What Worked and What Didn’t At D23 Expo

I’ve had a week to think things over after the big D23 Expo.  Some things worked for me… and some things just didn’t.

Let’s discuss.D23 Logo

If you’ll remember, I shared this post just one week ago full of excitement and promise of fabulous things to come.  And they did come- it WAS indeed a weekend I’ll rank as a top 10 coolest things I’ve ever experienced.

But it has to be noted that the Expo was not perfect.

No, my dear friends watching from home, my expo experience was quite far from perfection.  Even with the bonus of Chris Evans and Johnny Depp life was NOT flawless at the Anaheim Convention Center.

What Didn’t Work

Communication Lacked on Day 1.  Unless you arrived early (as in O’Dark Thirty early) you suffered from poor communication at this event.  Lines were everywhere.

EVERY.  WHERE.

And on the Katella side of the Convention Center, there were absolutely no signs letting you know what the lines were actually for.

IMG_9801

IMG_9804The Event Staff (not all were Disney Cast Members) seemed confused and unsure as well.  No one knew where the closest bathrooms were, no one could give a time estimate of the wait, and there was no shade, water, or other provisions for the line.  I was told 3 different things by 3 different staff members when asked what the line was actually for and almost walked away from the event altogether.

I heard it took upwards of 5 hours for all these people to finally make it into the Expo.

Shenanigans, man.  There’s no way an event like this should have that kind of poor line management.  The lines on the expo floor also had issues, and made absolutely no sense that first day.  You couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began.

Speaking of lines…

The Disney Store was redonkulous ALL weekend long.  You had a lot of options to spend your money at the Expo.  The Dream Store was one and the Disney Store was another, both had waits for most of the event just to make it inside.  I made it easily into the Dream Store with a relatively short wait.  Maybe 20-30 minutes max.

But the Disney Store was another matter altogether.

Disney Store: you failed, man.  Check out this article that detailed just how bad it was.

A friend at home asked that I check on the doll situation for her.  Sure, no problem!  I walked up to the entrance on Sunday and was quickly pointed around the corner.  And around another corner.  And… heck, y’all, I couldn’t even SEE the end of that nonsense.

And for the record: those dolls were long gone.  But no one official would CONFIRM that information, which goes back to point one about communication lacking.

Honorable Mention of what didn’t work: the trading cards.  We were given these fun trading cards when we first arrived.  And throughout the days, announcements were made where you could go and pick up another set (the idea was to collect all 30).  There were mad rushes when a new card location was announced and the crowd was not on their best behavior.  I was out after the first try.

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What Worked

Staff Attitudes were fabulous!  I am sure other attendees had other experiences that were less than spoonful-of-sugar cheery.  I get that.  But my experience was pretty awesome when it came to stressed out Expo staff.

With one exception, I encountered staff that were happy to stop and attempt to answer any question I had.  The one exception was quickly rectified when a 2nd employee, Security Staff Al, stepped in and helped me out.  I think he saw my face and knew my limits were reached.

God bless Al for saving me on Day 1.

Day 2 was very different.  Huzzah!  I’m guessing someone somewhere had a late night meeting that went something like, “We gotta fix this shizzz, Bob.”  And they did.

When I showed up super duper early on Day 2, I expected more madness.  It was surprisingly calm as the basement level filled to capacity in anticipation of the live-action movie panel.

live action D23

What helped?

Wristbands.  Simple color coded bands allowed the staff to know who was in line early and who could be allowed re-entry if they had to leave for some reason.  This made the wait so much more bearable knowing my place in line was secured even if I forgot something important in my room.

I also noticed that the lines on the expo floor had an addition to them:  staff held signs signaling the end of a line.  These signs also let you know at a glance just what the line was for!  It’s similar to the process they have at the parks (I’m thinking Haunted Mansion in particular) and it was a much-needed addition to the floor madness.

I completely noted the changes and appreciated a quick response to the issues.

Celebrities, Celebrities everywhere!

famous

This totally worked for me.  Ha!

They were onstage, they were walking the expo floor, they were in line at Disneyland.  I even ate dinner with 3 big names at an undisclosed location that just might live above the Pirates of the Caribbean.  Ahem.

Okay, so I didn’t so much as eat dinner with them as sat in the same room and breathed the same air as them.  Close enough, right?

Club 33

I’ve been to Walt Disney World and Disneyland more times than I can count, but I honestly can’t recall seeing so many famous people enjoying Disney as I did this weekend.  It was a heartwarming realization noting that they too love a good dark ride.

The D23 Expo was truly an experience like no other.  I look forward to returning in 2017 (oh my gosh… 2 whole years?!  Ack!) and have high hopes that some of the issues we experienced this year are not present.

Did you attend the D23 Expo?  What was your favorite line to stand in? 😉

Comments

  • Jen says:

    I seriously doubt I’ll go back in 2017. The bottom line for me was that I felt I didn’t get the experience I paid for. That’s on Disney. If they can’t accommodate such a large number of people, they should cap the ticket sales lower. The mess on Friday is also on them. This is not their first rodeo. They should know how to shuffle people in the door in a timely manner.
    What’s NOT on them is the attitudes I saw in some of the attendees. I was walking through the hall behind a girl who was on her phone somewhere between crying and yelling about some friend of hers who had gotten a doll that SHE wanted, and how dare this friend do that to her. I didn’t really experience the card drama, but having been to race expos, I can imagine what went down. People act insane enough trying to get stuff they pay for. When someone’s handing out free stuff? Watch out!
    There were a few good parts, and I wrote about that on my blog, but I’m just not “fan enough” to put up with the level of bad behavior and bad event management after putting my hard-earned money down. D23 won’t miss me at all, I’m sure.

    • patty says:

      I heard from previous expo-goers that this year was MUCH bigger than before. Okay- cool. But they DO know how many tickets were sold, right? I agree with you on that point. Friday was just banana pants and really needed to be fixed. They did in some areas, and that made Saturday and Sunday much better experiences.

      I feel like I got my money worth- but I’m more of the uber fan than you are when it comes to Disney. I felt the tickets weren’t too expensive (bought early with a discount) for what I got from it. I wasn’t really there for the shopping, but for the panels, and I went to 5 of them. The trade off was waiting in long lines, but the panels were 2-3 hours long, so it was “worth” it to me. I loved loved loved what I learned there (and the Frozen sing-along was a lot of fun!).

      If nothing new had been announced and nothing new was shown as far as the movies are concerned, then I’d have a different take on it. But the Civil War trailer alone made me REALLY happy.

      I don’t think this event is for everyone, though. And I would not suggest hauling kiddos out there unless they are easily entertained with hours of waiting.

  • Kimberly K says:

    The lines were very organized “downstairs” early on Friday morning with wristbands and all, but once we got upstairs, I had a similar experience as you and had been waiting hours. It’s like they walked us upstairs and left us without pointing out which doors were even open to get on the show floor. Once inside, I saw two lines. Staff had no idea what they were for. I asked people in them and both said Disney Store. 2 lines for same place? I overheard staff complaining that someone screwed up and now yes, there were 2 lines going to the same place. Very disorganized. That being said, once I focused on all the great stuff and people I was able to see, and let go of my disappointment and frustration of what I couldn’t, I had a really great time.

    • patty says:

      People were WONDERFUL in the lines! I think a lot of people went in with that attitude and it made a world of difference. Ouch on the two lines upstairs though. Grrrr

  • Rachael S says:

    This was my third expo second as a sorcerer and I doubt I will go next time. The experience just wasn’t the same, “insider” info was stuff die hards already know. I don’t feel I got my money’s worth at all. Disneyland didn’t disappoint though we had a great time at the parks!

  • Rochelle says:

    We had a so so time at the Expo this time too. This was our second and we had planned on doing the Sorcerer’s Package but when the price went up $1000 from last time and we had to buy for 4, we decided it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t see the outside line on Friday because we went to Hall H at 4 a.m. to get in line for the Legend’s Ceremony. I did not like the hall where they had the big events. It was flat and the back rows were too far back. Friday night, my daughter and I camped out in Hall H beginning at 10 p.m. so we could get into the live action presentation. It was a great presentation! My back is still telling me it may not have been worth it though. Chiropractor tomorrow! We attempted to get into the 3 stores on the showroom floor, but only got into 2. Each time we went to check on the Disney Store it was at least 2 1/2 hours. With the waiting in line for the panels, we didn’t have the time to spare.

    My major problem with D23 this year and to a small degree last time, is that this is supposed to be a Disney fan club event for its members. I have been a member since D23 began. I pay my membership fee each year and expect special events throughout the year, whether I can go or not. The Expo should be about its members, not the general public. It is a slap in the face to those of us who pay membership fees in good faith that the events for D23 members will be either strictly for members, or have a limited public sale of tickets. There were too many people at this event for it to be enjoyable. It was difficult to even walk around the showroom floor. We will think long and hard about going again. Its a shame, because what we could get to was great, but there was too much we couldn’t do because of the ridiculous lines.

    • patty says:

      I think people really need to know just how crazy the lines were. You could not do a whole lot based on the times needed to wait. It was intense!

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Patty Holliday


Patty is a 40-ish mother of four living in Virginia. A bit geeky, sometimes sarcastic, lover of a candid confession. She's trying to love running, she swears. But much like her marathon, it’s taking a very long time. Ahem. She's searching for the perfect way to balance family, work, travel, and fitness. Perfect defined as high on fun, low on guilt.

TMOM Travel Writer