D23 is Disney’s official fan club and every two years it hosts a 3-day expo in Anaheim to celebrate everything great about the Disney Company. Movies, TV shows, video games, and theme park attractions are all represented at the expo. While 2013’s expo, which took place this past weekend, did not offer any major announcements, it did offer a clearer glimpse of the Disney Company’s plans over the next couple of years. Here are the Top 5 things we are anticipating after this weekend’s expo.
5. (tie) Tony Baxter’s Window on Main Street
There was not a whole lot of theme park news at the expo, but famed Imagineer Tony Baxter becoming a Disney Legend was one of the expo’s highlights. Tony was responsible for many classic attractions at the Disney Parks, most notably Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Star Tours. In addition to his new status as a Disney Legend, Tony also received some other exciting news at the expo: he is going to be given a Main Street USA window in Disneyland. This is the highest honor an Imagineer can receive, and it is definitely well-deserved in Tony’s case.
5. (tie) Star Wars VII and theme park attractions
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of this year’s expo was the lack of Star Wars news. Star Wars was acquired by Disney less than a year ago and immediately announced plans for some new movies, starting with Episode VII in 2015. Fans were hoping for some follow-up info on the project at the expo, but Disney was tight-lipped. Additionally, rumors of a Star Wars Land coming to the theme parks have been rampant over the past couple of months. While Imagineering did tease future Star Wars attractions in its expo pavilion, there were no formal announcements made.
4. Disney Infinity
Anyone who has played Skylanders will recognize the basic premise behind Disney’s newest major investment in the video game market, Disney Infinity. Part game, part mini-console, part toy collection, Disney Infinity is certain to appeal to kids and hardcore Disney adult fans as well. While playing a Monster University game, a Pirates of the Caribbean game and an Incredibles game (among others) all on the same disc is exciting, it is Infinity’s Toy Box mode that really has fans anxious for its release. In this mode, characters, settings, vehicles and other props from all across Disney can be mixed together to create the player’s own world and mini-games. With co-op play and the ability to add more characters by purchasing their corresponding toy figurine (cha-ching), this is likely to be a hot seller this holiday season.
3. Marvel Cinematic Universe, Phase 2
Disney and Marvel have accomplished something very special with their Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because all of the movies released under this brand are tied together, fans are adamant about seeing films that they may not have had any interest in if they were stand-alone movies. Phase 2 of the MCU started this past May with Iron Man 3. It continues with Thor: The Dark World (this November), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 2014), the little-known Guardians of the Galaxy (August 2014) and, finally, The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 2015). If even a fraction of the fans that saw The Avengers in theaters last year go to see these lead-up movies to its sequel, they are all sure to be big hits.
2. Disney’s Slate of Animated Films
Did you know that Disney actually runs three separate animation studios? They include Pixar, Disney Animation (started by Walt), and DisneyToons Studios (usually direct-to-DVD features, but not always). All three were represented at the expo. Pixar unveiled more information about several of their upcoming features. The Good Dinosaur (summer 2014) is about dinosaurs in a world where the asteroid missed the Earth; Inside Out (summer 2015) is about the feelings (the film’s main characters) that live inside a young girl’s mind; and Finding Dory (November 2015) is a sequel to Finding Nemo that follows the search for a lost Dory one year after the events of the original film. DisneyToons already has a sequel to this summer’s Planes – Planes: Fire and Rescue – scheduled for next summer. They are also releasing some new Tinkerbell movies; the most intriguing, The Pirate Fairy, has Tom Hiddleston (Loki) voicing a young Captain Hook before the hook. Finally, Disney Animation revealed footage and concept art for several new films. The first out of the gate will be this fall’s Frozen, which looks to follow in the footsteps of other recent Disney features, like Tangled, and includes new songs, new princesses and new funny sidekicks.
1. Saving Mr. Banks
There are many great-looking live action Disney films on the horizon, such as Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie and Kenneth Branaugh’s Cinderella. Muppets Most Wanted, next spring’s sequel, looks just as ridiculous and funny as its 2011 predecessor. Tomorrorowland, perhaps the most mysterious property represented at the expo, has the potential to be an incredible film especially for Disney fans. But, the one film that can’t help exciting those of us with a Disney addiction to feed is this Christmas’ Saving Mr. Banks, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. This film tells the story of Walt Disney (Hanks) attempting to persuade P.L. Travers (Thompson) to sell him the rights to her book, Mary Poppins. The film looks amazing; take a look at the trailer and judge for yourself.
According to those in attendance, the 2013 D23 expo was a great success, despite it’s lack of surprise announcements. Well, actually there was at least one announcement: there will be a 2015 expo and it will return once again to Anaheim. Meanwhile. the DW Dads are looking forward to what Disney has to offer over the next couple of years.
- Disney Infinity Adds 13 New Characters, New Mobile Apps (technobuffalo.com)
- D23: Imagineer Tony Baxter on his decades shaping Disneyland design (herocomplex.latimes.com)