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D23 is actively working to increase capacity at its events, reaching out to Official Disney Fan Club members around the country

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D23 is actively working to increase capacity at its events, reaching out to Official Disney Fan Club members around the country

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There's a joke from "Annie Hall" that I love:

Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort. And one of them says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." And then the other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

I bring this story up today because D23 now finds itself dealing with a different sort of customer service problem. In that the behind-the-scenes tours & special events that The Official Disney Fan Club offers have become so popular that they typically sell out almost immediately. Which then leads some members to grumble about the small number of people who actually get to take part in these programs.

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"We recognize that this is a problem," admitted Steven Clark, the Head of D23." But - then again - having events like our tours at Disney Studios and Magic & Merriment at Walt Disney World repeatedly sell out tells us that our members really value and enjoy what D23 does. So, in a way, this is a good problem to have."

But that said, Clark recognizes the frustration that some D23 members feel at being repeatedly shut out of fun events like these. Which is why Steven and his staff are now making a real effort to increase capacity.

"Take - for example - our Disney Studios tours. We've now basically tripled the number of tours that we offer at these day-long events. That's nine separate groups of D23 members being taken behind-the-scenes at Disney Studios, getting into areas that the general public never ever get to see," Steven said.

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And come this December, The Official Disney Fan Club is looking to do pretty much the same thing with its third annual Magic & Merriment event. For the first time ever, staging two of these two-day-long seasonal celebrations back-to-back. So that even more D23 Members can have the chance to see everything that Walt Disney World has to offer when it comes to the holidays.

"We also recognize that there are D23 Members living in places other than Southern California and Central Florida. Which is why we're now making an effort to regularly stage Official Disney Fan Club events in other parts of the country," Clark continued.

The first of these new D23 events - this Saturday's "Cars 2 Cross Country" screening - is actually a startlingly good deal. For just $10, if you're a member in good standing with The Official Disney Fan Club, you can purchase two tickets to a Disney Digital 3D presentation of Pixar's latest production. Which - given that a single seat for a 3D movie typically costs between $12 - $15 - is quite the bargain in today's economy.

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What's more, because D23 management wanted to show that it was actively listening to members' complaints & concerns (i.e. the perception that most of the Club's events are held in & around Anaheim, Burbank and Orlando), these "Cars 2 Cross Country" screenings are being held about as far away from Southern California and Central Florida as you can get. To be specific:

Better yet, members of the D23 management team are going to be on hand at each of these venues so that they can then interact with members of The Official Disney Fan Club. Take - for example - Becky Cline, the Director of the Walt Disney Archives. Who'll be riding herd on Chicago's "Cars 2 Cross County" screening.

"I've always wanted to visit Chicago. Which is why I've tacked a couple of extra days onto this trip. So I can then really get out there and explore this city. See all of the Walt-related sites," Becky admitted. "Plus it'll be fun to meet with Chicago's D23 members at Saturday's screening. Give them a chance to win some prizes by answering some Disney trivia questions."

And Clark promises that there would be more of these sorts of D23 events held around the country. Though he wasn't quite ready to reveal all of the details when we spoke this past Friday, Steven did broadly hint that something involving the Muppets might be in the works for this Fall.

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"We literally had our first meeting with the Muppets folks last week. So we're just getting started with hashing out the details for that particular event. But before any of that can happen, there's the 'Rocketeer' 20th anniversary event at the El Capitan and the D23 Expo in August," Steven said.

Speaking of which ... The first details about the Ultimate Disney Fan Event  (which will be August 19th  - 21st at the Anaheim Convention Center) have begun trickling in. With Monday's announcement that the Dream Store (which will be loaded with D23-themed merchandise and other specialty items from the Disney theme parks) will be returning for the 2011 Expo.

What's more, the silent auction that's in the works for this year's event promises to give Disneyana enthusiasts the chance to bid on all manner of unique experiences, tours, artwork and props. With each of these items specifically designed & selected to appeal to Disney's biggest fans.

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And in the weeks ahead, look for even more D23 Expo-related announcements. As Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Studios, the Disney Channel, ABC, Radio Disney and Disney Interactive Media Group get ready to reveal what they have planned for the Ultimate Disney Event for fans & families.

But - again - that's some eight weeks off in the future. For now, Steven and the small-but-dedicated team of Disney cast members who run D23 are concentrating on making sure that tonight's "Rocketeer" 20th anniversary event and Saturday's "Cars 2 Cross Country" screenings are as successful & enjoyable as they can possibly be for club members.

Which clearly isn't the same sort of customer service that those two elderly women in the Catskills were getting at the top of today's story, now is it?

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  • I'm a DVC member, AP holder, Disney Visa since Day 1 holder living on Long Island... still no reason to join D23.  Too bad the NYC area isn't a big enough area to have a D23 Expo or similar event (not just a Lion King on Broadway event).  Once they do, I'll be first in line, but until then, at least a bit of my money won't actually be going to Disney.

  • We just visited WDW last month.  Living now in Brazil I'd never be able to attend any of the programs, and magazines sent here from the States arrive months late - if they arrive at all.  So I've only bought it once on a previous trip up north.  I was disappointed to find that the magazine doesn't even seem to be sold at the park!  We looked all over, finally found a copy at a Barnes and Noble in Orlando.  It's a nice magazine, but terribly over-priced.

  • Wabigbear, I'm a D23 member who also lives in Brazil and, no, the magazine does not takes months to arrive (it takes just one month) and it always arrive.

  • Wabigbear, you can find the magazine at every single one of the "Art of Disney" locations across WDW property, although there is not an unlimited supply and they do sell out occasionally.

  • I agree with wabigbear, the D23 magazine is VERY good, but VERY, VERY expensive. Which brings me to my biggest gripe about D23, is that almost everything they do is too expensive. The Studio tours are nice, but they cost $50 a PERSON. The Rocketeer event is AWESOME, but it also costs $50 a person!! My 8 year son LOVES the Rocketeer, but I can't afford $100 to go see a movie I own on DVD.

    When D23 first started, everyone called it the millionaries club and D23 have gone on to prove them right.

  • I hate that they aren't doing smaller events in FL. Orlando has pretty much only recieved the really expensive events. We haven't had a free event in 2 years. WE WANT CHEAP EVENTS TOO! :(

  • Well let's hope the Cars 2 events go better than the Rocketeer event—it was a fiasco! It started way late because I guess nobody at D23 checked when the El Capitan's last showing of "Pirates" was scheduled to end. The panel "discussion" was a Kevin Smith roast of Kevin Smith that revealed almost no info about the film. The exhibit was overcrowded and impossible to navigate. And the way they handled the sale of all that overpriced merchandise was a mess—two locations selling different stuff but no signage or even verbal direction that there was a second table hidden at the back of the room.

  • Marshal-Looking at the listing of previous events, there were at least 3, 2 member mixers at the House of Blues and the Aulani reception in WDW, 2010. These were either free or the ticketing cost of $5. I am so tired of people saying there are never ANY events near them or they didn't know about them. A: You must read either the website or the Facebook page on a regular basis to keep informed. Events are always posted in plenty of time. B: Just because you choose not to attend the event doesn't mean they don't exist. C: You have to make SOME effort to attend. So if you have to drive a few hours, so what. There is not going to be an event in every state. For that matter within an easy driving distance in your state. I drove from Michigan, in a blizzard, 6 hours to attend an event in Chicago. I read later that someone that lived an hour away decided not to come because of the bad weather....PUHLEEZE! (off my soapbox now :-)  )

  • I am a D23 member since 2009 and I love it, although I have not done a single event. The magazine is quite worth it as it is beautiful, has awesome articles an pictures.

    My only wish would be that for WDW events, things could be posted with more notice. I nées to tale a couple of dais off to attend those events and so far, none of them worked out for me. But I wish they were adding another 40th and fabulous event... I would be there!

  • I attended the 2009 D23 Expo and really enjoyed it, but nearly all the events overlaped one another, there was not enough seating capacity, you had to get in line up to 2 hours ahead of time, and there was literally NO time to go to the bathroom or eat.  I missed many exclusive events due to limited capacity, or overlaping times with other exclusive events, and starved through nearly the entire convention.  Things got better near the end of the Expo, but they should have enough capacity so anyone who wants to attend can, and factor in time for bathroom and to eat.

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