Trip Reports

A Day at the D23 Expo

We’ve covered the D23 Expo in detail, focusing on all of the Parks news that came out of that weekend. What we haven’t covered is the actual experience itself! In this post, I’ll recall our day at the D23 Expo and give some thoughts on the experience.

Captain America shield D23

While the Expo is a 3-day event, we ended up only going for the final day because the big Parks Panel was on Sunday. It would be fun to go for all 3 days and enjoy more panels. I ended up not going that route because of the cost and because I’m less interested in the movie and show aspects of the company. That said, I am bummed that I missed out on the Muppets Panel! A number of people we talked to (or read) described that as a highlight of the whole event. That goes to show there’s likely going to be something of worth each day of the Expo.

But doing the fan event for all 3 days would be a marathon! We’re lucky enough to live within walking distance of the Anaheim Convention Center (where D23 is held) and were up around 7 to walk over. Guests could request reservations to different panels ahead of time and the one we had granted was for the Boundless Futures Park Panel. That was good news for us, as some of those who didn’t get in stayed the night in that cold, ugly basement.

D23 Expo queue

Even sitting in there for a few hours was plenty, with an uncomfortable floor and surprisingly frigid temperature. Eventually they had everyone up and about, getting ready to go into the hall where Josh D’Amaro gave us some tidbits on the future of the Disney Parks. I’ve discussed the news plenty.

The performances during the presentation though were all really enjoyable, highlighted by Jordan Fisher singing Happily Ever After to start. There was also a stirring performance of Into the Unknown (from Frozen 2) performed in different languages. It was beautiful and one of the best parts of the entire day. I would recommend going to these large events at D23 Expo just for the sake of the energy from the crowd, it’s very fun to be in a room with like minded people cheering (or rolling their eyes) about the same things as you.


Along with the panels, there’s a giant show floor with different exhibits to go to. Some of them are large, put on by different divisions of the company. As you can see above, there were some large costume pieces on exhibit for guests to enjoy. Naturally, I enjoyed the Disney Parks section of these the most as they showcased some miniature ride vehicles for the upcoming Tokyo DisneySea expansion, models of Epcot statues and a wealth of other interesting updates on projects.


There were other cool exhibits, like Walt’s plane that was sponsored by Amazon. It took up a whole room and was eloquently shown. Between the historic artifacts, giveaways and cute souvenirs there was a lot to look at on the floor and it took up a good amount of time.

D23 airplane

That said, I didn’t find the show floor so engaging that I could spend 3 days wandering around. It was enough to keep us busy for the day, along with a couple of panels, but past that I could see returning to a few booths but not as must-do’s. There was a good amount of shopping too and that might be worth checking out, depending on how much you care about that sort of thing. I thought some of the unique merchandise was more interesting than what is sold in the parks but nothing wowed me.

We grabbed some lunch from one of the food trucks outside and it was fine. Dining at the Expo isn’t especially interesting and I wouldn’t recommend much besides packing some snacks and maybe going off-site for lunch. There aren’t any great options near the convention center either.


My favorite part of the day was what came next – the Duffy & Friends Panel. We didn’t have a reservation for this option so we got in line a couple of hours before the scheduled time. To our surprise, the queue room was already pretty full as was the room for those with reservations. We decided to wait it out and found some wonderful people to talk to. Time went by fast and the allure of the Expo was apparent, being around people that cared about the same thing as you means an easy conversation could be struck up at anytime.

Once inside the panel we were met with the most adorable and thoughtful hour I’ve experienced in a long time. If you’re unfamiliar with Duffy, he’s Mickey Mouse’s teddy bear and a fixture at Tokyo DisneySea. The creators have added characters over time to be Duffy’s friends and there’s a stop motion series in production that will debut on Disney+ at some point.

Duffy D23 Expo

I was blown away by just how much thought was put into each detail of these characters. Whether that was where they’re placed in the park, how they fit in with other characters or what their talents are, it was all so sweet and interesting. After a flabbergasting Parks Panel, this restored some faith in the future of Imagineering as the precision and big picture was so well thought out. I could have listened to them talking about Duffy & Friends for a few hours more.


After that was over, we took one more trip around the show floor and looked through the parks exhibit. Like going to Disneyland or Disney World, everything was far less busy right before the Expo closed. We were able to get up close to the models before heading out the door and going home!

Once outside, we were met with a glorious rainbow and sunset over the Anaheim Convention Center. I could try to wax poetic or find some symbolism in it but I think it was just a beautiful end to a fun day. The D23 Expo wasn’t anything that blew me away. What did excite me the most was the people I interacted with, whether that be having a conversation with others in line or hearing the answers of those in the panel. Even seeing the costumes of those around was a highlight. While I’m not sure I could stomach the price or time investment for the entire 3 days, I’m happy to have experienced the Expo and will likely be back!

Rainbow Anaheim Convention Center

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