Imagineering ‘open house’ to offer 12 panel discussions at 2013 D23 Expo replacing Disney Parks & Resorts presentation

in Disney, Entertainment, Theme Parks


At the 2013 D23 Expo, Walt Disney Imagineering will be celebrating its 60th anniversary with a series of panel discussions and presentations and an elaborate show floor presence, bringing fans a “behind the magic” look at classic and recent projects.

But fans expecting a big Disney Parks and Resorts presentation in the D23 Arena will be surprised to learn there will not be one this year, replaced by this series of smaller, more in-depth looks at specific projects in lieu of an overview of what’s to come.

Update – In 2011, the Disney Parks presentation in the D23 Arena took place beginning at 3:30pm on the first day of the event. This year, it’s been announced a screening of Disney’s film “Planes” will be offered in that time slot and location, beginning at 3pm, featuring “special guests.”

When asked about the change, D23’s Jeffrey Epstein explained the shift in their approach. “Based on guest feedback, we are doing more panels/presentations in the other venues, which will enable parks to focus on specific topics while also catering to an overall larger crowd over the three days,” said Epstein.

Splitting the theme park topics up between different smaller presentations instead of one big one in the Arena gives Disney a chance to spread the information and entertainment out across multiple audiences, according to Epstein. “As for ‘smaller’ — please keep in mind Stage 23, where many of these presentations are happening, is 2,000 seats, which means on Sunday alone, there’s a capacity of 10,000 — more than double the arena,” he said.

Tom Staggs
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Staggs at the 2011 D23 Expo

After the 2009 D23 Expo brought the huge announcements of Star Tours 2 and New Fantasyland (both now open), attendees left the Parks & Resorts presentation disappointed in 2011 when nothing major was revealed, short of a few updates to the Fantasyland project and the announcement of Fantasy Faire. So this time, in 2013, Disney is taking a different approach, offering closer, often one-on-one, access to Imagineers.

Throughout the Expo, August 9-11, the Disney Parks and Resorts booth on the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center will offer an up close look at an array of Imagineering’s creative minds – ride engineers, model builders, pre-visualization artists, special effects designers, inventors, and show animators – as they share the skills and talents behind Imagineering’s creative process. Guests will have the chance to glimpse at the “workspaces” of several project teams from around Disney’s global portfolio of parks and resorts, including a few clues into coming attractions along the way.

Walt Disney Imagineering will be showcasing some of its most historical and revered concept art from its Art Library, including Herb Ryman’s original drawing of Disneyland. D23 Expo guests will also have the chance to explore Mickey’s of Glendale, an outlet of Walt Disney Imagineering’s employee-only store, to shop for unique souvenirs and collectibles and Walt Disney Imagineering merchandise not available anywhere else.

In addition, Imagineers past and present will host a series of panel discussions, many of which will take place on Sunday, August 11, celebrating their 60 years of “dreaming and doing.” 12 unique presentations and panel discussions that will take fans behind the latest Disney resorts, attractions, and entertainment including:

  • The Art and Artistry of Aulani – Imagineers Joe Rohde and Jeanette Lomboy will share the authentic tapestry of art and stories found at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa.
  • Mayhem, Mischief, and Monkeys: The Magic of Mystic Manor – Join Imagineers Joe Lanzisero and others for the strange stories behind Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor, the newest and one of the most sophisticated attractions ever built.
  • Undiscovered Disneyland – Legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter shares rare and never-before-seen footage of the early days of Disneyland, from design and construction through opening day.
  • Broadcasts from Buena Vista Street – Enjoy the latest ‘soundtrack’ from Disney California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street, featuring a live performance of Scary Symphony from radio station KBVS and a panel discussion led by Imagineers.
  • Disney Ambassadors – Join current Disney Parks Ambassadors from around the world as they discuss this renowned program and share insights about its rich heritage, current outreach efforts, and the importance of sharing Disney goodwill.
  • Voices of the Disney Parks – Back by popular demand, this panel of famous Disney voices will gather for an encore panel discussion, including recreations of some unforgettable Disney Parks sayings.
  • Charles Phoenix Presents – Noted humorist and self-proclaimed “retro daddy” Charles Phoenix shares some of his favorite images from around Disney, featuring classic kitsch, clashing colors schemes, and hairdos that truly defy gravity.
  • The Voices of the Disney Parks panel at the 2011 D23 Expo was humorous and hugely popular, highlights of which can be seen here:

    The presentations will take place in the 2,000-seat Stage 23. More details on these exciting panels and presenters will be revealed soon.

    More D23 Arena announcements are forthcoming, including this year’s Disney Legends award honorees and a lineup from the Walt Disney Studios.

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