6 D23 Expo Tips For a First Timer

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Before you know it, the 2019 D23 Expo will be here. If packing up and heading to the west coast is on your horizon, you want to check out these 6 D23 Expo tips for a first-time convention goer.?


D23 Expo The Ultimate Disney Fan Event logo


After spending the 2015 D 23 Expo in a state of wonder, I was hooked.

There were things that worked and didn’t at 2015 D23 expo, but I knew this lover-of-all-things-Disney needed to be there again. And I’ll confess: my tickets were bought the moment they went on sale.

So yup: D23 Expo 2017 happened and it was amazing.

The D23 Expo Animation panel blew me away with Wreck it Ralph 2 footage.

And I might still be dead – I’m not kidding- after all the Marvel Avengers: Infinity War cast showed up on stage at the D23 Expo Live-Action Panel.


Marvel Avengers: Infinity War cast on stage at D23 Expo 2017


D23 Expo 2019 tickets aren’t on sale just yet; and the D23 Expo schedule hasn’t been announced either.

Heck- we don’t even know what the D23 Expo 2019 dates are going to be!

But I can promise you: you want to go. If you are a big ol’ Disney nerd: make it happen!

Are you as excited as I am? If this is your first D23 Expo, ?there are a few things you need to know.


6 D23 Expo Tips For a First Timer

I was completely unprepared for 2015. All of it.

Here’s hoping these tips will make things a little smoother for your first D23 Expo experience.


In 2015, I showed up around 9 am on Friday to discover I was late to the party. Way late.

But- it doesn’t start until 10 am, right?


But tell that to the folks who start lining up the night before. Oh yeah, they totally do that.


D23 Expo Tips for the first timer: picture of crowd lined up and sleeping on floor

The overnight crowd. I joined this crew around 3 am early Saturday morning to make sure I had a seat in the Live Action Panel.


I discovered this fact after wandering through a maze of lines trying to get inside for the first panel. The outside folks? Yeah, they weren’t committed. The peeps already inside: legit commitment levels there.

They had chairs, food, pillows and portable phone chargers and had spent a sleepless night on the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center basement.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, come early and plan to hang in there.

Sleep will happen on Monday.

I brought a backpack with a?lightweight chair, some protein bars & 3 phone chargers.

For the 2017 D23 Expo events, overnight lines started queueing up at 10 pm on Thursday and Friday.


D23 Expo Minnie Mouse signage from 2015



As any Disney-goer will attest, have a plan before you go.

Maybe not a minute by minute itinerary but a basic plan is a must.

I had NO plan.

But I did have friends.

And they took pity on me and answered my panicky texts with a moderate amount of eye rolls.


friends at d23 expo basement Tips for D23 Expo


In 2017 I traveled with friends & fellow bloggers and one of them created a super detailed plan for us.

It worked. We rocked the D23 Expo and enjoyed every second of it!



Leave the kiddos at home if possible. Now, hear me out. I know it’s Disney and this should be a family thing! It’s totally kid-appropriate, but I can’t say it’s kid-friendly.

I love mine. They love Disney.

But this would have been a special kind of hell for them.

Ask yourself: do your kids like standing in line for hours? Possibly in the sun? Without easy access to food, water, or bathrooms?


Outside the convention center Lines at the D23 Expo in 2015 D23 Expo tips


If the answer is yes, your kids are rock stars. And possibly not really kids (check those birth certificates!).

If the answer is no: just don’t.

There were a lot of strollers on the expo floor, so I know many people don’t agree with me here. But if you can find a sitter, or send the kids to Disneyland with Grandma, I think you’ll be able to maneuver through the crowds a little better.

If you do bring the kids: they get a discounted ticket and kids under 3 are free.



Rolling solo can be great, but you may find the buddy system a better option.

Since the biggest time suck here is waiting in lines, having a friend to pass the time or hold your place in lines is completely worth it. So recruit someone to go with you.

If that fails: we are all Disney people here, which means you’ve got a friend in line.

Pass time by chatting with those around you and who knows, you may end up with some great stories to share!



Expect the unexpected.

Whatever you think is going to happen, probably will, but in true Disney fashion, it’s going to be plussed.


D23 Expo Disney Legend Johnny Depp on stage accepting award


Johnny Freaking Depp was a surprise addition to the Disney Legends award ceremony in 2015. As you can imagine, people lost their ever-loving minds.?

He even threw a little Captain Jack our way.

As in, he showed up the next day at the Live Action Panel AS CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW.


Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow on D23 Expo Stage

D23 EXPO 2015 – D23 EXPO, the ultimate Disney fan event, brings together all the past, present and future of Disney entertainment under one roof. Taking place August 14-16, this year marks the fourth D23 EXPO at the Anaheim Convention Center and promises to be the biggest and most spectacular yet. (Disney/Image Group LA)


It was – dare I say it?- magical.


I know it’s trite and overused and lame, but it simply was. How many people can say they saw Captain Jack- the real deal- in person? One lucky audience member even had grapes thrown at him. I mean, how cool would that be?

And that, kids, is why I can’t quite see out of my left eye…?


During the three-day event, I walked by famous Disney Imagineers, iconic Disney Legends, and listened to some favorite actors and actresses talk about their love of all things Disney.


Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde meeting fans on D23 Expo convention floor


Ginnifer Goodwin said we were her people.

The Rock told us we were ?aiga (family).

John Lasseter thanked Bob Iger. Bob Iger thanked George Lucas. Ellen DeGeneres stormed offstage…

And I’ll never forget this blue sweater. Ever.


Anthony Mackie , Chris Evans blue sweater, Kevin Feige on D23 Expo stage

D23 EXPO 2015 – D23 EXPO, the ultimate Disney fan event, brings together all the past, present and future of Disney entertainment under one roof. Taking place August 14-16, this year marks the fourth D23 EXPO at the Anaheim Convention Center and promises to be the biggest and most spectacular yet. (Disney/Image Group LA)


So freaking cool, y’all.



Well— it was in 2015, anyway. 2017 was another story.

It was pretty crowded that last day in 2017.

However— 2015 told a different story. So consider Sunday just in case it turns out to be less crowded.

After 2 days of amazing panels, many people slept in or simply skipped the Expo on Sunday.

I found it to be the perfect day to attend, to shop, to check out the exhibits, and to sing along with a Snowman and a Princess from Arendale.


Krsiten Bell singing on stage at D23 Expo Frozen panel

D23 EXPO 2015 – D23 EXPO, the ultimate Disney fan event, brings together all the past, present and future of Disney entertainment under one roof. Taking place August 14-16, this year marks the fourth D23 EXPO at the Anaheim Convention Center and promises to be the biggest and most spectacular yet. (Disney/Image Group LA)


It was my favorite day of all three thanks to the lower crowd levels.

Friday is exciting because everything is so new. Saturday offers fantastic panels and information and the cosplayers are ON POINT.

So basically: don’t miss any of it. My plan is to save Sunday for the majority of my expo floor exploring & shopping experience.

Want some more tips? I have 23 Things to Know Before the Next D23 Expo for you to check out as well!

Have you been to a D23 Expo? Any thoughts on your first time??


D23 Expo tips for a first timer. Things you need to know before you hit the Anaheim Convention Center!

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  • Will you hold my hand in 2017?

  • April at RunTheGreatWideSomewhere says:

    Looked like you had an AWESOME time! Maybe I’ll see you there in 2017!!

  • Rachael says:

    I have done the expo for the past 3. My first one it was much smaller than what it is now. you are so right though you have to have a plan. The past 2 times I have done the sorcerer package because I hate standing in line and want to DO IT ALL 🙂 It is magical though and so cool seeing all the celebrities. Ginnifer Goodwin was really cool though, she is our people!!!

    • patty says:

      I tell you what, about 15 minutes into this whole weekend I realized that the Sorcerer Package is THE way to go if you want to see it all! Basically the only way you can see it all since your seats are going to be held for you!

  • ninergrl6 says:

    Thank you for this. I’m attending my first D23 — solo, at that — and I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it. I’ve been to many other cons but nothing on this scale. I need all the help I can get!

    • Patty says:

      I won’t lie- there’s a LOT going on there. But try to pick the 2-4 panels you MUST see and make plans around those. Everyone was super nice, which was helpful! Gotta love Disney people. <3 Have fun!!!

  • Anita says:

    This was a great article. I’m in San Diego and going solo and was wondering if I could pay someone to wait in line for me till i get there. Do people need tickets just to wait in line?

    Thanks so much for all the helpful hints.


  • Hayden says:

    Hi there and thanks for all of the great tips! I attended D23 for the first time as press for my blog in 2015, so i was able to get right in the morning. This time however, I’m going with a girlfriend and will be waiting in the normal entrance line for general public.

    If we want to get in on Saturday to see the “Power of the Princess” panel at 10:30am, what time do you recommend we try getting in the general admission line? Do we need to camp out the night before? Or can we get there at like 5am in the morning? Any and all info is truly appreciated!

    Thank you in advance!

  • Allison says:

    This will be my first time going and I can only go one day. What day would you suggest? Also, does Disney release a schedule of panels and events?

    • Patty says:

      Well, that’s a hard one! Friday and Saturday traditionally have the “big” panels that most people are interested in. And Sunday is a bit more low-key. So it depends on your tastes! Saturday is by far the most packed day. And yes, a schedule will come out, but it will be much closer to the event. 4-6 weeks out.

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Patty Holliday

If she isn’t chasing her four kids around Northern Virginia, Patty is chasing four bars on her phone to share her authentic and fun stories on social media and her blog, My No-Guilt Life. She’s also one half of the Marvel Moms, an online community for discussing the Marvel fandom. You can catch up on her runDisney fun at No-Guilt Disney.

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