D 23’s Destination D 2010 – Day 1

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A great first day at D 23’s Destination D! But, as usual, it was a day that was jam-packed with lots of interesting sessions, leaving me very little time to do much writing or photo processing. So this is going to be short on photos and on some details, which we will attempt to fill in later.

Destination D is being held this weekend, September 24 and 25, at the convention center at the Disneyland Hotel. It’s a much smaller event than last year’s D23 Expo – it features just a single track of sessions, and no exhibit hall, though there is some merchandise available for sale.

The sessions cover a wide range of topics that should appeal to just about anyone who is a Disney fan. Several presentations from the Disney archivists, featuring unusual items they have found in the archives, and presentations on some things that will be coming up at the Disney parks. There are panel discussions featuring Disney both current and former Disney Imagineers. Just about everyone is going out of their way to
find things they can share with us that are rare, haven’t been seen publicly before, or stories that haven’t been heard before. It’s really a wonderful treat just to listen to a lot of these people talk.

All of the sessions take place in the Grand Ballroom. They have a large stage set up in the front, but if you’re not in the center section it’s hard to see the stage. They’ve set up four large screens and 2 small screens around the room, so it’s pretty easy to see what’s going on. The chairs are set up in rows, but they rows are a reasonable distance apart, so it doesn’t feel claustrophobic. And they have plenty of chairs – more
chairs than there are attendees – so you don’t feel like you HAVE to stay in the room all the time to save your seat. They do clear out the room completely at the lunch and dinner breaks, though. They obviously learned some things from last year’s D23 Expo – at this event, while we know if we don’t get in line early we won’t have a great seat, at least we know that we will be able to get into the event and HAVE a seat!

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The Welcome Session of Destination D featured Steven Clark, Head of D23, who welcomed us to Destination 23 and told us some interesting facts: There are 1300 people here, from 39 states and 7 countries, including Australia and Japan.

He made a few announcements:

The Disney Legends Celebrations wil be held every other year at the D23 Expo, with another Legends event held at Destination 23.

The Scavenger Hunt on Sunday will be the first official scavenger hunt ever held at a Disney park! (Though there have been thousands of unofficial hunts).

Seven people work full time on D23.

The Sign of Zorro (November) is the next in the 50 and Fabulous film series, which will continue in 2011.

Magic and Merriment will be back at Walt Disney World on December 11-12 – tickets go on sale soon.

The D23 Disney Geek podcast, available on iTunes, is a look at what’s happening with Disney company around the world. The new production Armchair Archivists starts in November. Steve and Josh will take us inside the Disney archives for looks at props and other film memorabilia – one of the first episodes will feature items from the
original Tron, and from the upcoming Tron Legacy.

Weird Disney was a presentation by Disney archivist Becky Cline and Disney historian Paul Anderson, featuring some of the more unusual things they have found in their research. They had lots of photos and even some video to show us. Very entertaining – Paul had quite a few zingers – some related to the company and some not – we’ll see if he’s invited back after this weekend! 🙂

They had lots of interesting photos of character costumes and a whole section on Walt Disney in silly hats.

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One of the highlights of the day was the Mickey Mouse Club 55th Anniversary Reunion. They began the session by playing the original, full-length, COLOR opening of the Mickey Mouse Club TV show. There were 8 members from the original club that were present: Sherry Alberoni, Tommy Cole, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Mary Espinoza, Doreen Tracey, Cubby O’Brien, Karen Pendleton. They received a
standing ovation after they were all introduced.

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The Mouseketeers reminisced for about an hour about their experiences – how they originally auditioned, meeting Walt Disney, new things they learned to do, memories of Jimmie Dodd, Roy Williams, and Annette Funicello, getting the first rides on Disneyland attractions in the morning before it opened (and crashing Autopia cars), etc.

Stacia Martin, Paul Anderson, and Rob Klein talked about Disney merchandise: From Quirky to Collectible. There has been some truly odd stuff available over the years – I’ll have more photos later. For now, one of my favorites was the Mark Twain AM radio.

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Thus ended the morning…and that’s about as far as I got with this write-up. I’ll have more on The Making of Star Tours, The 1964 New York World’s Fair, an Imagineering panel discussion, and the Music from the Disney Parks concert later. Though I’ll say that the last was really wonderful – one of those “I’m so glad I got to see this!” things.

Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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