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Do you wish that Comic-Con could come to you? Then check out D23's touring Fanniversary celebrations

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Do you wish that Comic-Con could come to you? Then check out D23's touring Fanniversary celebrations

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Go ahead. Admit it. After hearing about all that cool stuff Comic-Con attendees got to see last week, you're now wishing that you'd gone down to San Diego.

But then again, when you factor in what it would have cost to travel to Southern California (Not to mention that all 130,000 badges which were made available for this year's event sold out within 90 minutes back in March), maybe going to Comic-Con isn't really an option for you.

Which is why you're probably now wishing that there were some sort of Comic-Con-like presentation which traveled around the country. A panel that went to where pop culture enthusiasts were, rather than forcing the fans to come find it.

Well, if that's really how you feel, then you should maybe check out Disney's D23 Fanniversary events. Which is this Comic-Con-like presentation that begins traveling around the US next week and -- over the next three months -- will make stops in 11 different cities as it entertains & informs thousands of Disney fans.

Mind you, what's kind of ironic that D23 (i.e., the Official Disney Fan Club) started presenting these Fanniversary events back in 2011 to keep its members energized & engaged during those years when the Club is not presenting its own biennual Comic-Con-like event, the D23 Expo. Which will next be held at the Anaheim Convention Center August 14 -16, 2015.

That said, D23 won't be presenting the same old Fanniversary when the first of these events kicks off in Burbank on August 9th. According to Billy Stanek, the web editor for the Official Disney Fan Club (more importantly, one of the show writer for this year's edition of Fanniversary), they've made a significant number of changes to this traveling show.

"The last time we did Fanniversary, we did this show chronologically. Staring with the oldest stuff first and then working our way up to The Walt Disney Company's most recent projects. This time around, recognizing that we've got Disney fans of all ages who come out to these presentations, we decided to divide the show a little differently," Stanek explained during a recent phone interview. "Don't worry. We'll still have plenty of stuff for those people who love classic Disney animation. With this presentation, we'll be celebrating Donald Duck's 80th birthday as well as the 55th anniversary of 'Sleeping Beauty' 's theatrical release. But we'll also have stuff that's more current from television and the Parks thrown in."

That ultimately is the real challenge when putting together something like a Fanniversary. Given that The Walt Disney Company means so many different things to so many different people these days, it's hard to craft one presentation that can then touch on all aspects of the Mouse House.

"That's why we decided to go with these new categories this year. So that -- with our new live-action sequence -- we can go from the Muppets to Star Wars over to Marvel, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary," Stanek continued. "But for classic Disney fans, this is also the part of the Fanniversary presentation where we talk about '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' and show some great archival footage from that 1954 release."

"I guess what I'm trying to say here is that -- if there's something that you're not interested in being talked about at this year's Fanniversary event -- just wait 15 seconds and the next thing you'll probably like," Billy laughed. "I mean, there's actually one section of this year's presentation where we go from Marvel to The Little Mermaid. Which I know sounds like a pretty bizarre transition. But we have found a way to make it work."

While prepping this year's Fanniversary, Stanek worked closely with Kevin Kern, a Collection Specialist at the Walt Disney Archives. And as the D23 team was looking for some Disney-related anniversaries to celebrate at this years event, they came across some extraordinary footage which pertains to the Company's work on the 1964 - 1965 New York World's Fair.

"Some of the film you'll see was shot on the Disney studio backlot and shows a test of the load - unload procedure for the Ford Magic Skyway. It's a pretty neat behind-the-scene look at the ride car system that powered this attraction at the Fair," Kevin explained. "Now what's important to understand about the Ford Magic Skyway is that it was an early cousin to Disney's later Omnimover system that would eventually lead to break-throughs like the PeopleMover and other attractions for the Parks."

And speaking of the Disney Parks ... Kern also teased the showing of some footage showcasing the testing of the Matterhorn track while that Tomorrowland attraction was still under construction.

"This construction footage gives a unique glimpse into the creation of this attraction. When you watch, you'll notice a gentleman in a bobsled testing out the track. Bob Gurr swears that it's Pete Clark, an early WED leasee / licensee promoter for Disneyland. We're still trying to get a definite verification on that. It's an interesting shot, something that you don't get to see every day. You usually don't get to see this side of attractions while they're being built," Kevin said.

By the way, Disney Legend Bob Gurr will be appearing at this year's Fanniversary events in San Diego where he'll be speaking about the Matterhorn and the Monorail. And Disney Legend Floyd Norman will be in Burbank next week, where -- as part of the kick-off for this year's Fanniversary series -- he'll be talking about the work he did on "Sleeping Beauty."

"People shouldn't feel bad if they can't get to San Diego and Burbank to hear Bob & Floyd talk in person. Because we managed to fold so much brand-new interview footage of so many Disney Legends, luminaries and celebrities into this year's Fanniversary event," Stanek stated. "When we created the list of the people that we wanted to have speaking during this year's show, I was told a couple of times that '... you're never going to have this happen. You're not going to be able to do this.' I mean, I heard all of all these different excuses as to why I wasn't going to be able to do this. And I'm just so grateful and excited to say that -- in the end -- we did in fact pull it off."

Well, if you couldn't get to Comic-Con this year and would now like to attend a 105 minute presentation which honors The Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, Tower of Terror and then closes out with a big tribute to "Mary Poppins," then you definitely need to check D23's Fanniversary event. This touring celebration will be visiting 11 cities across the United States with Kevin and Billy acting as two of the show's hosts at various stops along the way.

These stops include Burbank, CA on August 9th, August 10th in San Diego and August 16th & 17th in San Francisco. The tour then starts up again in September with a stop in Chicago on September 6th, Seattle on September 13th, Atlanta on September 20th, Philadelphia on September 21st, Washington DC on September 26th and New York City on September 28th. This year's Fanniversary tour then concludes in October with two stops. One in Boston on October 4th and the other in Orlando on October 25th.

For further information on times, dates & ticket prices, you should probably head on over to the D23.com/Events website.

This story originally appeared on the Huffington Post's Entertainment page on July 31, 2014

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