Disney D23 Magazine Review – Lotsa Details, Some Photos

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Disney twenty-three Spring 2009 Premiere Issue Cover
Disney twenty-three Spring 2009 Premiere Issue Cover

Thanks to a tip from a Distant Creations reader, I was able to get my hands on a copy (or two, actually) of Disney twenty-three magazine, the companion guide to the new Disney 23 Official Community for Disney Fans, or the ‘Disney affinity club,’ as CEO Bob Iger recently referred to it.

First Impressions: First of all, I hesitate to call this a magazine. It’s not at all what might first come to one’s mind at the thought. No, this is actually more of a timely coffee table book. With 62 pages of content, this quarterly periodical packs in plenty of full color photos (when available) laid out in a very contemporary fashion accompanied by some well detailed articles. Quite arty. The pages are binded with glue, not staples and the pages are of a thicker stock than traditional magazines. The cover, which features an embossed title, might as well be hardcover. Priced at $15.95, it’s a modest investment. And I almost forgot to mention, it comes complete in a plastic, resealable protective pouch.

So what exactly is D23 aside from the tagline? According to the inside cover, D23 (referred to throughout the issue as Disney twenty-three) ‘celebrates the adventure Walt embarked upon and the amazing legacy that lives on in the work of Disney storytellers, animators, film-makers, Imagineers and Cast Members around the world.’

An inset details membership into D23 and implies an annual fee, but money is not something needed to be discussed here. Membership includes a year’s subscription to the publication, membership card and certificate designed by Disney Master Artist Dave Pacheco, a ‘surprise’ collectible gift from ‘the new Walt Disney Archives Collection’ (no doubt, these are the pins that were initially displayed on DisneyShopping.com), exclusive special events and merchandise opportunities and discounted admission to D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Experience in Anaheim, September 10-13. Potential members can sign up at disney.com/D23, the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts and DisneyShopping.com as well as the Disney Store.

The Content: For the most part, the content is sure to delight any fan of anything Disney. There’s something for everyone and D23 goes out of its way to encompass as many of its outlets as possible. While some content seems dated (and I don’t mean the 1923 stories), it’s counter-balanced with things that have yet to be seen (or possibly even imagined). A couple of things do seem out of place, however, including the first article – Where In Disney? Akin to those games that many of the unofficial Disney fan newsletters have where they show you a picture and everyone races to find out where it is, this odd man out gives you a little more than a week to solve the puzzle – another three months in fact.

Disney twenty threes Table of Contents - A Hint of Whats to Follow

Disney twenty three's Table of Contents - A Hint of What's to Follow

Those who read the February edition of the Mickey Monitor or get emailed the Disney Insider (I think that’s where it was), know that Walt Disney Archivist Dave Smith talks about the Disney archives having a role and here’s where we get our first dose. Dave talks about his history with the company, starting the Archives and how it’s grown exponentially over the years, in part to his dedication to checking every nook and cranny of the Disney properties and especially to a Disney janitor.

Next is a large spread on Annie Leibovitz, the world famous photographer, which of course is only fitting given the amount of photos in the magazine. No doubt you are all aware of the series of portraits Leibovitz took of celebrities portraying Disney classic characters starting for the Year of a Million Dreams promotion. Annie gives some insight into the project, shares some on-the-set stories and covers the latest installment, High School Musical sweethearts Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in a scene from Sleeping Beauty. Included is the image of the portrait as seen below (sorry, but I intentionally blurred the image – you’ll see it when you buy the magazine). The article, as well as a couple of others, directs you to Disney.com/d23 for related content (in this case, a full interview with Efron and Hudgens).

Pages from Disney twenty-three featuring an article on Annie Liebovitz and Tim Burtons Alice in Wonderland

Pages from Disney twenty-three featuring an article on Annie Leibovitz and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Through Tim Burton’s Looking Glass is an interview with Burton about the upcoming 3-D movie (which – as he describes it – eerily sounds like a Return to Oz angle to me), features some concept art and delves into the technologies Burton hopes to bring to life on the screen.

Old news but in a new light comes into play in the next article which focuses on the Cinderella and Dream Suites at the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. In these articles, Imagineers and Cast Members talk about the suites, the design and all of the little intracasies and details that the casual observer might even miss if given the chance to explore the suites on their own. Plenty of gorgeous photos (especially focusing on the details) with the promise of more on the website.

Next up, an article on Jens Dahlmann, then chef de cuisine of the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. As a bonus treat, readers are given the recipe to Jens’ signature dish, nori wrapped ahi tuna with stir fry vegetable strudel, baby bok choy, lotus root and miso sauce.

Next UP is a several article piece on Pixar. The first piece focuses on life at the Pixar Studio as well as a tour of the facilities, followed by the obligatory article on the studio’s UPcoming release (where director Pete Docter talks about the inspiration for the film as well as the film’s message). The final segment is a sneak peek at Partly Cloudy, the short that will run before UP when it hits theaters. First-time director Peter Sohn talks about the plot of the short (which sounds irresistably cute) and its inspiration.

Then comes an article on the Sleeping Beauty walk-through exhibit that re-opened at Disneyland last year after a long hiatus. Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter talks about the inspiration and process for bringing back the attraction as well as updating it. The article also delves into the history of the attraction and its many iterations (who knew?). Interesting to note, a long standing legend that Sleeping Beauty castle was once going to be called Snow White’s castle is totally ignored here, instead it only mentions that the prospectus used to find financing for the park referred to it simply as The Medieval Castle.

Disney Publishing is up next with an article on vice president and editorial director of Disney Global Book Group, Wendy Lefkon, and Jody Revenson, the senior editor at Disney Editions. The article focuses on the role Disney Publishing plays in recording the spirit of the company both in the past and in the present.

An article focusing on the behind the scenes work of Disney Theatrical’s The Little Mermaid in terms of costume design, lighting design and technical achievements follows. The article focuses mainly on the challenges of making the sea come to life on the stage.

The Disney Brothers’ journey to success as they make their way to Hollywood is chronicled in a brief article. You kind of know how it turns out.

Marty Sklar has an article as well, although his article focuses on the winner of the company’s competition to find an official portrait of Mickey for his 80th. The article talks about the history of the official portrait first started by Walt Disney for Mickey’s 25th and how Bolt’s art director, Paul Felix, became the second ever Official Disney Portrait Artist for Mickey Mouse (or ODPAMM I guess).

Here’s where I need to inject a little disappointment. Marty Sklar is an amazing guy and has such history with the company, I think he deserved better than this (though I’m sure he was more than happy to oblige). Although the magazine does highlight specific Cast Members here and there, one thing it’s lacking is a real focus article. Why not highlight some of the Disney legends such as Mr. Sklar? The man is the only person in the world to open all 11 theme parks for Jiminy Cricket’s sake! But I digress.

Next up is another blurb which seems out of place in the periodical. It looks more like it’d be more comfortable in the latest issue of Us Weekly or People Magazine. But here it is, ‘current events’ featuring your favorite celebrities. One of the best is a picture from the Oscars with Jack Black, Jennifer Aniston and Wall-E’s Andrew Stanton. Judging by the look on Black’s face, something tells me he wasn’t kidding when he said he takes his DreamWorks money and bets it all on Pixar.

The D Society. Whats an Official Community for Disney Fans Without a Little Miley?

The D Society. What's an Official Community for Disney Fans Without a Little Miley?

Next is an article on the ‘modern day Geppetto,’ Cyril Hobbins. Hobbins is featured in a bonus segment of the Pinocchio 70th Anniversary DVD as well. The article focuses on Hobbins as a wooden toymaker and he comes to life every bit as he does on the DVD segment. Not only does he have the best name, but Disney couldn’t have dreamt up a better spokesman. Although I won’t vouch for it, this article also has a bonus feature on how to make your own marionette (crude as it may be). If it starts talking to you, please contact me and give me the exclusive.

Next up is the PHOTOfiles. Now here’s an ambitious project. Disney Photo Library Manager Ed Squair sorted through the millions of photographs on file and selected the top 100. Now the bad news: You only get to see 4. So we have about 6 more years to go to see them all (if my math is right).

Lastly is a story on Disney in the comics. Each issue will have a page of reprints of classic comics (and the first ever comic strip featuring Mickey Mouse is promised to appear on the web site).

Any questions?

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