The Walt Disney Co.’s biennial fan fest may be in Anaheim, Calif., but Orlando is always part of the party.
The D23 Expo – D for Disney and 23 for 1923, the year the company was founded – is the ultimate Disneyphile fantasy. The Mouse and his entourage will take a three-day weekend, Aug. 14-16, at Anaheim Convention Center to preview the future, celebrate the past and hint at all the things they’re not yet fully disclosed. And let’s not forget the exclusive merchandise, gatherings and guest appearances.
Even though it all takes place near Disneyland Resort, company plans and announcements have a direct effect on Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Even a hint at a popular project can put a big spotlight on a park, venue or film debut that generates interest and revenue. And there are several pending projects that will benefit the home town crowd — from film production to theme park plans, D23 2015 will have lots of news to offer.
For the fans, every event will be worth paying attention to, but here are three panels on the D23 docket to keep a close eye on:
Animation nation: The equation is simple: new movies plus new characters multiplied by their presence in each Disney park equals big crowds and tourism triumph. There’s already speculation about an Inside Outattraction coming to Epcot. The current slate of animated offerings will be previewed at a panel hosted by Pixar and Disney Animation Studios creative chief John Lasseter at 3:00 p.m. on Aug. 14. Films include Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur and Finding Dory along with Disney Animation’s Zootopia and Moana, which will feature Disney’s first Polynesian princess. Could she have a place in the newly upgraded Polynesian Village Resort? Only time and box office feedback will tell.
Star Wars, ’nuff said: With all the hype and speculation surrounding the planned Star Wars expansion at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, any Star Wars-related info will set off months of social media chatter. The D23 panel titled Worlds, Galaxies and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios is on the schedule for 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 15 and has Star Wars written all over it. The lack of a new Force Awaken s trailer at San Diego Comic Con has all but insured some new footage to be released at the Disney expo.
The final word: Disney lit the fuse of speculation when it teased a Star Wars park presence at the last D23 expo in 2013. If sources are correct, confirmation on several Disney parks-related talking points could come during the event. The Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 may hold the answers everyone’s been waiting for on the Star Wars park presence and the Disney’s Hollywood Studios/Disney’s Hollywood Adventuretransformation.