D23 Head Steven Clark began the call by providing some background and inspiration on D23, talking about how the Walt Disney Company first got its start on October 16, 1923 (where the 23 comes from) by signing its contract to produce the Alice comedies.
Clark addressed concerns about why there hasn’t been a greater outreach by Disney to its fans in the past. He stressed that Disney has always reached out to its fan base in many different aspects but that they’ve always been at the hand of individual units. D23 represents the first time the company has formed a united front to bring that level of relationship to the Disney fan community. Clark defines D23 as pulling back the curtain, going behind closed doors, going backstage and meeting the cast members that make the magic every day, all summed up as the ultimate insider Disney experience.
Clark then talked about D23 membership and everything included in the package. An annual subscription to Disney twenty three magazine (published quarterly) carries a hefty cover price of $15.95 per issue, but Clark is quick to note that the magazine can be considered a collectible in its own right and that is considered the centerpiece of membership and does not and will not contain any advertising, just pure content with unprecedented access. Individual issues will be available at theme parks, the Disney Store, DisneyShopping.com and Barnes & Noble exclusively while back-issues will be available only to D23 members. He also touched upon the special exclusive gift from the newly formed Walt Disney Archive collection by revealing it will not be a pin and instead would be something he would be proud to have in his own home.
He talked about the upcoming D23 Expo in September in Anaheim at the Anaheim Convention Center. Pavillions will represent all divisions within the company as well as offering the Disney fan community to act as exhibtors themselves. Screenings will not only include upcoming releases but vintage Disney films as well as documentaries. He also spoke of auctions, signings and even a fashion show. On whether the expo may be held at other locations in the future such as Walt Disney World, Clark noted that the expo is committed to Anaheim for at least the first four years but they will consider additional locations in the future. He also noted that there will be smaller events planned around the country for D23 members such as special screenings and night-time events. Special in-park events are also planned although no details were available at this time, but Clark did hint at exclusives such as being able to experience new attractions first as well as other special activities.
A paid D23 membership isn’t required to indulge one’s self in D23. In addition to buying individual issues of the magazine off the rack, the website at Disney.com/d23 will remain free and and those interested in the D23 Expo will also be able to purchase tickets and attend without being D23 members. However, membership does has its privileges. For example, at the D23 Expo, members will have early access to the floor every day and have access to special D23 member only merchandise and events. Clark also spoke of sub-communities such as the Disney Movie Rewards Club, Annual Passholders, DVC, etc., that will be able to offer exclusive opportunities to D23 members. Of course there’s the opportunity to buy exclusive merchandise. While there are some items already on display at the D23 Boutique on DisneyShopping.com, Clark offered the potential of future replica items such as the snowglobe from Mary Poppins or the letter blocks (as pictured in the magazine) along with prop replicas from other movies such as Tron and the Black Hole.
Clark also gave a hint of what’s to come on tomorrow’s episode The View in which Whoopi Goldberg visits the Disney Archives and ends up offering a rendition of Big Al’s Blood on the Saddle.
Walt Disney Imagineering Ambassador and Disney Legend Marty Sklar talked about D23 as a way to communicate and involve fans and allow them to become a larger part of the company than they already are. He described D23 by quoting Walt Disney’s dedication to Disneyland – ‘”To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land.” This is your Disney for the fans.’He dismissed the merchandise aspect, indicating that the intent of D23 is not to just hock merchandise but tounite Disney fans through the D23 events. He spoke about writing articles for the first two issues and how he’s assembling a panel of Imagineers for the D23 Expo. Naming the National Fantasy Fan Club (NFFC) by name, Sklar talked about being a fan of all of the unofficial conventions and that he anticipates D23 to peacefully co-exist with them.
Disney Archivist Founder and Disney Legend Dave Smith also briefly spoke, providing a history of official and unofficial Disney fan clubs throughout the years, starting with the first Mickey Mouse club in the 1930s, the second in the 1950s, the Magic Kingdom Club and the Walt Disney Collectors Society. Here, D23 stresses once again, that the key difference between it and its official predecessors is that it operates from the top-level down. It’s all encompassing Disney, not just individual units offering special services on their own.
For more information about D23, check out the official website at Disney23.com