So what does it actually take for D23 to pull together those
Fanniversary events that they've been presenting around the country for the
past few weeks? According to Jeffrey Epstein, spokesman for the Official Disney
Fan Club, it takes a solid six months of behind-the-scenes effort to produce
each of these two hour-long annual presentations.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"We know that D23 Members are already incredibly
knowledgeable when it comes to The Walt Disney Company's history. Which is why
-- when we're preparing one of our Fanniversary events -- we always dig down
deep in the Archives. See if we can unearth that rare photograph or piece of
film or video footage that most Disney fans haven't ever seen before,"
Mind you, as far as Jeffrey's concerned, that's one of the
perks of his D23 gig. That he's among the first that actually gets to see this
material before it's then sprung on members of the Official Disney Fan Club.
"Take -- for instance -- 'Melody Time
.' We were looking
for a way to celebrate the 65th anniversary of this Disney anthology feature.
And we then came across this great photograph of Roy Rogers, Bobby Driscoll,
Luana Patten, Walt and Trigger together," Epstein continued.
Of course, sometimes the real challenge of putting together
a D23 Fanniversary presentation (which typically covers a lot of Walt Disney
Company history in a relatively short amount of time) is by finding fun new ways
to make older pieces of archival material come to life. Take -- for example --
that interview with the late Roy E. Disney which is featured in this year's
show. Walt's nephew tells this very funny story about working on "The
Vanishing Prairie," one of the Studio's True-Life Adventure films.
"We did a similar sort of thing with the 'Peter Pan
portion of our programming,"
Jeffrey said. "We were looking for a fun way to celebrate the 60th anniversary
of the release of this Disney animated feature. So we decided to showcase some
of Marc Davis' original concepts for Tinker Bell. During this part of the
presentation, we also mention a brand-new book that will be coming later this
year called 'Tinker Bell: An Evolution
' which takes an up-close look at that Disney
So as you can see, as far as D23 is concerned, Disney
history is all about connections. And the real fun of these Fanniversary events
is then being able to pointing out these
connections to Official Disney Fan Club members.
Producer Les Perkins (L) helps Kathryn Beaumont go over her linesduring a recording session for Disneyland's New Fantasylandattractions. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.All rights reserved
"For example, I love how Kathryn Beaumont is one of the few people in
Disney Company history who has been able to voice the exact same character for
decades. She was the voice of Alice
for the animated feature that the Studio released back in July of 1951. And
then over 30 years later, Kathryn was called back by the Company to come voice
this same character again for the revamped version of Disneyland's 'Alice in
Wonderland' dark ride, which the Imagineers built as part of that theme park's New Fantasyland project.Which then opened to the public back in May of 1983," Epstein stated.
But it's the actual finding of the material which then
illustrates & supports these stories which has proven to be the real
challenge for the archivists who assemble this programming. Which is why --
during the prep phase of these annual Fanniversary presentations -- the
Archives staff poured through files on each subject, sometimes going to
off-site locations to source information, photographs and video footage that
has been seen in years.
"But it's all worth it when you come across that one photograph that you
know Disney Fan Club members will have probably never seen before. Like the
shot we feature in this year's Fanniversary presentation which shows Hans
Conried behind-the-scenes in his Magic Mirror make-up," Epstein said.
And given hugely popular these Fanniversary events proved to
be last year (D23 had initially only planned on presenting 6 of these shows at
various cities around the country. But given how quickly those first 6 shows
sold out, the Official Disney Fan Club then decided to add four additional
Fanniversary events to the schedule. Which were deliberately staged in other
parts of the U.S.),
it's probably not all that surprising to reveal that 8 of the 10 Fanniversary
events that were scheduled for 2013 are already sold out.
"We still have some tickets available for both our Boston
& Seattle shows. And we're
actually bringing different artifacts from the Disney Archives to showcase at
each of these presentations. At the Boston Fanniversary events, we're going to
have one of the pumpkin props that was used in the making of 'The Nightmare
Before Christmas' as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of that Tim Burton film.
And then in Seattle, we're going to
have one of the film canister props that was used in the making of 'Who Framed
' as we celebrate that film's 25th anniversary," Jeffrey
"Why vary the props that are being shown around the
country?," you ask. Well, again, that's D23's goal with these Fanniversary
events. Surprise Official Disney Fan Club members with things that they haven't
ever seen before. Even if it means sending different props to different parts
of the country as part of each year's presentation.
During the first round of 2013 Fanniversary events, members of the Official Disney FanClub got to check out a gaucho doll that was presented to Walt Disney during his goodwill tour of Central & South America during the Fall of 1941. CopyrightDisney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
And what about 2014's Fanniversary events? What might D23
have up its sleeve for next years presentations?
"It's a little too early to talk about 2014,"
Epstein laughed. "We still have 5 more of the 2013 Fanniversary shows to
present around the country before we wrap things up at the end of the first
week of April. Then there's the D23 EXPO in August. Followed by our first-ever
EXPO in Japan
in October. So let's wait 'til we get through all of the fun stuff that the
Official Disney Fan Club still has in the works for this year before we then
start talking about 2014, okay?"
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.All rights reserved
For further information on D23 and/or this year's Fanniversary events,
please click on this link.
I hope that one of the 2014 events recognizes one of the most important events in Disney history - the 1964 New York World's Fair. Disneyland gained several attractions such as Small World and Walt Disney World's very existence is tied to the Fair.
I second Lou's suggestion - and if D23 doesn't do it, I can think of a certain Disney blogger who may want to consider putting something together...
Anyway, as for D23: I can't decide when I look at D23 and what they're doing if they're brilliant or desperate. I commend D23 for putting togethersome great events, like the Treasures exhibition at the Reagan Library and the 2013 Expo, and for making an effort to do more things outside of southern California and central Florida. But four years after D23 began, they're not only offering discounts for new members to join, they're offering discounts for renewals, and as we all know, Disney doesn't discount unless they feel they have to. Why do I keep getting the feeling that D23's only one step away from getting its plug pulled?
D23 Expo Japan's a great idea - I love the Tokyo Disney Resort, and I wish I could make it to Tokyo to attend, even if most of it's going to be in Japanese - but I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish. I mean, the whole purpose of these events, including the Expos, is to encourage hardcore Disney dweebs to join D23, right? But as far as I can tell from Disney's US and Japanese websites, you can't really become a D23 member internationally without jumping through some serious hoops, and with some major limitations; I can't really find anything about D23 on disney.co.jp except for the Expo. They're certainly not doing it to get D23 members in the US to come to Japan. What am I missing here?
I really like D23, and I am a charter member. I thnk it's only fair that renewals come with some kind of discount this year since new memberships have been getting discounts for a couple of years already. I find the club "worth it" based on the magazines I get delivered to my doorstep and the nice membership and renewal gifts I have gotten. But I do feel like there is some diminishment in the club. The exclusive merchandise was pretty nice at first, though it was expensive. Now the exclusive merch has pretty much dried up. No more shifts, hats, or orther fun stuff. Just some overpriced pins. The events seem to be offering less and costing more. I have only been to one D23 event, a Fanniversary last year. We arrived a few minutes late and were told that all of the attendance gifts had been given away. I told them that we had reservations and items should have been held for us, instead they were obvoiusly given to other people. We did wind up getting some, in the mail, weeks afterwords. The event itself was a bit dull frankly. Perhaps we didn't have good presenters.