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D23 - First Timer's Perspective from a Family With Little Kids

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  • [Review] D23 - First Timer's Perspective from a Family With Little Kids

    My wife and I were thrilled at the prospect of attending the 2013 D23 (Saturday the 10th) convention this year because it was the first convention that we would be attending with our two daughters (6 & 2yrs). We attend Comic Con religiously but we always either get a babysitter or just swap a single pass back & forth while one or the other watches the kids, which has helped out a lot budget-wise. Comic Con is no place for small children because of the crowds and because the way that the displays are designed people never look lower than eye level and that's resulted in people knocking over strollers, stepping on kids, etc.

    The first thing we noticed about the Anaheim convention center is that there is plenty of on-site parking and despite parking in lot 4 it still wasn't that bad of a walk to the main entrance. The next thing that impressed me was that there were organized lines of people waiting to get in and everyone was in a jolly & anticipatory mood and generally pleasant to hang out with. The staff doing the crowd control handled things very well and the event planners even arranged for staff to hand out lanyards and plastic pass holders.

    When we got into the show floor I was amazed by the size of it. The San Diego Convention Center is extremely long but is not very deep, which means that booths tend to horde real estate and that leaves little room for a walking path. This is why you'll often see pictures of people packed uncomfortably like sardines in Comic Con photos. But the Anaheim Convention Center is much different in that it is almost as wide as it is long, and that's a good thing for crowds. D23 only took up about 60% of all the available floor space yet it never had that "sold out" feeling. Going from place to place pushing a stroller around was no problem at all, and my 6 year old was happy that she didn't have to hold our hand the whole time as there really wasn't a crowd for her to get lost in.

    Booths were run by the staff exceptionally well. In the morning the Parks & Resorts booth only took 15 minutes to get into, about 25 minutes for the Tomorrowland booth, and 10 minutes to get into Mickey's of Glendale & the Dream Store. These are wait times our kids could easily handle given they usually wait with us for 45 minutes or more to get into their favorite attractions. My daughters were treated really well by the booth staff and especially the imagineers who did not bypass my daughter for being a 6 year old and instead invited her to the front of the demonstration nearly everywhere we went in the Parks & Resorts booth.

    My wife does all the shopping and had nothing bad to say about the experience. She did wait however in a 45 minute line for the Disney Store but clearly it was worth it judging by all the great stuff she brought back. Her favorite store was the dream store because there were artists peppered all over the place and she got to meet a few and get some autographed pieces. I heard in a pre-event thread that lines to check out last D23 were horrible because merch wasn't bar coded but thankfully this year they were and there was little to no wait to check out. The collector's corner wasn't her favorite because people were tightly packed in, a spitting image of Comic Con's collector's floor. She wanted to stop by some booths to get a closer look at their pieces but there wasn't much room to do anything so she skipped out.

    I was dreading the Arena events (Disney Legends Ceremony & The Sherman/Menken Concert) but for us they were a must-see. I had flashbacks of Comic Con seeing fights break out over spots for Hall H, and this sort of thing happens over and over every year. So when I saw that the big events were going to the arena I put on my skeptics hat and kept a weary eye out for the drama. But really it was FANTASTIC! There were several access points to the queue for the Arena which was great given that my wife & I would exchange kid-sitting duties while waiting for our event. You waited in a big air conditioned hall and if that wasn't enough you sat down on carpet that had like an inch of padding underneath it!! At Comic Con nearly every big hall event you have to wait outside, sometimes in the July sun, and the only soft place to put your butt is on the grass in the planters that are full of ants. If you asked the staff whether you'd get in or not they would look at where you are in line and be able to give you a yes or no. While waiting around there was a HUGE empty area of carpeted nothing that the kids ran around endlessly which was proved to be great later on when in the event the 6 year old sat calmly and watched intently to the performances and the 2 year old took a nap.

    Oh.. and last thing, there are family restrooms everywhere!

    So was there anything negative that happened? I guess I should mention that if you're the type of parent that gets nervous around other people who look at you like you're strange for bringing your kids then D23 might not be very comfortable for you. It's funny to me because I get the same looks at the park from people who just can't stand that I would bring a stroller to Disneyland. The awesome thing is that the staff were totally kid friendly, many of whom wen't out of their way to make sure our wait times weren't uncomfortable and would make sure the kids had all the freebies they could give out to them. The highlight was when a rep from the InfINity booth pulled my 6 year old out the line a little early so she could get her demo & free character, in all fairness we did wait in a 40 minute line prior to that. Really good Karma was in the building.

    Overall D23 2013 was a great event for us! We definitely will be back in 2015 with the kids. If there was any highlight (I mean besides the arena events, the Parks & Resorts booth, and the InfINity thing of course) to put a big spotlight on I would give it to the event staff, the guys and gals in red. The reason why is because they were the ones who really helped keep the good vibe of the event going by being polite, and professional, and respectful of the fact that we helped pay their salary. I can give you ten pages of the horror stories that I have about "Elite Security & Events" and how they run Comic Con, they are quite literally the exact opposite of what I saw in these D23 workers and I was really blown away.

    So that's my review, feel free to ask any questions or share your experience. I hope you all had a great time as well and had at least a few memorable moments.
    Last edited by G24T; 08-12-2013, 11:49 PM.
    Many Bothans died to bring you these fastpasses.

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