You may have heard about D23, the official Disney fan club, but perhaps you’ve never bothered to join. After all, if you’re already a Disney fanatic, what can it possibly have to offer?
One of the biggest perks of being in D23 is being able to go to the events. There’s a huge annual expo, but that’s not the only event. For example, D23 came to Walt Disney World on November 22 and 23 for Destination D Attraction Rewind. You may think you know everything about Disney, but have you heard it live and direct from the mouths of Disney legends? If not, you can have that incomparable experience at events like this.
I had the great pleasure of covering D23 Attraction Rewind and heard about what it was like to work on World’s Fair Attractions from the people who actually did it. I spoke to Jack Gladish, the Imagineer who brought Mr. Lincoln to life in groundbreaking Audioanamatronic form, and chatting with the likes of Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, Jack Gladish, and Bill Sullivan.You can see all the panel interview participants in the photos on this page.
Walt Disney died when I was only two years old, but it was truly a geek moment to talk to men who had worked hand-in-hand with him at Disneyland and Disney World and on the World’s Fair project.
The event also featured memorabilia from the World’s Fair like banners, records, Moldarama figures, and even an irradiated dime. It’s amazing to see those old souvenirs, many of which are very rare because so few were saved over the years. There were also figures from the archives like Figment, Mr. Toad, and a horse and pig from World of Motion.
You can even go shopping for goods straight from Mickey’s of Glendale at the pop-up store. Just be warned of two important things. First, the wait to get in, and then to check out, will be long. Second, if you’re a true Disney fanatic, your credit card will be red hot and smoking by the time you leave.
Photos and video aren’t allowed in the presentations, so the only way to see them is to actually attend the event. You’ll hear personal stories of working with Walt, see rare archive photos and videos, and hear recordings. I especially loved the concept art for what might have been at the Coke pavilion if the soft drink company had taken Disney up on its ideas…which bear a very close resemblance to what became the Enchanted Tiki Room. Speaking of the World’s Fair, did you know that it was due to Joan Crawford’s pressure that Pepsi stuck with sponsoring It’s a Small World?
You might even see a never-before-released clip of an upcoming movie. In this case, it was a scene from “Tomorrowland,” accompanied by a fascinating talk by art director Ramsey Avery on the intricacies of the film’s set design and the challenges of recreating the 1964/65 World’s Fair. I was shocked that that part was almost filmed in Kissimmee, at the Tupperware World Headquarters! Amazingly, there was little to go on in terms of photos of the fair and even plans for Disney’s own attractions. The movie had to wing it with the boats for It’s a Small World by using information on two later incarnations.
I also heard stories that personalized Walt as a warm human being, not just a larger than life personality. You’ve got to love a man who had a bar stashed away under one of the seats of his private plane!
If the ability to attend events like this sounds enticing, visit the official D23 website for more details on how to join. There’s a free membership if you’d like to dip in your toes, or go for the Gold if you’re ready to plunge right into the pool.