On Friday, April 27, 2012 I attended the first Disney D23 fan club events called the Disney Fanniversary Celebration. It’s part of a series of celebrations taking place over the course of the next two months in cities such as Boston, San Francisco, New York, and Orlando.
The official D23 site describes it this way:
“D23 will lead guests on a journey through dozens of unforgettable Disney moments that have delighted generations of Disney fans.”
And when they say dozens, they weren’t kidding. Starting 85 years ago with the creation of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, we were led on a walk down memory lane highlighting practically every major event that happened on a new decade or half-decade year.
For each celebration, Disney archivists showed video or pictures that were rarely and sometimes never seen before.
Just a few of the properties that were highlighted at the Fanniversary Event were Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Goofy, Donald’s Nephews, Disney Dollars, Epcot, Pirates of the Caribbean, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk through, Pete’s Dragon, In Search of the Castaways, Fantasmic, Main Street Electrical Parade, Newsies, New Tomorrowland. Disneyland Paris, etc.
And those are the ones I could remember off the top of my head. Unfortunately, photography, videography, and audio recording were all strictly prohibited, even for this journalist. And staff walked the aisles to ensure no one was breaking the rules.
The best way I can describe the event is to say it’s like the “DVD special features” of all things Disney. They showed everything from how they filmed Pete’s Dragon to Walt Disney himself walking around Old Tomorrowland with a crew of Disney legends discussing New Tomorrowland. They had footage of the first ride through of Pirates of the Caribbean (without any skeletons). They also featured a lot of footage of Epcot that I’d never seen before including Horizons models being built.
My favorite photo that they showed was a cocktail party in one of the Studio sound stages back in 1966. The auction scene from Pirates of the Caribbean had been setup to show what it would look like. This was the only full size scene Walt Disney ever saw. He died a short time later.
The Los Angeles Disney Fanniversary Celebration was held on the Walt Disney Studios lot. I was able to snap quite a few fun pictures as we walked along the streets toward the theater.
And I learned something about the studio I didn’t know: Stage 2 was named the Julie Andrews stage because both Mary Poppins AND The Princess Diaries were filmed there.
The event opened with a great montage of all recent Disney properties around the world really emphasizing the global aspect of the Walt Disney Company.
Emceeing the event were two cast members, one from the Archives and one from D23. They basically ran a slideshow presentation and read from a cheesy script. It was obvious that they don’t usually host events but for Disney standards, they were fun and had a lot of energy. They poked fun at themselves quite a bit and it kept the whole presentation from feeling too rehearsed. It really was just a bunch of Disney fans together celebrating. My favorite moment was when the two hosts lead us in a sing-a-long to the Ducktales theme song. (Ducktales, woo ooh!)
At a price range of $18 for D23 Members (and their guests) and $25 for general admissions, this event is entirely worth seeing, particularly with everyone leaving with a few fun gifts.
Since tickets have been on sale for a few weeks, they are still available only for the Orlando Fanniversary event, taking place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.
More photos from the first D23 Fanniversary Celebration on the Walt Disney Studios lot: