Woohoo, it’s finally here…D23 Expo week! I am heading out to California bright and early on Wednesday morning so I’m in the middle of packing and making sure I have everything I need. This will be my 3rd Expo, which means I’ve seen it all – from the surprise appearance of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in 2009 to the crazy lines in 2011. I don’t know that anyone can ever be an “expert”, but I feel like I’ve learned a good deal about how to make the most of my Expo experience, so I thought I would share a few tips with you.
1. Plan, plan and plan some more – My very top tip for the Expo weekend is to make sure you have a plan of attack. There is SO much to see and do that if you don’t have a good plan ahead of time, you’re going to be overwhelmed once you get into the convention center. Luckily, the D23 team makes it pretty easy to come up with a plan. Take a look at the entire weekend’s schedule on the D23 Expo site OR download the D23 Expo app (available for iOS and Android devices). Whether you’re going to be there all three days or just one day, there will be plenty to keep you busy, so find a couple of things you know you want to do and plan the day around them. Keep in mind that the arena presentations are always VERY popular, so if you want to see one of those sessions, plan ahead and know that you will be standing in line for a good amount of time.
2. Take advantage of StagePass – New this year is StagePass – similar to the FastPass idea in the parks, StagePass allows you to “reserve” a spot for sessions in either Stage 23 or Stage 28. There are some limitations on how many StagePasses you can get each day and the sessions they’ll be available for, so if you’re interested in one of the Stage 23 or Stage 28 presentations, make sure to check out all the StagePass details on the D23 Expo website.
3. Save time for the Expo floor – Yes, there’s a ton of great sessions to choose from, but I highly recommend not packing your day so full that you don’t have time to visit the Expo floor. Lots of Disney divisions, including Disney Parks and Resorts and Disney Consumer Products have big pavilions to walk through and this year, the Imagineers are bringing Imagineering to us – all to celebrate their 60th anniversary. There’s going to be a ton to see just in the Disney pavillions alone, but don’t forget that there are also booths from some Disney partners like Huffy, Mattel and American Tourister. And, don’t forget about the Collector’s Forum, where all sorts of Disney collectibles and memorabilia will be available to peruse and purchase. Some of the Disney fan forums, like MiceChat, have celebrity appearances scheduled for their booths, so keep an eye out for those too! You can see the entire Expo floor map in the D23 Expo Guide, available on the website.
4. Meet people - The D23 Expo is a huge event and it’s full of people who have something in common with you – a love of Disney! Take the opportunity to chat with the people around you – in line, before a session, wherever. You may find some great new Disney friends. Colorado Dad and I met a few people in 2009 and then met some more in 2011. Now, we have a group of Disney friends who live all over the country and although we don’t see each other very often, we have become great friends and can’t wait to catch up at this year’s Expo!
5. Please, DON’T pack your angry eyes – When thousands of people come together and there’s a limited number of things for all those people to do, it’s an environment ripe for frustration. But, remember that everyone else at the Expo is there for the same thing you are – to have a great time. So, when you’re prepping for your Expo weekend, make sure to bring along some patience and a smile. With so many people involved, it’s probably not going to go absolutely perfectly, but just know that the D23 team, D23 volunteers and Anaheim Convention Center staff are all doing all they can to make everything run as smoothly as possible. They are NOT trying to make life difficult for you, I promise Just be patient and try to go with the flow as much as you can and you’ll have a great time!
Have you been to a D23 Expo before? What’s your top tip for a great Expo experience? If you’re new to the D23 Expo, what are you most worried about? What are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!