The 2015 D23 Expo can only be adequately described with this one word: EXPLOSIVE. As a major Disney fanatic, I’m still picking up the pieces of my blown mind after all the incredible moments from the convention. Here are 7 moments that gave myself and Disneyphiles everywhere life this weekend.
If you’re a true Disney fan, attending the 2015 D23 Expo was like coming home on Christmas morning: the excitement was palpable, you were surrounded by family, and you were showered with gifts. From the announcement of TWO Star Wars theme parks to a surprise appearance by Johnny Depp, the Disney convention gave hand over fist to fans who love the House of Mouse. Here are the 7 highlights that couldn’t be missed!
7. The first big announcement of the weekend lived up to it’s name: Gigantic, a brand new animated adventure from Disney, is the story of Jack and the Beanstalk told in the Disney way by director Nathan Greno. The film is still in the early stages, but the story of an unlikely friendship between Jack and an eleven-year-old girl giant named Inma nearly floored the crowd. And if that didn’t do it, the surprise of Frozen songwriters Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez being brought on-stage to perform their original song “My Little Man” from the film did the trick.
6. Directors John Musker and Ron Clements finally gave fans a first look at the next Disney princess, Moana. Joining them was none other than The Rock himself, Dwayne Johnson, who plays demi-god Maui — and the former wrestler was just a pile of mush when talking about voicing the Disney character. The team also brought a piece of the music, performed beautifully by musical director Opetaia Foa’i and his band Te Vaka.
5. Speaking of performances, during the presentation for Finding Dory, Ed O’Neil made a surprise appearance to introduce his new character, Hank the Octopus. But the real surprise was hearing him sing a few bars of Marvin Gaye‘s ‘Let’s Get It On’ on a dare … before then debuting the world premiere of his first scene with Ellen DeGeneres‘ beloved blue tang Dory! It confirmed waiting over a decade for a sequel to Finding Nemo was worth it.
4. Closing out the weekend, fans of Frozen were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime musical treat, during the Frozen Fandemonium musical presentation. Not only did songwriters Bobby and Kristen Lopez perform demos and never-before-heard cut tracks from the film, but stars Kristen Bell and Josh Gad surprised the audience to with several show-stopping performances. Oh, and it snowed in the theater during a rousing sing-along of ‘Let It Go.’ I mean, it doesn’t get much more magical than that.
3. Toy Story is still king! John Lasseter confirmed Toy Story 4 in a big way on Friday, revealing the beautiful, romantic plot of Woody’s quest to find his long lost love Bo Peep. He was followed by the legendary Randy Newman, who performed a special version of ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’. But if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday’s Parks & Resorts presentation, it was announced that the flick is getting it’s own land in Hollywood Studios in Florida. Doesn’t get any better than that!
2. JACK IS BACK! Wait, we knew that already — but who better to remind us than Johnny Depp, who arrived dressed as the dastardly pirate at Disney Studios’ live-action film presentation to celebrate the release of the fifth ‘Pirates’ film, Dead Men Tell No Tales. While seeing Jack Sparrow in the flesh was exciting, the real delight was the confirmation that Orlando Bloom will be returning as Will Turner! THANK DAVY JONES FOR THAT!
1. Indisputably, the highlight of the convention was the MASSIVE announcement from Disney Parks and Resorts that — wait for it — Star Wars Lands are on the way, in both Disneyland and Disney Hollywood Studios in CA. The experience will take fans of the Star Wars franchise to a galaxy far, far away in what is already being toted as one of the most immersive and authentic theme parks ever to be built. While fans have a loooooong wait ahead of them, the concept art shown of the Catina, Tatooine and the Millennium Falcon ride (!!!!) ensured that wait will not be in vain. For me, I’m hunkering in just so I can FINALLY find out what blue milk tastes like! (Watch your back, Butterbeer!) Oh, and did we mention Harrison Ford was there for the announcement?
And that’s that, Hollywoodlifers! What announcement had you jumping up an down this weekend?
— Dina Sartore-Bodo