This year D23 – Disney’s fan club for Disney Fans – celebrated its third anniversary in March. To celebrate this anniversary with the fans, D23 created a series of Fanniversary events to be held across the country over the next couple of months. This weekend the celebration kicked off with events at The Walt Disney Studios, in Burbank Friday night, and at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco on Saturday. Future events will be held in Boston and New York City next months, and Orlando and Chicago in June. All events except Orlando are sold out.
My youngest daughter, attending her first ever D23 event, and I attended the first event session on Saturday, at the Walt Disney Family Museum. The trip from San Jose to San Francisco was the first unknown of the day, as it turns out that this weekend was the weekend of choice for destruction of the Doyle Drive roadway. For those unaware Doyle Drive is one of the main access routes to the Golden Gate Bridge and in need of earthquake retrofitting since the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. As has been normal in California politics, the needs of northern California always take a backseat to Southern California. So 20 some years later, CalTrans is finally addressing these needs. Enough of the political… I only bring this up because the part of the Presidio where the Museum resides is within a few hundred feet of this demolition, and my normal access route to the Museum in question. Even though the warning signs of the impending demolition have been up for months, and the local news broadcasts have been warning all week about the coming event, I was a bit worried that human nature being what it is; I would need extra time to arrive on time, not to mention the rather unpredictable nature of San Francisco traffic on a normal day. So, we left the house with plenty of time to make the 48 mile trip. The trip was uneventful, with the exception of the normal nimrods w\ho have better things to do while driving other than paying attention to the road around them, Van Ness was relatively empty, and Lombard was clearer then I have ever seen it. We were at the Museum’s front door 75 minutes later, a trip that is on average 90 minutes.
We had plenty of time to visit with our favorite volunteers and staff (actually they are all our favorites, just some we haven’t met yet,) and some of the Members who made it in for the show. Even ran into ‘The Disney Geek” – Jeffrey Epstein in the Museum Store. Yes, for any of you who follow the D23’s Disney Geek video podcast and don’t like the chances, I told Jeff he needs to come back to the broadcast. Disney Geek just isn’t the same without him in front of the camera. After some shopping, T and I got a chance to get a little bit to eat, and then it was downstairs for check-in. A pin, a postcard, and a pennant later, and we were in the theater lobby await entrance. From a few more member friends in line, and we stood a chatted away the waning moments before the theater doors opened. At about 1:30 the doors opens and we were ushered in, with the Disney Geek himself greeting us as we entered. As I have come to expect, I’ve yet to attend a D23 event that actually started on time, the 2:00PM program did not start until 2:10… Relatively on time for a D23 event. J The afternoon program started out with the introduction of our live narrators – Disney Geek Jeffrey Epstein (not there’s a surprise) and Archivist Steve B. Sorry Steve, I am not sure how to spell your last name, and don’t want to get it wrong.
Now, here is where you the reader will be a bit disappointed, because I am not going to go into much detail as to what the program entailed. For one, the show really was primarily visual; to describe what we were shown would be tedious and rather futile. Second, there are still 4 other events for this program to be shown, I, and would hope others as well, wouldn’t want to spoil it for those still waiting to see it. I will say that, as an ardent Disney fan, while nothing presented was particularly revelatory, the presentation was a lot of fun. Jeffrey and Steve both have an energy and love of their jobs that makes their presentation skills very entertaining, and we were treated to many rarely or never before seen (publicly) photos and drawing from the many anniversary events in Disney history occurring this year. The only thing that was really missing for me, was any real tribute to the one half of the Sherman Brothers we lost early this year. I realize that this program was in production and probably nearing finalization when Robert Sherman passed, so again I understand it. Hopefully we will see something more fitting in the near future. The event culminated with an acknowledgement of probably the most significant anniversary event this year… Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which premiered on December 23, 1937 at the Cathay Circle Theatre. T and I had a great time. The presentation was wonderful, any trip to the Museum is fun, and to top things off… It is a fantastic way to get some special Daddy – Daughter time. J
Since I don’t want to spoil things for future attendees, let’s just discuss a few of the comments I’ve heard about the events so far. I’ve heard from a couple of different sources, questioning if this event was worth the prices of admission? In my opinion… Yes! No, there wasn’t anything substantially revelatory to an ardent Disney Fan. As a fervent Disney fan myself, I didn’t expect anything that big, especially for an $18 entry fee. But, it was fun seeing some art work I’d never seen before, and gain a little more insight into the development of some of my favorite Disney projects over the years. I think those of us you live close to the Studio or the Museum may sometimes be a bit more jaded, as we better access to more information and special events than many others around the country, so sometime I think we expect more. Beside, I have had a chance to attend more than a few D23 events, and I regularly attend programs at the Museum. One the thing I have come to enjoy is the sense of community that was begun to develop. As with the Museum programs, there is always a few familiar faces in the crowd at many D23 events, and can see the groups meeting and greeting among themselves and welcoming others. Anyway, all-in-all, yes it was worth it.
As for D23 itself… Yes there are issues, and I have expressed those in the past, but, I inclined to be a little more lenient. I have been able to discover that D23 is what I would call understaffed for the expectations placed upon them. Even so, I have yet to encounter and D23 staffer, or Archivist (they fill in a lot where need in events) who is anything but friendly and very approachable. Yes I realize D23 is part of the Disney’s marketing department, and it’s their job to be friendly, approachable and to sell the company’s message, but, I have what I consider to be a fairly well tuned BS indicator, and I honestly think these people do what they do because they love it and they enjoy interacting with us fans. After you met them a couple of time, they even remember who you are… but, maybe that just me and my big mouth. J Anyway, I’m willing give some time to see how things evolve. In the meantime, I think what D23 is offering to the Disney fan is worth my cost of admission.
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