Before you know it, the 2019 D23 Expo will be here. If packing up and heading to the west coast is on your horizon, you want to check out these 6 D23 Expo tips for a first-time convention goer.
After spending the 2015 D 23 Expo in a state of wonder, I was hooked.
There were things that worked and didn’t at 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.
D23 Expo 2019 ticket are on sale and the 2019 D23 Expo schedule has been announced.
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.
D23 Expo Tip #1: SLEEP IS OVERRATED
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.
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 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 2019 just yet!
D23 Expo Tip 2: PLAN. FOR MICKEY’S SAKE, HAVE A PLAN
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.
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!
D23 Expo Tip 3: DO THE ADULT THING HERE
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?
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.
D23 Expo Tip 4: YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND IN LINE
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!
D23 Expo Tip 5: BE PREPARED FOR MIND BLOWING MOMENTS
Expect the unexpected.
Whatever you think is going to happen, probably will, but in true Disney fashion, it’s going to be plussed.
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.
It was – dare I say it?- magical.
I know it’s trite and overused and lame, 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, iconic Disney Legends, and listened to some favorite actors and actresses talk about their love of all things Disney.
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.
So freaking cool, y’all.
D23 Expo Tip 6: SUNDAY IS A GREAT DAY
Well— it was in 2015, anyway. 2017 was another story.
It was pretty crowded that last day in 2017.
However— 2015 told a different story. 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, to shop, to check out the exhibits, and to sing along with a Snowman and a Princess from Arendale.
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??
Patty Holliday is a movie critic, writer, and podcaster living in the Washington, DC area. Her goal is to bridge the gap between casual fandom and picky critic with parent movie and television reviews.