Disney has never been bigger. On top of that, the company is expected to grow its reach, as its streaming platform, Disney+, will make its debut later this year. The Netflix competitor will not only be home to films from studios including Pixar, Disney Animation, Lucasfilm, and Marvel – there are original projects on the way from each of these studios that will be available exclusively on Disney+. The D23 Expo is Disney’s biennial convention, where it celebrates its past and previews its future projects. 2019 promises to be the biggest D23 Expo yet.
The show is set to take place across three days:
- Friday, August 23rd
- Saturday, August 24th
- Sunday, August 25th
Each of those three days will host at least one headlining panel, focusing on subsets within the Disney company. Friday will play host to the “Disney+ Showcase” (Hall D23, 3:30 – 5:00 PM). There are already a number of original Pixar projects in development for Disney+, some of which have been announced. All of these will likely be previewed in some fashion at the show:
- Monsters at Work – A series that takes place in the world of Monsters, Inc. The show will take place after the film, and although its main character is brand new to the Monsters world, characters from the films will show up, including Mike Wazowski and Sulley, with Billy Crystal and John Goodman returning to voice their great personalities.
- Forky Asks A Question – A series of short films directed by Bob Peterson (co-director of Up) that will feature the fan-favorite Toy Story 4 character Forky answering life’s great questions
- Lamp Life – A short directed by Valerie LaPointe starring Bo Peep from the Toy Story films
- Pixar SparkShorts – Pixar’s ambitious program that gives a diverse set of new filmmakers the chance to create new short films. This is one of the Pixar projects that I am most excited about! Although some shorts have already premiered on YouTube, there are more on the way that will debut on Disney+, including:
Saturday will host the Walt Disney Studios panel (Hall D23, 10 AM – 12 PM), which is always the hottest ticket of the show. This year, it will be more jam-packed than ever, with all animated and live-action films from Disney’s studios set to get some time in the spotlight. There are several Pixar films that will definitely be previewed:
- Onward – Pixar’s suburban fantasy adventure that was first announced at the last D23 Expo. Given that the film is headed to theaters in less than seven months, I am almost positive that we will see a screening of a scene, even if it’s unfinished and in storyboard form.
- Soul – Pete Docter returns to the director’s chair for his first film since Inside Out. The synopsis of the film is incredibly intriguing: “It will take us on a journey from the streets of New York City to the cosmic realms to discover the answers to life’s most important questions.” In the last year, Docter has taken over as Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, so seeing him as the head of a film is nothing short of a miracle. The film was announced just this past June and it is already set for release in June 2020. Count on seeing at least some concept art and maybe even a trailer and/or storyboards.
- Untitled 6/18/21 Film – This is the perfect opportunity for Pixar to announce its 2021 film. There has been much discussion about how the studio’s upcoming film slate is stacked with original films, so expect this one to be another original project.
- 2022 Films – There are two Pixar films currently scheduled to hit theaters in 2022. You may think that they are too far away to for the studio to announce them. Like I noted above, the 2017 D23 Expo was where Pixar announced Onward, which is debuting next year, so there is still a chance that we could see these films, or even just one of these films discussed. Just don’t get your hopes up.
On Sunday, Disney Parks will host its own panel (Hall D23, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM), where new attractions and experiences are sure to be discussed. Epcot at Walt Disney World is undergoing a major transformation over the next few years. The popular Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction from Disneyland Paris is currently in development for the Florida park. Also, with Disney World’s 50th Anniversary around the corner (2021), there will undoubtedly be some surprising announcements made. There are also three new Disney Cruise Line ships under construction at the moment, and we know nothing about them, other than how big they are supposed to be (slightly bigger than the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy) – we may finally hear some news about them.
Throughout the weekend, there are many opportunities to meet with the creative talent at the various Disney studios and some chances to watch presentations given by them at the booths on the show floor:
- Creative Director Signing: Jay Ward – Meet the creative director of the Cars franchise (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM)
- The Adventures of Bo Peep and Her Sheep: Lamp Life with Valerie LaPointe & Marc Sondheimer – Watch a presentation from the creative talent behind the upcoming Disney+ short (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 4:30 – 5:30 PM)
- Filmmaker Signing: Onward Director and Producer – Meet Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae, the creatives behind the highly-anticipated Pixar fantasy film, as they sign exclusive film artwork (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 5:00 – 6:00 PM)
- Filmmaker Signing: Forky Asks A Question Director and Producer – Meet Bob Peterson and Mark Nielsen, the heads of the upcoming Disney+ series of shorts. They will be signing artwork created exclusively for the Expo. (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM)
- You Are A Toy (Designer)! Consumer Products with Chris Meeker (1st of 2 chances to catch this) – A sure-to-be-fascinating presentation that will take you behind-the-scenes of how Pixar’s characters are made into toys (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 2:00 – 3:00 PM)
- Filmmaker Signing: Soul Director and Producer – Meet Pete Docter and Dana Murray, where they will sign exclusive artwork for you (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 4:30 – 5:30 PM)
- The Work of The Archives with Christine Freeman – Watch a presentation from the Pixar historian, as she discusses Pixar’s legendary archive collection (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 9:30 – 10:30 AM)
- Filmmaker Signing: Lamp Life Director – Meet Valerie LaPointe, as she will sign exclusive artwork (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 11 AM – 12:00 PM)
- You Are A Toy (Designer)! Consumer Products with Chris Meeker (2nd and last chance to catch this) – A sure-to-be-fascinating presentation that will take you behind-the-scenes of how Pixar’s characters are made into toys (Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios Booth, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM)
- Designer Signing: Sr. Designer Chris Meeker – Meet Meeker, as he signs a special Toy Story 4 giveaway.
Think that’s all? You’re wrong. Throughout the weekend, there will be several times that freebies are given away at the Pixar booth, including Pixar Balls, Pixar Sunglasses, and posters for each of the upcoming Pixar projects. Feeling overwhelmed yet? No? Well, the show’s various stores will be packed with D23 Expo-exclusive products that will be limited and won’t be sold anywhere else. I’m not even there yet, and my mind is racing thinking about all of this! It will be an exciting 3 days.
I will be there and I am pumped to run around with fellow Disney enthusiasts. I live in Northern California and although I am within driving distance to Disneyland, I don’t get many chances to be around so many Disney fans. My favorite part of the D23 Expo experience is simply being surrounded by others who understand my love for Disney. Also, Disneyland is only a couple blocks away from the Anaheim Convention Center, so it will be an extraordinarily Disney weekend.
After the weekend, it will take many weeks to absorb everything that we see and hear. You will surely be hearing about it all from me. During the show, make sure to follow along with me on Twitter and Instagram!