I have no understanding of the D23 club, is that just the way to get into a convention? You have to be a club member? Are there any benefits beyond this?
The D23 'official Disney fan club' was created to entice fans to join and experience some unique experiences for a price.
So in other words, just another means for the Company to gain more income from the converted faithful.
I always found it interesting that it started the year after we held the EPCOT 25th Anniversary fan gathering in 2007....as if certain peeps within Disney looked at what us fans accomplished on our own and were suddenly reminded that such 'fan gatherings' could be exploited for financial gain 'officially' ......
But i digress...
Personally, in my opinion there are no real benefits of being a paid 'club member' unless you live in California.
If you DO however, it may be worth joining if you are a uber fan as they have offered in the past some fun members-only events.
Primarily film showings on the Walt Disney Studios' lot , visits to the Walt Disney Archives, or a shopping opportunity at the WDI Shop.
Most of the more interesting events such as these take place in California.
They do hold a few other events elsewhere such as 'Destination D' and film screenings in other major cities in the U.S as well as near WDW.
However, you tend to miss out on the 'good stuff' if you live outside of California.
So it's not worth the cost......but your mileage may vary.
Paid members also receive a full color magazine each month, and other small collectibles with their membership.
The magazines are quite nice, and various 'membership gifts' are offered that can also be quite nice with a 'retro' theme inherent.
For more details i recommend checking out the official D23.com website for a idea of what is currently being offered.
You do not have to be a club member to be able to attend the D23 Expo.
The general public at large can attend.
Even as a ' D23 free member' you can get a discount on your admission tickets in advance, which is the only real benefit for non-Californian resident D23 members.
From my own personal experiences in the past, there are no real benefits for club members at the Event itself unless one manages to amass the cash to buy a expensive 'Sorcerer's Pass'.
It also goes without saying, but i will say it anyway -
If you are seriously considering attending a D23 Expo in the future, i STRONGLY recommend heavily researching in advance what it entails to actually attend one of these massive conventions.
It is NOT all sunshine and rainbows as it is marketed by Disney, and although there are some great panels and amazing costumed fans, be warned :
There is the potential for some serious frustration and disappointment for those coming as 'newbies' who do not research in advance what is actually involved in attending one of these massive events.
HUGE crowds, insanely long lines, limited food options, multiple panels going on at once, and lots of confusion and misdirection.
Accept it now that you will NOT get to experience and see all you wish to do, and you are already ahead.
Tread carefully, ye adventurer -
DO YOUR RESEARCH.