a daunting task to schedule. After all, hardly any one wanted the magical weekend of all things Disney to end. But when the time came, it was important for the festivities to end on a high note. For me, the end of the D23 Expo would seemingly grow more grandiose with each progressive year. The Disney Princess concert would have been an excellent way to close things out, but I was intrigued by one of the last presentations scheduled being Disney Character Voices. Having been to many voice actor panels in the past, I wanted to see how Disney did theirs and was in for quite a treat.

As folks were getting seated at the Premiere Stage, the screens played numerous multi-language videos to songs such as “Let It Go” from Frozen and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto. When it was time for the presentation to start, it held on a still image of the Millennium Falcon when a familiar voice was heard. Jim Cummings was seen on stage and spoke as his Star Wars character Hondo Ohnaka in introducing the host Rick Dempsey. Dempsey was Senior Vice President of Disney Character Voices, explaining briefly his division’s role to ensure consistency and faithfulness in how the characters spoke and sounded throughout the various Disney experiences.

Dempsey and Cummings sat down as they went over the latter’s over 35 year career as a voice actor. They even brought up non-Disney work on the Ghostbusters franchise with Cummings noting his singing the theme song for Extreme Ghostbusters and busting out a verse to absolute fan delight. Dempsey would run down a literal laundry list of Disney characters Cummings had voiced and he would speak a sentence or two as them. These included original characters such as Darkwing Duck, Ed from The Lion King, and Don Karnag from TailSpin along with legacy characters such as Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, King Louie from The Jungle Book, and Pete.

Joining Cummings would be Bill Farmer (Goofy), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), and Bret Iwan (Mickey Mouse). Farmer brought up anecdotes of him actually being Goofy, such as when he knocked over boom microphones in a domino fashion during a recording of Goof Troop. Anselmo related an insightful advice he got from original voice Clarence Nash, “The voice doesn’t come from your mouth, it doesn’t come from your vocal cords, it doesn’t come from your diaphragm. It comes from your soul.” Iwan noted that he had seemingly formed a symbiotic relationship with Mickey and would be influenced to be as optimistic and open-minded as the character.

Dempsey would next introduce the newest voice of Minnie Mouse in Kaitlyn Robrock. Robrock explained that she was actually unaware that she was chosen as the new voice of Minnie until she showed up for what she thought was a callback. Things moved along at a fairly brisk pace as they ended up doing so much in this one presentation. This included having Anselmo singing “Happy Birthday” to an audience member in Donald’s voice. After Robrock had been introduced, she joined Iwan, Farmer, Anselmo, and Cummings in performing a rendition of “Friendship”, as arranged for The MousePack album that had recently been released, to include Donald and Pete.

The second half of the presentation saw Dempsey be joined by some leading ladies from Disney animation. They were Jodi Benson (Ariel in The Little Mermaid), Susan Egan (Meg in Hercules), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in The Princess and the Frog), and Linda Larkin (Jasmine in Aladdin). Benson related how, to voice Barbie in the Toy Story films, Pixar had her play around with a whole box of dolls they had until she made a voice they liked. It was later brought up that Benson wrote a book, Part of My World. She stressed was not an autobiography, but stories of working with Howard Ashman and others in the business she was encouraged to share by Egan.

2022 being the 25th anniversary of Hercules was mentioned and Egan, still buzzing from the Disney Princess concert, reiterated how the producers were reluctant to cast her as Meg as she was still playing Belle in the Beauty and the Beast musical. Rose related that she was very determined to voice Tiana. She told how she had just arrived in Australia for an acting gig when she received a callback for a second audition. She worked for a day in Australia and immediately flew to Los Angeles to do the audition. Larkin noted how she was still surprised her voice was recognizable, often catching folks turning around to see her when she spoke.

Dempsey brought up that Benson and Rose voiced characters who were referred to in the title of their films while Larkin’s wasn’t. A voice responded that this was because her film was called Aladdin, resulting in the surprise appearance of the voice of Aladdin himself Scott Weinger. Weinger related how his son only had a vague understanding as a kid his dad was Aladdin. When Weinger brought him along to the lot one day, the staff was taken aback he hadn’t seen the film so they put together a screening with Agrabah-inspired carnival. By now they were past the scheduled one hour length and the D23 Expo was technically over, but they kept going.

Weinger was asked to sample his ability to crack his voice, but he seemingly had trouble doing so and asked for water. A waiter appeared and it was Donny Osmond (singing voice of Shang in Mulan). Attendees were losing it over the increase of star-power before them. Osmond told of how Walt Disney had a hand in launching the careers of the Osmonds, explaining that his elder brothers were visiting Disneyland when they met the Dapper Dans. The two groups had a back-and-forth singing session, catching Walt’s attention. He added the Osmonds on Disneyland After Dark, which in turn led to their breakthrough appearance on The Andy Williams Show.

The finale of the presentation came about as two surprises. To honor the 30th anniversary of Aladdin, Dempsey had Weinger and Larkin do a live ADR session of the rooftop scene. As this was for fun they wouldn’t be perfectly synced, but it didn’t matter. Everyone was enthralled with how much they still sounded like Aladdin and Jasmine respectively. The second surprise was Osmond performing “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan, as staged for his Harrah’s Las Vegas residency show. This was a fantastic spectacle and absolutely marvelous to see live. All of the participating actors took a group bow to close out the presentation and the D23 Expo.

Watch Scott Weinger and Linda Larkin do live ADR of the rooftop scene from Aladdin below.


Watch Donny Osmond perform “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” below.

Show Floor

As you can see, I spent a lot more time in presentations this year than I probably had in previously. Because of that, I wasn’t able to spend too much time on the Show Floor this time around. One unfortunate thing about the D23 Expo would be having to wait in line way more often than in other conventions. Fortunately, most of what you’re waiting in line for would be well worth the long wait. But waiting in line would take away from being able to explore the Show Floor, unless you had a buddy willing to hold your spot in line. The disadvantage of going solo meant it would be harder to do this beyond being able to go to the bathroom.

But the long line waiting would not be limited to the presentations. The Show Floor offered a great number of exhibits and interactive experiences that they themselves would have lines. It’s a big part of one having to figure out time management when scheduling for the D23 Expo as a whole. The presentations had scheduled times, the Show Floor exhibits and experiences generally do not. So unless you’re able to get into the Show Floor first thing in the morning, you might find yourself waiting in line for possibly hours for a chance to check out Walt’s private plane, the Mouse, which was brought out to show off for the first time in years.

One exhibit I was able to check out in full was the Wonderful World of Dreams. The exhibit booth offered fans a sneak preview at upcoming attractions to the theme parks, displaying models and screens to give audiences an idea of what Walt Disney Imagineering had up their sleeves for the future. This included a look at the plans they had for Arendelle from Frozen to be a land in Hong Kong Disneyland. From concept art and models for the rides to maquettes displaying the cast costumes to a looping video showing an animatic of how the land was expected to look. It was fascinating to see the early stages of what could soon become a reality in a couple years.

An area of interest was where miniature models were displayed to show how the remodeled Mickey’s Toontown will look when it would reopen at Disneyland the following year. Two of the designers were present to answer questions and to explain what would be new and updated for the remodeled land. This included a look at where to find Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Goofy’s House, and a new area to be called CenTOONial Park. Next to that was a scale model Te Fiti from Moana to be a major component for the upcoming Journey of Water area at EPCOT. Along the sides of the miniature models would be samples of concept art and development photos.

A popular section would be the miniature model providing a look at what Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will look like. Attendees were eager to look at what the attraction previously known as Splash Mountain would now become, which also featured a preview of the narrative to go along with the ride, concept art, and research photographs to add a flavor of New Orleans to the experience. A balcony was set up near the miniature model and every several minutes a cast member dressed as Tiana would appear for photographs. Another popular area of the exhibit was the developmental process of the robotic Spider-Man seen flying about Avengers Campus.

Some of the booths did have presentations of their own and just about any one wandering the Show Floor could sit in and check them out. These presentation were short, averaging about fifteen minutes, and didn’t go too in depth on whatever was being shown. The Disney Bundle Pavillion would host a great many short presentations. I checked out a presentation on American Born Chinese, an upcoming Disney+ adaptation of the renowned graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang. Yang and the developers talked about bringing the story, mixing coming of age with Chinese mythology interactions, to life and showed off a couple scenes including one featuring Michelle Yeoh.

Of course, one of the more popular booths was the Pixar & Walt Disney Animation Studios booth. There were so many displays, exhibits, and experiences to check out at any given time. I caught portions of a couple short presentations that took place there. One was a lovely ink and paint demonstration. The other was the tail end of a discussion on Wish which featured directors Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn along with producers Peter Del Vecho and Juan Pablo Reyes. By the time I got to them, Buck was at the conclusion of a comparison with Frozen and all four answered a nice audience question about how they took to fan reactions.

There was another area to the booth that I really enjoyed that displayed the many different processes to animation. This included a video screen that showed off the application of rigging to animate facial expressions using models of Elsa, Moana, Raya, and Mirabel. Alongside various maquettes and drawing sheets, there was also “The Big ‘A'”, which was an original signage of the Animation Building before it was renamed to the Roy E. Disney Animation Building in 2010. When the signage came down, many of the animators who had worked in the building since it first opened in 1994 signed it with Glen Keane’s at the very top.

And then there were the booths that were simply just to walk through. There weren’t many of these, but they certainly saw a lot of foot traffic given what’s in them. A good example was the Lucasfilm Pavilion, which essentially displayed costumes for their upcoming projects. I paid particular attention on those from the Willow television series. There was also costumes for Indiana Jones and the various eras of Star Wars. Marvel’s booth also had an impressive display of costumes, these based on the more fairly recent programs such as Thor: Love and Thunder and WandaVision. It’s rather easy to simply stop and admire them for a good long while, honestly.

Watch a sample Ink and Paint demonstration below.


Trying to obtain convention exclusive merchandise was difficult as it was in previous years. More often than not, attendees would have to get into the designated booths as early as possible in order to try to get their hands on the valuable dolls, figurines, or any other product they certainly would not be able to virtually anywhere else. I felt for this year they made it nearly impossible by trying to put the official stores in one area of the Show Floor with one entry point. While they introduced virtual queuing this year, the wait time even through that would be at best seven hours. With what little time I had, I didn’t bother.

The only one I made any effort to try to get was the pre-release set of the Lorcana trading card game from Ravensburger. Inspired by Magic The Gathering, I was intrigued by how it looked. Trouble was that I wasn’t the only one. Copies set aside for each day were gone within the first hour and my one attempt on Sunday saw how chaotic it was just trying to find the line. I was able to obtain the convention exclusive Mickey Mouse Brave Little Tailor card and pin on Friday, which they were handing out and probably ran out of by the end of the day. I even got the card signed by the game’s designers Ryan Miller (brand manager) and Shane Smith (graphic designer).

Frankly, I ended up not buying any merchandise at the D23 Expo this year. But that didn’t mean I didn’t walk off with some nifty Exclusives. Much like the Lorcana card, I merely had to be at the right place to obtain a free exclusive. Being a D23 gold member, I was already assured a copy of the convention poster by simply swinging by the D23 Gold Member Lounge. Sure the line was really long, but it moved at a very nice and very brisk pace. And not only did members receive the poster, but they also got a tote bag. I was merely passing by the Topps Trading Cards booth when they offered to give me a free pack just by scanning my badge.

In a couple of cases, one had to do some sort of activity to obtain an exclusive freebie. There was no better set up than to simply have your picture taken at one of the marked display spots. The Pixar & Walt Disney Animation Studios booth had plenty of those and were so popular that they would have queues. I swung by early enough on Sunday that I didn’t have to wait for the Wish display and the Strange World display. The Wish display actually didn’t open up until after it was announced at the Studio Showcase presentation. The Wish display garnered an exclusive concept art lithograph while the Strange World display had an exclusive pin.

Of course, just attending a presentation would net attendees some nice exclusives. Those who got into the Disney Legends ceremony received an exclusive Disney 100 pin. Attending the Mickey: The Story of a Mouse presentation would result in getting a poster and a button of the documentary. The TRON presentation handed out convention exclusive variants to the first issue of Marvel’s adaptation of the classic film. But the real score would belong to those who attended the Studio Showcase as they received exclusive posters of Elemental and Strange World. Getting these free exclusives were enough to walk off without buying merchandise.


It would go without saying that no convention would be complete without Cosplay. Aside from Halloween, it would be one of the few opportunities for hundreds to gather in the same vicinity dressed up as their favorite characters for fun and enjoyment. This being the D23 Expo, attendees who dressed up respectfully did so based on Disney properties. Fortunately, this would include Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Lucasfilm, and now anything from the re-branded 20th Century Studios. And even while fans stuck to the specific theme of Disney, they were still free to let their imagination run wild and be rather creative at times with what they wore.

Case in point would be what I would mark as my favorite costume of the whole convention. The fan dressed up as Bill Cipher from Gravity Falls. But it was more than just a humanoid approach to the character as they came up with the unique idea of a Bill Cipher merged with Journal No. 3. The result was one that took the breath away from everyone who looked and identified who they were portraying. The craftsmanship was remarkable, the pages spilling out in the back. The use of a hand fan adding another layer to the character’s persona. Ever since I saw it, I’ve had trouble thinking of any other that came as close to being this impressive.

Still, there were other great looking costumes throughout the convention. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of varied Scarlet Witch cosplayers throughout the weekend. In fact, it was the first costume I caught sight of to kick off the convention. Moments later, there was one alongside Agatha Harkness as they mimicked the 1950’s vibe right down to painting over their skin with grey tone. I also managed to catch a lot of women dressed up as Judy Hopps from Zootopia, obviously finding a number of them getting into the Zootopia+ presentation. I rather thought they did very well in coming up with interesting ways to making their cosplay work.

Some of my favorites turned out to be within groups. This included a lovely group made up of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Honeymaren, and Ryder from Frozen II that just looked fabulous together. Another excellent group consisted of Rapunzel, Eugene, Cassandra, Mother Gothel, and Varian from the Tangled franchise. Of course, being a huge Atlantis: The Lost Empire fan I was on the look out for any costumes related to the film. I was rewarded with a few throughout the weekend. There was a Milo with grown facial hair as well as a pretty cool Rourke and Helga. But my favorite was a genderbent Milo that looked like if Milo and Helga fused together.

There were a number of crossover costumes I ran into. A cute one was Belle and Beast as X-Wing pilots with the jumpsuits being in their ballroom dance colors. There was another crossover Belle I found, this one teaming with Ariel as Ghostbusters. One that I liked a lot was Merida from Brave as a Mandalorian. What made this one stand out was the cosplayer included a tartan sash and a stylized crossbow to better mix the two cultures. Speaking of The Mandalorian, there was a fantastic Din Djarin cosplayer that showed up when I was at the Lucasfilm Pavilian and we got him to pose while admiring the costume that was being displayed in the booth.

Below are exclusive pictures from the D23 Expo 2022.


Anxious attendees lined up well before the 4:30 am start time for queuing on Day One.
Pacha and Chicha taking a well-deserved vacation.
Max and Roxanne looking like they’re having a whole weekend date.
A fun family with clever costumes for Merlin, Arthur, Archimedes, and Madam Mim.
Tamron Hall introduced as host of the Disney Legends ceremony by CEO Bob Chapek, Disney Ambassadors, and a cast of characters.
“We [in Imagineering] have vision, we take risks, and we make a difference with blood, sweat, tears, and especially with love.” -Doris Hardoon
“To the person who rejected me at Disney casting headquarters in Orlando, Florida when I was eighteen years old and applying to be a Jungle Cruise skipper (true story), please make sure to update my resume to ‘Disney Legend Josh Gad’.” -Josh Gad
“As I think about [Chadwick], I think about how he honored our parents. How he honored his family. How he honored even his friends, and he made sure that his friends had good careers.” -Derrick Boseman
It would appear Belle and Beast had joined the Rebel Alliance.
“What’cha playin’?” -The Collector (The Owl House)
Ravensburger brand manager Ryan Miller signed copies of the convention exclusive Mickey Mouse Brave Little Tailor Lorcana card outside the Ravensburger booth.
Dan at a fun display at the Pixar & Walt Disney Animation Studios booth that showcased the posters to all of the Walt Disney Feature Animation titles released in the company’s 100 year history.
“Think your nanny goat would go berserk if you played hooky this afternoon?” -Meg (Hercules)
“Okay, Milo, don’t take no for an answer. ‘Look, I have some questions for you, and I’m not leaving this city until they’re answered!’ Yeah, that’s it. That’s good. That’s good.” -Milo Thatch (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
Haunted Mansion director Justin Simien was surprised his Disneyland cast member badge was found and displayed at the Studio Showcase.
Gal Gagot (The Evil Queen) and Rachel Zegler (Snow White) expressed excitement after the teaser trailer for Snow White was screened at the Studio Showcase.
Pixar CCO Pete Docter introduced the next slate of projects from the renowned animation studio at the Studio Showcase.
Amy Poehler (Joy) made a surprise appearance at the Studio Showcase to officially announce Inside Out 2.
Kugali Media founders introduced the characters of their Disney+ series Iwájú at the Studio Showcase.
Lucy Liu (Mal) and Dennis Quaid (Jaeger) were among the stars on hand to give eager fans an extended preview of Strange World at the Studio Showcase.
Current Disney “good luck charm” Alan Tudyk introduced his character in Wish, the goat Valentino at the Studio Showcase.
Ariana DeBose (Asha) brought the house down to close out the Studio Showcase performing “More For Us” from Wish.
Rourke and Helga had their eyes on attendees as they exited the Studio Showcase.
Dipper was on the hunt with his new camera. Mabel tagging along because why not.
Willow’s new costume was on display at the Lucasfilm Pavilion.
Din Djarin spotted the very Mandalorian armor he wore on display at the Lucasfilm Pavilion.
“Oh, sweet cheese and crackers.” -Judy Hopps (Zootopia)
Robin Hood and Maid Marian were checking out the sights that the D23 Expo had to offer.
Gene Luen Yang expressed excitement at his graphic novel American Born Chinese being adapted into a Disney+ series at The Disney Bundle Pavilion.
Kiki and Tombo were having a fun time surrounded by all things Disney.
For Merida, “This is the way” to be a Mandalorian.
Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters Belle and Ariel!
Directors Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn along with producers Peter Del Vecho and Juan Pablo Reyes talked more about Wish at the Pixar & Walt Disney Animation Studios booth.
Illustrations of Simba by Mark Henn, Mirabel by Jin Kim, The Genie by Eric Goldberg, and Pocahontas by Rachel Bibb on display at the Pixar & Walt Disney Animation Studios booth.
How animation tools were used to bring characters like Elsa, Moana, Raya, and Mirabel to life were displayed at the Pixar & Walt Disney Animation Studios booth.
The Big “A” from the previous Animation Building signage signed by a who’s who of animation greats was displayed at the Pixar & Wat Disney Animation Studios booth.
Gadget joining genderbent Chip and Dale on what was no doubt a Rescue Rangers mission surely.
Disney Princess comics artist Brianna Garcia cosplaying as Rapunzel alongside Kit Leitmeyer as Cassandra.
“Stay away from my Luz!” -Amity Blight (The Owl House)
“Oh, isn’t this amazing, It’s my favorite part because, you’ll see, Here’s where she meets Prince Charming, But she won’t discover that it’s him, ‘Til chapter three.” -Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
“‘Surface Pressure’ is about ‘How do I keep my family safe?’ at the bottom of the day. And ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ is ‘What are we allowed to talk about in front of your mother?'” -Lin-Manuel Miranda
Carolina Gaitán (Pepa) talked about meeting Lin-Manuel Miranda at the airport with Diane Guerrero (Isabela), Mauro Castillo (Félix), and producer Yvett Merino listening in at the Encanto celebration.
Adassa (Dolores) explained her approach to singing “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” with choreographer Jamal Sims and producer Clark Spencer listening in at the Encanto celebration.
“Flash of ankle, flip of a skirt, Feel them excite, enflame and inspire. Come see me dance, hey, what can it hurt? It’s just a dance to the rhythm of the tambourine.” -Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Dan partook in the official Wish photo opportunity at the Pixar & Wat Disney Animation Studios booth.
Preview of the Fantasy Springs land coming to Tokyo DisneySea were displayed at the Wonderful World of Dreams booth.
Preview of the Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs ride coming to Hong Kong Disneyland was displayed at the Wonderful World of Dreams booth.
Miniatures previewing the redesigned Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland were displayed at the Wonderful World of Dreams booth.
Designers of the redesigned Mickey’s Toontown conversed with fans at the Wonderful World of Dreams booth.
Scale model of Te Fiti to be part of Journey of Water coming to EPCOT at Walt Disney World displayed at the Wonderful World of Dreams booth.
A replica bronze statue of Walt Disney coming to EPCOT at Walt Disney World displayed at the Wonderful World of Dreams booth.
Tiana greeted fans as they examined the miniature of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at the Wonderful World of Dreams booth.
Don’t pet the goats displayed with the Thor: Love and Thunder costumes at the Marvel booth. They will bite.
“We have the spectre, as animators, of all the greats who came before us looking over our shoulders going, ‘Don’t mess it up.'” -Eric Goldberg
“I had known Mickey [Mouse] all my life. So when you know a character and when you know them that well, it’s not just a cardboard cut-out. He’s real!” -Floyd Norman
“I was taught, early on, if you’re offered a job, always say, ‘Yes!’ Never admit that you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. Because, most likely, you’re not the only one.” -Harrison Ellenshaw
Animation compositing camera operator Glenn Campbell held up two cels effects technical supervisor John Scheele brought to explain the backlighting process during the 40th anniversary celebration of TRON.
Visual effects supervisor Richard Taylor joined attendees in watching the deleted “Love Scene” during the 40th anniversary celebration of TRON.
“I had come from the theater, and I had likened [acting in TRON] to being on a theatrical stage. And, for the audience often times in a play, you have to create something that isn’t there for them to see. That’s through your acting ability. And I thought this is something which I would really have to use my imagination.” -Bruce Boxleitner
Bruce Boxleitner stayed to interact with fans long after the 40th anniversary celebration of TRON had ended.
Did Milo and Helga fuse together to become one?
“I have something to say… Who’s hungry?” -Raya (Raya and the Last Dragon)
WALL-E and EVE looked like they’re having a nice little date outdoors.
“Hey, Gale, I’m going for a ride. Wanna come? Are you ready?” -Elsa (Frozen II)
Mother Gothel, Cassandra, Eugene, Rapunzel, and Varian posed for what was either just a regular group shot or a sort of weird family gathering maybe?
This very impressive costume was believed to be Isabela from Encanto celebrating the Day of the Dead as seen in Coco.
Syndee Winters performing “Shadowland” from The Lion King musical during Disney Princess – The Concert.
Susan Egan, Syndee Winters, Anneliese van der Pol, and Isabelle McCalla performing “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas during Disney Princess – The Concert.
Isabelle McCalla performing “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana during Disney Princess – The Concert.
Susan Egan performeing “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast during Disney Princess – The Musical.
Anneliese van der Pol, Syndee Winters, Isabelle McCalla, and Susan Egan performing “Let It Go” from Frozen during Disney Princess – The Concert.
“I can’t shake the feeling that these waters touch another shore I’ve visited.” -Aqua (Kingdom Hearts)
Senior Vice President of Disney Character Voices Rick Dempsey enjoyed hearing Jim Cummings voice the many characters he had played in his career during Conversations with Disney Character Voices.
Jim Cummings (Pete), Bill Farmer (Goofy), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), and Bret Iwan (Mickey Mouse) shared amusing stories about voicing their iconic Disney characters during Conversations with Disney Character Voices.
Jodi Benson (Ariel), Susan Egan (Meg), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana), Linda Larkin (Jasmine) and Scott Weinger (Aladdin) shared their own stories of voicing their popular Disney characters during Conversations with Disney Character Voices.
All of the participants of Conversations with Disney Character Voices brought the D23 Expo 2022 to a close.

Our thanks to Disney, not just for putting on the biennial event, but for also releasing official photographs from the show to be used for press.