This is D23 and D23 Expo Web site editor Max Lark’s second report from the inaugural D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center.
For most of us, the best thing about waking up in that bewitching hour just before sunrise is that it presents us with an alluring opportunity to roll over, pull the blankets up over the shoulder and fall gradually and then quite suddenly into the restorative harbor of sleep. But on the opening day of the inaugural D23 Expo, anyone on the D23 team — and any Disney employee or Cast Member lending their talents to the D23 Expo — who awoke and caught a glimpse of the coming morning saw dawn as a call to action. At least that’s what I found myself thinking in the early hours this morning, just as the black of night bottomed out and the first lightening wisps of gray began crawling under the curtains in my room. Today’s finally the day, I thought with a smile, let’s go meet some Disney fans who can’t wait for the D23 Expo to begin either!
I arrived just after 5 a.m. — long after hundreds of Disney fans had! First in line was a group of five stout Disney fans — Van Loveland, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Josh Benesh, of Orlando, Florida, Jen Richmond, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Patti Jones of Lakeland, Florida and Pam Winters, of Chicago, Illinois. They may not be a family per se, but they’re definitely a “Disney” family, four of them having first first met at Disneyana and NFFC events. They met Van on the walk over from their hotel and decided to “adopt” him, making themselves a snazzy party of five. When asked when they first decided they were going to attend the D23 Expo, they responded, almost in unison: “On March 10, the day you announced D23!”
Dennis Cooper was the 23rd fan in line, and as excited as the Baltimore, Maryland native was to be standing outside the Anaheim Convention Center in the still-lingering darkness of a cool Southern California morning, he had some able competition. Jenny and Cliff Hawley, of Sacramento, who bought four-day tickets to the event months ago, were nevertheless one of the first arrivals this morning. “I tossed and turned all night,” Jenny enthused. “I set the alarm for 4:45 a.m., but just couldn’t wait that long. I know Disney fans — they arrive early for anything Disney-related — and I like to be first for things, too!”
Swashbuckling Disney fan Tim Foley, of Sacramento, California, dressed in pirate-themed clothing for the inaugural D23 Expo, clearly didn’t need early-morning caffeine to get his adrenaline going. When asked why he was here so early, he replied — in a not-so-dull roar! — “I LIKE Disney!” Asked where he was heading off to first when the Expo doors opened, he said, “I want to see [Disney President and CEO] Bob Iger’s opening talk. He bought my wife and me dinner at [Walt Disney World's] California Grill one night. I never forgot that.”
And all of us working on the D23 Expo will never forget the site of you fans lined up in the pre-morning darkness, waiting loyally for the Expo doors to open and to celebrate with us all the magic, enchantment and timeless quality that are Disney.
And we all look forward to seeing you over the next four days. We’re going to have a lot of fun together! Don’t forget to check out the pictures below!
Disney fans began lining up outside the Anaheim Convention Center at 4 a.m.
Steven Clark, head of D23, poses with a couple of close friends.
The indefatigable Steven talks with KABC in the early-morning hours of September 10.
The first “family” in line at the inaugural D23 Expo; that’s (from left to right) Van Loveland, Josh Benesh, Patti Jones, Jen Richmond and Pam Winters.
Steven poses with the “first family” of the D23 Expo.
Cliff and Jenny Hawley set their alarm for 4:45 a.m. but couldn’t sleep that late. They arrived at the Expo around 4:30 a.m. “Disney fans like to be first,” Jenny says.
Tim Foley says he not only loves all things Disney, his goal in life is to one day join the Company as a Cast Member.