What a whirlwind! Over the last 4 days I’ve been in Anaheim, California attending the 2017 D23 Expo. I’ve probably banked a total of 15 hours of sleep – between attending daily D23 Expo panels and enjoying Disneyland theme parks in the evening – but it’s been one of the highlights of my career thus far. So, get ready for a multitude of D23 Expo information over the next several days! I’ll start with the Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios Upcoming Films panel.
I was invited as media to cover this press trip. All opinions are my own.
Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios Upcoming Films
Imagine being in a large room with 7,000 of the biggest Disney fans…..the crowd cheers and claps in anticipation of the first 2017 D23 Expo panel, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Many of my friends would lose their voice [and mind] over the course of the 3 day event. Yes, the event is mind-blowing!!
Alan Horn, Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, begins the presentation with a few words about Disney’s latest film accomplishments.
Shortly after he introduces the audience to John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He comes out guns blazing with free Disney t-shirts for random audience fans. Lasseter is widely known for his unique collard shirts he wears, so this was a perfect opportunity to share the love. With an room filled with 7,000 fans I somehow managed to catch a collard Cars shirt. I couldn’t believe it! (Picture coming soon)
An Untitled DisneyToon Film releasing 4/12/19
After a roaring warm welcome, Lasseter has us turn our attention to the multiple big screens for a sneak peek of two flying jets that resemble the “Planes” films. Lasseter shares, the untitled DTS “theatrical feature film explores the future of aviation—taking moviegoers to the edge of discovery in the air—and beyond.”
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure releasing 11/22/17
Out walks Kristen Bell, the voice of Anna, to introduce the new 21-minute featurette, premiering in theaters before “Coco.” The crowd screams with excitement, and shortly after Kristen introduces Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, to the stage – who goes straight into song. Josh performed one of four new songs, “That Time of Year” live for the Disney fanned audience.
Frozen 2 (Title TBA) releasing 11/27/19
Lasseter, Kristen and Josh then discussed Frozen 2, poking fun at the untitled film with outlandish titles like “Frozen Peas” and Frozen…not Thawed.” We also watched behind-the-scenes video showcasing the filmmakers’ recent research trip to Norway, Finland and Iceland.
Continuing with the Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios Upcoming Films:
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck it Ralph 2 releasing 11/21/18
We had the chance to see the global debut of a scene from the film that pays hilarious homage to the Disney Princesses – with all the original voice actresses. You guys, this scene is so amazingly funny!! Then one by one, the voice actresses began filling the stage. The crowd literally went wild. Standing in front of us were Disney royalty including Auli‘i Cravalho (“Moana”), Kristen Bell (Anna in “Frozen”), Kelly MacDonald (Merida in “Brave”), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in “Tangled”), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog”), Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in “Aladdin”), Paige O’Hara (Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”) and Jodi Benson (Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”). Also joining them was comedian Sarah Silverman, who returns as the voice of Vanellope von Schweetz in Wreck it Ralph 2.
Filmmakers revealed a new character, Yesss, an algorithm who plays an important role in Ralph and Vanellope’s journey within the internet. Golden Globe®-winning actress Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) lends her voice to the character.
Toy Story 4 releasing 6/21/19
Lasseter invited Pixar’s Josh Cooley to the stage, revealing that Cooley has assumed full director responsibilities for TOY STORY 4. The pair brought with them a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the director’s life at the Northern California studio.
Incredibles 2 releasing 6/15/18
We again turned our attention to the big screens for a special presentation about Edna Mode, super-suit stylist, and what fashion phenoms Heidi Klum, Kendall Jenner, Zac Posen and Rachel Zoe think of the “Incredibles” designer. You can check out the special clip below.
Director Brad Bird – who lends his voice to Edna – joined Lasseter on stage to welcome the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (newcomer Huck Milner) and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). “Bob’s actually home with the kids this time and I’m the one out fighting crime,” added Hunter. She joked, “I’ve been working out 13 hours a day!”
Coco releasing 11/22/17
The panel ended with a first-ever performance of “Remember Me” from Pixar Animation Studios’ upcoming feature film COCO. Anthony Gonzalez, who provides the voice of Miguel in the film, and Benjamin Bratt, who lends his voice to Ernesto de la Cruz, teamed up to perform the song live on stage.
The grand finale featured more than 160 performers who descended upon Hall D23 at the Anaheim Convention Center. It was an incredible way to kick off D23 Expo!! I can’t wait to share more from the panels, so check back daily for more D23 Expo news!
Photos by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney