Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2013 D23 Expo Coverage...

Hey gang, episode 76 of Tales From The Mouse House Disneyland Podcast featured our good friend Faye Crane who graciously covered the 2013 Disney D23 Expo for Tales. As you may remember, we were granted ONE Press Credential for the Expo, but with our current situation were not able to make the trip. So, in our stead, Faye did a terrific job of covering this awesome Disney Fan Event! And as an added bonus, Faye wrote a detailed blog for you! Enjoy...

Disney D23 Expo 2013
by Faye Crane

Well, this year is the first time I was able to use/have a Press Pass. And that was a little exciting at first. I was wondering what I might be able to see and do with it more than the usual public. I mean, the Expo is always fun, but I was very curious how much more I was going to be able to do this year, because of the pass. 
Faye Crane

On Friday morning, the first thing that I was able to do, because of the Press Pass, was to be able to have a sneak peek at the Phineas and Ferb Waffle-inator Challenge and to catch a glimpse of the upcoming double-length episode that is a cross-over between Phineas & Ferb and the Marvel Universe.  It is called Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel and its premise is that the Marvel Super Heroes have lost their powers and they need the help of Phineas and Ferb to get them back. There we were able to talk with, get pictures with, and meet the voices of several of the stars—such as Vincent Martella, Alyson Stoner, Dan Povenmire, Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Adrian Pasdar (I personally liked him as Nathan Petrelli on Heroes), Drake Bell, Fred Tatasciore, Roger Graig Smith, Bumper Robinson and Laura Bailey. That was fun, and yummy. Yes they served us breakfast. Well, waffles of course!

From there I got in line, I thought, to get what was called a StagePass. It is very much like the FastPass in the parks. The only catch was that you could get one during a segment of time (which was from 11am to 3pm or from 3pm to 6pm). These passes were good for Stage 23 and Stage 28. Those StagePasses were not good for any other sessions. So I went all the way up to Stage 23, and then had to be redirected down to the show floor and that was the only time Friday that I was there. There I got my StagePass for “Undiscovered Disneyland.” I went back upstairs to Stage 23 and was able to get in for my session of the morning, “Behind the Scenes of Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins”. That was so much fun. It was presented by Dave Smith, founder and Chief Archivist Emeritus of the Walt Disney Archives. He is so much fun! There I learned about how Walt found the stories of Mary Poppins (it was a bed time story for his daughters), and that it was Roy O. Disney who managed to convince the infamous P.L. Travers to come on board, not Walt (who tried for 20 years).  One of the things that convinced P.L. Travers to seal the deal was that Walt gave her final say-so with the script…though they didn’t always stick to what she said.
Mickey Mouse and Friend
For example, she was very against the American term, “The cat got your tongue”. She demanded that it was to be taken out, and at the time the writers (song and script) did so. But if you pay attention to some parts of the movie, it didn’t stay out. 
I also learned that Julie Andrews was not Walt’s original choice for Mary Poppins. It was Mary Margaret. But Walt soon was convinced that Julie would be a good fit after seeing her on Broadway in Camelot.  She accepted the role of Mary Poppins only if she didn’t get the role she really wanted, the role that ended up going to Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. At the Academy Awards that year, Julie won Best Actress and not Audrey Hepburn. Julie was not given the role in My Fair Lady because the studio thought that they should have someone with more stage performance experience. Boy, I bet they were hitting themselves over that one.

I thought that “Undiscovered Disneyland” was fun, and the ones that were presenting it were Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley. They showed a lot of old-time film footage of how Disneyland used to be. In fact, they found so much that they renamed it “Rediscovered Disneyland”. That was fun, but I had to leave before it was done, because my Press Pass allowed me in on two of the sessions that afternoon that I don’t think I would have been able to get in otherwise. One of them was starting before this one ended (though “Rediscovered Disneyland” was running a bit late anyway.) 
That one was “Dave Bossert Remembers Roy E. Disney with Roy P. Disney”. This session was interesting.
Roy Disney
We got to “meet” Roy E. Disney both professionally and personally. He apparently didn’t start off working for the family business. He was originally with another studio as a page boy. After that job dissolved, he then went on and applied as the assistant film editor within the Disney Company. He was the one who pursued the Cal Arts dream after Walt passed away, though he was not an artist by trade, but more of a story teller. Throughout the years he moved though different positions, some with ease and some not so much. I learned here that he loved to fly and he started doing so at the age of 16. He also loved the Animal Kingdom and that Fantasia was his favorite movie. I also learn that thanks to his passion for the family business that he himself is the one that pulled it out of the red a couple of times to keep it going.

Disney Imagineering Legend Marty Sklar was the next and last session I went to that day. He has been at the opening of all 11 properties for the Disney Company and has been the only Imaginer to do so. As much as I wanted to hear about his experiences being Walt Disney’s literary right hand man, his monotone voice lost me so quick. I had a hard time tracking with what he was saying. Though I do know that he has written a book, and he was very proud of it. It is titled Dream It! Do It!

Bright (well, rather it was overcast, but you get the idea) and early Saturday we showed up and I had to get in line right away for the D23 Arena. That line was so long, and I really didn’t think I was that far back. There was a worker right in front of me who was telling the people in front of me that he had so far counted off 2,000, and I was thinking sweet, I get to go into the Arena, not the overflow (the overflow was new this year, and increased the number of people who got to see the Arena presentations by quite a bit). Which is good, because I was told the night before that the Press Pass would not get me any special privileges or special entry into it. Boy, could that worker not be any more off. I did end up going into the overflow. I was in line to see the “Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios.” It was so worth it.

I got to see clips from the upcoming Marvel, Disney, and Muppets movies. And all promise to be really good (with the exception of maybe one)! I would have to say that I am looking forward to all of the Marvel movies! They didn’t have a whole lot to show for Iron Man 3, but Captain America: Winter Soldier, Thor 2, and Averages 2 all look really cool and exciting!! And that is saying something from a girl who doesn’t read a whole lot of comics. The one movie that really stood out to me that I want to really see is Maleficent! That is due to come out July 2014, my birthday month! The clips from that movie gave me goose bumps! It comes from the Maleficent’s point of view and how she got where she is when we see her in Sleeping Beauty. That looks really good! Angela Jolie then came out and talked a little bit about her role (Maleficent), the movie, and the making of the movie. The Muppets movie looks to really good, that is if you like the Muppets anyway! The villain looks like he is Kermit’s evil twin and he has an accent, so it was kind of funny to watch. I hate to say it, but the two movies that I’m not very impressed with are Tomorrowland and Saving Mr. Banks. Which makes me sad, because I love mysteries so I would have to be more intrigued with Tomorrowland (especially if they maybe presented it differently). If anything I was turned off from it.  And as for Saving Mr. Banks, I was turned off from it, because as much as I love Tom Hanks, he doesn’t do Walt Disney very well. His phony accent seemed just that that and doesn’t settle well with me. 
YIKES! She's NOT Under The Sea!!

So, as soon as I was done with that session I came out of the overflow, and went and found my husband, had lunch, and then we got back in line for the Legends Ceremony. The Legends this year were Tony Baxter, Collin Campbell, Dick Clark, Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Jobs, Glen Keane, and Ed Wynn. I was proud to say that I knew six of the names and roughly what they were known for, so that made it exciting and in some ways, it kind of felt personal. Both Bob Iger and Tom Bergeron were giving the inductions and the back stories of those who being presented with the awards. I won’t say that I got emotional over really much of it, but I felt touched by some in a deep way.
A Concert For The Ages

The line for the event of the weekend, Richard Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook, was starting to fill up long before we got out of the Legends Ceremony. So we got right back in line again. That concert was so very cool. I was more raised during Alan Menken’s time, but nonetheless I was felt like I was back in time, during a simpler time, and just able to relax. It was fun! And yes Alan has a much better singing voice than Richard, but Richard had his music memorized and so, I think, he was able to relax a lot more of his segment of the concert. It was easy to tell that both of these men have a passion for music and they love what they did for Disney.

On Sunday, I was only able to get into three as well. The first one was “Secrets of the Lost Chords.” Here Randy Thornton, who is a Disney music historian, was able to give some insight about how and why some music that has been created over the years and then never used, along with some extra story lines or plots that were brought about with those songs. Such as a song that was supposedly between the butler and the maid in 101 Dalmatians was uncovered that would turned the plot of the movie completely around. It was titled “How Much You Mean to Me/Court Me Slowly”; let’s just say that it was a courting relationship where both parties weren’t being entirely truthful about the reason why they were in the relationship to begin with (greed is such mean and deceiving thing). And there was going to be a song with the story line from Cinderella about a dress that her mother wore. So as you can see, just with these two examples it would have turned the movies all around. Randy would first play the original recording of the song with the very basic instrumentation and then he has gone back though, found the sheet music, hired some singers, given the music to a full orchestra, and let them perform the music the way that it was originally supposed to be. It was awesome! To hear the music, the back stories, and everything else, wow!
Early Autopia - Walt Had A Special Car!

The next workshop had to do with talking with different women in different roles all around Pixar. There was a director, a producer, and three animators. They talked about what they do, what they did before Pixar, how they got into Pixar, the roles that women can play in Pixar, and where they see them going. Very good, and very worth it! I just wish I was able to sit up closer to the front. I was able to learn a lot. (Such as if you really want some thing, go after it, even if it takes 46 times to get there. One of the women had 46 interviews, before she was able to get hired on by Pixar.) 

“Leave ‘em Laughing” was the last session I went to and that was where the Imagineers Dave Fisher, Joe Lanzisero, Kevin Rafferty, Jason Surrell, and George Scibner were all were discussing humor and  how it has been used in movies and throughout the parks. Such as the fact, that an Imaginer, at Walt’s insistence, went to the park shortly after it opened and check it out. Marc Davis went down to the park and rode the Jungle Cruise (not the Pirates of the Caribbean, like I first thought and said on the podcast). At that time the Jungle Cruise was just an educational boat ride, and was not funny at all. Marc went back to Walt and told him that it needed something. It needed to be funny, or else it wouldn’t fly. Walt took his advice and soon started putting humor in that ride (in different ways, i.e. the men going up the pole with the rhino right below them, or the line of the gorillas finally getting the jeep to turn over) as well as many others throughout the park and movies to come. These Imaginers especially had fun in creating Toontown, and it was fun to hear them crack each other and themselves up with the different humor slides that they had planted.
The Infamous Hatbox Ghost

I also got to see countless people dress up in various costumes, throughout the three days, countless imaginers taking time to explain a concept to a guest, a child or adult alike look in awe at the dream or story of what the Disney company is glad to show us in whatever concept they have (i.e. painting, a statue, a drawing). It is kind of breathtaking to try to take in impact that one man can have long after he is gone.

Overall, I had a really good time and I’m very glad that I got to go. The imagination, the creativity, the stories, and most importantly the people behind the Disney company is shown much appreciation many times in the people that the come to these Expos who show up in their own costumes, their own stores, and loyalty to attending the different sessions, workshops, ceremonies, show floor, and concerts. Thanks to Al and Joyce I was able to.

You're VERY welcome Faye, we're glad that we were able to assign the Press Credential to you! And thank YOU for doing such a wonderful job of covering this event!  - Al & Joyce

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