Aaaaaaand we’re done.
The fourth and final day of the D23 Conventio-con-o-rama is a wrap, and I’m still alive. Barely, but still. Apparently full-bore Disney immersion is some magical petri culture that replaces the need for sleep or food. I’m going to need some sort of twelve-step program to bring me back down to civilian life. Good thing I have a full day for Disneyland tomorrow before I must return to reality.
Today was the victory lap for the D23 expo, and the focus was animation. John Lasseter gave the morning’s keynote address, revealing art and details about the upcoming Disney and Pixar animation slates. There were no profound revelations; we got the official announcement and title for Winnie-the-Pooh, the next traditionally animated Disney feature. It was kind of funny watching Lasseter try and persuade the audience the film would be worth their while – “trust me,” he said.
We got a new trailer for Toy Story 3 and a plot rundown for Cars 2; I’m going to have to eat my hat on that because doggoned if they didn’t come up with a good story for the thing. Think North by Northwest on an international scale, with Mater the tow truck as Roger Thornhill. I have to give them credit for coming up with that.
They also showed some artwork, storyboards, and computer tests for Rapunzel. It looks excellent. We also saw another musical number from Princess and the Frog. There was casting information and other small tidbits for each of the upcoming films, which I’ll cover in due course.
Prior to Lasseter’s presentation, author J.B. Kaufman gave an interesting talk about his upcoming book South of the Border With Disney. It isn’t out yet, but everyone should pre-order it as it’s bound to be a fascinating read.
There were just a few more events after that. Actor Don DeFore’s two sons gave an amusing presentation about their dad’s Silver Banjo Barbecue restaurant from Disneyland’s early days. At a later event, a massive range of talent including John Lasseter and Imagineers Bob Weis, Eric Jacobson, Bruce Vaughn and others discussed the various Pixar-derived attractions in Disney theme parks. At a press conference afterwards, Vaughn kind of pwned me by shooting down my question about the Pixar attractions being built in Paris that weren’t mentioned in the presentation. Apparently they haven’t announced anything for Paris yet – despite the fact that construction pics of the project are everywhere online! I cut my losses and neglected to point that out.
A few brief tidbits: Jacobson confirmed that the Flying Carpets of Aladdin will remain in Adventureland, and not converted to the second Dumbo spinner as rumored. I have to say I’m disappointed about that. Almost as disappointed as Tony Baxter is with the current iteration of the Imagination ride at EPCOT; I asked him if it was on anyone’s radar at WDI and he replied cryptically that he didn’t think the pavilion was living up to its potential and that Figment wasn’t being used by Disney as well as he could be. So, at least they’re not satisfied with the status quo.
Anyway, there are plenty of details to come in the days ahead but I just wanted to get a brief overview for your folks and to take this opportunity to thank the folks at D23 for putting on a great event that ran, for the most part, very smoothly. They adapted fairly quickly to major issues, and while there were some cast members on the ground that got overwhelmed, the entire enterprise went astonishingly well for a first pass.
I especially want to thank the good folks at the press relations office, who were extremely helpful throughout and who were very kind to me despite my ranking on the importance scale somewhere between total nobody and complete non-existence. The same thanks go to the talented Imagineers, artists, authors and filmmakers who took time to speak to an addled, sleep-deprived fanboy blogger about their work. Dealing with the fans can’t be easy, and I think it’s fantastic that they’re taking the time to do so. So, off the top of my head, thanks to Tony Baxter, Eric Jacobson, Ed Hobelman, J.B. Kaufman, Ted Thomas, Jeff Kurtti, Jason Surrell, Jon Georges, Chris Beatty, Don Hahn, and the other WDI staff and press office folks whose names I did not catch. Great job, guys!
P.S. If you’re coming to this page because you found a stack of about 10-15 of my business cards lying around, I wasn’t littering or trying some sad viral marketing campaign. I was just very, very tired and apparently a little klutzy.