This post will focus mainly on attending conventions pregnant, but I’ve written a LOT in the past about what to expect at fan conventions specifically if you’re attending with a chronic illness. Please check out these posts for more info:
So let me begin with explaining what D23 is, and how it’s different from a normal Comic Con.
First of all, it’s Disney. Everything is Disney. Now, remember that Disney also includes Star Wars and Marvel, so you’ll still see plenty of comic book themed costumes and sci-fi geekery. But this is also the unique convention where pulling out some of your favorite and more obscure Disney costumes will be VERY appreciated – so that’s exactly what we decided to do!
When we arrived, we were surrounded by shout outs from the crowd on all sides. “It’s Pacha and his wife!” “Oh my God I LOVE The Emperor’s New Groove!” “You two are the BEST!”
In fact, we even ran in to an Asian guy who barely spoke any English, but greeted us with “Chicha! Pacha!” Then pulled out his phone and said “I’m Kronk.” Then showed us a picture of himself dressed up as Kronk, another character from The Emperor’s New Groove.
Now, pregnancy mistake #1, one that I actually already talked about in my last post, I didn’t wear appropriate shoes. And honestly, I’m not sure anything would have made me. You can’t even see my shoes here, but they were screen accurate. Black sandals with a thick strap and a low heel. I had to wear my character’s shoes! I just had to! But this meant that my feet were killing me all day, and we ultimately went back to the hotel a bit early because of a combination of that and the fact that we got off the plane and came straight to the convention. I guess we thought we could have superhuman energy reserves because there would be so much cool stuff to see and do. There wouldn’t be time to be tired! Except that’s really not how it works.
In case you’re not familiar with these awesome characters and their less than awesome shoes….
I love her, she’s so sassy! Plus there’s not that many pregnant Disney characters out there. Go Chicha. Represent the bump!
Anyway, that should give you an idea of the kind of awesome people at D23. Real Disney fanatics. My kind of people. But there’s a lot about D23 that’s really different than a “normal” convention. The main difference is that it’s presented by Disney itself. That means a few things. For one, it’s huge. Two, it’s a lot more than panels and shopping.
In addition to formal panels and meet & greets similar to other cons, they also have huge show floors. And I mean huge. Disney Infinity and Disney Playmation, two innovative kinds of video games, each had their own huge pavilions with game demos and all kinds of interactive things to do. Pixar, Disney Parks, and Disney Animation all have their own expansive areas with huge set pieces, interactive displays, and amazing walkthroughs. There was even a Minnie Mouse area where you could get a manicure and a Tinkerbell bun hairdo – but hubs wasn’t too interested in waiting in line for that. He was much more interested in touring the Disney Parks walkthrough where the first ticket ever sold to Disneyland was on display, along with the original head of Maleficent from the amazing Fantasmic show.
At most conventions, the vendors and artists area takes up the bulk of convention floor space. Here, however, the interactive pavilions were allotted the lion’s share of the floor space. A few more of my personal favorites on the show floor: a real, working WALL-E…
And, because I’m a dweeb, the pavilion devoted to the new TV series, Star Wars Rebels!
Also Target had a cool set up where you could create your own animated nickelodeon (and a gif to share online)!
Now, we did make it to a couple of “panels,” although they were a bit different from the usual Q&A sessions at a normal con. We only went on the very last day, which is usually the slowest. That means that, while the crowds were more manageable, there were less of the big panels that drew a lot of hype. We missed the Star Wars panel and the Marvel panel and the live action panel where Johnny Depp showed up and the Pixar panel where Ellen Degeneres and Dwayne Johnson popped up, but that was ok with me. I’m not the kind of person who really gets hyped for movies before they come out. I LOVE Star Wars, but I haven’t sought out any details about the new movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m WAY excited for it. But I’d rather just wait to see it and see what happens than get little clues about what might be in it.
What I did want to see was the world premier of a concert – the Silly Symphonies Concert, where they played those wonderful old cartoons on massive screens while a live orchestra played the score, and it was hosted by Leonard Maltin himself. Having spent our college years renting the various Disney cartoon boxed DVD sets (also hosted by Leonard Maltin), we’ve developed a strange fondness for him. Listening to him speak live about these early cartoons and Walt himself was amazing. What was more amazing was that after the show, he hung around in the hallway more than happy to say hello!
AND TAKE SELFIES. We took a freaking selfie with Leonard Maltin. That, I just can’t believe that actually is a thing that happened to me.
…Seriously, I need to take a minute here to switch gears because WHAT EVEN, THAT’S A SELFIE WITH LEONARD MALTIN.
Like most cons, we did need to wait in line to get in to any of the panels/presentations. But because this is Disney and Disney is awesome, they actually had fastpasses for the panels. A limited number, first come first serve, but on Sunday the line for fastpasses was about a ten minute wait and guaranteed not only a spot to the more popular panels, but priority seating. And for no extra cost – all you had to do was plan ahead a little.
The other panel we saw wasn’t hosted on a private stage. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a presentation at a convention handled this way. On the show floor, there was a stage. And anyone could walk up and watch, no waiting in line, no fastpasses, just come and go. Or watch while you wait in another line for a store or a walkthrough. It’s a pretty brilliant idea.
We saw a presentation on animation, specifically on what makes a character a Disney character and how animators can draw a character in a more likable way. It was hosted by Eric Goldberg, who animated the Genie in Aladdin as well as many, many others through the years. He used tons of examples of characters from Disney and even the Peanuts gang to talk about character design and what gives them appeal. He actually designed Louis from the recent Princess and the Frog film, and talked about why his initial design was a failure, and how he changed Louis into a character with that illusive Disney appeal. It was quite fascinating.
It was also a good chance to sit down for a while, which is good for a pregnant lady. If you are going to a con pregnant, I’d definitely suggest putting more emphasis on attending panels and presentations than shopping or doing walkthroughs. You’ll still get to see a lot of once in a lifetime stuff, but you’ll be sitting still most of the time. And that’s good.
Now, I’ve heard in the past that D23 has had issues with food. We were told to be prepared for food to run out, and to possibly block out time to go to the nearby hotels to eat. When they did have food, it was very limited to hot dogs and popcorn type things. Not this year! Not only was there a fleet of food trucks outside with a huge variety of nice food (I even saw a former Chopped champion out there), inside they had food courts with plenty to choose from, along with occasional smaller carts that had pretzels, hot dogs, and snackier items.
My one complaint as a pregnant lady was that almost every vendor exclusively carried Pepsi drinks, which means the only caffeine-free option was Sierra Mist. Noooo thank you. At the bigger food court type areas, they had gatorade and I was pleased with that, but it was a bit out of the way. I was very thirsty and pathetic by the time I hopefully waddled over to see if they had anything other than Sierra Mist. We were allowed to bring in our own water bottle, so I bet we could have brought in special drinks if we had known. So, pregnant ladies of the world, take note: caffeine-free isn’t always widely available at large events, so scope out the water fountains and bring a drink of your own if possible.
And this is less of a complaint and more of a wtf, but did no one at Disney stop to think about this food court name even for a second?
Now is as good a time as any to talk specifically about getting in to this convention. Anyone can go, but if you’re a member of D23, it’s going to be slightly easier for you. For one thing, you can buy tickets much earlier. Since this is an event that sells out fast, that’s a good thing. In fact we bought our tickets so long ago that we didn’t even know we were pregnant yet!
Actually, if I’m being completely honest, it’s a fluke that we were D23 members at all. It’s a cool club, don’t get me wrong, but not the kind of thing we can afford to do all the time. We happened to join when they were offering a discount on memberships, AND giving away reproductions of original sketches of Maleficent. So I got the membership as a birthday present for hubs, since she’s his absolute favorite character. Then, since we were members anyway, I wheedled the idea into his head that this was our chance to go to D23 and consequently Disneyland even though we just bought a house and really shouldn’t! And then we got pregnant.
ANYWAY. I don’t regret any of that, it all turned out great. Yay for me! Be quiet bank account, you’re fine. My point is that membership has some great perks. The best perk is that entry is quick and easy. When we arrived shortly after the doors opened on Sunday, there was an insane crowd outside. We found our way to the D23 member line, only to find that it too was dishearteningly long. However, despite a lot of walking, the wait was much shorter than it looked and we were in much quicker than the non-members. Plus our name was on the super cool member wall of awesomeness.
If you want to go without being a member, be sure to buy your tickets as early as you can, then arrive as early as they allow. For Friday and Saturday, line up was allowed the night before, so that should give you an idea of the kind of wait it is. Sunday is much more chill, and line up begins only a few hours before the doors open that morning. This is why I love Sunday con days. I’m not a crowds and line-camping kind of gal. So just get there early if you’re a non member and you’ll be fine. Or, if you just don’t mind not being the first people in, come whenever.
Now there’s just one thing left to talk about, and it’s my personal favorite: SHOPPING. Cons are the funnest place ever to shop. Probably because you’re never stuck in a changing room. In fact, no, it’s not like normal shopping at all. It’s the equivalent of a toy store for adults. Stuff you’ve never seen before, rare toys and collectibles, nerdy pins, patches, and car stickers, it’s just all good things that I could look at forever.
There are two kinds of shopping at D23. There’s the Emporium (aka the vendors) just like at a regular con, where you’ll find specialty vendors who sell and trade pins and vinylmation (although that’s sadly dying out), vendors who sell antique disney toys, vendors who sell collectibles and rare souvenirs, shops of autographed photos and posters, there was even an entire store that ONLY sold Sorcerer Mickey stuff. Because I’m not the only one who’s gaga for Mickey in the hat!
This is also were you find fan artists like authors and podcasters. I don’t know as much about this stuff, but my husband loves Disney fan podcasts and got to meet some of his heroes and buy their books (with fresh autographs of course).
With a lot of self control, I only bought myself three rare vinylmations (and the kitty one, which isn’t rare but it’s a kitty and I like it).
The other kind of shopping is the official Disney shops – the Disney Dream Store, where you can find one of a kind art and convention exclusive merchandise, Mickey of Glendales, where you can find cast member and imagineer merchandise not usually available to the public, and of course, The Disney Store.
I was excited to see these official stores. On Friday and Saturday, they offered fast passes for these stores as well, because the lines were crazy. But on Sunday? No such luck. The Disney Dream store was line-free, and while some of the exclusive merch was cute, I didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without. No, what I couldn’t live without was the Sorcerer Mickey Tsum Tsum in the Disney Store. Aka the store with the longest line in the world.
But just look at him!
So we waited in line with pizza for lunch. Then about halfway through the line, they announced that the sorcerer mickey tsum tsum was SOLD OUT. Herein lies the problem with going on Sunday. It’s chilled out, but things like this happen. Exclusive merchandise goes bye bye. We did see a few vendors with the Sorcerer Mickey for sale…..for $200 a pop. Hubs even offered to buy me one if I really, really wanted it. But I knew we couldn’t spend that much on a doll. Currently on ebay the teeny tiny ones are selling for $50 each, while the medium and large are running from $100-$250. Heck, I don’t think it would have occurred to me to buy one to sell, but apparently that would have been a very sound financial decision.
Sigh. It’s just a silly toy. But I’m still a bit down about the whole thing. I really built it up in my head beforehand that getting this toy was going to be the cherry on top of the whole trip. Don’t do that. You can’t always get exclusive merch. And if you’re pregnant and tired and wearing hard heels and you just wasted 45 minutes in line, it’s really easy to get really upset about stuff like that.
ANYWAY. Towards the end of the night, we walked slowly and mostly talked to other fans. Outside of the convention hall at around sunset there were a TON of people in beautiful costumes taking advantage of the perfect light to get pictures by the fountain. Here are some of my favorites that we got to see (pictures are NOT mine, though. Click on them for the source):
Can you believe we never caught these two for a pic? We kept seeing them! They’re fast walkers though. Thanks instagram user @equepons for the pic!
And there were like a bazillion more. I decided that since I’m pregnant and I’ve been to Disneyland before, I wouldn’t worry too much about taking pictures. I wanted to really enjoy being there and see it myself instead of through the lens of a camera. So if you want to see more pictures of the amazing costumes there, just google D23 2015 and you’ll find some really amazing stuff!
Coming up next: Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure with a baby on board! Stay tuned!