ConShark

The biennial Disney D23 Expo begins its three-day run Friday at Anaheim Convention Center, and some folks had already begun lining up early Thursday:

(Considering D23’s previously announced policy of advance lines being disallowed prior to 10:00pm Thursday, this information didn’t go over well with rule-abiding attendees.)

This is only the fourth D23 Expo ever, since it began in 2009 and is only held in odd-numbered years. Only having the event every other year means it’s a bit slower to solve the challenges all new conventions face – however, that Disney magic combined with the incredible crowd-herding skills they’ve adapted from their theme park operations mean D23 Expo puts on a good show.

But if you’re a regular convention attendee, D23 Expo will be a Sunday afternoon stroll through the park for you. While Disney bloggers and local newspapers have been touting “survival guides” for weeks, it’ll feel like a relax-a-con for those who just recovered from San Diego Comic-Con.

Check out these wide open spaces in the D23 exhibit hall back in 2013.

Check out these wide open spaces in the D23 exhibit hall back in 2013.

Tickets went on sale a year ago, but Saturday badges have only sold out within the last month. Slow sales prompted discount tickets to be widely available on sites like Goldstar, though your only option at this point is to go direct to the Mouse. At $216 for an adult three-day pass, it’s a bit pricey compared to other big shows. Some of that funds great features like StagePass and StorePass (Disney’s popular FastPass system applied to waits for panels and exclusive merchandise), but you’ll notice top-of-the-line production values in every panel room and across the exhibit hall. But those steep prices sometimes keep away families – taking a family of four for just one day would run $256 just to get in the door. For comparison, a 4-day adult ticket to last spring’s Star Wars Celebration (also in Anaheim) was $140; four days with preview night for an adult at San Diego Comic-Con was $220; and a 3-day adult ticket to ReedPOP’s Chicago-based C2E2 was a mere $60.

Let’s take a look at what’s ahead this weekend! Our panel picks & programming room guide are available in a separate post.

Traffic & Parking

Refer to our traffic map for WonderCon Anaheim, which was also hosted at the Anaheim Convention Center.

One important new note: construction on the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center has already begun, so parking lots 1 and 2 are already closed. If you are determined to get a parking space at the convention center, arrive extra early. Parking at the convention center is $15.

Additional parking is available down the street at the GardenWalk shopping center; D23 hasn’t included the price in their information, but in the past their event pricing has matched the convention center at $15 with no re-entry.

Cheaper parking can be found at Angels Stadium for $10; a free shuttle will operate between the stadium and the convention center. The stadium opens for parking at 6:00am daily.

For attendees with Disneyland Annual Passports (or at least, APs with parking passes), the Toy Story lot will open at 7:00am daily. (This lot is open to non-APs as well but it’s $17 to park.)

Although Disney is allowing overnight queues for Friday and Saturday programming in Hall D23, there has not been any mention of where 24-hour parking might be available. One place it definitely isn’t available is the convention center.

Exhibits

The D23 Expo show floor usually has several pavilions that have displays and exhibits available. Parks and Resorts will show off plans for Shanghai Disneyland; the Walt Disney Studios area will have costumes and props on display; a big Disneyland 60th anniversary exhibit will be hosted in the exhibit hall near the Dream Store. These are one of the best parts of the Expo and are definitely a highlight: go early in the morning and early in the weekend to beat the lines.

Show Floor & Exclusives
Dream Store line

Dream Store line

If you want to be the first on the show floor to nab some exclusive merch, we hope you’re a D23 Gold or Silver member: those members get one hour of early access each morning (beginning at 9:00am). The rest of us – free D23 members included – must wait for the general opening hour of 10:00am. And those with the ultra-VIP Sorcerer’s badges got to shop early on Thursday.

However, if you’re not hell-bent on being first in line, you can try the new StorePass feature. Like StagePass or FastPass, the StorePass will “save” you a spot in line and cut your wait time down. Go to the StorePass distribution area in Hall A beginning at 10:00am and pick up a pass that is good for a 30 minute window between noon and 5:00pm. One StorePass is permitted per person, per day.

Disney Store line

Disney Store line

It doesn’t cost you anything to grab a StorePass, so it’s probably worth it – especially for the Disney Store. At right are Sunday afternoon lines for the Dream Store, top, and the Disney Store, below. It’s a pretty drastic difference. They’re billed as being available in “very limited quantities,” so best make picking one up a priority if  getting into the Disney Store is important to you.

All those smaller shops that were previously relegated to the “Collectors Forum” are now in one of three “Emporium” areas throughout the exhibit hall.

Clearly this $1,200 fiber optic jacket is the best exclusive of the weekend:

 

Other Important Things to Remember

D23 Expo operates slightly differently than most other cons, so keep these rules in mind this weekend:

  • A tiny Fauna and Merryweather play in one of the designated family areas in the D23 exhibit hall.

    A tiny Fauna and Merryweather play in one of the designated family areas in the D23 exhibit hall.

    D23 has their own specific rules for cosplayers – for example, no weapons allowed at all, and no masks that cover your eyes. Be sure you’ve read up on all their rules before showing up in costume.

  • Technically, their rules prohibit outside food and beverage. We’ll see how well this is enforced. The famous food trucks should return to the Grand Plaza out front. Scheduled: Tasting Spoon, Barcelona,
    Spudrunners, Viking, Porko Rico, Devilicious, The Cut, Chuck-N-Chip, and Moustache Mikes.
  • You are not allowed to have personal items signed at autograph sessions. You must have artists sign merchandise you bought at the Expo. There is also a blank page in your souvenir guide for autographs.
  • There is no early entry to programming rooms for the disabled, and there are no separate ADA lines. If you cannot stand in the line, you are expected to sit in a seating area outside the queue room and rejoin your group when they reach the entrance.
  • The line for the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit is usually the longest on Sunday – even if the wait seems long on Friday or Saturday, do not wait until Sunday afternoon to go. You will likely be met by a capped line and a few hundred people with an hours-long wait ahead of them.

 

Will we be seeing you this weekend at D23 Expo? What are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!