When, as is inevitable, a comic book is one day written about me, it’s conceivable that the blurb on the first cover could read, “The World’s Most Optimistic Cynic!” For someone who was once accused by a teacher – in middle school – of being an “embittered cynic,” I’ve somehow managed to develop a certain level of “magical thinking” that allows me to expect certain positive outcomes despite the laws of probability.
With that as background, I was both hopeful and skeptical when Disney introduced the D23 concept earlier this year. Disney was saying all the right things, and seemed to have picked an excellent staff for the task, but their track record in fan relations was so sketchy (about the only thing missing from those last Toad-Ins in 1998 were snipers on the rooftops) that I had my doubts. Disney seemed to understand their audience less and less each year, and it was growing doubtful that they could be bothered to appeal anymore to an audience more diverse than the young nuclear family princess, pirate, and “dream”/”wish”/”magic” demographic.
I gave them the benefit of the doubt, as I knew I would eventually want to buy the D23 magazines anyway, and was pleased with the quality of the first issue. It was very tastefully put together, and while I still hope they start digging a little deeper on more esoteric subjects, it was a good start. The second issue, which came quickly on the heels of the first, really knocked me out because it featured Mr. D. Duck front and center. As he’s my favorite of the Disney regulars, I always feel that Mr. Duck is too often overshadowed in the company’s efforts by the less interesting Mickey Mouse. While I’m convinced that Mickey needn’t be boring, that’s a topic for another day. The point is, by giving Donald the credit he deserves – and the only company-wide recognition he’s received for his 75th birthday! – D23 showed that they were giving *me* what I wanted, and isn’t that the most important thing?
It also didn’t hurt that the second issue included a neat little freebie – a replica of a Disneyland souvenir fan from the 1950s. D23 was smart to recognize their fans’ love of stuff – especially free stuff – and the desire to have something neater than another pin (or $400 pen). The D23 website continues to regularly provide interesting content of historical interest, and the magazine continues to look to impress, as can be seen with this preview cover from the upcoming Fall issue:
Even more impressive was the slate of events that D23 began to announce over the summer. Free tours of the Studio Archives in Burbank and panel discussions with Imagineers at Disneyland were definite draws, although they sold out immediately and did little for those of us on the east coast. The big shindig, of course, will be the D23 Exposition this September in Anaheim. I hadn’t even considered going at first; Anaheim seems so far away in distance and dollars that it might as well be on the dark side of the moon, and in the best of circumstances I’m hardly a convention-goer. Visions of hard-core fans milling around with pin lanyards talking about their favorite Jonas brother put me off, until I started to see what Disney was actually planning for the event.
In short, it sounds like it’s going to be massive. Every division of the company is coming out to woo Disney’s most devoted fans, and an array of talent from the theme parks, Imagineering, and animation worlds will all be there. There will be displays of rare artifacts from the Disney Archives, and previews of upcoming attractions and films. I started to get the feeling that if I stayed at home, I would feel like I’d been grounded while the coolest kid in town had a pool party with five types of cake and go-go dancers.
So, through a great deal of fortuosity, I’m going. Progress City will be going on the road to Anaheim, and it’ll be my first (I know, I know) trip to Disneyland. We were, by necessity, a Disney World family growing up, and by the time I had the means and method of getting to Disneyland they had destroyed that fantastic and alluring 1967 Tomorrowland and replaced it with the sad DMZ that sits there today. I had sworn that I wouldn’t go to Disneyland until it was fixed; a nice, arbitrary Mary Poppins declaration would be, “I shall go when the Peoplemover track is no longer empty.” I can’t pass this opportunity up, though. Of course, I’d also sworn that I’d never enter DCA until it was worthy of the Disney name, but now that I’m going to be there before the big fix, I kinda wish I had seen it with all the original, awful attractions so I could maximize my mockery. Oh Califia, I’ll never meet you in person!
Anyway, Disneyland. I need ideas from you folks. I don’t need goofy tourism advice like how to use FastPass, or “Mom’s Panel” advice on where to get carrot sticks or how to get the best towel animals in your room. I need that deep, esoteric knowledge that people only have about their home parks. The weird, out-of-the-way things to see; the odd and delightful park-specific snacks; the things that real Disney nerds shouldn’t miss. I’m going to try and memorize Disneyland: The Nickel Tour before I go, but if I come home without experiencing Disneyland’s equivalent of School Bread I’ll be very, very sad.
I also need to figure out the best way to publicly disgrace myself by begging for someone to sneak me onto the Burbank lot or into Flower Street. Catburglar/ninja skullduggery is not beneath me, but I’d prefer to get there by legitimate means. I clean up fairly well, am unobtrusive and house-trained, can speak in hushed tones and am extremely discreet. NDAs signed upon request. If anyone at WDI or the Studios is from North Carolina, I can smuggle you valuable goods like real barbecue, Sun Drop, or Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
So, two more months and I’m in Walt’s footsteps. Where’s the churro cart?