Steven Clark was a very busy man in July.
When he wasn't down in Anaheim, helping Tony Baxter dispatch StarSpeeders full of D23 Members at last month's "Star Tours Final Flight" event ...
(L to R) Steven Clark and Tony Baxter actually suited up in this July 26th members-onlyevent, donning the very same flight suit that Disneyland cast members wear when theyworked at this Tomorrowland attraction. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.All rights reserved
... Clark was back in Burbank, getting the Fall 2010 issue of Disney twenty-three magazine ready to be shipped to subscribers. FYI: This issue just got a big thumbs up from Disney's Big Cheese.
"Bob Iger sent me an e-mail saying how much he enjoyed seeing that napkin that Walt used to sketch out his plans for what Walt Disney World should look like," Steven explained. "But - then again - Bob does that with every issue. He reads the thing cover-to-cover and then sends the D23 staff a quick note, telling us what he thought about the latest issue."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
And while it's always smart to listen to what the guy in the corner office has to say ... To be honest, when we talked earlier this week, Clark seemed more concerned about keeping D23 members happy than he did Disney's CEO. Which - to my way of thinking, anyway - means that the Head of the Official Disney Fan Club has his priorities in order.
"It is, I admit, something of a challenge to keep D23 members happy. They're a pretty diverse group with a wide variety of interests. Which we always try and take into consideration whenever we're prepping a new edition of Disney twenty-three magazine," Steven continued. "Take - for example - our most recent issue. For fans of the Company's past, we had John Singh's terrific article on the development of Epcot. For people who are interested in current events, we had Paul Anderson's piece about the recent passing of Fess Parker. And for those folks who want to know about what Disney's going to do next, we had Carmen Capone's great behind-the-scenes look at Walt Disney Animation Studios' Thanksgiving 2010 release, 'Tangled.' "
And Clark tries to apply this same somewhat nuanced approach (i.e. that not all D23 members have the exact same interests and/level of expertise when it comes to The Walt Disney Company) to everything that the Official Community for Disney Fans does. Take - for example - next month's Great Disney Scavenger Hunt at the Disneyland Resort.
"We've had 575 teams sign up for this September 26th event. However - recognizing that we have D23 members who've been coming to Disneyland for decades as well as people who are just getting acquainted with this particular theme park - we've had to level the playing field a bit," Steven said. "Which is why we've taken a three-tiered approach to all the questions that we'll be asking in the Great Disney Scavenger Hunt."
For the Disneyland newbie, there's the Miner League (Miner. As in the Seven Dwarfs. Get it?). Which is loaded with all sorts of relatively-easy-to-answer questions about Disney's first theme park. For those who are more familiar with the Happiest Place on Earth, there's the Major Domo level. Which asks more involved questions about Disneyland (which - obviously - have a higher point value than those questions that are asked on the miner league level of this game). And then - for those D23 members who consider Disneyland to be their second home - there's the Super-Difficult-Idocious level. Which (because the questions asked in this section of the Scavenger Hunt will have the highest point value) will send participants scurrying into shows & attractions looking for the most arcane information possible.
"At this point, the people who are putting together the Great Disney Scavenger Hunt have been down to Disneyland two or three times to make sure that this event is actually doable in the amount of time that D23's got allotted in the Park," Clark continued. "We're going to make at least one more trip to the Park to do a dry run before the 26th. Just to make sure that the questions that we're asking are fair, that all the answers that we're asking D23 members to seek out are in places that can safely be seen. After all, our ultimate goal here is to create an event that's challenging but still safe & fun for all participants."
Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.All rights reserved
Mind you, the Great Disney Scavenger is only one component of a weekend-long event that D23 will be hosting for its members at the Disneyland Resort September 24 - 26th. During the Friday and Saturday portion of that weekend, Steven and his staff will be inside of the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel. Making sure that all of the panels & presentations planned for "Destination D: Disneyland '55 at the Disneyland Resort" are going as smoothly as possible / are as entertaining & informative as they can be.
"Just in the past week, we've been able to reveal that we have additional special guests coming to take part in the 'E-Ticket: Music from the Disney Parks' portion of this event," Clark enthused. "We've got Michael Urie from 'Ugly Betty' and Tracie Thoms from 'Rent' joining John Tartaglia from 'Avenue Q' and Disney Legend Richard Sherman to perform music from the Parks. Numbers that D23 members are sure to know as well as songs that will be a real blast from the past. Saturday night's concert promises to be a very enjoyable 90 minutes."
Check out Chip in his official "Refer a Fan" outfitCopyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.All rights reserved
And given what typically happens after a D23 event like "Destination D" (i.e. D23 members go home and talk to friends & family about what a great time they just had. Which then results in this sudden spike of membership applications for the Official Disney Fan Club. As other people now want to make sure that they don't miss out on fun events like "Disneyland '55 at the Disneyland Resort") ... Well, that's why D23 just rolled out its "Refer a Fan" program.
"D23 members have always been the very best evangelists when it comes to talking up the fan club," Steven explained. "So we figured why not reward these folks whenever they talk a friend or family member into actually joining the Club?"
And some of the incentives that D23 is offering as part of its new "Refer a Fan" program are admittedly pretty cool. They range from an exclusive collector pin (for referring one fan to the club) to an exclusive three-pin set (five fans) to a tour of the Walt Disney Archives (ten fans) to a free one year Gold level membership to the Official Community for Disney Fans (fifteen fans).
"This 'Refer a Fan' program is an idea that we've been batting around ever since the D23 EXPO. After we saw the surge in membership applications that we got before and after that event," Clark explained. "So it will be interesting to see what sort of reaction this official recruitment effort gets from D23 members."
And speaking of the D23 EXPO ... Tickets for the 2011 edition of the Ultimate Disney Fan Experience will be going on sale next Thursday. And it's been rumored that D23 members will be offered some significant savings when it comes to tickets for this highly anticipated event. Not to mention some special Club-members-only perks. So keep an eye out for a special announcement sometime early next week in regards to next year's D23 EXPO. Which will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center August 19 - 21, 2011.
But that's still more than a year away at this point. And while Clark did admit that he and his staff at the Walt Disney Archives are already well into the planning phase for all the panels that'll be presented at the next D23 EXPO ... To be honest, Clark was more concerned about the events that lie in his more immediate future. Like "Destination D," or October's "Sip & Stroll" event at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival or that weekend-long "Magic & Merriment" event that D23 will be holding at the WDW Resort in December.
"I also want D23 members to know that we are actively exploring event opportunities that go beyond what we can present in the Parks or here at the Studio in Burbank," Steven said. "And once 2011 rolls around, we hope to be able to announce some of these D23 events that we're looking to hold outside of Anaheim and Orlando."
But - for now - there's early drafts of articles for the Winter 2010 edition of Disney twenty-three magazine to review. Plus tomorrow's D23 Day at Walt Disney Studios and Archives. Not to mention that "Friends & Family" event that will be held at Mickey's of Glendale on August 21st. Where D23 members will get to shop at Walt Disney Imagineering's employee store as well as meet Disney Legend Marty Sklar. Plus that last dry run of the Great Disney Scavenger Hunt to do.
So - in short - it looks like Steve Clark's August will be just as busy as his July was.
And speaking of August ... If you'd like to get an entertaining look at what's going on at the Mouse House this month, you might want to check out the latest installment of D23's new weekly vlog, Disney Geek. Which features an appearance by Wilson Cruz from "My So-Called Life," Barrett Foa from "NCIS: Los Angeles" as well as Ana Ortiz from "Ugly Betty." Who'll be among the celebrities taking part in next month's "Destination D: Disneyland '55 at the Disneyland Resort" event.
D23 is simply a Disney club for rich people.
It costs at minimum $35 to join and that doesn't include the VERY nice magazine.
The archive tours are $50 a person, the preview of Princess and the Frog was MORE than for the general public (although D23 got more perks), they have "free" movies at the studios, but they still cost $5 a person, this Destination D thing sounds like a lot of fun, but it costs $125 a person, the aniversary party sounded fun, but it was over $50 a person (to spend the night in Fantasyland!!). They have a lot of nice events, but why does EVERYTHING cost so much?!?
When this club was first announced everyone said it was a millionaries club and MOST of what D23 has done has been to reinforce that first impression.
I disagree, I'm not rich by any means, certainly not a "millionaries club". Can I afford to go to everything D23 has offered? No way, but you can pick and choose what you want to do. The Fabulous and 50 movies at the studio lot were free, just a $5 service charge, and that ended up being an awesome thing to get to go do. The destination D is a little pricier, but a smaller event.. The Expo has a very reasonable ticket for all three days. You just have to pick and choose what you will enjoy the most.
I agree with AB.