July in California is known to have hot weather all around. This summer month has always been the San Diego Comic-Con month where nerds from all around the world descend on San Diego to celebrate all things comics, pop culture, and the nerd’s resolve to hunt for exclusives, camp out for panels, and dance the night away at a nerd party. This year was different for me and my family because Disney’s D23 Expo happened to be 1 week before SDCC, so naturally, we opted for a visit to Anaheim to check out this convention. And it was a lot of fun!
I was able to go all 3 days with my 3-year old son and it was very different than San Diego Comic-Con. I enjoyed that the focus was on Disney and Disney owned brands like Star Wars and Marvel. And thought the exhibit floor set up was done well. Course, I’m an SDCC veteran and I just felt out of place really. I guess I’m use to the chaos and packed central walkway of the San Diego Convention Center but that’s not saying I didn’t enjoy this Expo, I actually did and hope to attend in 2 years. But maybe since it was my first Expo, I felt like a newbie and that’s a feeling I haven’t felt at a convention in a long time.
Some of the highlights of my first Expo include seeing Stan Lee and Mark Hamill in the Dance Party parade as grand marshalls just driving by in their respective buggies. As a huge nerd and Star War fan, this takes the cake because they were feet away from where my son and I were!
[parade video / pics]
Another highlight was seeing the model for Star Wars Land presented by the Disney Parks group along with the Disney Imagineers. I chatted with an Imagineer and we both were just stoked that this was happening! The scale of this land is amazing and I can’t wait for it to be built and fully realized. I grabbed a Galaxy of Stories pin and shirt to support this great effort and as a reality check that my nerd dreams were coming true!
My son lit up when we turned the corner of the Pixar booth and came in view of full sized Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez, and Jackson Storm! It was amazing and we snapped pics in front of all of them. He loves Cars and his first movie theater experience was watching Cars 3.
Again, I’m a huge Star Wars nerd and so when I came across Andi Gutierrez who hosts The Star Wars Show at Lucasfilm in San Francisco, I geeked out a bit. I was pushing my son in his stroller near the Emporium area when I spotted her with her camera crew and a lady who looked like the actress from FX’s The League who plays Shiva and it the turned out it was the actress, Janina Gavankar! She happens to be the voice actress for Iden Versio in Battlefront 2 and it made sense she was with Andi because they probably were going to film a segment or something. But I caught them both just standing around at the Expo and no one was freaking out about it! I had a similar experience volunteering at the first Image Comics Expo in Oakland a handful of years back and was surprised to see Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead and honorary founder of Image Comics, just walking around Artist Alley. Apparently no one realized who he was, so I just went up to him and snapped a pic! I did the same with [name] and Andi! Random celebrity sighting & pic: achievement unlocked!
The last highlight, amongst many, was meeting the talented James Silvani who I commissioned to draw me a Princess Leia. That’s one thing that I really missed at this convention, the dedicated area just for artists. I usually am chilling in Artist Alley during conventions and maybe that’s why I felt out of place because I enjoy talking to artists and discovering new ones to follow and support. But chatting with James as a lot of fun!
Overall, the Expo was fun but definitely is going through growing pains of becoming more popular. With the inclusion of Star Wars and Marvel, the attendees have gone “SDCC” by starting to line up almost a day in advance for the coveted panel or signing wristbands. I get it because this is what most people don’t realize about conventions: the dedication (and sometimes, craziness) of the fans. I get this way too! But in order for this Expo to become a staple for people’s convention schedules, they need to step up their line management game. As I write this post, I’m reading the negative tweets of how San Diego Comic-Con’s line management is and it’s bad people. This Expo can really do more for their fans by figuring that out and maybe pave the way for other conventions to follow.
Will I attend in 2019? Yeah, most likely. Not sure if I’ll attempt to do 3 days but I think it may be part of my rotation of conventions I attend. I’ve switched focuses to apparel exclusives (and pins, of course) over actual figures and such since I know I’ll wear the shirts or hats I purchase. I guess I’m getting older and more adult-like. Ha, it was bound to happen or I just figured that I have no more space to display awesome stuff! But for those who are looking for a fun filled convention aside from the usual pop culture ones, check out Disney’s D23 Expo. Now that Star Wars and Marvel are under Disney, there’s more to love aside from being a Disney fan. And growing up here in California, Disneyland was a yearly tradition that I’m continuing with my 2 kids. Plus, you’ll always be a kid at Disneyland! Trust me!
*ALL IMAGES WERE taken from my camera except the cover Photo (FOUND VIA GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH)
Have you attended a D23 Expo? Have any awesome stories to share about your experience? We’d like to know! Please feel free to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page here or Instagram page here or our Twitter page here.