D23 Expo 2013 – What to Know Before You Go!

If you’ve been reading Disney blogs, twitter, facebook or even instagram lately, you know that the D23 Expo is almost upon us! As you know, I am attending for my second time, and my fourth time at the happiest place on earth, the Disneyland Resort. This year, D23 has made some big changes in the way the Expo works, in response to guest and fan feedback from past Expos. Because of that, and the large amount of first-timers I’ve seen commenting online, I thought I would put together a D23 Expo 101. Here I’ll share my own personal tips and tricks, as well as get some insider info from D23’s own Jeffrey Epstein, who was nice enough to speak with me the other day and give me the run down.

D23 Expo

What’s New:

In listening to guest feedback, according the Jeffrey Epstein, the biggest issue D23 worked to improve upon was capacity. As a result, they have doubled the size of the Stage 23 venue to 2000 seats. The Stage 28 venue also has an increased capacity and the Arena now has a 2000 seat overflow theatre, with closed-circuit live streaming of all Arena events. In addition, they have created a “StagePass” for the Stage 23 and Stage 28 sessions, similar to a FastPass system. We’ll discuss more about StagePass in a moment.

Additionally, D23 has added 2 concerts this year, of course the amazing combo of Alan Menken and Richard Sherman, which is a dream show for all Disney fans. There is also the Broadway and Beyond concert which is sure to thrill attendees and fans of Disney’s Broadway productions. Also this year, Imagineering is celebrating its 60th anniversary and has decided to showcase the creative process that fascinates so many who love the Walt Disney Company. Sunday will feature a full day of Imagineering panels, offering a look behind the scenes, which guests so often want to see. The full D23 schedule is available online and with the D23 App, which we’ll also discuss below.

StagePass: 

When Stage Pass was first announced, there was a little confusion about how exactly it worked. Well our amazing pal Jeffery has given us the facts on how Stage Pass will work for us. Similar to a FastPass within a Disney Park, StagePass is free, and available on a first-come-first-served basis for sessions taking place after 11am in Stage 23 and Stage 28.  StagePass is not available for morning sessions before 11am. Here’s exactly what to do:

StagePass

For a session after 11am, line up with your activated D23 Expo credentials. Decide which session you want to get a StagePass for. Jeffrey recommends you have a second and even third choice because there will be a lot of people doing just what you are. Then if you want to get back in line to obtain another StagePass for a session after 3:00pm, you may do so after 12:30pm.

TIP: Also similar to FastPass in the parks, if you have activated credentials for other members of your party, you may bring them to obtain StagePasses for them as well. This will come in handy as you plan your Expo day. Someone may be waiting in line for a morning session, while someone else is in line for StagePass, letting you attend a later session with a guaranteed seat.

Unfortunately, StagePasses are not unlimited. When they are gone, they are gone, and that probably means that particular session will not have any seating. You are able to wait in a stand-by line for sessions if you do not have a StagePass, but you have to decide if that is a good use of your time, with no guarantee of seating. If you have a StagePass and still want to get a seat up front or center stage, you should probably still line up  with a good amount of time to try and get a preferred seat location. StagePasses are for general admission seating and do not guarantee a particular seat location. Good luck!

What’s the Same:

Well, simply put, the lines and waiting. You will wait in line. You will probably miss out on some sessions you really want to see. It will be crowded. That is just par for the course with any convention and the D23 Expo is no exception. What’s also the same is LOTS  of magic compressed into 3 days. Despite all the lines and waiting, you will have fun – it’s Disney! You’ll find the same great Walt Disney Company info and some great exclusive shopping too!

Surprises:

In addition to the larger venues and StagePass, the Show Floor is also expanded, offering even more ways to explore your favorite Disney interests and have fun. Roam the Collectors Forum to see your favorite Disney fan folks, websites, and vendors. Check out the latest from Disney Interactive, Disney Consumer Products, the Disney Channel, and more! As Jeffrey says,”the Disney Channel viewers of today are the Disney Geeks of tomorrow.” I love that quote, and it’s true! There are some great family options at the Expo and while fans of Disney history and news may not be heading there as our first choice, the fact that the Expo offers such great opportunities for all ages, is wonderful.

The biggest surprise may be finding something you never expected to enjoy. If you can’t get into a session, don’t think of it as a loss, think of it as a way to see something you never thought you would. You just may be happy with where you end up. I’ve heard there will be a fun Virtual Scavenger Hunt announced during the Expo, and don’t forget the amazing alternate reality game, The Optimist, which has been playing out online and in person over the past month or so, and may culminate at the Expo. Be sure to visit the Disney Cartography booth on the Show Floor and visit Wallace for more info!

TIP: Head to the Disney In-Home Entertainment section of the Show Floor to see the latest in Disney home entertainment releases…and…enjoy the free charging station! 

If you are looking for some unique things to check out, ESPN is joining the Expo for the first time this year and will feature their moving film The 99ers. The Disney Citizenship booth showcases 30 years of  VoluntEARS and attendees become an honorary VoluntEAR. Also be sure to check out the Once Upon a Time Q&A session, hosted by Jeffrey Epstein. Be sure to say hi and thank him for speaking with us here! He promises the content they are sharing in that session is NEW and unique to the Expo. I can’t wait!

Jeffrey also let us know there will be a few other surprises and reveals sprinkled throughout the 3 days…so keep your eyes and ears open!

Must Do’s:

If you do nothing else, (and you should have already done this if you’re attending the Expo!) download the D23 App for your mobile device. It has tons of fun and important info for your Expo experience. You can plan your schedule, take and edit silly photos, and so much more. During the Expo, the app will be pushing live info and updates to us. Sweet!

D23 App

Hopefully this gives you a little more idea of what to expect when you walk through those convention doors. Plan, prepare, but keep an open mind for changes or plan B’s (or C’s). You know, just like a Disney Parks vacation!

Huge thanks again to Jeffrey Epstein for taking time out of his insanely busy schedule to share with us here. It is an amazing amount of work to put together these Expos and as a fan, I am so appreciative of the opportunities D23 gives us to learn and share more about the company and the magic we all know and love.

{ P.S….If you are arriving early to the Disneyland Resort for the Expo, my great friend and fellow blogger Nicole of SparklyEverAfter and I are having a meet-up on Thursday night! Join us at Disney California Adventure’s Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe on Buena Vista Street at 7pm on August 8 for some sparkles and Starbucks! We’d love to share a coffee with you and chat! If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by! }

Sparkles and Starbucks





About Suzannah Mitchell

Boston girl living and blogging in Walt Disney World's backyard. Mom of 3, coffee addict, oh and Princess of course!