Friday, September 18, 2009

A Disney Experience You Couldn't Imagineer, Part I

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please keep your hands and arms inside the blog at all times.

Once upon a time, there was a Disney fan who traveled to a magical place and experienced adventures she could never have dreamed of. She walked among people of "her kind." She waited in line with them. She dined with them, in line. She shopped with them, in line. And she talked with them about all the things they had in common, all while waiting in line.

For those of you who are line-waiting averse, this might seem like your vision of hell. But for a Disney fan, lines are part of the experience. For me the line-wait adds something special to the experience. It puts the queue in quintessential. It's the best way to observe people, meet people, and talk to strangers...and to find stranger fans than these, you'll have to go to Comic-Con, where you're bound to see some of the same people, not coincidentally.

By now you might be thinking, "Hey, let's get on with the blog! We're tired of waiting to read about what the heck you waited in line for!" (~sorry~)

"C'mon everybody, here we go-o-o-o-o!" (That is a Peter Pan reference, by the way, for those of you who only read the book.)

Welcome to D23 and the D23 Expo.
What is D23? The D stands for Disney. The 23 stands for 1923, the year Walt Disney Studios opened. It's a fan club. But more than that, it's a Disney fan club. To be honest it is a Disney geek club. And I'm proud to say I'm a charter member. You can be a charter member, too, if you sign up in 2009.

The D23 Expo was billed as "The Ultimate Disney Fan Experience." Oh bo'ee, was it ever. I really had no idea what I was in for. It exceeded my expectation to such a degree that I'm almost afraid to go next year, for fear it can only disappoint, now that my expectation level has been raised so high.

The Anaheim Convention Center is across the street from the Happiest Place on Earth (Disneyland, for those of you who...oh never mind, just try to keep up.) This was the venue for the first-ever ultimate Disney fan experience. And even though I was this close to "The Park" I never set foot on the happiest hallowed ground on Earth. Didn't need to. Didn't have time. I was with my peeps and I was happy. Granted, I did get a little sleepy, grumpy and dopey by the end of the day. Goofy, maybe. Bashful, never. I made friends and had an absolutely amazing time.

Disney got it so right I will never underestimate the power of Disney Magic again. I'll even go so far as to suggest they administer the Obama health care plan--all the way from design, to marketing, to distribution, to fulfillment. As opposed as I am to SM (Socialized Medicine) I think the Imagineers could find a way to serve up this vat of Kool-Aid, and have America smacking their lips in gratitude. And now, back to our story.

I started ~gulp~ pin trading. I became a collector of Tinker Bell pins at this event. The whole pin trading thing kind of eluded me until the expo. Then I was surrounded by it, immersed in it, and swept away by it. I don't know what happened to me, but I suspect Pixie Dust. This morning I actually put my pins in a display case. Well, not my Tink pins. My Tink pins are on my Tink lanyard. I have a Tink lanyard, for Peter's sake! What the?!

I was able to resist the Vinylmation craze, thank god. If you don't know what I'm talking about here are a few pictures of these highly collectible rubber dolls, which until this expo I had never even heard of.

Left to right they are blank white, Kermit, Oopsey, Pick Me, and Ham and Eggs. They are 3 inches tall, but also come in 9 inch sizes. And a 5 footer painted by Disney artist-of-much-acclaim, Noah, sold at the D23 auction for $4400. People go nuts for these things. And not just Japanese folks who really go for this strange kind of animation that is, to me, weird, borderline creepy. So I bought just the one...which does not constitute a craze. In my defense I only bought the D23-Members-Only-Exclusive-Limited-Edition one that you can get today-only, but not unless you have the special-voucher-that-you-can-only-get-if-you-are-in-line-at-6-am, or, until-such-time-as-they-become-available-to-the-non-voucher-holding-public (which turned out to be at 4 pm that day), otherwise, you're going to have to wait until tomorrow, where you can buy-as-many-as-you-can-afford on eBay. I will never sell mine. Nor will I take it out of the Special-Edition-D23-Member-Exclusive tin. They're just too creepy. Kool-Aid anyone?

Enough about Vinylmation, Tink and pin trading. In my next post I will tell you who was there. It will blow your mind.

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