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Help! First Timer at D23

Discussion in 'Disneyland Resort' started by CaptainShortty, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. CaptainShortty

    CaptainShortty Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2010
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    Hi everyone!

    I'm hoping to get some tips from anyone that's been to the D23 Expo as I'm headed out there this year. Below are a few questions I have:

    - I'm currently a D23 member (the complimentary one) but am considering paying for a gold membership. Do you recommend it for someone going to the Expo? What perks does it get you over a regular D23 membership?

    - How bad are the lines? I've read before that lines can get really bad and while I'd expect that for the big panels is it something I'm going to run into for every panel and how long beforehand do you generally have to get in line to get a seat?

    - What are some can't miss things at the expo?

    - Any other tips and tricks you've learned?

    We're staying within walking distance of the Convention however we will have a car should we need it. We're staying in Anaheim all week so we'll have plenty of time to do the parks both on Convention days and not should we need.

    Thanks for your help!
  2. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2004
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    HI there!

    I attended the 2013 Expo and had a good time, so might be able to provide some answers to your questions.

    So, let's have a go at them....

    1. - From what I observed in 2013, and the info I gathered from other during my pre-Expo research stage, Gold Membership really doesn't make any real difference when it comes to attending the Expo.
    I specifically recall at the last Expo that Gold Members were furious that the promised 'early admission' via the Members Only line was a total bust.
    Most Members didn't get in any earlier then the general public as the incredibly long lines took ages to get into the Anaheim Convention Center.
    I wouldn't bother investing the money in Membership if you are thinking it will give you some sort of advantage at the Expo.
    From what I saw and have heard in the past, there is no advantage.

    2. - Lines to enter the Anaheim Convention Center are insanely long, and it can take up to an hour or more just to get into the building once the doors open for the day.
    I kid you not. It's insane!
    Lines just to enter wrap several times around the massive venue and the grounds that surround it.
    A literal 'sea of humanity'.
    That's not the worst of it though...the lines are often very haphazard and confusing, with very little clarity regarding what line is what.
    Consider yourself lucky if you can find the actual end of a line...there is no signage and very mixed results when it comes to getting guidance or information from Expo staff.
    Be fore warned - you are on your own to figure out where to line up!
    Ask the people in line themselves...not the Expo staff...for more reliable info.
    The entrance line situation can be a real nightmare.

    Friday morning will see the longest lineup, as many camp out inside the venue overnight ( allowed last year ...maybe this year ) so there are hundreds already in front of those waiting outside the doors to enter.
    There are also many people who line up outside in the wee hours of the morning hoping to storm the venue once it opens to try to scoop up all the Limited Edition merchandise to re-sell via eBay.
    This is a major goal for many in Friday morning.

    If you can avoid Friday morning, try to.
    Arrive after 11am and you will likely have a far more enjoyable entry experience, although you may miss this opportunity to attend certain panels depending on the schedule line up that day.
    Same for Saturday and Sunday...arrive around 11am and walk in like a boss on those days.
    Trying to squeeze through the masses in the early morning is too crazy...for me anyway.
    The mayhem of entering often causes people to miss morning panels....so be fore warned!
    If you absolutely must see a 10am panel, you will need to line up outside of the Convention Center several hours in advance ( exspecially for the Legends ceremony this year ).

    As far as lining up for the other panels, many of the smaller more specialized ones feature the Stage Pass option.
    This is like a Fast Pass, but for admission into a panel of your choice.
    None of the major panels ( Legends, Live Action, Parks & Resorts, etc..) however have Stage Pass...only the smaller ones.
    The main panels you will have to line up for in advance, an hour the absolute minimum.
    To get a Stage Pass, you will have to line up in a designated area in advance to pick up your pass ticket.
    Getting in line early increases your chances of getting to see what you really want to.

    The three main Disney related merchandise shops have huge lines as well.
    The Disney Store last Expo consistently had three hour waits, and the Imaginnering shop 'Mickey's of Glendale' was consistently a two to hour and half wait to enter.
    If you must visit these ( I do recommend 'MoG' of the three) get in line towards the end of the day..like an hour before the venue closes for the day.

    3. - Things not to miss at any given Expo are the Imagineering Pavilion and related panel(s), the Parks & Resorts panel, the Walt Disney Archives exhibit, and the general displays of merchandise and other items on the main Show Floor itself.
    Each Expo features different displays and themes, but those options typically always deliver.
    I also highly recommend stopping by the Imagineering shop 'Mickey's of Glendale'.
    Some cool stuff there if you are a fan...more worth the long wait to enter then the Dream Store or Disney Store.
    Many underestimate the Show Floor itself...but this is the place to be to bump into various Disney celebrities and other fans.
    Be sure to pay attention to those around you...you just might look up and see Marty Sklar or a famous animator standing next to you!

    4. - As far as 'tips' I can offer, here are my suggestions to help make the Expo experience better :

    First and foremost - BE REALISTIC.
    Except in advance that you WILL NOT see and do everything you may wish to.
    The schedule of events often overlaps and many activities you might want to partake in will not be possible.
    Go into this already accepting this, and you will not be effected negatively by any possible disappointments.
    This is not meant to make it sound like this will be a negative experience.
    No, chances are..you WILL have a great time but being open minded and accepting what comes your way is a real advantage when it comes to attending an Expo.
    It can be very overwhelming attending one of these so pace yourself, don't get too hung up on what you 'miss', and make the best of it.
    Attending a Expo is a lot of fun for the most part, but there have been some real horror stories from people who were not at all prepared and expected different results.

    Second - DO YOUR RESEARCH.
    I cannot stress how important this is, as it will help you better understand and plan for your visit.
    Read not only what is posted on the official D23 website, but more importantly read fan reviews from people who have attended.
    There are several thread on this very Forum, and many others elsewhere.
    Before I attended my first Expo in 2013, I spent a couple of months in advance reading fan reviews.
    I was so thankful I did...as I was able to avoid the pitfalls many 'newbies' fall into and had a far better experience knowing what I was getting myself into as far as chaos, confusion, and crowds.

    Other tips -
    Regardless of what the D23 website says regarding the rules for attending a Expo, DO bring snacks and bottled beverages into the venue with you!
    Don't bring a cooler of course...just bring some healthy snacks that will help you keep your energy level up and your dry mouth refreshed.
    Take a tote bag or small backpack with you and 'smuggle' in these essentials - granola bars, trail mix, fruit snacks, chips, crackers, nuts, candy treats, etc.

    That was my only regret last time I attended...not bringing my insulated travel mug with some ice water.
    I will be brining it THIS time..!
    I brought plenty of snacks and was glad I did.

    There is food availible but it requires standing in long lines and paying for the privilege.
    If you want to grab a meal while at the Expo, walk outside and visit the awesome collection of food trucks that are usually lined up in the Convention Center's forecourt area.

    Hope this helps answer your questions.
    Let me know if there is anything else you are curious about!

    David2319 likes this.
  3. Stevek

    Stevek Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2005
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    All good advice. Yes, the lines absolutely suck. I have zero desire to go back after the debacle a few years ago but if I change my mind I will definitely go later in the day.
    Figments Friend and raven24 like this.
  4. raven24

    raven24 Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Same here. I don't have a word to describe the experience of the lines. Tragic, maybe lol. I haven't been back since 2011.

    OP, if you're a camp out type of person, you'll be fine. Show up a day before, if you can, and wait in line. If that's not possible, show up as early as you can on the day(s) of. The can't-miss things depends on what they're offering this year and what you're interested in. Offerings as a whole never stay the exact same for every Expo.

    Are you a D23 member who happens to live in California or Florida?
  5. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2004
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    Oh definitely try later in the day for entry.
    One of the things I learned first hand at the last Expo.

    Like most, I was in one of the multi-mile long lines of people standing around waiting to get into the Convention Center on that Friday morning.
    Took an hour after the venue opened for the area I was in to get inside....people way behind me took probably an hour and a half.

    The reason I was there early was it had been strongly advised based on the research I had done.
    I also wanted to be sure to be able to get in as early as possible without camping out or lining up at 4am to secure a Stage Pass for the one panel that was a absolute 'must do' for me.
    So I bit the bullet..and walked into a chaotic scene.
    It was ugly that particular morning.

    I was so wiped out and borderline overwhelmed after actually getting inside the building that I needed to take a break almost immediately.
    I did get my Pass and see the panel ( totally worth the ordeal ) but decided afterwards that I would NOT arrive early the next morning.
    I'd skip the early morning arrival and entry process and come in when most would probably already be inside.

    That strategy worked so much better.

    Arrived Saturday morning around 11 and there were NO lines to get in...no chaos outside the venue...just happy people wanting to scan my entry ticket.
    I walked over and inside like a VIP.
    Such a extreme difference to the previous morning.
    So now I know that this year unless I have to get in early for some reason event wise, I'm going to wait until later to enter.
    Worked like a charm!

    I highly recommend it if you don't have plans to see any 10am panels.

    If you MUST see 10am panels, you need to camp out overnight or line up really early in the morning outside.

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  6. Stevek

    Stevek Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2005
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    The odd part is that, if I remember correctly, I hardly waited at all to get into the first D23 expo.
  7. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2004
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    Well they were a lot smaller back then...crowd wise.
    Over the last couple of Expos it seems the crowd levels have really skyrocketed.
    2013 was insane ....I can see why some would not want to return to the chaos.
    I questioned it myself when thinking about going again this year.

    The Expo's own massive success is now its own worst enemy, in some respects.

  8. zooey

    zooey Well-Known Member

    Mar 20, 2009
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    Lines are crazy, yes. My strategy is to get in line early. Many hours before the sun early. Maybe don't bother sleeping the night before early. It's honestly the only way to see the big shows. The smaller panels are easier as long as you're already in the building and not outside waiting in a gigantic, labyrinthian line.
    I would not be focused on march at all. It's always a nightmare no matter what I've tried. It's impossible to get any of the really limited edition stuff. The line for the big merch areas are constantly hours long, it never really calms down over the entire expo. I've stopped worrying about the Merch and learned to love the swag.
    Depending what you're into of course but the swag is my favorite part of the expo. I love to hang around the animation and live action area for a couple reasons: autographs and swag. They schedule autographs with voice artists, directors, animators, even legends and it's fairly easy to get one because they hand out line tickets. Just be there and you'll get one. They also randomly hand out art prints, toys, posters, books all kinds of great stuff that holds a lot of value. I got some fantastic lithographs here for free that I later framed and some things I even sold. They handed out the Wall-E legs set for instance. And Pixar ball replicas. Also the Drew Struzan force awakens poster that sold for $500 bucks. FOR FREE. That was a clamoring of humanity like I've never seen. But seriously It's nice quality stuff. The majority of things I'm glad I got years later are from that area. Another tip: bring a hard binder with sleeves with you for all the stuff you'll grab. That way it won't get wrecked.
    Overall, the expo is amazing. I love it. There's energy in the air, excitement roars in like a wave across the show floor, and there's something for every fan. But you have to go early, and you have to be willing to wait for what you want to see. If you manage expectations I think you'll be surprised by how much you get to see and do and you'll have a great time. There's really nothing else like it for Disney folk.
    Figments Friend likes this.
  9. Jacobiey

    Jacobiey New Member

    Apr 24, 2017
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    Hey there! I went in 2015 will be going again this year. Here is my take on somethings.

    Lines: Don't underestimate how much time you will spend in them. On the Friday we waited 3 hours (8am-11am) just to get inside the convention hall. The store lines averaged around 1-2 hours (for us at least). The second day we got up at 5am to go wait in line for the "Live Action" panel. Which we were in line (inside atleast) till about 10:30. The lines are long, but honestly just bring a pillow or something to play and you'll be fine. The convention centre has paid wifi, I forget how much it is but netflix killed a good chunk of time.

    Can't Miss: The Live Action & Animation panels IMO. The guests they have, the trailers they show. Its all worth it.

    My biggest tip, is plan ahead. They release the schedule a while in advanced, in addition to an app you can download on your phone. Also remember to have fun, i got a little bitter in 2015 about how much waiting around we did however looking back on it, i had a blast and wish i had enjoyed it more in the moment. I know I will this year.

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