Thursday, August 8, 2013

Perceived Value: Getting the Most out of the D23 Expo

With the 2013 D23 Expo, the Ultimate Disney Fan Event, just around the corner it's hard to ignore the excitement in the air from the ever-growing population of our Disney community.  As someone unable to attend personally, I am looking forward to following the event through others' recounts in my various social media circles (mostly Twitter, to be honest!).  

However, reader and friend Dan Cunningham brought to my attention how much he has noticed growing anxiety and worry from attendees trying to successfully plan their trip, alongside the anticipation and excitement.  And it's true, the more I pay attention to the stream of tweets, the more I see stress building, trying to decide which presentations are more worth seeing, how many meet-ups they can manage, or how to otherwise spend their time.  With three-day, non-member, adult tickets currently costing $166, not including travel, food, lodging, or Park tickets, this is definitely something for which people will want to feel they got the best value for their money, and thus be worried about planning exactly perfect.

It has always been an inherent desire for people to get the best value, or the most possible for what they give.  However, everyone values different things differently than others.  This is extremely true with the different levels and kinds of Disney fans.  With so much to do at the Expo itself, there is no way each attendee will attend the same shows or exhibits as everyone else.  This is a good thing because it would be a complete madhouse otherwise!  So I've broken down this year's D23 Expo into categories of value to better bring to light the frustration one must feel planning for this trip.  Also keep in mind that if you are traveling with your family or friends this stress would be multiplied as you would have to make multiple compromises so everyone feels they got their money's worth.

Here is a list of Expo Pavilions
-ABC Studios
-Disney Channel
-Disney Citizenship
-Disney Consumer Products
-Disney Desk
-Disney Interactive
-Disney Investor Relations
-Disneytoon Studios
-Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives
-Walt Disney Animation Studios
-Walt Disney Studios In-Home Entertainment
-Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
-Disney Vacation Club

You can already see there are many choices for pavilions, or the places that certain categories of exhibits and presentations will take place.  The Expo has thoroughly broken down the company into specific areas that different people will be interested in.

Now, I won't even attempt to list every presentation on the schedule, but I do want to point out a few of the major time conflicts attendees might have to choose between as they plan out their days.

Behind the Scenes of Walt Disney's Mary Poppins vs. Mayhem, Mischief, and Monkeys: The Magic of Mystic Manor (Both 10:30am to 11:30am on Friday)

For attendees in the same circle of interests as a lot of the Disney Fan community this would be an extremely difficult choice to make.  With the 50th anniversary of Mary Poppins' theatrical release next year as well as the release of Saving Mr. Banks later this year, this is extremely relevant and will no doubt be interesting.  However, with the recent release of the Mystic Manor ride-through YouTube video, the Hong Kong Disneyland ride has spiked to incredible popularity and envy from stateside park-goers.  I'm getting stressed just thinking about it... but to others these may be easy choices.

Voices of the Disney Parks vs. Disney Legends Awards Ceremony (2pm to 3pm and 4pm, respectively, on Saturday)

Those huge Park and Resort fans that would like to put faces to the voices they hear in and around the Parks might have trouble deciding between this and an actual Disney Legends awards ceremony for prestigious people who have impacted Disney in a huge way.

Women of Pixar vs. Walt Disney Imagineering's 60th: Craft of Creativity (Both 1pm to 2pm on Sunday)

As a woman interested in sociology, this Women of Pixar presentation would be quite interesting... a panel of women from Pixar explore the female characters from Pixar movies.  I would love to hear a feminine perspective for once, especially if they address the recent outcry over Merida's princess makeover!  But how can one turn down an opportunity to hear Imagineers share stories about, well anything?  This will no doubt be another difficult decision for most.

Luckily, there are repeats of the smaller events throughout the weekend, such as meeting Paige O'Hara and John Coulter of Beauty and the Beast fame and on-stage demonstrations of Fantasia: Music Evolved, so that if attendees miss them for a larger event one day they can catch them on another.  Also, I noticed many of the exhibits aimed at younger children happen more than once over the weekend, which is huge for families when the unexpected meltdown or nap-time happens right before the kids get in to see Sophia the First!

The great thing about living in this technological age is that many of the highlights will end up online for anyone to see.  So those who are unable to attend or those who have picked certain events over others will usually be able to see what they've missed.  As mentioned earlier, I am excited to follow the live-tweeting of attendees, and I'm sure this relieves a little bit of stress from those who are having difficulty planning.

Next up in the planning process would be the meet-and-greets with other attendees.  For some this means friendly self-promotion of podcasts and blogs while meeting their listeners or readers.  And for others it's the opposite, meeting those they listen to or read but never put a face to, or others in that circle.  Or it could just mean meeting entirely new friends in our community who share the same passion while having a late night cocktail at Trader Sam's.  I can't imagine many attendees would show up and not try to be social in some way or another, it's just part of the experience!

Staying along the lines of socialization, there will inevitably be those dressing in fantastic costumes for their time spent at the Expo.  There is a D23 event specifically as a costume contest and I'm sure there will be plenty of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, or Star Wars characters that take an extensive amount of time to get in and out of costumes.

Image from
For others, value involves bringing home souvenirs or merchandise that will provide lasting memories of the 2013 Expo.  There will be no shortage of such products, and as mentioned before it even has its own pavilion!  Whether attendees are looking for The Little Mermaid themed Sephora make up and accessories, for signed lithographs from Disney animated classics, or participating in the silent auction for the coveted Matterhorn bobsleds, they will have no problem finding something to take home.

And if there's any time remaining in the day that Expo-goers want to devote to the Parks and Resorts, that opens up a whole other can of worms as far as planning.  Anyone who has ever gone to a Disney Park on a strict time schedule and budget will understand how crucial it is to get the most out of a Park ticket you will pay for but only spend a bit of time with.

Hopefully this breakdown of planning priorities has shed some light on the extreme stress and anxiety Expo attendees must be going through at this moment.  It appears that to get the most personal value out of an Expo, the fewer in your party, and the more people with similar Disney interests, the better.  If someone who's a Disney history fan attends with friends who are interested in current films, for example, it may be harder to feel you got the most out of your experience.  But if room is left for compromise and spontaneity you may also experience some Disney magic you never thought you'd enjoy.  

Best of luck to those lucky 2013 D23 Expo-goers, and hopefully one day I'll get to experience the excitement and anticipation firsthand!

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