In 2013, my husband and I went to our first D23 Expo in Anaheim. Earlier that summer, we also attended our very first convention, San Diego Comicon. We felt like we had enough knowledge to strategically see everything we wanted to, and make the most of it. Here are my tips for D23 Expo first timers and veterans alike:
- Stay nearby! In 2013, we stayed at the Best Western Plus Stovall’s Inn. This Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel is approximately 6 walking minutes from the Anaheim Convention Center. The proximity allowed us to be more flexible throughout the day. If we wanted to grab a bite to eat, or lay down for an afternoon nap, it was totally feasible without cutting into our Expo time. I know it’s a little further from the parks to stay at one of the convention hotels vs. a Disneyland specific hotel. It took us about 15 minutes to walk to the Disneyland main gate, which is typically further than we usually stay, but the focus of this trip was making sure we were well positioned for the D23 expo, not necessarily just to go to the parks. Don’t worry! We went to the parks pretty much every day after the Expo closed its doors.
- Grab a bite outside of the Convention Center! The food at the Expo? Blech. The food was at best mediocre and at worst highway robbery. For a 5 minute walk you can get a decent meal for half the price. Some recommendations I have from my 2013 Expo experience are Tiffy’s, Marri’s Pizza and Pasta, (Both on Katella) Alerto’s Mexican Food and Pizza Press (both on Harbor towards Disneyland Main Gate.)
- Prioritize! This is a big one. There are so many great events happening at the Expo, it makes it so hard to choose! Familiarize yourself with the schedule of events and be realistic about which ones you have to see. Want to go to the big panels in Arena D23 each day? That’s fine, but prepare for lots of waiting in line prior to getting into the Arena. In 2013, we waited in line for 6 hours to get into the live action panel in the D23 Arena. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Our main priority was seeing Alan Menken perform with Richard Sherman (also in the large Arena.) We blocked off our entire afternoon and night waiting to get in, so Saturday was pretty much a wash for us to see any other panels. Again, WELL worth it. That was a once in a lifetime moment and by far my favorite concert I’ve ever attended. In 2013, they implemented a system called StagePass tickets. Think, FastPass for D23 Expo. This pass would allow you a more expedited entry into some of the larger panels. The StagePass is not valid for the Arena Panels. With the StagePass we got to see Undiscovered Disneyland with Tony Baxter in 2013, that’s where Tony was told he was getting a window on Main Street! I know other people we met at the Expo were more excited about the exclusive merchandise and didn’t really care about the panels. The lines to get into the shopping areas are LONG. Which brings me to my next point…
- Be Patient! With EVERYONE. I know, it’s hard, and there are a lot of crowds. People have been sitting in line forever and tend to get cranky. We are all here because we love all things Disney! Who knows, you could meet a friend! Also, be patient with the coordinators. This one is especially hard. It’s been a huge critique of the Expo that they are not well organized and have no clue of what’s going on. This may be true, but try to be patient. Most of the employees working the convention are not Disney cast members.
The D23 Expo has so much to offer for Disney fans. And this year will not disappoint. Think of all the new park news, Marvel, and oh yeah, a little movie franchise called Star Wars? I know I’ll be there with bells on. See you at the Expo!