The clock ticks down until the Disney D23 Expo 2013 comes to fruition. In a matter of weeks the landmark third event will likely lure tens of thousands to the Anaheim Convention Center. Major announcements will be made. Special appearances are sure to happen. But what awaits is anyone’s guess. I have attended both previous expos, and I eagerly anticipate this next one from August 9 – 11, especially since I will be providing live coverage from the D23 Expo for Geeks of Doom!
Here are 23 ways I think D23 Expo could drop some jaws, rock attendees’ minds and make improvements over previous events.
Note: These ideas are purely my own, and should D23 Expo showcase any of these in action, I would know my ideas were not responsible for that decision. But I hope these suggestions and food for thought could help inspire these to take place.
1. Angelina Jolie showing her evil fairy side: The star of Maleficent could reveal the first trailer for the July 2014 tentpole and recall her experiences in filming this fantasy adventure. Sounds like a winning combination, and everyone knows the press would get high mileage out of this special appearance.
2. Tom Hanks, stopping by as Walt Disney: Johnny Depp wowed and shocked the 2009 crowd when he emerged from backstage the arena in full Jack Sparrow garb and attitude. Could you imagine how thrilled individuals would be if Hanks came into view at the major studios presentation as Walt Disney himself? Even if he was not dressed, I think anyone would appreciate seeing the Oscar-winning actor –one of my favorite actors – in person to represent Saving Mr. Banks.
3. Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep emerging from the “woods”: Depp and Streep are signed on to star in the film musical adaptation of Into The Woods, to hit theaters Christmas 2014. Depp, headliner of The Lone Ranger and the upcoming fifth Pirates film, represents Disney’s movie ambassador this decade, and if he returned to the expo with Streep, the incomparable actress, buzz would be high.
4. Expo projecting Disney trivia onto walls of queue areas: A simple addition, truly, but it could make waiting in those two-hour lines much more bearable. Most queues – with the exception of the main area for the arena – lacked any entertainment. If the expo could easily project a running loop of Disney trivia questions onto the walls of the “waiting rooms,” fans would certainly be less bored and perhaps even less frustrated to be on line.
5. Giving away majorly-cool prizes: Previous expos have involved giving away a night at the Disneyland Dream Suite (to a lucky audience member in the arena) and even an entire Disney Fantasy cruise vacation (to the winner of the Ultimate Disney Trivia Tournament). Disney should embrace making these dreams even more possible by “spreading the wealth” and distributing gifts and prizes, such as free tickets to upcoming films or even cash credit for the Dream Store at the expo.
6. Brad Bird peeking into Tomorrowland: We know the director of the December 2014 George Clooney sci-fi vehicle knows how to craft well-regarded and audience-friendly action films. Should he share some concept art or insight into this mysterious project, everyone would be thrilled and even more intrigued.
7. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel channeling a cool energy: The voice artists and singers behind the characters of Frozen could share the music behind the November 27 release. Menzel’s “Let It Go,” already previewed to audiences at Destination D last August, sounds like a Broadway showstopper. We would be quite privileged if Menzel presented the piece to attendees.
8. Dick Van Dyke surprising the crowd during the Richard Sherman concert: The Disney legend could perform “Chim Chim Cher-Ee” as the songwriter plays the Oscar-winning tune on the piano. If luck is on our side, the multi-talented octogenarian actor could drop in for the song, which will inevitably be played by Sherman.
9. Disney announcing Hollywood Studios will expand in size: Star Wars Land and Cars Land are the predominant rumored new additions to the Florida park, which seriously needs fresh attractions. Expect this gossip to only increase until the expo.
10. Ellen DeGeneres diving into Finding Dory: The sequel is still over two years away, but should DeGeneres offer a few quips about her excitement in voicing Dory once again – akin to what Billy Crystal did at the last expo – all will be laughing and repeating her quotes for days afterward.
11. Disney providing progress of Avatar Land: This Animal Kingdom expansion is shrouded in mystery, with few signs of development in the two years since Disney announced the project. Fans need to see concept art or models to believe Pandora will exist alongside the other lands of Animal Kingdom.
12. Disney officially “announcing” major films in the works: Tron 3 and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo have been in development for years now, but with no sense of permanence. Announcements at the expo could quell any fears that these will just disappear from memory.
13. Disney revealing its plans for its futuristic land: Disneyland’s Tomorrowland needs an update. Innoventions, only surviving due to the Iron Man Tech exhibit, offers little purpose. Captain EO Tribute cannot play forever. Though home to Space Mountain and the recently-updated Star Tours, Tomorrowland has been lacking for far too long. Disney could reinvigorate the area by quashing rumors and finally announcing its imaginative ideas for Tomorrowland.
14. Disney awarding some major players as Legends: The last time around, the voices behind the more recent Disney princesses joined the club of Disney Legends, which include luminaries such as Julie Andrews, Betty White and Robin Williams. Why not pay tribute to the work of Tom Hanks or Johnny Depp, starring in some of Disney’s highly-anticipated projects and already members of the family in their own right? Or how about a celebration of Disney villain voices? Pat Carroll and Jeremy Irons could be awarded as Legends for their roles as Ursula and Scar, respectively, don’t you think?
15. Disney honoring its late legends: In the past year the world lost several Disney Legends, including Annette Funicello and Robert Sherman. It would only be appropriate, and quite celebratory, if these two famous figures, as well as more overlooked Disney Legends who passed away recently, to be remembered in more depth.
16. Studios previewing Frozen: The first expo showed the initial portion of The Princess and the Frog, about three months prior to its release. Disney could easily preview a segment of the musical adventure in either their studios presentation or perhaps an event dedicated solely to the movie. So we hope. And we hope the film is stronger than the somewhat-disappointing teaser that failed to share its plot.
17. Disney soaring to new heights: The rumors about the updated version of Soarin’ for California Adventure, and perhaps even for Epcot, are swelling. This attraction, which first opened in 2001, continues to draw guests. Yet technology has changed, and the public embraces both HD and 3D. Soarin’ will likely see a HD update, complete with new footage, and would it not be cool if 3D entered the picture as well? The theme parks presentation would be the perfect platform to expose attendees to a sneak peek of a new and improved Soarin’.
18. Bob Iger making an appearance: We respect the CEO of the company and many of his decisions while in this position, but to see him only appear on a video screen at the last expo was disheartening for many fans. After all, he led the major presentation at the first expo. Mr. Iger, won’t you come by to greet the company’s most loyal supporters?
19. Disney playing classic films with roundtable discussions: The first expo featured many of these opportunities, including speeches from those responsible for The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tron and other features. Pay homage to a number of Disney films celebrating anniversaries this year – much akin to the Fanniversary events – and recognize a few movies individually.
20. Dream Store selling products at lower prices: Sorry, but the cost of some of the merchandise is downright ridiculous. Should the items be as pricy as in the past, the Dream Store could at least offer a $10 gift card if one spends over $100.
21. Disney expanding its volunteer efforts: The Disney VoluntEARS program has been present at past expos, allowing attendees to help give back to the community while they have fun. I think this is one of the most important endeavors Disney has pursued, and if they can grow its reach by offering additional activities for its guests, more will discover its inherent value.
22. Cory and Topanga coming over to this “world”: Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel will return to their iconic roles in 2014’s Girl Meets World on Disney Channel. How great would it be for the duo to stop by for an autograph session? The ’90s nostalgics would get a kick out of seeing the pair all grown up, and at a Disney event, no less. (TV screens surrounding the queue could even show the episode where Cory follows Topanga to Walt Disney World)
23. J.J. Abrams discussing future of Star Wars: Though early in the planning process, the continuation of the franchise in film form has both Disney and Star Wars fans in a tizzy. To hear a few thoughts from the director of the forthcoming seventh episode would be awesome. If Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher could drop by, a standing ovation would definitely follow.
What would you like to see at the Disney D23 Expo? What are your thoughts on my ideas? Sound off!
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter, where I post alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom!