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.