We made it! After months of waiting and anticipation D23 Expo 2017 has arrived! We came down the Thursday before Day 1 to make sure we were settled and to get an idea for how we wanted to tackle this big event. First step: checking out how the convention center was going to be set up before we had to do any actual lining up.
It became clear that there would only be one set of doors as an entrance. Although the convention center is pretty much lined with doors we knew there would be tightly controlled entry. The bigger question: if we found the main entrance where would the actual line be?
There were a number of helpful event staff around to answer questions and guide visitors. We learned fast that the folks in solid blue polo shirts were non-Disney convention staff, despite the Disney name tags. If you had a Disney-specific question you needed to find someone in a suit or a striped shirt (kind of like the outdoor vending costumes at Disneyland). Those were Disney employees. The confusion at D23 Expo is that not everyone there is with Disney. The nuts and bolts operating is run by a convention company, while the content is Disney.
There were a few signs set up to guide guests to their correct places. One we saw first was the queue for those who had snagged a Sorcerer’s package. These coveted tickets run upwards of $2,000 with gifts, guaranteed seats to panels, pre-convention access to show floor retail, and an exclusive lounge. This price doesn’t include hotel and travel so you can imagine this is not for the average guest. While we were scoping things out the Sorcerers were inside shopping and meeting VIPs.
We also saw a sign directing VIPs. A lot of people affiliated with Disney and the entertainment industry were expected this weekend, so it’s no surprise they needed their own line.
The Anaheim Convention Center staff kindly left out ice water and cups for guests who were already queued up for the next day. Why were they in line already? They were waiting for seats to the Legends Ceremony Friday morning. Every D23 Expo begins with the inductions of individuals who have been selected for Disney Legend status for their contributions to the Disney Company and the Disney legacy. This year included such luminaries as Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby (Marvel Comics), Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher (Star Wars. We still miss you Carrie! You’ll always by my princess/general!), Oprah Winfrey (television, film, and publishing), and many more. The ceremony is always amazing but this year promised to be very emotional, with quite a few deceased inductees.
Overnight lines have been unofficial for a while but Disney and the Anaheim Convention Center have tried to make things easier and safer by opening up the basement queue (aka Hall E) starting at 10pm for those who wish to wait overnight. This means you can sleep indoors with access to restrooms, security patrolling to make sure guests are safe, and even a concessions stand open all night. Everyone in the group must be present in line (no saving spaces) and everyone entering will receive a wristband to prove they were there early in case they need to leave Hall E. Guests were also reminded that anything they brought in with them needed to be able to be carried around since they would not be given the opportunity to check items such as chairs and inflatable mattresses the next day before the presentation. These were dedicated, hard-core fans. Busy Bumble and I may join them in the future, but with this being our first Expo we valued a bed more than the presentation.
There were a number of outdoor exhibition items already on display. Folks had a lot of fun taking pictures of and posing with Cinderella’s glass carriage.
As we headed back to our room we found the main queue! Taped to the ground were the telltale switchbacks of a queue leading to the longest row of metal detectors I have ever seen. Were they really going to use all of these at once?
In retrospect I’m glad we took the time to check things out the night before. We knew where to go, what to expect, and even got an idea of how crowded it would become if a quarter-mile line was already forming at 7pm for a presentation at 10am the next day.