Saturday, August 17, 2013

D23 Expo Recap Day 2

Potential minor Once Upon a Time spoilers here!

Day 2 started pretty much the same as the first day- we even got there slightly earlier for our long wait before being let in to the convention center. I wore my Belle costume again, and Lisa dressed as Emma Swan. We noticed way more costumes on this day including a pair that I thought were absolute genius- Alice Bluebonnet and Johnny Fedora from the old Disney short of the same name sung by the Andrews Sisters! Only true Disney geeks would get that one. I was thrilled! We also saw throughout the day- the Rescue Rangers, a really good Vanellope von Schweetz, Ariel wrapped in the boat tarp, clever variations on various Monsters U monsters, and whole set of fairies, and another Emma Swan.

Our plan for our second day involved mainly presentations with very little time left for the floor. First we went straight for the holding area for Stage 23 for a panel on the art of Frozen. This is where tag teaming came in handy. First, Lisa wanted to go find the foam “Pirate Fairy” swords that were being given out somewhere. After having quite the adventure with that, she returned, and I went out to get stagepasses for the Once Upon a Time panel at 1pm. That was a bit of an adventure too. I was able to figure out where the stagepass booth was, but it was tricky to get to because I kept being sent around things like the Disney Store and couldn't cut straight through. I noticed giveaways being handed out at the animation pavilion, but didn't really have the time to line up for it. Thankfully, the stagepass line was short, and I had no problem getting the passes. By the time I returned, Lisa had already been seated, but she had saved me a seat- we got to be right up front this time!

They didn't make us bag our cameras and phones this time, but they did make sure we turned everything off before coming in and were very explicit that there was to be no recordings of anything in this panel, least we wanted to hire a lawyer. This panel was a lot of fun! We were introduced to several animators and other creative types responsible for the film. I really enjoyed the fact that we are finally seeing more female animators and directors after years of animation being a heavily male dominated category. They discussed design in the film and the inspiration of “rosemauling” which is a style of patterning and decorative painting often found in Norwegian artwork. They introduced us to each of the characters with some really cute test footage. The characters actually looked out toward us and did an action that represents them- like Elsa threw snow right at the screen. We also saw hand sketches of the characters showing how even CGI harkens back to some of the methods used in traditional animation. I still prefer the look of hand drawn to CGI despite great improvements over the years.

They showed us the same clips we saw at the animation presentation in the arena plus a few new ones including one that set up the story. They also went through the story with us- not the whole thing, just enough to give us an idea of what was going on. That was helpful, because up until this point, I wasn't entirely sure what the film was about! The composers of the songs are the team who wrote Avenue Q and Book of Morman- an unusual fit for a fairytale musical! Both were in the audience of the panel, and we watched a very funny song in which an optimistic little magical snowman dreams of experiencing summer. I tried to go up and meet the composers after the presentation, but they had to leave fairly quickly- although they did notice my Belle costume. There were also already a few people dressed as the Anna and Elsa characters including a set of friends that we ran into several times throughout the expo.

The Once Upon a Time panel was to be in the same room as the Frozen panel, but we had to clear out first, so we looped back around into the holding area. There was still about an hour wait, but we were among the first there and so would get good seats. It wasn't so bad being able to chat with people around us. Lisa headed downstairs to get us our next stagepasses this time, although she had to wait a while before they opened the line for the later panels. Of course, I was bouncing in my seat excited for this panel- had been waiting all weekend for it! As they seated us, they handed out little pins of Henry's storybook which I was way too excited about.

This time Lisa was the one who arrived after we were seated. I was starting to worry she wouldn't get in. It was a pretty popular panel! They had an unusual pattern of filling the rows, so I didn't get to sit right up front this time- drat! We sat next to a pair of sisters, one of whom had one of those really neat balljointed dolls. She had me pose with her since I was dressed up.

The panel itself was a lot of fun even though none of the cast was there. It was a moderator interviewing the show runners, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis. They talked about both the original show heading into its 3rd season as well as the new Wonderland spin off. First, we were treated to the same 19 minute Wonderland preview that they had shown at Comic Con last month. It was my first real look at the new series beyond the promo. It actually begins in Storybrooke with a few quick shots from the beginning of season 2 when the wraith was causing chaos. While I'm most excited for season 3 of the original show, seeing this presentation definitely perked my interest in the spin off! It looks fascinating- a completely new take on Wonderland than we have seen before with Alice in love with a genie from Agrabah named Cyrus. Why is a genie in Wonderland I'd like to know! The new show has a different feel than the original. I can't quite put my finger on what it is. It might be due to Wonderland and Alice's world being so different from anything we've seen on OuaT- our world or the Enchanted Forest. We only got the briefest glimpse of Wonderland before.

The panel itself didn't reveal a whole lot of new information since Comic Con was less than a month earlier, and I had read and watched every interview I could find, but there were still a few juicy tidbits. Again, there are plenty of recaps out there, so I'm just going over highlights. We learned that we will learn Hook's backstory and how he became a pirate. We already knew Ariel is coming but now they've confirmed Eric as well. They also strongly hinted that Regina will play the role of Ursula, although it's not confirmed. Both Ariel and Tink will have surprising connections to main characters. After the moderator was finished with questions, they opened the floor and guests were allowed to line up at the two mics in the aisles to ask questions. I couldn't think of anything to ask that didn't fall into the “there's no way they are going to spoil that” category.

However, what I was most excited about was the premiere of a sneak peek clip for season 3! It did not disappoint! It was a scene in present day Neverland with Rumpelstiltskin looking like an intriguing mix of both the imp and Mr. Gold. He had normal skin and hair, but wore Rumple's leather, making for one rather sexy looking character I must say. He stood by himself in the jungle and called out for someone to come out from hiding. Here we saw Felix, the ominous lost one from the end of season 2. Rumple and Felix have an exchange indicating that they know each other and that Peter and Rumple were enemies in the past and will continue to be if Rumple has come for Henry. Then Felix tosses a little cornhusk doll at Rumple which causes him to break down in tears. Many other fans have interpreted this to mean Rumple was once a lost boy, but I disagree. I think Rumple went there as the Dark One- that he found out that his son was there at some point but then lost him again. I keep getting into debates about this so I really need to see the whole episode before I go crazy! Well, there's a month and a half left to go!

I had hoped to actually meet Adam and Eddie. I headed for the edge of the stage after the panel where they were scribbling autographs, but I wasn't assertive enough, and they were shuffled off without even glancing up and noticing my costume. Oh well- next time. I did run into some fellow Oncers including @TheZachVan, reporter from the Once Upon a Fan fansite. We had a great time chatting and sharing our mutual excitement for the new season! While we were in the hall, Adam and Eddy popped out again and walked right by us- this time I waved and Eddy saw me and waved back. Not as good as a meet and greet, but it was a nice consolation to at least get acknowledged.

We parted ways with our new friends with promises to get together in the future, but for now it was time to grab food and get into another line. First Lisa and I took the opportunity to get a picture of us together in front of the Jolly Roger since she was dressed as Emma. Meanwhile, the Emma character walk around spotted her and complimented her on the jacket- ha ha. 

We opted for the burgers at the outdoor BBQ booth. Our next panel was about Walt Disney animation. Well, actually, it turned out to be about the new animation app for the iPad! However, they did bring out several real Disney animators like the legendary Eric Goldberg who contributed to it to have a discussion. It looks like a positively amazing program with the ability to explore animation in all the films right up through Frozen. Unfortunately, my tablet is not an iPad...grumble. Lisa quickly grew restless, and although I protested, she decided to leave pretty early to get in line for the Menken/Sherman concert. Meanwhile, I got very distracted by someone in the audience. A section of the chairs were taped off, and a few rows ahead of me, someone was sitting on the other side who -at least from the back- looked suspiciously like Idina Menzel. I kept glancing her direction trying to get a better look. I was almost certain it was her! After I got home, I checked her Twitter page out for clues. Nope! Turns out she had left for home after her performance the day before, so it wasn't her after all. Go figure!

After the presentation, they gave out these cool posters rolled up in a tube. On it were strips of colors- like a bunch of film strips pressed together- one stripe for every Disney animated film! Mine is still in the tube, so I haven't attempted to unroll it yet, but it looks pretty neat.

It turned out to be a very good thing that Lisa grabbed us spots in line for the concert. If she hadn't, we would have ended up in the overflow room with the screens which just wouldn't have been the same. Thankfully, the line up area was carpeted and filled with people sitting around with the expectation that people were holding spots for others, so I had no problem getting back to Lisa after the panel got out and was even able to roam around a bit before we went in. We were in the same nosebleed section of the arena that we were in for the animation presentation, but we were in the same room as the show!

When the host introduced Alan Menken and Richard Sherman, the crowd went mad- instant standing ovation. It was such a rush to be part of that! I almost cried when they stepped out- these men essentially wrote the soundtrack of my childhood! There was only one piano, so Richard Sherman took to the stage first. He went through all of his most well known repertoire- songs written for Annette Funicello, through The Parent Trap, The Jungle Book, music from the theme parks, and ending with a flourish with the beloved songs of Mary Poppins. You could tell the whole audience knew all the songs- there was a faint echo of people singing along with each one, even helping him out when he messed up some lyics from Winnie the Pooh. Sometimes he actually told everyone to sing along which was great fun. At one point, he asked who could say “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” backwards, and a good chunk of the audience yelled back “Dociousaliexpeisticfragicalirupes!” Yup- this was a Disney fan convention all right! He also told the story about playing “Feed the Birds”- Walt's favorite song- at Disneyland for the park's 50th anniversary when a single bird landed on the piano and then flew off. The host surprised Sherman with an appearance by the two men who are going to be portraying the Sherman brothers in the new Saving Mr. Banks film.

Menken was next- he focused more on the songs than telling stories, but we did a whole medley of songs from each film he did for Disney. He joked about how after getting 2 oscars each for several years in a row, he was beginning to think that's how it worked, then suddenly after Pocahontas it stopped happening. He also laughed about how he has Oscars, Emmys, a Tony....and a Razzie! He got a Razzie for a song from Newies- go figure! He is a really great guy and an entertaining performer- I don't know how either composer made it through that many songs in one night! At the end, they brought both men on stage. Sherman asked Menken if he knew any songs about the world which led into “A Whole New World” followed by Sherman leading us in a rendition of “It's a Small World.” Both men received multiple standing ovations throughout the evening.

The concert ran way later than it said on the schedule. It was about 9 pm by the time we got out. I was hungry again, so we checked the foodcourt at the Hilton. I wanted to find a restroom first while Lisa got a smoothie. I ended up on the other side of the lobby before I found it. On my way back, I looked up and suddenly spotted Paige O'Hara walking the opposite direction! I flashed her a quick grin and waved and she responded in kind- how cool!

I ended up grabbing a personal pizza at the hotel. @TheZachVan and I were going to meet up for a bit, but he was too worn out so we promised next time at Enchanta Con- the Once Upon a Time convention in November.

There was one more day left of this amazing insanity!

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