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Was the D23 Expo a bust? Share your thoughts

#1 User is offline   surfpark 

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 12:17 AM

No one has really reported how well D23 Expo turned out. Sure, Disney made a lot of announcements, but was it well attended? MiceAge.com is reporting that Disney kind of tweaked numbers on opening day by shipping over cast members from the parks to fill seats during Iger's opening presentation: http://miceage.micec...z/al091509a.htm

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But it wasn't just the leaks that had D23 planners feeling blue, it was the extremely weak ticket sales going in to opening day. Just a few days before the Expo opened they had sold just under 5,000 of the multi-day tickets to a combination of D23 members and non-members alike. Seeing the very weak ticket demand by late August, they opened up a free-for-all of 5 dollar tickets for Disney employees in Southern California and their families to try and boost attendance, if only to give the appearance of bodies in the convention center halls for the attending media. Thursday dawned with a small rush of Expo attendees, most of whom made a bee-line to two specific elements; the Parks & Resorts Pavilion and the Disney Pin Trading zone.

TDA was in a frenzy to bus over as many Anaheim employees as they could find on Thursday morning to try and fill in the few thousand empty seats in the big Anaheim Arena for Bob Iger's kickoff presentation, and it worked wonderfully to help fill in the gaps. (Four hours of pay, free admission and lunch didn't hurt ether.) But even a busier Friday still had Expo attendance measured only in the thousands, instead of the several tens of thousands that Burbank had once projected would attend each day. The Expo floor on Thursday in particular often had more employees working than paid attendees wandering from exhibit to exhibit.

Luckily, the masses of Disney fans living in the Southern California megalopolis helped boost the Expo by descending in big numbers on Saturday, helped in no small part by Johnny Depp's highly promoted surprise appearance the day before. The weekend attendance soared towards 20,000, although there were many Disney employees from Burbank, Glendale and Hollywood and their families who couldn't get down to Orange County earlier in the week to use their 5 dollar tickets. Sunday was just a touch lighter.

There is no current confirmation from Burbank that another D23 Expo will be held next year, or any future year, as they try to quantify if they got their money's worth out of this. But it would be a shame for them to write off the whole concept after debuting it in a steep recession and with not much advance warning. Now that we all know how truly entertaining, expansive and lavish something called a D23 Expo is, Disney fans from around the world will want to plan a trip to Anaheim to see it for themselves and be a part of the fun.


20,000 isn't a big turn out. To put it in perspective, Dragoncon gets about 30,000, Anime Expo gets around 40,000, and ComicCon & CES (consumer electronics show) both get about 100,000 visitors. It know their older shows (some at bigger venues), but you have to wonder if this is considered a success in Disney's view.

Disney really showed that this is more like a huge press junket than a convention. The purpose of Magic Meets and Mousefest have always been about the community. The main draw was people, discussion, etc. D23 Expo seemed to be more prepared, with only official employees speaking at events. Disney's attempt to include vendors and try the "mickey mouse club is for everyone" thing seem kind of tacked on. Was this a it a glorified press junket? Was it more? If you've attended, I'd like to hear your opinion. If not, tell me if you'd ever go to a Disney expo in the future.

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#2 User is offline   darthstich 

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 02:18 AM

For the very first one, i think 20,000 was indeed a good number, with the others having gone on for years. I think it could gradually grow in size and may eventually rival comic con and the others
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#3 User is offline   IndyandMarion 

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 08:11 AM

Internet Community, listen up! If an Expo is in it's first year, never expect a giant end all turn out!

Any expo I have ever seen in it's first year all ways has that "You go first" bet feel to it. It's like, you want to go, but not sure if it will be good or not, so you want a friend to do it first and have them report back on it.

Honestly, it's great to see all the displays that they had out. I think it was great. In reality, it seemed to be that it's a glorified press conference we see a few times throughout the year. This day and age on Tweets (Which I hate saying) and mobile updates via iPhones and so on, I do not feel the need to spend money on a membership for a four issue magazine that will "announce" stuff I saw online confirmed two months ago. Then to spend more money on an expo (Not including airfare and hotel) to see them announce things that I can easily sit at my computer for a few minutes hitting the reload button and see that "Wow, fantasyland is getting a nice upgrade".

I know there are people who would love to go to D23 but that is my feeling on it. Next year, I'm sure we'll see the amount of people increase simply to see what they can do with it (Now that we have gotten over the "You go first" phase). Movies will be the big announcements next year (Since all the big name movies start coming out 2011) and I'm sure we'll see updates on things announced at this years expo for the parks.

We'll see. This can either continue on a Not So Scary Halloween Party level or fizzle like the Pirate and Princess Party did.
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#4 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 10:46 AM

I just don't know what next year would bring in terms of the level of announcements made this year. Sure, they could rattle off new films but in terms of the Disney Parks stuff, they can't announce projects of the magnitude that were mentioned this year.

I'm still not convinced D23 is worth the money. The Expo alone doesn't do much for me, simply because it's only one part about the Disney parks (I don't care about the other aspects of D23 like the tv channel or films or memorabilia) and it's an additional cost on top of the $75 for membership. Just my 2 cents.
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#5 User is offline   surfpark 

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 01:03 PM

I kind of feel the same way. Last year Apple said they would no longer attend the MacWorld Expo because they didn't want to have to schedule announcements around a certain date. I'd imagine Disney will have a similar attitude when a supposed date comes and they are in the middle of planning something. Today Apple sticks to their own type of press conference.

Also, trade shows and expos are notoriously over-covered in the digital age. There are very few shows someone has to attend anymore to get the news. D23 made its rounds in the blogs and I got to see almost all the pavilions and exhibits there were. I also got to see video of most of the speakers, just by looking for it online. Since D23 Expo really wasn't about the people that were attending, I didn't miss much.

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#6 User is offline   Jeanine 

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 07:27 PM

I went and I thought it was amazingly fun. I can imagine that if you didn't have an interest in seeing the talks or seminars, then it would probably be a bust, as the "dealers room" equivalent didn't really take a whole bunch of time to see, but the speakers they had were really entertaining and informative, and I enjoyed all of them. The talk with Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry about their Peter Pan and Kingdom Keepers books was hilarious, as was the showing of vintage color Disneyland films with Tony Baxter narrating. The panel discussions with the Imagineering Legends and Pixar were terrific, as were the big announcement presentations.

On the whole, I think it's sort of clear that D23 is a legacy organization: If you're not really impressed with the history/creation/production aspects of the Disney company, then it's probably not your bag. As a rule of thumb, you could probably ask yourself "would I be wowed by the idea of Richard Sherman playing piano and singing Disney songs live in front of me?" If the answer is "nah," then I think you can safely skip the Expo. Personally, the only complaint I had about it was that so many of the talks were scheduled simultaneously, and the lines to get in were so long that you occasionally had to limit the number you could attend.

I would definitely attend next year, assuming they have another.
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#7 User is offline   YoPaulie 

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 07:46 PM

View Postsurfpark, on Sep 22 2009, 01:17 AM, said:

20,000 isn't a big turn out. To put it in perspective, Dragoncon gets about 30,000, Anime Expo gets around 40,000, and ComicCon & CES (consumer electronics show) both get about 100,000 visitors. It know their older shows (some at bigger venues), but you have to wonder if this is considered a success in Disney's view.


20,000 for a year one, compared to Dragoncon (22 years old), Animé Expo (17 years) Comic Con (35 years, and the first had 300 people) and CES (42 years)? Those comparisons actually point to the OPPOSITE conclusion. Those are not just "older shows", those are established mainstays.

I would bet a large sum of money that next year gets closer to 30,000, and is better operated.

I don't have to wonder if this is considered a success... I'm pretty confident that it IS.


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#8 User is offline   YoPaulie 

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 07:50 PM

View PostQuickGold, on Sep 22 2009, 11:46 AM, said:

I just don't know what next year would bring in terms of the level of announcements made this year. Sure, they could rattle off new films but in terms of the Disney Parks stuff, they can't announce projects of the magnitude that were mentioned this year.


What makes you say that? Remember there are 11 theme parks worldwide. All in all, they could announce these things every year.

View PostQuickGold, on Sep 22 2009, 11:46 AM, said:

I'm still not convinced D23 is worth the money. The Expo alone doesn't do much for me, simply because it's only one part about the Disney parks (I don't care about the other aspects of D23 like the tv channel or films or memorabilia) and it's an additional cost on top of the $75 for membership. Just my 2 cents.


I agree with you, if you're only interested in the parks. I'm interested in the company as a whole, the films, books, parks, etc. I'm a BIG fan of the quarterly publication as well.

By my math, here's the breakdown:

$75 membership fee
- $16 per quarterly magazine
-------
$11

Now, for the Expo, a 1 day pass was a $7 discount for adult ($5 for child), up to 4 admissions. The four day pass was a $21 discount ($15 for child)

So, the D23 membership could save you and your friends and family up to $73 on the Expo (4 adult 4-day passes $21 each -$11 remaining on the subscription fee)

In my opinion, if the Expo is something you plan to purchase tickets for every year, AND you're getting the magazine each time it comes out, it makes financial sense to get a membership, since it saves you money.

I know a lot of folks are not enthused about the Mag, so likely a D23 membership doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I wanted to put the finances out there for others. I'll likely never get to go to the Expo, but the $11 is worth it to get the quarterly (which I am VERY interested in!) delivered to me, and I'm enjoying the patches and posters, etc. as the "free gifts".


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#9 User is offline   YoPaulie 

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 07:53 PM

View Postsurfpark, on Sep 24 2009, 02:03 PM, said:

Last year Apple said they would no longer attend the MacWorld Expo because they didn't want to have to schedule announcements around a certain date. I'd imagine Disney will have a similar attitude when a supposed date comes and they are in the middle of planning something. Today Apple sticks to their own type of press conference.


One HUGE difference, though. Macworld was never run by Apple. It was an attendee, sure, but it never EVER was run by the Apple company.

D23 is run by Disney, operated by Disney, and scheduled by Disney. As a part of a Fortune 100 organization myself, who deals with press releases on occasion, it can be frustrating to work from an externally generated timeline. Disney can set their own calendars for announcements by the annual D23 Expo; which can actually make things easier when it comes to corporate strategy and announcements.

Just my 2˘.

But the Apple/Macworld thing doesn't equate.


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#10 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 10:54 AM

Great points Jeanine. As I mentioned earlier, my affinity for Disney is mostly the Disney parks. Sure, I enjoy a Disney film but there's a lot that doesn't appeal to me but that's just me and I'm okay with personally not going for it. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the experience and it was worthwhile for you.

Paulie, it sounds like you're more of a collector than I am. In that case, I think there's added value for you. My own opinion is much of D23 is built around the premise of selling you things such as pins and other collectors items and for many, that's okay. Since I don't collect that sort of stuff, there's less incentive for me. I guess what "irks me" is that D23 was billed as a fan community, yet I'm seeing it more as another venue for selling things to its members and I haven't seen any real community aspects beyond perhaps the Expo to some extent.
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#11 User is offline   YoPaulie 

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 06:17 PM

View PostQuickGold, on Oct 2 2009, 11:54 AM, said:

Paulie, it sounds like you're more of a collector than I am. In that case, I think there's added value for you. My own opinion is much of D23 is built around the premise of selling you things such as pins and other collectors items and for many, that's okay. Since I don't collect that sort of stuff, there's less incentive for me.


Possibly; my collections are mostly park pins and books. And movies. I'm 100% in agreement with you that the D23 Boutique seems to be pretty pointedly and obviously a moneymaking venture.

View PostQuickGold, on Oct 2 2009, 11:54 AM, said:

I guess what "irks me" is that D23 was billed as a fan community, yet I'm seeing it more as another venue for selling things to its members and I haven't seen any real community aspects beyond perhaps the Expo to some extent.


I agree with you here as well... I've sent in a couple comments and gotten ZERO feedback from D23. There is very little community. I DO appreciate the one-way direct communication from the company.


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#12 User is offline   MJMcBride 

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:56 PM

View PostQuickGold, on Sep 22 2009, 10:46 AM, said:

I just don't know what next year would bring in terms of the level of announcements made this year. Sure, they could rattle off new films but in terms of the Disney Parks stuff, they can't announce projects of the magnitude that were mentioned this year.


I hope you're wrong but I know you're right

I am still hoping next year's D23 will bring the announcement of the Russia Pavillon at World Showcase and the beastly Kingdomme
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#13 User is offline   YoPaulie 

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 11:19 PM

I think you can give up on Beastly Kingdom.

As for announcements, well, What if they roll out the announcement of the completion of Pop Century? Or the replacement for Pleasure Island? I think that, plus some design for Shanghai, maybe another tidbit for what is coming to DCA... I don't think the company is in any trouble for announcements anytime soon.


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