To the D23 Expo and Beyond: A TWG Reader’s Experience at the Ultimate Disney Fan Event

A personal account of the D23 Expo 2017 by Chris Contreras (@Beta76)

The D23 Expo is the premiere convention for people who love everything Disney. At this point, with the inclusion of the Star Wars franchise, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pixar, and the theme parks on both coasts and around the world, it’s safe to say that they have a lot to offer and to be excited about.

This year, Disney was ready to go all out. After all, the convention is held every 2 years, with the date of the next D23 Expo coinciding with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge within Disneyland in 2019. I can’t even begin to fathom what they have in store for us.

A combination of timing and fate made it possible for me to attend this year, but only for one day. Of course, my main mission was to go to the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge booth/exhibit, take as many pictures as possible, and obtain as much information as they were willing to give up.

As I headed through the doors, my first task was equipping my lanyard with the pins I acquired at this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. After applying my Ahsoka, Leia, Chopper, and R2-D2 pins (and of course, my TWG button), I was on my way.

Heading through the doors the first thing that struck me was the joy on people’s faces and the sense of community. I made a bee line straight to the booth for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. After about a 15-20 minute wait, I was in.

Above the booth hung a banner that read “Walt Disney Parks and Resorts” on top and “Galaxy of Stories” on the bottom, with a drawing of a tiny Millennium Falcon flying over the logo. As I stepped into the booth, there were various display cases containing “concept” models. On the Resistance side, there was a case that held an A-wing ship and a Resistance “DF.12COM Turret.”

A full First Order Lieutenant Uniform was on display as well as a few pieces of Stormtrooper armor that included a helmet and a rifle. There was also a case with a vehicle operated by an Imperial droid unit, which can be seen in the concept artwork during the amusement park stage presentation. In the additional cases, there were models of the Millennium Falcon, a landspeeder, musical instruments, and an Ithorian bust (an alien race that many will recognize because of their “Hammerhead” look).

As you step further into the exhibit, you get to the pièce de résistance: a full scale model of the 14-acre land that is now known as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The walls surrounding the model were adorned with concept artwork of how they envision the marketplaces to look like or represent. It all came across so beautifully to me. The care, the attention to detail, and the love for this franchise and its incredible community of fans shines through.

Galaxy’s Edge is based around the time of the First Order and the Resistance. The story line within the area revolves around the struggle between the 2 factions. With that being said, I asked and was told that the special hero characters around this area will be from around The Force Awakens and possibly beyond that. Although, it was announced that BB-8 and Chewbacca, along with Hondo Ohnaka from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, are confirmed to be there. Additionally, in terms of which of the various droids will be roaming around the area, I was told that has not been finalized. It was also conveyed to me that the architecture of the booth at the D23 Expo was reminiscent of what it will look like inside of the actual Star Wars land.

As I left the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge booth, I stumbled upon the Oh My Disney booth, which contained a ton of Star Wars memorabilia, including the collection of Forces of Destiny adventure figures and a table with an entire setup containing everything from lightsaber cutlery, character-themed plates, Star Wars inspired tiki glasses, a TIE fighter grill.

While roaming around the booth, the Her Universe presentation began on the Oh My Disney stage with Ashley Eckstein and Andi Gutierrez, one of the co-hosts on The Star Wars Show. They discussed Ahsoka, Forces of Destiny, and the upcoming collaboration between the Her Universe fashion brand and Disney. I couldn’t help but admire the talent, drive, and passion these two individuals possess. During the panel, the social media maven for Her Universe, Savanna Kiefer, made a surprise appearance, wearing the new Ahsoka Forces of Destiny t-shirt!

On the show floor, there were a ton of cosplayers. From Cruella de Vil and Groot to Hera and Ezra from Star Wars Rebels. Any Disney/Marvel/Star Wars character you can think of, chances are they were on the show floor.

Everywhere you looked, there were booths that catered to every single fan. During the middle of the convention floor, a parade with various Disney characters as well as legends Mark Hamill and Stan
Lee unfolded in front of me. People were cheering and screaming from the sidelines as they passed. It was both insane and a bit surreal.

What I’ve written up to this point isn’t even half of the experience I had that day. There was no way I could even cram everything in. This does not even include any of the amazing film/animation panels or the Alan Menken concert that occurred. Bottom line is if you love everything Disney, then this is the convention for you. I look forward to the next one, and hopefully, I’ll see you guys there.

Thank you for visiting The Wookiee Gunner! You can also find us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Tumblr. Send us news, tips, and inquiries here or visit our Contact page. If you’re a fan artist looking to showcase your Star Wars fan art, check out our Star Wars Fan Artist Spotlight. Finally, if you’re looking to add a few Star Wars podcasts to your playlist, check out Rebels ChatGalactic FashionHangin’ with Team Kanan, and Star Scavengers.

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