Fans of all-things Disney began converging for the three-day D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center in Orange County, Calif. Friday for a chance to see the Walt Disney Co. roll out its latest additions, including comic book heroes and upcoming film stars.
After a two-year absence, the second edition of the D23 Expo included in the mix for the first time the Disney-owned Marvel comic book brand. Expo observers believe the reason Marvel was not present at this year’s Comic-Con International, the annual pop-culture fest held in San Diego, was to help boost D23.
The “D” in D23 stands for Disney and the 23 represents 1923, the year Walt Disney opened his studio in Hollywood. Disney devotees came the day before the event to wait in line for a chance to attend several premiers and sneak peeks into future park attractions and film projects.
D23, also known as “The Ultimate Disney Fan Event,” began with a Disney Legends awards ceremony Friday morning. This year's honorees included Regis Philbin (from Disney owned ABC), Muppets creator Jim Henson, "Zorro" actor Guy Williams and the voices behind the Disney Princess Court.
Philbin, who is the host of "Live! With Regis and Kelly," told ABC’s George Pennacchio, "I got to say, it really is quite an honor. I don't even know if I deserve this."
The “Treasures of Walt Disney Archives” exhibit takes up a full 12,000 square feet of the convention space and includes a display of Mickey Mouse memorabilia. Also, displayed are the props, costumes and set pieces from LOST and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Celebrities expected to make appearances at the expo are Jennifer Garner, Sean Astin, Sarah Silverman and the cast of the Marvel movie, "The Avengers."
D23 organizers project a crowd of 45,000 people to attend through Sunday. A Facebook page of the event included comments on Friday from a few disgruntled fans who say they missed out on packed-out sessions after waiting in long lines.
Still, the expo has plenty of buzz and another two days for Disney fans to soak in the mega-sized event.
"For people who like Disney, this is really exciting," D23 attender Steve Mayfield told The Orange County Register. "It's not just about buying things. It doesn't matter if you're a fan of the parks or ABC, there's something for everybody."