Scheduled to begin at 10 am, the address by Disney President and CEO Bob Iger actually began at 10:30 am. Although it was clear by the fact that the 4,000 seat Arena was still having guests being ushered in after checking all cameras and cell phones and being wanded by security, it wasn’t until Iger took the stage that he declared the popularity of the address the ultimate cause for the delay. Popularity is a major understatement as well as although the address was set to begin at 10, D23 Expo guests came to the Anaheim Convention Center as early as 4 AM to wait for the doors to open at approximately 6:45 AM, only to immediately go wait in another line to enter the Arena.
The presentation began with a powerful video that really underlined the expanse and reach of The Walt Disney Company. Not just the conglomeration of individual divisions, but how the company is experienced by people the world over (indeed I learned that there was a reporter from Russia covering the event). The titles quickly formed the sentence ‘Every Minute of Every Hour, Someone is Experience the Disney Difference’ (or somthing to that effect) and flashed through snippets of productions past and productions yet to come in all mediums. The film ended with flashing The Walt Disney Company over and over in different languages.
Then Iger took the stage and talked about the birth of D23, how he would constantly have guests ask him why there was no way for Disney to reach out to its customer base and how a visit to the Walt Disney Archives became the catalyst for D23. He talked about how only a company like Disney could have the type of fan base that would enable them to pull off a convention like the D23 Expo.
Crediting it all to the fans, Iger talked about being a fan of Disney himself as a child. A brief mention of the Mickey Mouse Club quickly transitioned to a lengthy ode to Davy Crockett. Anette, he said, was cute, but she had nothing on Davy.
He introduced a film consisting mostly of clips of Walt with images of various Disney films, both old and new, spliced in. The film ended with the D23 manta, a quote by Disney himself: ‘It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell.’ To which Iger embellished upon, addressing each of the major divisions of the company.
He then spoke briefly on Marvel as the Disney and Marvel logos loomed above his head on the large center monitor: ‘I like that,’ he comments, before talking about the similarities of the Disney and Marvel companies, both being creatively driven, both appealing to the masses and transcending all possible barriers.
For the next half hour we were then treated to the first third of the upcoming Walt Disney animated clasic, the Princess and the Frog. With a temporary score and about 80% of the footage complete (the rest was shown as essentially not colored in), Iger made everyone promise that they’d go see the rest of the film upon its release.
In an attempt to avoid any spoilers, I can honestly say the first third of the film is definitely charming and had a couple of plot points I was not yet aware of. There were two full blown musical numbers in all which were just awesome to watch (one from Tiana and one from Dr. Facilier). Throughout the entire presentation, I could only think to myself ‘it’s about time.’
Immediately following the presentation was a brief, but incredibly spirited performance by the film’s star, Anika Noni Rose (who had just come off a case of bronchitis according to Iger, although you’d never know it from the performance).
Iger then brought Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle to the stage and talked about the long-standing relationship between the Walt Disney Company and the City of Anaheim. We were even treated to footage of Walt Disney being interviewed about Anaheim and talking about how the success of Disneyland allowed a small town to invest in a brand new baseball stadium and how they were even starting to build their own convention center. According to Iger, the timely clip had only recently been discovered a couple of weeks ago.
The pair were then joined by Mickey as Iger talked briefly about the Disneyland Dream Suite and made the announcement that prior to the panel, they had placed an envelope randomly under one of the chairs and the person sitting on top that envelope would receive a night’s stay in the suite this evening. The winner was a man from Murietta, CA named Dan whose father was once a sweeper at the Disneyland Resort.
And with that, the address ends, turning into a ten minute intermission prior to the start of the Disney Legends Ceremony. And that, is a whole other article.