The Most Princess Things That Ever Happened at D23

Before we begin, I'd like to wish a very happy birthday to Jodi Benson, the voice of my favorite princess. Jodi is a regular attendee of the D23 Expo, and I was fortunate enough to see her perform there during the Disney Legend Awards ceremony. I've been talking about princess-themed events lately, and there's no bigger Disney Princess fan event out there than D23. It is the official convention for Disney fans that takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center every other year. The expo is the one chance that fans get to interact with the people who worked on their favorite movies and preview ones that are still in production. I have been to three of the five expos that have taken place since 2009. They also have a huge interactive exhibit floor where they sell new merchandise, display artwork, costumes, and props from movies, and hold autograph signings. It is the ultimate experience for any Disney fan.


D23 is the name of the official Disney fan club that the company established in 2009, the same year that they had their first expo. The "D" stands for Disney, and the "23" represents 1923, the year that Walt established Disney as a company. The event was created to bring fans together and give them an opportunity to see what's next for one of the largest corporations in the world. Fans also use the expo as an opportunity to cosplay and purchase exclusive merchandise. The event gets tons of press, so if you show off your new costume there, you will probably see yourself on a website somewhere the next day. I even got interviewed for a local newspaper when I dressed up as Sofia the First at an exhibit to meet Princess Sofia and some of the actors from her show. That is just one small example of the many princess things that have happened at the D23 Expo over the years.

The first D23 I attended was in 2011. The biggest highlight that year was the Disney Legends Award Ceremony, where all of the people who had the biggest impact on the company were presented with an award for their services. In 2011, they awarded the most popular Disney Princess voices as legends. Each actress was presented with her award by the corresponding prince from her movie, which was very cute. After the speeches, Jodi Benson, Paige O'Hara, Lea Salonga, and Anika Noni Rose sang songs from their movies, concluding with a group performance of a "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes," in which they harmonized beautifully for the final note. It was truly magical.


Another highlight of my experiences at D23 are the limited edition designer dolls of the Disney Princesses that they reveal at each expo along with matching artwork. In 2011, they released a doll set of the Disney Princesses dressed as high fashion models. Every purchase at the Disney Store exhibit booth came with a free lithograph of one of the designs. The cast member who rang my purchase was very nice and gave me the Ariel one that I requested. At the following D23, I saw girls cosplaying one of the outfits from that collection. My favorite doll set, released in 2013, is called the Fairy Tale Designer Collection. It featured each princess in a classic Renaissance dress that matched the time period of their movies with beautiful lace and ribbon accents alongside her prince in a romantic pose. I loved them so much that I cosplayed as the Ariel doll from the collection at the following expo. The subsequent D23 featured sets of princesses alongside their movie's villain. They also released an "Art of Ariel" collection in 2013, featuring beautiful new Ariel artwork and merchandise, followed by an "Art of Jasmine" collection in 2015.



The excitement at the D23 Expo is contagious. They have many exclusive panels where they preview artwork and clips from upcoming movies. In 2011, I attended a panel where I was treated to some beautiful Celtic artwork that the artists at Pixar did for Brave. They were very careful about what they told us when showing us the art and did not spoil any of the major revelations in the movie. The 2013 expo revealed lots of early footage from Frozen, but again with no spoilers. They did a very good job at selling the concept because I left D23 that year feeling eager to see it before being ultimately disappointed. This past summer at the expo, a clip was revealed from the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph sequel featuring all of the Disney Princesses in CGI. Every living princess voice actress came out afterward for a photo. The clip was shown again later at a panel called "The Power of the Princess," where Jodi Benson, Paige O'Hara, Anika Noni Rose, and Auli'i Cravalho got together to talk about their respective roles as Ariel, Belle, Tiana, and Moana. Unfortunately, the studio is stubbornly withholding the sequence from the general public thus far.


If you have ever wanted an opportunity to meet the people behind your favorite princesses and see new artwork and clips of upcoming princesses, the D23 Expo is the place to be. It's also a great way to meet new people with common interests. I befriended the creators of the Skywalking Through Neverland podcast at one of the expos I attended and got the opportunity to guest star in a few episodes. The exclusive merchandise is another great bonus. I still have a gorgeous Ariel tote bag I received in 2013 depicting all of the new "Art of Ariel" artwork they released that year. If you haven't been able to attend in the past, I hope you enjoyed this recap of princess events. Be sure to keep an eye out for the dates of the next D23 Expo in the summer of 2019!

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