The 2015 D23 Expo opened last Friday with the Disney Legends Award Ceremony. I made it into the panel just as the ceremony began.
The theme for this weekend was Shenanigans being unprepared: and this was most evident in the early morning attempt to find the right line for this panel. ?I arrived in Anaheim early enough to check in at the hotel, drop off the car, and head over to the Anaheim Convention Center.
Everything seemed to be tracking until I arrived and found a massive line.
I somewhat expected the line, but the sheer madness of the crowd and confusion was not anything I thought I’d encounter. ?I kept getting texts from my friends already inside the venue telling me I was in the wrong line, but the employees and Cast Members I encountered kept repeating that I was in the right line.
They were wrong: my friends were right. ?Once I decided to go rogue and found the correct line, I was inside the building within 10 minutes.
I was floored by the experience and humbled to be in the room with so many Disney greats.
Seeing Susan Lucci and George Lucas receive their awards in person meant a lot to me. ?Both of them played huge roles in my childhood: ?Ms. Lucci as the fabulous Erica Kane on All My Children was the highlight of my summer vacations. ?George Lucas and his movies, Star Wars and Indiana Jones, are the stories of my youth. ?We played Luke & Leia in my neighborhood and everyone took a turn reciting Indy’s best lines (Snakes… why did it have to be snakes?).
After the hectic morning I experienced, I was emotionally open and let the tears flow during the ceremony.
We were treated to phenomenal musical numbers from Ne-Yo and Broadway stars Josh Strickland, Ashley Brown, and?James Monroe Iglehart. ?SWOON!
My surprise connection of the morning came in the form of the genius from Germany,?Andreas Deja. ?Deja is a 30-year animator known for his work on some of my favorite villains including Scar and Gaston.
He explained that his life can be broken into two parts: before The Jungle Book and after. ?He shared a story of a fan who I felt spoke for all of us when she told him, “Thank you for drawing my childhood.”
We were promised surprises and we certainly had one in the form of Johnny Depp.
Y’all. ?Johnny. ?Freaking. ?Depp.
He walked onstage as a surprise 9th Disney Legends Award recipient and the entire hall broke out in mad screams.
My voice STILL hasn’t recovered from the weekend.
Depp even gave us a little Captain Jack when someone from the audience shouted that he was here for a Parley. ?We loved it.
This was an experience I’ll always remember. ?The recipients were humble and many repeated something that became the theme of the weekend: they once dreamed of working with the Disney company.
As you know, a dream is a wish!
The class of 2015 recipients are:
George Bodenheimer ?(ESPN)
Julie Reihm Casaletto (Disneyland Ambassador)
Andreas Deja (Animator)
Eyvind Earle (Animator)
Danny Elfman (Musician)
George Lucas (Producer, Director, Writer)
Susan Lucci (Actress)
Carson Van Osten (Artist)
Johnny Depp (Actor)
Who is your favorite Disney Legend? ?Who would you like to see?accept the award in the future?
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)