For those of you who aren’t familiar with D23, it is the official Disney fan club. If you want to know more, see the FAQ. Two years ago, in conjunction with D23, Disney debuted a new convention called D23 Expo which is billed as the event for the “Ultimate Disney Fan” and which I describe as a mini-Comic-Con for Disney. I didn’t go to the first one in 2009 becasue it was in August and I don’t usually travel in August because of work (school starts in August and is usually a busy time for us in IS). I also figured this was going to be an annual event so if it was good, I could always go the next year. As it turned out the response to the ecvent was so positive, I regretted not going. When they announced that the next D23 Expo would not be held until 2011, I really regretted not going. I swore I wouldn’t miss the next one.
So here we are in 2011 and I’m sitting in Anaheim as I type this getting ready for the start of the Expo tomorrow (actually today since it is after midnight). I arrived in Anaheim this afternoon and kicked off the trip with some quality time in the parks. I won’t go into detail here, but wanted to hit some of the highlights.
- Southwest Airline Express Bag Drop — Love this! If you’re checking a bag and already have your boarding pass, just scan your pass, hit the number of bags you check, and you’re done!
- Southwest Early Bird check-in — Again, love this! I don’t love that it costs $10 each way, but I like not having to worry about checking in 24 hours ahead of time to secure a good spot in line. Today I had two A passes. I’d never get that checking in manually.
- Eden Roc Inn & Suites — I’m on the trip by myself because Kristin didn’t have any extra vacation days. To help keep the costs down, I went for a budget hotel… a really budget hotel. I found Eden Roc which is right next to the convention center and across the street from the resort area. My daily rate is $42 which is hard to argue with, and the room isn’t bad. Fridge, microwave, everything looks well-maintained. Nothing fancy on the outside, but it is perfectly adequate for my needs. The one downside is the problem with all budget hotels… scratchy towels. I’ll live
- Grand Californian Hotel — I cut through going to and from the parks and the place wows me every time. Very reminiscent of the Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World, one of my favorite hotels at that resort. Would love to stay at GC someday, but the daily rate is just insane. Not sure when I’ll ever want to spend that much on a hotel.
- Star Tours 3D — Wow! The new Star Tours is a worthy successor to the original. The original ride was fun, but was overdue for an upgrade. The new scenes and special effects coupled with the 3D and topped off with different combinations of story-lines really make this an E-ticket ride. My only quibble is the continuity issues. I only rode it once so only experience one random sequence. Mine went from the Battle for Hoth to a battle over Coruscant with Old Republic and Separatist ships. Ummm, OK. Looks good, so I’ll let it slide.
- Haunted Mansion — My favorite attraction. Have to say though that after years of being the better haunted Mansion between Disneyland and Disney World, I think Disney World HM has equalled or surpassed the Disneyland version. Disneyland still gets Haunted Mansion Holidays overlay for Christmas so that helps make up for it. During the holidays, Disneyland Hm is superior again. The exterior is better in DL too. Love that it isin Orleans Square, my favorite land in Disneyland.
- Pirates of the Caribbean — DL version is still better than WDW and always will be. To bring WDW up to par would require a complete reconstruction of the ride which is not going to happen. DL is longer, sets the mood better, and has been plussed in so many ways. The battle between the pirate ship and the fort is just one example of a scene that just feels more rich and detailed than its WDW counterpart.
- 3 Cheese Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans — I think I’m burned out on Monte Cristos. Thought I’d try the cheese version for somethign different, but it was just too rich and there was too much. This is an entree for two!
- California Adventure Rehab — Lot of work still ot be done, b ut it is looking good. Amazing to see Cars Land from afar. Going to be a huge addition to the park. Good to see so many people in the park at night. Shows it is finally living up to its potential.
- The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure — This dark ride replaced Golden Dreams, the Whoppi Goldberg movie about California history. Very well done with some of the most amazing audio-animatronics yet. The motion is so fluid and the skin acts like the characters’ skin does in the animated feature. Truly brings the characters to life.
- World of Color — Doubble Wow! Makes the Ballagio dancing fountains look like squirt guns. Not to be missed show.
- ElecTRONica — This is the nightly Tron-themed dance party at CA. I loved Tron Legacy and the music, so I really enjoyed this (even though I don’t dance). Great music (think BBC Radio 1 or SiriusXM BPM) and great theming. The Laserman Reconstructed show was simply amazing. Hard to describe but the performer on stage, costumed like a program from the Grid interacts with laser light as if it was an actual object. Just amazing to watch.
Should stop there. It is 1 AM and I have an early day tomorrow as the convention starts. I uploaded some photos and need to change some settings. Will post a link later.