D23 Event Report
Jeff in Orange County
Note: I do include a major spoiler from the film at the end, ye be warned
I had planned this back in September when I purchased tickets at the expo. There are several "it was not worth the money" opinions out there and I wonder if they were at the same event that I was. Albeit that I may have been so geeked at just being at the studios that I missed all the negative stuff.
Since we live in OC and the heavy travel day before Thanksgiving we left OC about 2:30 and had a couple of hours extra in the Burbank area. So we did something I have wanted to do for a long time. Visit ...
The light was fading near Sunset when we found the Private garden off to the left of the huge mausoleum building at Forest Lawn, Glendale. It is small dignified and private, very much like Walt's private life. It was somber but a fitting overture to the evening, as we moved on to the studios that is such a tribute to Walt's life work.
The D23 Event
We arrived at the event, parked in the Zorro building and checked in. Got our popcorn and soda and lined up to march over to the theater. The wait was about a half hour in what was evidently the Prop House.
There were several props in the room to gaze at.
We were marched over to the new theater to see The Film (We had to check our Cameras and Cell phones similar to the D23 event). I had a ball chatting with those seated near us. The lack of children would have been unusual for a Disney film in a Cineplex. In fact the theater seemed full of us Adult Disney Geeks! It was cool being with my peeps.
The Film and Musker and Clement
As a treat for us D23'rs Melinda (from Archives) introduced John Musker and Ron Clements the directors of the Film. (plus Great Mouse Detective, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Treasure Planet) The duo were quite gracious and revealed a couple insider factoids about the film. (Look for Aladdin's Carpet being shaken from a balcony seconds before the title frame). They also reminisced about mixing the sound of the little Mermaid in this stage about where row L is now.
Then came the film. (I was surprised that they ran NO trailers beforehand, but went directly to the film.). I feel F&G is VERY GOOD and ranks among Disney's hits. The character of Tiana plays perfectly and the story flows smoothly around her and is powered by her. Great storytelling. In fact the ability to suspend belief and leap into the story was immediate. The film's animation was beautiful and eye popping at times, but seldom were you sucked out of the story by the "oooh that's cool" moments. I do tend to tire quickly of Randy Newman's work and I miss Alan Menken's grandiose yet catchy style, but after seeing the film the soundtrack is much more lovable. Yet the film may lack a parade/show anthem that people come into Disneyland or the play humming. Just a thought (Plus ...Ummm , just put the single from-the-next-big-pop-teen-artist .. last on the soundtrack like you used to do. Some traditions are worth keeping) The films villain, Dr. Facilier, is a pretty bad voodoo sorcerer , evil and greedy, although he does have one of the best songs of the film.. The film does have an emotional punch that was a bit of a surprise, hence the spoiler and my exchange with John Musker. Ye be warned again..
After the Film we were shuffled off to the attraction bldg and to line up for the Tour of The Walt Disney Studios. I would have paid the 50 bucks just for the tour. Perhaps it means more to me when this holy grail has been out of reach for most of my 49 years.
Our tour began with Emily (the guides were from Disneyland)She took us as quickly as she could thru the lot, pointing out Stage One and the water tower as we went.
The Old Animation building highlight for me was pointing out Frank and Ollie's office. Of course the wall displays were to die for and concluded with P&F display. The original artwork in the very building where it once was created was chill bump worthy.
Next came the courtyard of The Team Disney Building and The Disney Legends Plaza .What a thrill.
Its the only place where you can actually press the brass with a couple of legendary statues.
And walk amongst the legends.
We got so excited here that we were left by our 1st tour and got absorbed into the next one.
Next came the Frank Wells building. (He was key to Eisner's early success in my opinion)
Inside, to the right of the Starbucks is the Holy ground of the Walt Disney Archives. (Just let me have about a couple years here please..)
The displays are top-notch. (I especially like the Hats off to Disney display)
The original multi-plane camera was a jaw dropper too.
As we were wrapping up, our guide pointed out the window of Walt's old working office on the walk back. it was mentioned that although Walt's office is replicated in WDW, the original at WDS has been used and reused many times since his death. Now it is just one of many production offices on the lot. Walt would have wanted it such as he was very practical in most ways one of the guides said.
My conclusion on the tour was that yes it was in the dark, also it was too short and lacked the hours of depth that I would have liked. but I wouldn't have missed it for anything. To be in the same space were history is made is remarkable and doesn't come that often in life. Places of historical personal significance are fairly rare for me, Gettysburg battlefield, The Roman Forum and My Family's old home Farm and Cemetery are on the short list. The Walt Disney Studios ranks among them for me.
The Attraction has been commented on elsewhere and it appears to be similar to what is in New York's engagement with a few carnival like games, Archive displays , and a Princess Palooza.
The Princesses were nice and remained in character. I did have to confess my undying devotion to Aurora. (It was the whole barefoot in the woods, thing when I was 5.. sigh)She aptly pointed me back to my wife of 25 years, who is very tolerant of her Disney Boy.
We got one of Kodak's free Green Screen Photos'
Did I mention it was free? Well done Disney..
Some Archival displays here
One of the gifts from the evening was a commemorative lithograph, which most everyone lined up to have signed by John Musker. He patiently greeted each guest and posed for photos.
We were towards the end of the line at the end of the line, in fact they had turned off the soundtrack and sent the princesses on break by the time we made it to him.
I had had a brief exchange with him earlier as we had exited the theater after the film. He and John Clements stood in the lobby afterwards and received a lot of kudos and well wishes for the film. I did have to say "I can't believe you killed Ray!". Ray, the Cajun fire-fly , is one of the more sympathetic characters off the film and he does get squashed by Dr. Facilier and dies in one of the most touching scenes of animated history. John Musker grinned and said that they really had to talk John Lasseter into it and it almost didn't happen. We agreed that it lent gravitas to the story and is key to the heart of the storyline.
When it was our turn for the signing and photo we had the "Oh you were the guy that said.." moments.
He signed my lithograph "To Jeff, All the best (& yes we did kill Ray) .
Now that's a collectible.