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D23 Springs Forth

D23 Mickey Banner

It’s been suspiciously quiet on the D23 front lately, as members waited to see what plans the company’s “official” fan club held for 2010. With all the shakeup at Disney lately, it seems like several divisions are still catching up – try, for instance, to determine what Disney’s DVD release schedule is this year!

In any case, we’ve just received the list of D23′s events through this spring. We’ll still have to wait a bit for the official D23 Expo announcement, but that is in fact forthcoming. For now, though, here’s what’s been announced for 2010 so far. D23’s special-event lineup includes:

January 22, 2010 – A Practically Perfect Night of Surprises with D23 and Mary Poppins

D23 Members will attend a performance of the critically acclaimed Mary Poppins at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles – plus an exclusive post-show experience with the Mary Poppins cast… and a top-secret surprise guest. (Hint: It’s an actor from the classic 1964 film.) D23 Members will receive 20 percent off select tickets for the January 22 performance (in various seating locations and price ranges). Visit the D23 website at www.disney.com/D23 for ticket information and availability.

February 13, April 10, August 14 and November 13, 2010 – D23 Day at The Walt Disney Studios and Archives

D23 Members will get a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank and at the Walt Disney Archives on a two-hour tour hosted by D23 and Archives staff members. Three tours will be held on each date, and each tour can accommodate 50 people. In D23’s Charter Year, these special tours sold out almost immediately. Tickets for the February 13 and April 10 tours will be available at 10 a.m. Pacific time Thursday, January 26, and are $50 per person.

March 5, 2010 – D23’s First-Anniversary Party at the Walt Disney World Resort

Hundreds of D23 Members are expected to gather from around the country – and around the world – for a once-in-a-lifetime night of magic and memories. The evening’s festivities include a private dinner inside the Magic Kingdom’s Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, followed by an exclusive D23 viewing of Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Afterward, guests will hear insider details about the upcoming Fantasyland expansion from Walt Disney Imagineering. The celebration will also feature a sumptuous dessert party, a special commemorative pin for everyone attending, and a host of surprises. More details, including reservation availability and pricing, will be announced shortly on D23’s website at www.disney.com/D23.

March 10, 2010 – D23’s First-Anniversary Party at the Disneyland Resort

D23 will hold its one and only West Coast anniversary celebration in the most magical land at the Happiest Place on Earth: Fantasyland. D23 Members will take over all of Fantasyland for one amazing night filled with classic attractions, familiar characters (as well as a few you may not have seen in a while!), and a chance to see rare pieces of Disneyland history up close. Plus, D23 Members and their guests will enjoy an array of delicious Disney-inspired desserts, a special commemorative pin for everyone attending, and other surprises. Additional information, including reservation availability and pricing, will be announced shortly at www.disney.com/D23.

March 27, 2010 – “50 and Fabulous” Screening of Toby Tyler

At last year’s D23 Expo, Disney fans had a chance to see Disney masterpieces that were celebrating their Golden Anniversaries… a new D23 tradition that continues in 2010, this time in the recently renovated, state-of-the-art, 400-seat Studio Theater on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank. Tickets to the “50 and Fabulous” screenings are free for D23 Members and their guests, and the series kicks off with a movie that hasn’t been seen on the big screen since its first release in 1960: Toby Tyler, or 10 Weeks with a Circus. D23’s screening of this lighthearted, live-action comedy will combine with special D23 surprises and the opportunity to enjoy a movie in this exclusive cinematic venue. Reservations may be made beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday, January 26. (A $5 processing fee for each ticket will apply.)

As with all live events, dates and times are subject to change.

Additional D23 special events are planned throughout 2010, including:

• May 8: “50 and Fabulous” screening of Pollyanna at the Walt Disney Studio Theatre;

• May 29-30: “Flowers and Fireworks” event at the Walt Disney World Resort, adding all-new elements as D23 expands the festivities to two days;

• June 26: A special celebration at the Walt Disney Studios marking the 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney Archives;

• July 10: “50 and Fabulous” screening of Swiss Family Robinson at the Walt Disney Studio Theatre;

• October 15-16: “Sip & Stroll” at the immensely popular Epcot International Food and Wine Festival;

• October 23: “50 and Fabulous” screening of The Sign of Zorro at the Walt Disney Studio Theatre

• December 11-12: “Magic and Merriment” weekend at the Walt Disney World Resort;

D23 is also in the planning stages for even more exciting 2010 events, details of which will be revealed in the coming months.

Now, that’s a pretty decent slate – if you’re in Florida or California. The rest of us, as expected, tend to benefit a little less from these events. Long-time readers will know that I’ve been fairly supportive of D23 so far, despite their occasional missteps. They’ve mercifully veered away from the more Magical ™ pixie dust, hugs and candy canes aspect of modern Disney, and have given pretty worthy service to the company’s real history and creative talents. Most importantly, they’ve always seemed to learn from their mistakes and actually listen to feedback.

This has manifested itself in a number of areas, most recently when they announced that 2010 would see the introduction of tiered memberships. The demand for a lower-priced membership option led to the new “Silver” membership, which at the price of $34.99 earns you the opportunity to attend special D23 Member events throughout the year as well as access to D23 merchandise and memorabilia. The current membership plan, priced at $74.99, became the “Gold” membership; this retains the benefits of the Silver level and adds a subscription to the quarterly periodical Disney twenty-three.

In addition, 2010 introduces some new benefits for both membership tiers. All members will receive a Disney Undiscovered: A 23-Month Calendar of Disney’s Unrealized Masterpieces; this wall calendar will contain lots of rarely-seen concept art for unrealized theme park, film and animation projects. It’s a neat idea and something I think fans would enjoy. New artwork is always welcome, after all.

The other new perk for members is the introduction of discounts at some locations in California’s Downtown Disney and in ESPNZones nationwide. Again, nothing Earth-shaking, but it’s a nice touch.

Now, of course, if billions of Disney fans had signed up for D23 I doubt we’d be seeing so many of these friendly gestures. But as cynical as the modern Disney corporation can make you, one does have to give them credit when they do the right thing. Lowering the price point for membership is a great thing, especially for residents of California and Florida that can immediately benefit from all these events.

All that being said, I have some qualms. You’ll note that most of these events have fees for admission – that’s not a good sign. So far, most of these D23 events have been free for members. Now the studio tours are $50 per person? Obviously this is merely a way of hiding fees – after all, I’d rather pay $75 and get into events free than think I’m getting a deal at $35 and then having to shell out fifty bucks every time I want to attend an event. And the $5 “processing fee” for their free screening is just shady, shady, shady.

I can understand if this is a deal that D23 had to strike to justify their continued existence to corporate. But this is a slippery slope, and something that needs to be monitored carefully.

But enough of that – the big story out of this is MOOCHIE. A headlining event for Toby Tyler?! My dad is going to be so stoked! This kind of thing is why D23 has amused me so far – who knew anyone at Disney today would have even heard of Toby Tyler? They’re having a special screening, and that has to mean just one thing – MOOCHIE at last!

Look at all those other “50 and Fabulous” screenings this year – besides Toby Tyler there’s Pollyanna, The Swiss Family Robinson, Mask of Zorro… that’s a power line-up! AND THREE OF THE FOUR FEATURE MOOCHIE.

Given that they screened last year’s “50 and Fabulous” films at the D23 Expo, I expect to see these this year. And thus my list of demands, Disney: Hayley Mills. James MacArthur. More Tommy Kirk. And MOOCHIE. Give the people what they want!

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