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6 D23 Expo Tips For a First Timer

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Before you know it, the 2022 D23 Expo will be here. If packing up and heading to the west coast is on your horizon, you want to check out these Six D23 Expo tips for a first-time convention goer.

D23 Expo The Ultimate Disney Fan Event logo

After spending the 2015 D23 Expo in a state of wonder, I was hooked.

There were things that worked and didn’t at the 2015 D23 expo, but I knew this lover-of-all-things-Disney needed to be there again.

And I’ll confess: my tickets were bought the moment they went on sale.

So yup: D23 Expo 2017 happened and it was amazing.

The D23 Expo Animation panel blew me away with Wreck-it-Ralph 2 footage.

And I might still be dead – I’m not kidding- after all the Marvel Avengers: Infinity War cast showed up on stage at the D23 Expo Live-Action Panel.

Marvel Avengers: Infinity War cast on stage at D23 Expo 2017

The D23 2019 event was equally as amazing with The Rock and Emily Blunt showing up to talk about The Jungle Cruise. 

It’s always awesome and 2022 is bound to be just as amazing!

D23 Expo 2022 tickets are going on sale on January 20, 2022.

I can promise you: you want to go.

If you are a big ol’ Disney nerd: make it happen!

Are you as excited as I am?

If this is your first D23 Expo, there are a few things you need to know.

6 D23 Expo Tips For a First Timer

I was completely unprepared for 2015. All of it.

Here’s hoping these tips will make things a little smoother for your first D23 Expo experience.


In 2015, I showed up around 9 am on Friday to discover I was late to the party. Way late.

But- it doesn’t start until 10 am, right?


But tell that to the folks who start lining up the night before. Oh yeah, they totally do that.

D23 Expo Tips for the first timer: picture of crowd lined up and sleeping on floor
The overnight crowd. I joined this crew around 3 am early Saturday morning to make sure I had a seat in the Live Action Panel.

I discovered this fact after wandering through a maze of lines trying to get inside for the first panel.

The outside folks? Yeah, they weren’t committed.

The peeps already inside: legit commitment levels there.

They had chairs, food, pillows, and portable phone chargers and had spent a sleepless night on the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center basement.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, come early and plan to hang in there.

Sleep will happen on the following Monday.

I brought a backpack with a lightweight chair, some protein bars & 3 phone chargers.

For the 2017 D23 Expo events, overnight lines started queueing up at 10 pm on Thursday and Friday.

We do not know if overnight lines will be happening for 2022 just yet!

D23 Expo Minnie Mouse signage from 2015


As any Disney-goer will attest, have a plan before you go.

Maybe not a minute-by-minute itinerary but a basic plan is a must.

I had NO plan.

But I did have friends.

And they took pity on me and answered my panicky texts with a moderate amount of eye rolls.

friends at d23 expo basement Tips for D23 Expo

In 2017 I traveled with friends & fellow bloggers and one of them created a super-detailed plan for us.

It worked. We rocked the D23 Expo and enjoyed every second of it!

2019 was even more detailed and specific and, truly, this made everything run so much smoother.


Leave the kiddos at home if possible. Now, hear me out. I know it’s Disney and this should be a family thing! It’s totally kid-appropriate, but I can’t say it’s kid-friendly.

I love mine. They love Disney.

But this would have been a special kind of hell for them.

Ask yourself: do your kids like standing in line for hours? Possibly in the sun? Without easy access to food, water, or bathrooms?

Outside the convention center Lines at the D23 Expo in 2015 D23 Expo tips

If the answer is yes, your kids are rock stars. And possibly not really kids (check those birth certificates!).

If the answer is no: just don’t.

There were a lot of strollers on the expo floor, so I know many people don’t agree with me here. But if you can find a sitter, or send the kids to Disneyland with Grandma, I think you’ll be able to maneuver through the crowds a little better.

If you do bring the kids: they get a discounted ticket and kids under 3 are free.


Rolling solo can be great, but you may find the buddy system a better option.

Since the biggest time suck here is waiting in lines, having a friend to pass the time or hold your place in lines is completely worth it. So recruit someone to go with you.

If that fails: we are all Disney people here, which means you’ve got a friend in line.

Pass time by chatting with those around you and who knows, you may end up with some great stories to share!


Expect the unexpected.

Whatever you think is going to happen, probably will, but in true Disney fashion, it’s going to be plussed.

D23 Expo Disney Legend Johnny Depp on stage accepting award

Johnny Freaking Depp was a surprise addition to the Disney Legends award ceremony in 2015. As you can imagine, people lost their ever-loving minds.?

He even threw a little Captain Jack our way.

As in, he showed up the next day at the Live-Action Panel AS CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow on D23 Expo Stage
D23 EXPO 2015 – D23 EXPO, the ultimate Disney fan event, brings together all the past, present and future of Disney entertainment under one roof. Taking place August 14-16, this year marks the fourth D23 EXPO at the Anaheim Convention Center and promises to be the biggest and most spectacular yet. (Disney/Image Group LA)

It was – dare I say it?- magical.


I know it’s trite and overused, but it simply was. How many people can say they saw Captain Jack- the real deal- in person?

One lucky audience member even had grapes thrown at him. I mean, how cool would that be?

And that, kids, is why I can’t quite see out of my left eye…?


During the three-day event, I walked by famous Disney Imagineers, and iconic Disney Legends, and listened to some favorite actors and actresses talk about their love of all things Disney.

Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde meeting fans on D23 Expo convention floor

Ginnifer Goodwin said we were her people.

The Rock told us we were aiga (family).

John Lasseter thanked Bob Iger. Bob Iger thanked George Lucas. Ellen DeGeneres stormed offstage…

And I’ll never forget this blue sweater. Ever.

Anthony Mackie , Chris Evans blue sweater, Kevin Feige on D23 Expo stage
D23 EXPO 2015 – D23 EXPO, the ultimate Disney fan event, brings together all the past, present and future of Disney entertainment under one roof. Taking place August 14-16, this year marks the fourth D23 EXPO at the Anaheim Convention Center and promises to be the biggest and most spectacular yet. (Disney/Image Group LA)

So freaking cool, y’all.


Well— it was in 2015, anyway. 2017 and 2019 were another story.

It was pretty crowded that last day in 2017 and 2019.

So consider Sunday just in case it turns out to be less crowded.

After 2 days of amazing panels, many people slept in or simply skipped the Expo on Sunday.

I found it to be the perfect day to attend, shop, check out the exhibits, and sing along with a Snowman and a Princess from Arendale.

Krsiten Bell singing on stage at D23 Expo Frozen panel
D23 EXPO 2015 – D23 EXPO, the ultimate Disney fan event, brings together all the past, present and future of Disney entertainment under one roof. Taking place August 14-16, this year marks the fourth D23 EXPO at the Anaheim Convention Center and promises to be the biggest and most spectacular yet. (Disney/Image Group LA)

It was my favorite day of all three thanks to the lower crowd levels.

Friday is exciting because everything is so new. Saturday offers fantastic panels and information and the cosplayers are ON POINT.

So basically: don’t miss any of it.

My plan is to save Sunday for the majority of my expo floor exploring & shopping experience.

Want some more tips? I have 23 Things to Know Before the Next D23 Expo for you to check out as well!

Have you been to a D23 Expo? Any thoughts on your first time??

D23 Expo tips for a first timer. Things you need to know before you hit the Anaheim Convention Center!

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Carolyn Hopper

Saturday 15th of January 2022

We’re trying to go for the first time in 2022. I need help planning. Should we plan on spending the night in line Thursday?

Patty Holliday

Saturday 15th of January 2022

Probably not- but get up early. In 2019 they did not hold overnight lines inside- there were people that lined up on the streets though. I'm guessing there will not be overnights for the panels in 2022. But we'll know more closer to the event!


Wednesday 12th of June 2019

I was reading another one of you articles and now I have another question. Sorry for the two comments >____<

"D23 Gold and Gold Family Members will receive Priority queuing at all presentations held in Hall D23 and the Arena Stage."

I don't have any of those memberships. So how does this work? Will they let in ALL the D23 Gold Members in before non-membership folks? Do I kind of need to get a D23 Gold membership if I want any chance of seeing one of the more coveted panels?

Thank you!

Patty Holliday

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

Hey Karen! Great questions.

Again: we’re not sure how this will look just yet.

In the past they limited the D23 member lines so once it was full, the D23 members still had to get in the regular lines.

If that’s the case again then no it’s not necessary to purchase a membership.

But things could change for 2019!


Wednesday 12th of June 2019

Hello! I will be going to D23 Expo for the first time this year. I've found several of your articles extremely helpful so far. Thank you!

I read the previous comments about an event at 10:30 AM where you said 5 AM is okay.

What about: "The Walt Disney Studios will present a behind-the-scenes look at its blockbuster collection of upcoming films on Saturday, August 24, at 10 a.m."

What do you think would be the time range we should line up to guarantee getting in the door?

Thank you so much!

Patty Holliday

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

We don’t know for sure if they will be allowing over night line ups just yet

But for this one? You might want to be in line the night before. It’s generally one of the most desired panels!


Friday 19th of October 2018

This will be my first time going and I can only go one day. What day would you suggest? Also, does Disney release a schedule of panels and events?


Saturday 20th of October 2018

Well, that's a hard one! Friday and Saturday traditionally have the "big" panels that most people are interested in. And Sunday is a bit more low-key. So it depends on your tastes! Saturday is by far the most packed day. And yes, a schedule will come out, but it will be much closer to the event. 4-6 weeks out.


Thursday 13th of July 2017

Hi there and thanks for all of the great tips! I attended D23 for the first time as press for my blog in 2015, so i was able to get right in the morning. This time however, I'm going with a girlfriend and will be waiting in the normal entrance line for general public.

If we want to get in on Saturday to see the "Power of the Princess" panel at 10:30am, what time do you recommend we try getting in the general admission line? Do we need to camp out the night before? Or can we get there at like 5am in the morning? Any and all info is truly appreciated!

Thank you in advance!


Thursday 13th of July 2017

I would think 5am would be ok for that one. Def earlier than I was last year (9am or so!- way too late lines were nuts!). Have fun!

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