Trip Report: D23 (& All The Other People) & Me - D23 Expo 2019 & Disneyland

kristenabelle

a funny girl
Joined
Nov 16, 2013
Yay! Almost time. I'm working through Wednesday morning and my head is so not in the game. Which is unfortunate, I'm supposed to be updating the website - not exactly a task for a wandering mind. Hee!

And you are correct: the Sorcerers are not a quiet bunch. That's why I was so trying to avoid having to go to Guest Services, both the general one and the one in the Lounge... Yikes!
Oh I feel ya - I have several campaigns set to run while I'm out, and even though I've triple checked everything I just know something, somewhere is ever-so-slightly-off.

Just checked into my flight for tomorrow - can't wait to get this party started!
 

kristenabelle

a funny girl
Joined
Nov 16, 2013
Wednesday, 8/21: (Feeling) Dead on Arrival
And it begins! (Began? Whatever)

There was work being done at my complex, so I spent Tuesday night at my parents' house. They were also my backup ride in case my 4:15 AM scheduled Lyft backed out. Luckily, it didn't -- in fact, it showed up ten minutes early 🙃

A very quick and uneventful drive down the turnpike (with a super chatty driver - bless his heart, BUT IT WAS 4 AM), and we were at EWR.

After zero wait for security, which rarely ever happens, I headed to Starbucks for my traditional pre-vacation breakfast of liquid sugar and more sugar.

**I've always moaned about how I can't sleep on airplanes, no matter what I do, and finally realized that maybe - just maybe - having a venti macchiato preflight has something to do with it**

As annoying and frustrating as United can be, Terminal C at EWR really is awesome. The food is great, the seats are comfy and all connected to power, and it's modern and clean. Can't say the same for Terminals A & B, so Jersey-bound flyers beware.

I originally booked this flight with points, so I paid about $80 to upgrade cabins to "premium plus (?)" - I had no idea what this class meant, only that it had more legroom and was exactly one row back from the door. This was my first full-week vacay in 2019, and I was going for literal broke.

Well, consider me entirely spoiled for the rest of my life. On any other plane, this would've been first class. On the dreamliner, it was second only to the lay-flat seats. (The Points Guy provides a review with pictures here, if you're curious)
  • Included breakfast (french toast or scrambled eggs) with yogurt and fruit​
  • Windows that "close" and "open" with a button, so you can control the exact shade of tinted blue​

  • A massive (to me, anyway) seatback screen with every recent movie imaginable​
  • Auto-recline and leg lift support​
  • Fold away tray table​
The man next to me was used to traveling in this section, or so it seemed, because he knew where everything was hidden and took full advantage of all the services and amenities. I, on the other hand, awkwardly flopped around as I tried to find charging ports, headphone jacks, and how to fit the darned remote back into the chair. But I had enough room to awkwardly flop, which was incredible to me. Also this:



(as an aside, most of my pictures were captured via Instagram story, hence the size/comments)

Funnily enough, the first class cabin steward was my friend's recent ex (ish? They're figuring things out). So I declined his nice offer of champagne, and waited for the inevitable text when I disembarked. He also let me use the first class restroom (which was right next to me, instead of the coach restroom 30 rows back).

After a sleepless yet pleasant flight, I hi-tailed it to the carousel, scooped up my massive suitcase, and managed to make the 9:55 AM Disneyland Resort Express by the skin of my teeth (the next one was a full hour later). My suitcase literally rolled onto the carousel as the bus pulled up, and I must've looked like a crazy person sprinting over to the street. Oh well - next stop, (Anaheim Hilton and) Disneyland!



Traffic wasn't bad, and the bus was comfy & well air conditioned. The Hilton was the third stop after the main Disneyland hotels (minus Paradise Pier), so it was a quick ride. I bought my transfers pre-trip (which was a mistake I'll explain later), but worked out really well getting to the resort.

The Hilton seemed busy, but wasn't swamped. I was a little miffed that while they had a room ready for me, they charged a $25 early check-in fee. I begrudgingly paid it, thinking there was no way I'd want to leave the park to come back and check in. But we all know what they say about best laid plans.

The room was fine. It was nice enough, but seemed worn for the rates they charged. I knew I was paying a premium for location, though I wish I had been able to score the Marriott again.

The view looked out into the walkway between the main convention center and the new North Wing, which unfortunately wouldn't be useful for me. While part of me wanted to collapse for a morning (east coast afternoon) nap, my adrenaline pushed me forward to the parks.



Can't head over to Disneyland without a traditional Expo picture!



And a Wednesday morning picture of this. I snapped this right before they were moved off ACC property and onto the sidewalk. I'd meet some of these folks waiting for Sorcerer check-in on Thursday (who were all nice in my pre-Expo interactions), and probably again during the Wildebeest Stampede (just wait) on Friday morning.

I like to take the long way to the parks, going around the resort and through Downtown Disney - security is SO fast, and I can stop at my favorite pin store. I was able to scoop up a LE Belle pin, which was out of stock a few days later.



Just a few steps later, and we're finally there! A full two years after my last west coast visit, and looking more beautiful than ever.

**While most of my journey was well documented by Instagram snaps saved to my phone, I also tried to write daily recaps in my journal. I didn't want to miss any of the good stuff that wasn't snapped up**

I was temporarily sidelined by a survey CM ("Who are you traveling with today?" "Just me." "Is anyone in your party under the age of 18?" "..."), but was able to easily buy Maxpass and set out on the day's adventures. Frankly, I'm not so sure if I needed Maxpass this trip - lines were super manageable. But Maxpass is wonderful, and I wished it worked this way over on the East Coast. Sigh.

I scooped up a Haunted Mansion pass for 10 minutes from now since today was the last day I'd be able to see it before it went under for the holiday season. Almost everything was available immediately or very shortly, so it was easy to stack passes for the afternoon.

Even though I wanted to stroll leisurely down MSUSA and stop in every single store pre-ride, my stomach had other plans:



How can something so simple be so delicious?





After shoving a classic corndog down my famished gullet, it was time for Haunted Mansion! Followed by another Maxpass for Hyperspace Mountain!

BUT FIRST - zero line for Pirates.

As in zero - no one waiting outside, near immediate boarding, and a row entirely to MYSELF. What did I do to deserve this near perfect day?? Skipped from Pirates to HM, where perfect was downgraded to great because the kid in the doombuggy next to me was taking VIDEO WITH FLASH the entire ride.

Allow me to go on a mini-rant here. Parents, if your kid is scared of Haunted Mansion, I get wanting to distract them with your phone. I get wanting to keep them calm while you enjoy the ride. I get it so much that I'm willing to tolerate a slight, soft glow from your phone screen shining on your kid's face, somewhat interrupting my experience. But when that soft glow turns into an all-out flash that completely ruins Leota's seance and the mirrored dance hall effect, that's not cool. Making your phone into a flashlight for a ten year old (at least), and not stopping them as they wave it indiscriminately isn't fun for anyone. End rant.

In an effort to boost my soured mood, I scooped up an Indy Maxpass (my favorite) while making my way over to Hyperspace (awesome, as always). I barely needed Maxpass at Hyperspace, and didn't need it at all for Indy (especially since the merge point was SUPER early). Knowing I'd save FP-less Fantasyland rides for my Extra Magic Hour in a few days, I made the game time decision to visit Galaxy's Edge after my Indy ride. I had Oga's reservations for Sunday post-expo, but I though it'd be worth seeing the land in daytime and at night.

WOW.

JUST...WOW.



I had an absolute blast in Batuu. I loved playing Engineer for a family with kiddo pilots who completely destroyed the Falcon. I loved finding all the little details, like weird sounds coming from the sewers and animatronics everywhere. I knew I'd love the land even more at night.

I know everyone says it, but I really didn't understand how HUGE the land was until I was there. Rise of the Resistance opening will spread the crowds within the land for sure, but for now it was really nice exploring and hanging out by the quieter "base" with everyone concentrated in the marketplace.

Forgive my photos of the Falcon - we were ushered directly from Single Rider to the cockpit, so I barely had any time to get good shots. I love this ride's efficiency and capacity, but I hope I get to slow down at WDW this winter and enjoy the Falcon pre-flight.













SOON.



4:00 came pretty fast, and I decided to head over to Blue Bayou a bit early. They were able to take me (which was awesome, because I was fading SO HARD). My plan was to eat, sprint back to the hotel to rest my feet for a few minutes, then come back and head directly to my Fantasmic spot.

My meal was fine - I'm more of a surf person than a turf person, so I enjoyed most of my plate. And it was good to get some veggies in. To be honest, I was more impressed with the bread than anything else - I would've eaten several loaves if i knew it wouldn't immediately clog my arteries.



Not a water view, but still pretty



Andouille hush puppies (pretty good)



HEAVEN'S BREAD.



Surf & Turf



This was...interesting. I mostly ate the cotton candy, and neglected to take my flying saucer coaster home.

I always forget how expensive the Fantasmic! meal is here, but since I'm rarely in Disneyland it was worth the great spot. And the cute butt pad they give you.



I timed myself from Blue Bayou to my hotel room door, and it took 37 minutes. Seemed quicker, but I think it's because I was sprinting - mostly from exhaustion, and partly from a creepy experience.

Working in NYC gives you really thick skin. I've been catcalled, leered at, had horrible vibes, and as a result, am generally good at keeping my guard up. As a woman who frequently travels solo, I've never, ever felt unsafe in Disney. But Anaheim isn't as bubble-shielded as WDW, and you never know what to expect (and honestly, bad stuff can happen anywhere).

I rounded the corner of the ACC when a man (no Expo tag, name badge, or other feature identifying as an official worker) said hello to me. I smiled slightly in response, and kept walking. He switched his pace to walk next to me for a bit - close enough that we could hold hands, if we wanted. I quickened my pace and readjusted my backpack. Instead of moving further away from me (the pathway between the Hilton and ACC is plenty wide), he dropped immediately behind me -- once again, close enough to touch me. I sped up again, and he kept walking to match.

At that point, I decided to enter the Hilton through the food court (barriers weren't fully up yet), hoping the more populated area would deter him from following me. As I turned into the building, he turned away and kept walking to the other end of the ACC.

I don't know why he was walking so close to me. If he thought it was funny, or has no personal boundaries, or if there's some other explanation. I do know it freaked me out enough to look for him before I walked back to the parks. Experiences like this make me angry for so many reasons, but they won't stop me from enjoying the places I love.

Anyways, after a more magical walk back to Disneyland, I sped over to the Fantasmic dining section. I usually line up about an hour and a half before showtime, but arrived exactly at 8 for the 9 PM show. Creepy dude or not, I really needed that nap, and it was worth second row seating behind a small, short child:





I am so jealous of the Pirates section, and the intimacy of Fantasmic on the River, and just everything that makes Disneyland's version so great.

Post Fantasmic & Fireworks, I walked past the (huge) crowds waiting for MSEP and back to the hotel. Thursday was officially the start of Expo for me, and I just couldn't wait.
 

OhioStateBuckeye

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
I'm so happy to be reading your report!!

It really was a great trip. Disneyland was so empty, it was amazing! I want to go back already.

I can't think of a better way to start off a Disneyland trip: POTC, HM, Galaxy's Edge, Blue Bayou and then Fantastmic!

Looking forward to reading more.
 
  • theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    Just a note for future visits: your BB F! cushion works great at D23 Expo! We doubled up (2 each) to sit on the concrete -- easy to carry, lightweight, and not too bad to sit on all day. They fit perfectly in the Expo tote bags. And it was nice to find another use for them -- and, of course, another excuse to go get more!
     

    kristenabelle

    a funny girl
    Joined
    Nov 16, 2013
    It really was a great trip. Disneyland was so empty, it was amazing! I want to go back already.
    Same! It was such a nice way to start/finish Expo, and the low crowds were amazing!

    Just a note for future visits: your BB F! cushion works great at D23 Expo! We doubled up (2 each) to sit on the concrete -- easy to carry, lightweight, and not too bad to sit on all day. They fit perfectly in the Expo tote bags. And it was nice to find another use for them -- and, of course, another excuse to go get more!
    BRILLIANT! It's waiting in my closet for future Expos 😄
     

    kristenabelle

    a funny girl
    Joined
    Nov 16, 2013
    Thursday, 8/22: Baby's First Sorcerer Preview!
    Thursday morning was supposed to be easy - we didn't have to be at check-in until 11 AM, so I figured going downstairs between 10 and 10:30 would work. With all that free time, I thought the world was my oyster. Breakfast at the hotel's sit down restaurant? Or even ROOM SERVICE?! The possibilities were endless.

    That is, until I saw sorcerers were already gathering in a clumped line around 8 AM. 🙃

    I could have (and should have) stuck to my plan. Instead, my own anxiety and FOMO made me go downstairs early, grab Starbucks, and wait in the hot sun for almost two hours. That's where I met several of the folks in the overnight lines (they were tossing a football on the ACC lawn, chatting about their experience so far). I also met a few different types of sorcerers - few scalpers, many mega-fans, and a group of repeat sorcerers. There were folks who knew each other and newbies like me who didn't. Folks who were almost priced out, almost locked out, and folks who were along for the ride. It was nerve-wracking and exciting to finally start on the journey you've waited exactly a year for, and to meet the group you'd journey with.


    They held us at the security gate on Katella until 11 exactly. At that time, they started taking us through the metal detectors. Afterward, instead of keeping the nice line (where I was in about 20th place), the CMs told us there was "no line, clump together and fill the available space." At which point a few hundred people clustered and clumped, and scrambled to the check-in desks.

    Post-scramble, I ended up a bit further back. So much for my early bird waiting. Still, we weren't getting a jump on anything by being first in line (or so I thought), so it didn't matter to me.

    Check-in consisted of getting your lanyard, welcome packet with map/a copy of our sorcerer welcome letter, and three shopping bracelets:



    Each bracelet got you into one of the main stores exactly one time, so you couldn't return once you exited the store. And every time a group of sorcerers entered the show floor, a CM chaperone took us directly to the store queue and back out front into the lobby.

    A huge majority of folks lined up for the Disney Store first, with some choosing the Dream Store and a few folks (me included) heading to MOG. Our small group was walked over & directly into the store.

    There was still a LOT of set up going on, so they didn't want us taking pictures of the show floor (or stores) just yet. Still, almost immediately after we were let inside, pictures of the designer dolls/other merch leaked. 🤷‍♀️

    Honestly, I was a smidge disappointed in this year's offerings. My very favorite WDI hoodie is from MOG, and I was hoping to scoop up some more gear with the WDI logo. They didn't really have much to that end - it was more attraction based (and while I love the concept, didn't fall in love with anything). It was better for my wallet, anyways. I was SUPER bummed that they didn't have the Epcot new logo merch out during preview day, because I would've loved a long-sleeved black tee.

    I was able to score a huge profile pin of Brer Rabbit. They had profile pins for all the main Splash Mountain characters, and folks just started grabbing. When we asked about purchase limits, a CM said there were none. So I took one for me, and one for my brother, and one attraction logo pin. Those were some of the only pins in the store (the rest of them were in the specific MOG pin store, which we couldn't go to), but I'm really glad I was able to scoop something up from my favorite attraction.

    I always feel rushed during Expo shopping - like if I don't do a fast lap around the store, someone will have grabbed the last *whatever*. But then I inevitably end up missing something cool because I didn't take time to browse. In any case, I was fifth in line at the register after my quick lap.

    And I stayed fifth in line for 45 minutes.

    During preview day, registers for MOG and (I believe) the Dream Store went down. So we were stuck in line for nearly an hour, thinking about all the shopping the other sorcerers were doing. Fun fact: the ACC doesn't put the air on until Thursday night - makes sense, because the loading bays are still open for load-in, and it'd be a waste of energy. But that means the ACC is HOT. Hotter than hot. So we were sitting in the queue, dripping. If I was smart, I would've asked the person behind me to watch my stuff while I did another lap at the store. But I'm not that smart.

    While we were in line, the manager CM caught wind of the previous "no limits" policy and quickly reversed, saying limits were one size, one style per person. I figured I'd give my second pin back to the cash register CM -- at that point I was too sweaty and lazy to put it back.

    There wasn't a lot of communication, and at one point a CM suggested we all pay in cash (which was funny, considering the bundles of merch some folks were carrying). Eventually, they got us up and running. While we didn't get "compensation" (and why would we? It was a cruddy, but minor inconvenience), I did get to keep my 2 Brer Rabbit pins.

    They didn't snap my wristband in the chaos, so I just moved to the Dream Store, and finally the Disney Store. I actually cursed out loud ("holy BLEEP") when I saw the bags...and bags...and BAGS other folks had. THE BAGS. I thought I went insane, but with the Woody & Jessie and Designer Dolls, some folks' hauls were astronomical.

    I asked the CM at the Disney Store to slice my MOG tag (at that point, I was trying to save my bank account from further destruction), though I could've gone back. I took my relatively small bags upstairs to get my pre-purchased and RSP merchandise, and my swag bag.

    AND HOLY HELL. I looked and felt like a Sherpa coming out of the ACC. It's no wonder folks were checking bags and coming back for them. I didn't even get that much, but the size of the gift bag combined with my Belle pin set was ridiculous.

    In a final act of stupidity, I lugged all my bags into the Disney on Broadway booth, where they let us experience the virtual stage performances. Super cute and fun, and I was glad I checked that off my to-do list. Also glad I was the only one in the theater so I didn't kill anyone with my bags.

    I nearly passed out when a security CM told me that I'd have to walk all the way around Katella and back to get to the Hilton (instead of being let out of the CM entrance, directly into the Hilton entrance). Luckily, another CM saw me with my bag mountain, and offered to let me out of his exit and into the hotel.

    Next up, the AMAZING Expo welcome reception!
     

    ashley0139

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 24, 2009
    Thursday, 8/22: Baby's First Sorcerer Preview!
    Thursday morning was supposed to be easy - we didn't have to be at check-in until 11 AM, so I figured going downstairs between 10 and 10:30 would work. With all that free time, I thought the world was my oyster. Breakfast at the hotel's sit down restaurant? Or even ROOM SERVICE?! The possibilities were endless.

    That is, until I saw sorcerers were already gathering in a clumped line around 8 AM. 🙃

    I could have (and should have) stuck to my plan. Instead, my own anxiety and FOMO made me go downstairs early, grab Starbucks, and wait in the hot sun for almost two hours. That's where I met several of the folks in the overnight lines (they were tossing a football on the ACC lawn, chatting about their experience so far). I also met a few different types of sorcerers - few scalpers, many mega-fans, and a group of repeat sorcerers. There were folks who knew each other and newbies like me who didn't. Folks who were almost priced out, almost locked out, and folks who were along for the ride. It was nerve-wracking and exciting to finally start on the journey you've waited exactly a year for, and to meet the group you'd journey with.


    They held us at the security gate on Katella until 11 exactly. At that time, they started taking us through the metal detectors. Afterward, instead of keeping the nice line (where I was in about 20th place), the CMs told us there was "no line, clump together and fill the available space." At which point a few hundred people clustered and clumped, and scrambled to the check-in desks.

    Post-scramble, I ended up a bit further back. So much for my early bird waiting. Still, we weren't getting a jump on anything by being first in line (or so I thought), so it didn't matter to me.

    Check-in consisted of getting your lanyard, welcome packet with map/a copy of our sorcerer welcome letter, and three shopping bracelets:



    Each bracelet got you into one of the main stores exactly one time, so you couldn't return once you exited the store. And every time a group of sorcerers entered the show floor, a CM chaperone took us directly to the store queue and back out front into the lobby.

    A huge majority of folks lined up for the Disney Store first, with some choosing the Dream Store and a few folks (me included) heading to MOG. Our small group was walked over & directly into the store.

    There was still a LOT of set up going on, so they didn't want us taking pictures of the show floor (or stores) just yet. Still, almost immediately after we were let inside, pictures of the designer dolls/other merch leaked. 🤷‍♀️

    Honestly, I was a smidge disappointed in this year's offerings. My very favorite WDI hoodie is from MOG, and I was hoping to scoop up some more gear with the WDI logo. They didn't really have much to that end - it was more attraction based (and while I love the concept, didn't fall in love with anything). It was better for my wallet, anyways. I was SUPER bummed that they didn't have the Epcot new logo merch out during preview day, because I would've loved a long-sleeved black tee.

    I was able to score a huge profile pin of Brer Rabbit. They had profile pins for all the main Splash Mountain characters, and folks just started grabbing. When we asked about purchase limits, a CM said there were none. So I took one for me, and one for my brother, and one attraction logo pin. Those were some of the only pins in the store (the rest of them were in the specific MOG pin store, which we couldn't go to), but I'm really glad I was able to scoop something up from my favorite attraction.

    I always feel rushed during Expo shopping - like if I don't do a fast lap around the store, someone will have grabbed the last *whatever*. But then I inevitably end up missing something cool because I didn't take time to browse. In any case, I was fifth in line at the register after my quick lap.

    And I stayed fifth in line for 45 minutes.

    During preview day, registers for MOG and (I believe) the Dream Store went down. So we were stuck in line for nearly an hour, thinking about all the shopping the other sorcerers were doing. Fun fact: the ACC doesn't put the air on until Thursday night - makes sense, because the loading bays are still open for load-in, and it'd be a waste of energy. But that means the ACC is HOT. Hotter than hot. So we were sitting in the queue, dripping. If I was smart, I would've asked the person behind me to watch my stuff while I did another lap at the store. But I'm not that smart.

    While we were in line, the manager CM caught wind of the previous "no limits" policy and quickly reversed, saying limits were one size, one style per person. I figured I'd give my second pin back to the cash register CM -- at that point I was too sweaty and lazy to put it back.

    There wasn't a lot of communication, and at one point a CM suggested we all pay in cash (which was funny, considering the bundles of merch some folks were carrying). Eventually, they got us up and running. While we didn't get "compensation" (and why would we? It was a cruddy, but minor inconvenience), I did get to keep my 2 Brer Rabbit pins.

    They didn't snap my wristband in the chaos, so I just moved to the Dream Store, and finally the Disney Store. I actually cursed out loud ("holy BLEEP") when I saw the bags...and bags...and BAGS other folks had. THE BAGS. I thought I went insane, but with the Woody & Jessie and Designer Dolls, some folks' hauls were astronomical.

    I asked the CM at the Disney Store to slice my MOG tag (at that point, I was trying to save my bank account from further destruction), though I could've gone back. I took my relatively small bags upstairs to get my pre-purchased and RSP merchandise, and my swag bag.

    AND HOLY HELL. I looked and felt like a Sherpa coming out of the ACC. It's no wonder folks were checking bags and coming back for them. I didn't even get that much, but the size of the gift bag combined with my Belle pin set was ridiculous.

    In a final act of stupidity, I lugged all my bags into the Disney on Broadway booth, where they let us experience the virtual stage performances. Super cute and fun, and I was glad I checked that off my to-do list. Also glad I was the only one in the theater so I didn't kill anyone with my bags.

    I nearly passed out when a security CM told me that I'd have to walk all the way around Katella and back to get to the Hilton (instead of being let out of the CM entrance, directly into the Hilton entrance). Luckily, another CM saw me with my bag mountain, and offered to let me out of his exit and into the hotel.

    Next up, the AMAZING Expo welcome reception!
    Loved reading about your shopping day, but how crazy! Can you post a picture of your haul?
     
  • kristenabelle

    a funny girl
    Joined
    Nov 16, 2013
    Loved reading about your shopping day, but how crazy! Can you post a picture of your haul?
    For sure! I mostly did Instagram stories, so most of my stuff ended up as video files. But I'll take a picture this weekend - I'm still figuring out where to put it in my condo 🙈
     

    lurkergirl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 20, 2011
    @kristenabelle We strolled up between 9:30am and 10am because I saw that Sorcerer people were lined up and I couldn't understand why - I mean, I like shopping but not that much. I got your leisurely morning, we were having Starbucks and watching The Rockford Files while waiting. Hee!

    The whole process this time around felt very scattered and almost like we were just there to spend the money. I missed the welcome in the Lounge. It felt disorganized the entire weekend, although I had great pleasure in the head of D23 wandering by us in the Broadway panel calling out greetings and being ignored. Ahem. ;)

    We were just past the first group let into MOG and it was not pleasant waiting on our end - they did not tell us what was going on, we spent over an hour waiting before they finally told us that the registers were down, which I had already learned via social media. We gave up on MOG at that point, I only wanted the Tahitian Terrace ears. Thursday was very frustrating. My guest tripped in the super dark lounge and then I hurt my hand packing up all the stuff we got/bought.

    The mountains of merchandise all weekend is jaw-dropping, right? Sooooooo much stuff....
     

    kristenabelle

    a funny girl
    Joined
    Nov 16, 2013
    @kristenabelle We strolled up between 9:30am and 10am because I saw that Sorcerer people were lined up and I couldn't understand why - I mean, I like shopping but not that much. I got your leisurely morning, we were having Starbucks and watching The Rockford Files while waiting. Hee!

    The whole process this time around felt very scattered and almost like we were just there to spend the money. I missed the welcome in the Lounge. It felt disorganized the entire weekend, although I had great pleasure in the head of D23 wandering by us in the Broadway panel calling out greetings and being ignored. Ahem. ;)

    We were just past the first group let into MOG and it was not pleasant waiting on our end - they did not tell us what was going on, we spent over an hour waiting before they finally told us that the registers were down, which I had already learned via social media. We gave up on MOG at that point, I only wanted the Tahitian Terrace ears. Thursday was very frustrating. My guest tripped in the super dark lounge and then I hurt my hand packing up all the stuff we got/bought.

    The mountains of merchandise all weekend is jaw-dropping, right? Sooooooo much stuff....
    Oh no! So sorry to hear about your hand, and hope your guest is ok!

    THE STUFF THO. For real, if you need proof that we're a consumption culture, just come to D23. Holy crow, it was nuts.

    I'm saving my overall thoughts for my final post but some of the Facebook groups are still raging at this year's experience. I tried to manage my expectations and came out OK for the most part, but there were definitely a number of moments that weren't very "Disney" IMO.
     

    kristenabelle

    a funny girl
    Joined
    Nov 16, 2013
    Thursday Night, 8/22: Baby's First Sorcerer Reception!
    After some middling Sbarro's Pizza (thank you, Hilton food court) and a nice nap, it was time for the Sorcerer Preview Reception!

    Me doing my best Sally Slater:



    I was WAY too lazy for the hair/umbrella. But I did have the shoulder cape!

    My friend Matt and I were 10th (?) in line this time. As the line grew, we were escorted across the ACC lobby and down a hallway I'd never seen before. While we waited in the hallway, we were all given another lanyard, this time with a QR code (which we all immediately scanned):



    The lanyard was cute (varying Sorcerer Mickey faces). And if you've seen the shopDisney ads, you know what this is - the new monthly subscription for "backstage" apparel and pins.

    At first I thought they were going to surprise us all by giving us the $34.99 first round package. They didn't -- but they did give us the OPPORTUNITY to buy one before anyone else 😐

    (My biggest "gripe" about the reception, which was awesome, is that there were so many opportunities for us to spend more money. A welcome presentation basically reviewed all the chances we had to throw more dollars at TWDC. This monthly subscription package. The new D23 Member Cruise via ABD. Disney+ -- the only one I ended up going for that night. Part of it felt a little crazy. But I guess they know their audience, and I'm sure folks who were there will end up booking the cruise and buying the shirts)

    Speaking of the welcome presentation, we were finally led onto the show floor, and immediately greeted with eerie and awesome fog. Center Stage had been totally transformed into a Haunted Mansion lover's paradise, complete with beautiful table settings and some eerie background music.



    We managed to score a front row table, which got us great seats for that evening's entertainment: Constance Hatchaway and the amazing Cadaver Dans!



    SO GOOD! Side note, not sure if I can post videos here so I'll direct you to my Instagram (kristen_19) where there's a short clip.

    As part of the evening's festivities, there was an open bar (some folks got mixed drinks, I think, which I didn't know were available), roughly-Bayou-themed food, dessert, and a really nice Corksicle-style bottle to take home.

    After watching & snacking (there was plenty to make a full meal), we were released onto the floor with access to specific exhibits.

    I went to Disney+ first and signed my life away


    All people I asked & interacted with over the weekend signed up. It'd be cool to see how many did, especially after they expanded registration to other members beyond the event. Anyways, bring me all the Star Wars, Marvel, Lizzie, & DCOMs!

    Next, it was onto the Voluntears pavilion, where we painted a really cool mural for a childrens' hospital (I'm awful for forgetting exactly where). Also, barring some security guards blocking strategically placed avenues on the showfloor, we could wander wherever. I say "we" as a reference to the small group of lovely friends I made over the weekend. I really do love traveling solo, but it was so nice meeting awesome, friendly folks and spending time with them.

    Of course, couldn't bypass the Marvel exhibit, and my future husband:



    And finally the LOVELY Heroes & Villains Archives Exhibit, which I loved. I'm so grateful we had the time to leisurely stroll and take in these stunning pieces. I took more photos, but these are some of my favorites:









    At 9:00 PM we had to gather back at Center Stage for our escort to the ACC rooftop, where we got super cute popcorn buckets, sodas, and a super unique view of the fireworks.

    Me, before we trekked upstairs, on day 2 of jet lag:



    Afterwards, CMs encouraged us to take more popcorn buckets. I didn't, as I knew I'd have NOWHERE to pack them, but the sentiment was appreciated.

    I was exhausted. I knew I wanted to try for MOG Pins before Legends, which made me even more exhausted at the thought of having to wake up in just a few hours to get a good spot in the sorcerer line. I crawled into bed, set my alarm for 4 AM (I KNOW), and passed out.

    And the next morning, to paraphrase, ish got REAL.
     
  • OhioStateBuckeye

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 7, 2007
    That little Haunted Mansion party sounds really fun. See, I'd prob enjoy more stuff like that if I were to ever buy a sorcerer's pass, and it really sounds like it's all about the shopping. I just don't think I'd buy that much stuff. Though the reserved seats for the panels do sound nice.


    And it was also nice you go to look at the costume exhibit before the expo actually started. Get that crossed off the list.

    Do you have a picture of the popcorn bucket you got?
     

    lurkergirl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 20, 2011
    Oh no! So sorry to hear about your hand, and hope your guest is ok!

    THE STUFF THO. For real, if you need proof that we're a consumption culture, just come to D23. Holy crow, it was nuts.

    I'm saving my overall thoughts for my final post but some of the Facebook groups are still raging at this year's experience. I tried to manage my expectations and came out OK for the most part, but there were definitely a number of moments that weren't very "Disney" IMO.
    I was proud that we actually checked bags with bag check this time around, although I think we confused them - the reason we were in the second MOG group on Thursday was because I checked my backpack first thing. And Saturday morning we braved the floor line again (SO MANY THOUGHTS ON THIS!) to go to the ABC Store, leaving us with another single bag first thing. I don't think we were doing it right, based on the amount of stuff people were buying/storing. It was mind-boggling, I just don't understand how they get it alllllll home.

    She was pleased that no saw her trip, but she glowered at the offending ottoman all weekend. I think the walking wounded routine we did all three days pretty much colored our thoughts but...still. ;)

    The Archives Costume exhibit was my favorite part of Thursday. They had Athena's dress from Tomorrowland!
     

    OhioStateBuckeye

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 7, 2007
    Just watched Tomorrowland on Freeform yesterday. Love the beginning of that movie.

    I was also lucky enough to attend the Disney Parks Blog meet up at one of the 24 hour events. It focused on Tomorrowland. We got a Tomorrowland hat and a pin (to match the ones in the movie).
     

    kristenabelle

    a funny girl
    Joined
    Nov 16, 2013
    Just watched Tomorrowland on Freeform yesterday. Love the beginning of that movie.

    I was also lucky enough to attend the Disney Parks Blog meet up at one of the 24 hour events. It focused on Tomorrowland. We got a Tomorrowland hat and a pin (to match the ones in the movie).
    Aieeee so cool! You're officially a member of Tomorrowland now! So jelly!
     

    kristenabelle

    a funny girl
    Joined
    Nov 16, 2013
    Friday, 8/23: Part One: The Stampede


    I could barely sleep - so excited and distracted, and nervous. Part of having no expectations is, well, not knowing exactly what to expect. And a late-night mention of some sorcerers chatting with Michael Vargo about their expectations had filled me with more than a little doubt. Should I be expecting something? What do I do if something goes "wrong?" Why the hell am I so worried when I paid exponentially more money this Expo not to worry? Good grief.

    I shot up around 4 AM, dressed and protein-bar'd, and flew out the door at 4:50. I didn't even bother stopping by Starbucks because according to the hotel schedule, they opened at 6. Not according to all the folks I saw in line with Starbucks coffees! 😐

    Entry was ridiculously easy. I left the hotel main doors, used the Harbor side entrance (the guard CM said, "Sorcerer? Come on through!") I heard throughout the day that this entrance got progressively more packed, so not sure how later Sorcerers' experience varied. I walked alone up to the ACC, save for a few CMs, which was honestly kind of bizarre - I was expecting WALLS OF PEOPLE like previous years. But it turns out all the people were being brought single file into the main building.

    I spotted the Sorcerer lines forming near the C entrance (there were also Sorcerer lines at A, B, and Hall D23). Those of us in C were all gunning for MOG Pins.

    At first, there were several fat chutes with small groups sprawled out (maybe ~20 people "in front" of me, in the first 2 chutes, and two people in front of me in the third chute). After we had spread out into 4 chutes, all lined up in front of entry doors, a (very kind but extremely unlucky) CM came over and explained that ALL sorcerers had to be confined to the first 2 chutes only, and the nearby chutes would be for overnight (more like over day, night, day, night) guests.

    That's when she told us we wouldn't be walked to the store 5 minutes early, as sorcerers were in previous years. They'd be opening all the doors - every single one - at the same time, without a plan







    I said this on Instagram, and I meant it. I would've loved to visit MOG pins, but this year (with front-row-center access) had to be panel-focused, or it'd be a bust for me. I vowed to leave my place, wherever I was, by 9:45 to make the half-hour cutoff for Sorcerer seating in Hall D23.



    The next few hours were filled with people being upset, worried, angry, confused, or resigned. People talking about strategies (Do we link hands? Can we find a higher-up and ask them to reconsider?) Eventually, I was squished into one of the two chutes, with later Sorcerers being strung down the hall in a smaller line. The chutes were especially packed because a lot of folks were saving spaces. I saw better ettiquite later in the weekend, where someone in front of me before Parks told me they were saving one seat. This was just a crush of people that seemed to expand every time someone walked up to the line.

    Sorcerer ettiquite in general is also funny. One nice person offered to get us coffee if we saved her spot and watched her bag, so I did. When she came back, she dropped off my coffee, made friends with folks ahead of me in line, and settled in with them. Not a big deal, certainly didn't impact what ultimately happened, but still funny.

    As the clock ticked down, and the doors started to open, I started to get nervous. I run half marathons and am pretty active - in fact, I was wearing my race shoes that day. I can run if I need to. But I didn't want to. I wanted to be...polite. I wanted to be kind. I didn't want to miss out, certainly, but I wanted to be able to live with whatever actions I took all weekend, and be proud of my behavior. Which is ultimately why I had to walk away from shopping....

    The doors opened. Someone yelled. Someone else yelled that they were being pushed. All of a sudden, people started going. I saw shoes that had been left behind in the chase. A woman fell - when I went over to help, she pushed herself up and kept sprinting. CMs and Expo workers were recording on their phones, watching this gauntlet from hell. I realized I wore my oversized shorts, which kept falling (so if you see a girl in the crazy running Expo videos with falling down shorts and pink underwear...hello).

    It was like the wildebeest stampede, but worse. Because we were all acting like insane people, for what? Stuff?

    I kept up with the group, not wanting to mow anyone down or sprint past people like a jerk. All I could think of was how Captain America would be so disappointed with me, and the way I was behaving for souvenirs.

    The pack I was with ultimately rounded the corner to the pin queue, where there were no upright stanchions and only tape on the ground. This meant instead of a snaking queue, as was laid out, people just started filling and cramming in, yelling at others who they thought were cutting. One woman who used a stroller as a battering ram screamed that she'd hit anyone who touched her baby. She ended up near the front of the line. Another man started yelling at random people, arguing who was "there first."

    I just stood there and let the shifting crowd move me. MOG CMs held out their hands and yelled for us to STOP, so I did. I froze in the middle of the mess. Someone yelled for us to hold up our sorcerer badges, and I didn't know if it was a CM or not. So I did - a CM promptly got in my face and yelled that, "It doesn't matter - you don't get priority here." I didn't care, I wasn't asking for it. At that point, I just wanted to be anywhere but there. I was embarassed for our collective behavior, and sad, and just down.

    (I don't blame the CM at all - but I do wish she hadn't yelled at me. I wasn't into "bursting into tears" mode, but I did vascillate between "pissed at the entire world" and "oh god, please just let me sink into the floor").

    Eventually security guards (suited hires, not CMs) came and weaved stanchions in between us. I ended up in the 2nd chute, with about 30 people in front of me. They were only letting 10 people into the store at once. With 300 of each pin and limit 1 per person, I knew I'd get what I wanted. But I also didn't know just how intense pin resellers/the community is.

    One of the reasons it took so long, and they were only letting in 1 person every 5 MINUTES is because people were checking every single pin for flaws. There wasn't an inspection station, or somewhere for folks to go to the side and request alternates - it was all happening at the register. So with over 50 pins being offered that day, and most people buying all of them, each individual transaction was taking forever.

    For a little background, I have over 1000 pins (it's honestly scary when you think about the investment I've made here, but 🙃). I love pins. I don't care if they're LE or how limited, I just like what Iike. And the sad part about this crappy AM? I didn't really love any of the pins. I liked the dogs and thought they were cute, but wasn't in love with them. and I liked Gaston and Ratigan, but could live without them. Hell, I wasn't even the biggest fan of the Belle release for Saturday AM, which was shocking to me.

    So as I stood there, checking off the measly five pins I wanted while everyone in front of me literally bought ALL OF THEM - EVERY SINGLE ONE - I realized how ridiculous the situation was. I checked my watch, saw 9:45, handed my list to a nearby CM, and left - dignity somewhat intact. Some folks in line admitted that they wouldn't get to Legends, resignedly, and others looked at me incredulously as I walked away. But I have no regrets - I'm glad I did.

    I walked straight into Hall D23, and straight to an aisle seat with a good view of the honored guests (though I'd get MUCH better views later in the weekend). I sat across the aisle from Paige O'Hara, so my soured mood was instantly much brighter.



    (& Jasmine, what a jerk I am)

    Five minutes before Legends was slated to start, one Sorcerer who made it into the pin store strolled in, massive bag in hand, and plopped right down into a front row seat another Sorcerer saved for him. Was I a twinge angry that I wouldn't have that same experience? Sure. But life isn't fair, and neither is the Expo - no matter how much you paid.

    More to come on that panel, and the Disney+ panel that followed. But here are my overall Friday AM thoughts:

    To me, this was the most un-Disney thing I experienced the whole weekend. Do I care that we didn't get special privilege? No. It wasn't promised to us before or after we bought tickets, so I certainly didn't count on it. Were some people in the store mishmosh very VERY upset that we didn't get priority access? Yup, and they were all too happy to tell CMs how much our tickets cost.

    What I do care about, and what left me with a very bad yet temporary taste, was the lack of safety. OF COURSE people are going to run. Some of them have waited 72 hours for these little metal souvenirs. OF COURSE they're going to sprint the moment the doors open, civility and *Disney magic* be damned. Hell, if CMs weren't at the parks with ropes every day, it'd be the same exact thing. Anyone who expected walking and pleasant strolling without CMs or security guiding the way was fooling themselves.

    As a side note, apparently they figured out a process on the last day, and even let some of the Sorcerers line up at stores 5 minutes early. I don't know if early access is the right solution, but I do know it's probably better than the hellpit that was Friday.

    I hope they keep this in mind for the next Expo. I didn't get a survey, so I didn't provide any detailed feedback just yet. I also haven't gotten a FanFare since March, so I'm hoping to rectify that issue before sending any guest emails on this experience.

    The good news is, this cruddy morning didn't mar the rest of my weekend. Looking forward to sharing it with all of you.
     

    lurkergirl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 20, 2011
    @OhioStateBuckeye That's soooo cool! I was heavily involved with the Tomorrowland ARG in 2013, I have fond D23 Expo memories as a result. :)

    @kristenabelle Your description of the scrum at opening was spot on, we were waiting at Hall B to access the Show Floor with no store in mind and it was scary. I understand WHY they decided to open all the doors at once, but it was poorly executed. Just thinking about what happened on Friday and Saturday mornings gives me anxiety.
     

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