D23 Expo is back! The biggest Disney convention in the world returned to the Anaheim Convention Center this past weekend- the first since 2019. The expo was bigger than ever with an eco-wide celebration of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company (D23 is a direct reference to the brand’s founding year of 1923). We were invited in to cover D23 Expo and share the experience.
A Look at D23 Expo 2022 Day One
Disney Legends Awards Ceremony
The first day of the D23 Expo began with the Disney Legends Awards Ceremony, where contributors to the Walt Disney Company were honored as Disney Legends. The awards ceremony recognized numerous actors and performers, including Josh Gad (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2,” “Beauty and the Beast”), Idina Mendel (“Frozen and “Frozen 2”) and a posthumous honor for actor Chadwick Bozeman (“Black Panther”). Bozeman’s brother accepted the award on his behalf, and actor Gad gave a moving and hilarious speech detailing his first Disney job rejection (it had a happy ending now). Several major Disney announcements were also made during the Disney Legends Ceremony.
“The Simpsons” panel also took place Friday morning with announcements for the new season release (Season 34 arrives September 25, and Season 33 comes to Disney+ on October 5). Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) moderated the panel of animators, including creator Matt Groening. Audience members were treated to live drawings, an exclusive viewing of the new Disney+ short that poked fun at the world of Disney princesses, villains and princes (“If you acquire the Simpsons like they did, we take no prisoners,” Smith joked). Fans were also treated to some outside franchise news from Matt Groening himself regarding the progress on “Futurama” and “Disenchanted.”
The Expo Floor
The expo floor was bustling with fans looking to acquire new merchandise and convention exclusives. Lines for Mickey’s of Glendale, Loungefly and the D23 Expo Store wrapped around the booths. Numerous brand activations were on the expo floor, like Disney on Broadway, with a virtual viewing of one of its signature shows; the Bullseye Diner presented by Target, the Disney bundle stage (Disney+, Hulu and ESPN) and much more.
Additional Panels & Screenings
Numerous other panels took place throughout the day, including several behind-the-scenes looks at various Disney+ shows and films throughout the many Disney-owned brands like Marvel. Other panels included discussions at the Disney Archives stage like “Who is Recognized With a Window on Main Street, U.S.A.?” The Talent Central portion of the convention allowed fans a chance to meet some of the writers, animators and artists associated with various Disney brands.
Panels and screenings continued into the evening with the D23 Expo “Mousequerade” 2022 showcasing cosplay designs from all over the Disney universe. The event was hosted by Nina West and Yvette Nicole Brown and featured Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano (she makes her character return in “Tales of the Jedi” this fall). A screening of “Epic Adventures With Bertie Gregory” also took place in the evening, giving fans a closer look at the National Geographic series.