D23 celebrates first anniversary at Disneyland on March 10 — but no expo this year

March 02, 2010 | 4:48 p.m.
Disney collage

There are plenty of birthdays celebrated at Disneyland and a good number of them are for 1-year-olds enjoying their first cake-and-candles experience. On March 10, though, the youngster celebrating one year of life will be D23, the Disney fan community that shares its name with the D23 Expo that was staged so memorably in September in Anaheim.

More on the party in a moment; first, a bit on that expo: The inaugural convention (a sort of Comic-Con but just for Disney and its films, theme parks, television shows, collectibles etc.) started off slow last September, and I know some folks at Disney weren’t thrilled when I wrote about the small opening-day crowds. But by the end of the weekend, I was among the many people who felt the event had really turned a corner. There were some major surprises and some wonderful memories, and I remember thinking that the 2010 edition would be far more impressive considering the Disney purchase of Marvel Entertainment — how great would it be to see presentations on the upcoming “Thor” and “Captain America” movies on the same bill as “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” and “Tron“?

But as it turns out, that won’t be happening. At least not this year. The Disney plan, as of now, is to stage the D23 Expo as a biennial event, which means we’ll have to wait until 2011 to see the second edition. I’m not sure when this decision was made or how the expo was viewed in the new regime at Disney, but I’ll try to find out.

Now, back to that party: If you’re a D23 member, there are still tickets left for the March 10 event (tickets are $65 and must be bought in advance). If you’re not a D23 member, you must become one to get access to any of numerous D23 events throughout the year (with the exception of the expo, which is open to the public), but you may be running out of time to get into this particular Disneyland celebration.

And what is that celebration? On March 10, after the park closes at 9 p.m., there will be a D23 party in Fantasyland. A limited number of guests will be able to ride all the attractions, mix and mingle with characters (including some that have not been seen roaming the park in a long time) and inspect the Electric Runaround (which Walt Disney used to escort special guests around park) and Cinderella’s Crystal Coach. There will be drinks, desserts and a few D23 surprises. Guests will also get a limited-edition commemorative pin.

I’m looking forward to the event, though, for the chance to talk to some of  the Disney talent in attendance. Among those set to attend: Dave Smith (chief archivist for the Walt Disney ArchivesBob Gurr (a vehicle specialist for Walt Disney Imagineering, he worked on Autopia and the Main Street fleet); Tony Baxter (the Imagineer who had a key role in design  of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain and, my favorite, the Indiana Jones Adventure); Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy and Pluto); actor Kevin Corcoran (“Old Yeller,” “The Shaggy Dog”); actor Dan Roebuck ( Dr. Leslie Arzt on “Lost“) and Margaret Kerry (the original live-action model for Tinker Bell).

– Geoff Boucher

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Images: Walt Disney Co.

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