Disney’s D23 Fanniversary Hosts: (L) Justin Arthur – Collections Specialist, The Walt Disney Archives and (R), Billy Stanek, Web Editor, The Official Disney Fanclub Site D23.com. Photo by Michelle Alexandria
I freely admit that somehow in my old age I have become a huge fan of all things Disney. There is just something about that company. In the 80s the running joke was then Disney President Michael Eisner would run around Hollywood acting like the Godfather and said, “Give me all your characters.”
Wow, that joke is now almost a reality. The mouse seems to own almost everything now – Marvel, Star Wars, The Muppets, Pixar, the list goes on and on. This year, Disney celebrates its 70th Anniversary with a bunch of various events for its fans. The Disney Fan Club, dubbed D23.
Disney is pulling out all stops this year. They are doing a series of national touring events where folks from Disney will showcase Disney History and some rare props. This will all eventually end with the huge Disney Expo to be held at Disneyland, August 9th – 11. This event will give fans the opportunity to get their full Disney On.
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The Fanniversary tour stopped in Washington, DC a few weeks ago and I have to say, it was inspiring. When you watch the opening sizzle reel, it is just amazing all the things that Disney is involved in. It was a packed house at the National Navy Museum as Billy Stanek, Web Editor for Disney’s official fan club site D23.com and Disney Collections Specialist, Justin Arthur took the crowd on a nearly two hour journey through Disney History.
Through banter, stories, and a documentary we explored 70 years of memories. As the two said, the evening had to start at the beginning so we got an in-depth history of the creation of Mickey Mouse followed by the history of classic Disney characters like Donald Duck, Chip and Dell, The Three Little Pigs, and more. We learned how Walt Disney came up with the famous song from The Three Little Pigs. Saw the creation of Disney Nature and got a glimpse at more obscure and rare items.
One of the highlights from the evening was a chance to get a look at two original props from Disney’s past. This one is an original pumpkin from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.
This pumpkin prop is one of the set pieces used in the production of the spiral hill scenes, which can be seen on the film’s theatrical poster. The Walt Disney Archives has a collection of seven pumpkins from the film. They are made of molded foam rubber and are hollow inside for lighting effects.
It was fun watching all those old clips of Walt and the 9 Disney godfathers in action. Even funnier was watching a very, very young Tim Burton talk about his love of stop motion Animation and what the inspiration was for him to do A Nightmare Before Christmas. The tour through history also took a couple of side journeys including one to the opening of the Snow White ride at Disneyland. This included an interview with Adriana Caselotti the original voice of Snow White.
This gaucho (a South American cowboy) doll was a gift to Walt, presented by a group of Argentinean press members during the studio’s research trip to South America. The doll is handcrafted and has a label wrapped around the right arm with a handwritten note, “To: Walt Disney.” The underside of the label displays the name, loosely translated as “Syndicate Press of Argentina.” The doll is a caricature of Walt, including his wide smile and trademark moustache.
The audience went crazy over Chip and Dell Rescue Rangers and they even had a tribute to the man who painted all the original Disney Christmas Cards. Stanek and Arthur did a nice job of keeping the presentation lively and interactive. They played well off of each other.
Considering Hollywood generally ignores DC, this was a really nice evening out and a cool way for Disney to reach out to fans.
D23 members paid $21, and general public paid $35 to attend the Fanniversary. There are two remaining tour cities left: Seattle (April 5) and San Francisco (April 7). All ten cities were visited in total listed here. These 10 cities were part of the 2nd annual Fanniversary. Seattle still has tickets available for the April 5 show. For more on D23 and the Disney Expo this August go to D23.com.