Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Events: D23 Expo 2015 (Part 1)

d23 expo 2015

Wow, where has the time gone? It has already been over three months since I had the incredible opportunity to attend this years D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA...and yet I'm just getting to my write-up now! I know, it's long over due, but better late than never. So many other posts have just kept getting in the way I guess!

Just to start things off- If you're unfamiliar with what the D23 Expo is, here's the scoop. The D23 (D for Disney and 23 for for the year Walt founded the company) Expo is a gigantic fan convention that covers all things Disney, Marvel, Pixar and (now) Lucasfilm. Since 2009, this "Ultimate Disney Fan Experience" has been held [every two years] at the Anaheim Convention Center. Thousands and thousands of fans attend to witness first time news from all Disney facets, purchase exclusive merchandise, meet their favorite Disney stars, etc.

Note: Since the actual news from the Expo has long since been covered by many other sites, this will be more of a documentation/write-up on my personal experiences there leading up to and attending the expo. Let the fun begin!

First of all, I need to give a HUGE thanks and shout out to my great friend Steve C. (of Media Meldown Mousecast). He went above and beyond to help me in many ways. Attending this thing would not have been possible without his extremely generous help (i.e. snacks, a place to sleep, driving...the list goes on)! Additionally, since Steve would be attending the Expo as well, he had the brilliant idea that I should fly to Phoenix, AZ (where he and his family live) and then drive up with him to CA. It was a lot less expensive to fly there (rather than to CA), so that's what I did and it worked out perfectly!

On the night of [Wednesday] August 12th, after a slight, nerve-wracking plane delay, I arrived in Phoenix safe and sound. Steve, with his daughter, picked me up from the airport and we were literally off and running. Though the Expo wasn't starting until [Friday] the 14th, we ended up driving straight through the night in order to get to Anaheim on the morning of [Thursday] the 13th for the Disney Infinity Toy Box Summit Event (which was happening inside California Adventure- more on that below). With me so far?

Though it was very tiring, driving all night ended up being an absolute blast. We swapped some stories, had some fantastic laughs and had an overall dang good time. Once we got to Anaheim (around 4:30 a.m.), we were able to catch an hour or two of shut eye before we were up and onto the next adventure!

As mentioned, Steve had arranged for us to go to the Disney Infinity Toy Box Summit 2015 Event- which was awesome. Even though I don't play the game, it was still a really fun thing for me to witness. It was fun feeling the energy from all the fans! Plus it got us into California Adventure for free. You can't really beat that.

The Toy Box Summit 2015 was in celebration of the brand new Disney Infinity 3.0 edition and Disneyland's 60th Anniversary. There, chosen contestants (known as the top "Toy Box Artists") had spent the entire night before creating new Star Wars "Toy Boxes" to be played live in front of us attendees there at the Summit (and the world via Twitch broadcast). The Toy Boxes were then judged and voted on as to which one was the best.

John Blackburn (Senior Vice President and General Manager of Avalanche Software), John Vignocchi (VP of Production) and Allison Petrek (Lead Community Manager) hosted the event.

disney infinity toy box summit 2015
disney infinity toy box summit 2015
disney infinity toy box summit 2015
disney infinity toy box summit 2015
disney infinity toy box summit 2015
From left to right: Allison Petrek, John Blackburn and John Vignocchi 
disney infinity toy box summit 2015

During the event, they had a couple name drawings for prizes. Miraculously so, I actually won a PLAYSTATION 4!! I could not believe it when I name was called. It was surreal going on stage to collect a prize like that. I've seriously never won anything before in my life. Check it out (and the rest of the free "swag bag") below!

disney infinity sawg bag

After the event was over, we spent the rest of the day getting checked into our hotel and just hanging out at California Adventure. It was crazy being back there for me (since I was just there this past April and had no idea I'd be back). I had so much fun meeting so many new friends such as Will (of Disney Infinity TV), Logan and "Pirate" Steven!

"Off the Page" is my favorite gift shop there at CA Adventure...check out some of the awesome art currently available there for purchase! I wish I could have come home with one of these pieces.

off the page
off the page gift shop
pixar disneyland 2015
pixar up canvas art
squirt art nemo

I, of course, spent the majority of my day in Cars Land. That place sucks me in like no other!

Note: For a more detailed look, be sure to check out my other Cars Land posts from this past April HERE and 2013 HERE.

cars land
DJ cars land

Check out some of the merch found in the various Cars Land gift shops below-

See anything that interests you? Let me know and I'll try to find you the details!

Something I hadn't noticed before is that there is a Knick Knack snow globe replica on one of the top shelves in the Curio Shop! It's just a decoration and not available for purchase, but I thought it was a pretty cool detail/Easter egg.

cars land snow globe

Pretty cool Cars Land diecast gift set with exclusive gold Radiator Springs Racers car!

For dinner, we ate at the Golden Vine Winery restaurant. It was absolutely fantastic! I hadn't eaten there before, but boy would I eat there again.

california adventure

I got the Herb-Roasted Chicken Breast (served with Broccolini, Caramelized Onions, Red Peppers and Tagliattelle Pasta with a White Wine Garlic Sauce). Highly recommended! Yum.

golden vine winery

We had the perfect view of the Pixar Play Parade while we were eating! I was super happy I got to see the Inside Out float in person since we had just missed it last time my wife and I were there.

california adventure
disney inside out float

Back to Cars Land! I had to meet up with Red and search for the Oil Can sippers I had been dying to track down- success and success!

cars land firetruck
cars land fire truck

 See my full post on the sippers HERE.

cars land sippers

Going back to Cars Land at night, once everything gets lit up, is a whole different experience. It's my favorite time to be there!

cars land at night
cars land at night
cars land at night
cars land at night
cars land at night
cars land at night

Steve, his daughter Lyla and I went over to Paradise Pier to finish up the night with a bang...

...Or should a say scream! California Screamin' is one of my all time favorite roller coasters (fun fact- it was the very first "big" roller coaster I ever went on). For me, I always have to do this one at night as well. There's something so classic and magical about it to me, seeing everything lit up below and feeling that California night air!

Yup, that's me all crazy faced in the back left's a tradition!

To wrap things up, we hit some of the gift shops on the way out; saw these awesome high heel ornaments based on Pixar characters! From left to right we have: Roz, Jessie, Dory, Mrs, Incredible and Edna Mode.

Funny story- While Steve and I were casually talking there in the store, someone actually recognized Steve's voice from afar and came up to us geeking out. He had recognized Steve from his time on the Disney Infinity TV YouTube channel! Then I spoke and he said "wait a second...I recognize you too." I said, "Dan the Pixar Fan?" That was it! It was pretty fantastic he knew who both of us were, so we had to snag a pic together. Classic times!

There you go! Those were the highlights of the day, but man was there so much more. So many great memories! Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2- the Expo begins... Stay tuned!

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