D23 Expo is just around the corner and you might be wondering just what you got yourself into! Don’t worry: it’s going to be a weekend full of magic and pixie dust. But- you still gotta show up prepared! Use this ultimate D23 Expo packing list to ensure your convention experience is wonderful. Or at least not totally sucky.
Ultimate D23 Expo Packing List
I’ve been to D23 in 2015 and 2017. In ’15 I was a deer lost in the headlights wandering around lost and confused. But it was amazing anyway and I knew I’d be back.
In 2017, there was a lot more planning based on the lessons learned from D23 Expo in 2015.
Being prepared made that convention experience much more successful.
Here’s what you need to know about packing for D23 Expo.
What Is the D23 Expo?
Let’s start with answering the question- what is D23?
D23 is the official Disney fan club which was created on March 10, 2009 which means this is the 10-year anniversary. Whoop!
This was the first-ever official fan club of The Walt Disney Company.
The D23 Expo is the biennial fan event held in Anaheim, California to celebrate all things Disney. It’s the ultimate Disney fan experience!
Know the Convention Rules
First off, don’t be *that* guy or gal. Know the rules. They are on the website and it will save you so much headache and heartache if you go in “legal.”
That being said, at D23 Expo the rules are sometimes loosely enforced or exceptions made. So be flexible and listen to the folks on the ground who are there to keep you and others safe.
What rules and exceptions do I mean? For example…
Food and Beverage at D23 Expo
From the site:
No outside food, beverages, or coolers are allowed at D23 Expo. However, exceptions will be made for attendees with special dietary needs, including food allergies and baby food/formula.
Food and Beverage options will be available on site.
That’s a “burger” I bought at the Expo. It came without a pattie. Ahem. Luckily I followed these 23 things to know about D23 Expo tips and made a friend in line- and she packed in that can of tuna. Sharing is caring and I love that she brought snacks!
I can attest to personally walking into Expo all three days with some snack items and water on my person. And security saw it and didn’t make a thing about it. And I don’t have any special dietary needs and wasn’t traveling with children.
Now look- I didn’t pack in a full cooler of food and have a flat out meal in my backpack. I think that’s what the intent of this rule is, to be honest. Don’t do THAT, but bringing your kid an applesauce pouch or a granola bar isn’t going to be a problem.
So on my D23 Expo packing list, I’m including protein bars. If they make me dump them, cool, I get it and won’t have any problem doing what they ask.
But if I can have a quick snack on my person, everyone at D23 Expo will appreciate it. Cause I’m not me when I’m hungry, eh, Snickers?
D23 Expo is my favorite fan experience, so I don’t want to get into trouble or anything. But. I also know what we were able to do at expos in the past and feel like it’s worth passing that info on to you.
What To Add To Your D23 Expo Packing List
How you expo may be different than how I expo.
For example, I want to be in the big panels that sometimes require staying overnight. So I’m going to pack accordingly. And I have an Overnight D23 Expo Packing List for that.
I’m also collecting experiences, video, photos, and audio for my reporting via blog and podcast. This is basically my Super Bowl of experiences, so I want to document it ALL. That means I’ll have those kinds of media-specific type items in my bag as well. There’s a Bloggers Guide to D23 Expo Packing List for you as well.
You, however, may be more reasonable and not need to do that. The majority of attendees are average fans who just want to explore the expo floor and soak it all in. You have shopping to do and panels to attend- that don’t require sleeping on the floor.
I have a D23 Expo Packing List for the General Con Go-er as well!
If I have recommendations for items, I’ll include Amazon affiliate links on this post. Let’s Expo, y’all!
D23 Expo Packing List for the General Con Go-er
The biggest thing to remember with these packing lists for the D23 Expo is that you are going to carry it all around, all day long. And you will probably be adding to your bags if you’re a shopper. ]
There was a bag check, however, in the main hallway of the Expo.
I didn’t use it myself, so I don’t know the exact process. But keep it in mind if you find yourself with more than you expected to carry!
Pick out a great backpack or bag with easy access for security to go through but with room to carry all your necessary gear.
- Comfortable shoes– no poor, unfortunate soles here! Make sure you wear something that doesn’t kill your feet within 2 hours. Because it’s a long day of line standing at D23 Expo! I love my Oofos sandals and Toms shoes for Expo.
- Cosplay or Disneybounding outfits. Have fun with it! You’ll see all sorts of fans expressing themselves on the expo floor and it makes the whole experience so much fun.
- Portable chargers. There usually are charging locations around the floor, but don’t leave that up to chance! You want to capture all the moments: bring a chord and charger.
- Your patience. Please, please, please be patient with the Expo workers and guests around you. Everyone just wants to have a good time, but it does need to be done in a safe and controlled manner.
- Small snack if you want to risk it. There’s a huge chance you could be asked to throw it away or take it back to your hotel or car; but… I’m packing protein bars. Because this fangirl needs to keep her energy up to take in all this awesome.
- Disney Pin Collection. If you’re a collector, don’t leave yours at home. Your people will be here and you will want to trade with them!
- Sharpies and Autograph books. You never know who you might run into at D23 Expo and being prepared is never a bad look.
- Fun Lanyard to rep your fandom. You can buy one there or use the plain ones they provide, but where’s the fun in that?
- Hand Sanitizer or wipes. Because: there’s a lot of people and there’s a lot ewww going on.
- Tickets, D23 Memberships, etc. Don’t forget them!
- Poster Tubes. Sometimes there are freebie posters- pack one of these in your backpack and keep them safe as you transport through the con.
- Sunscreen. Yeah, most of the expo is inside in the AC. But there are sometimes lines outside that you’ll find yourself in- and they can take a bit. Better safe than sunburned, I always say!
- Paper and Pen to take notes! If that’s your kind of thing.
Overnight D23 Expo Packing List
Important note: every year is different and we still haven’t heard officially if there will be over-night lines for guests to queue up in. So this part of the post may not pertain to D23 Expo this year. But it’s still good info for any con you may attend that finds you sleeping in line.
Sleeping- ha, I’m cute. There’s not a lot of sleeping, to be honest, but at least you’ll be somewhat comfortable if you follow these suggestions in the Overnight D23 Expo Packing List.
In the past, these lines started forming around 10 pm the night before the Friday Legends Panel and the Saturday Live-Action Panel. Most panels do not have overnight lines so for most people this will not be your Expo experience. But if you want to be as close as possible to the 2019 Disney Legends or want to ensure entry to the Disney Parks or Movie Studio Panels, then consider lining up overnight as part of your D23 Expo plan.
If they have overnight lines, of course.
Here’s what goes on my Overnight D23 Expo Packing List- add the general list to this one if you decide to stay overnight.
- Layers. The holding area for the D23 Expo is in the underground basement of the Anaheim Convention Center. And the AC is NOT shy down there. Holy Moley, it’s cold. So dress for warmth- and remember you may or may not be stuck with these items the rest of the day. I wouldn’t bring a full-on blanket simply because I wouldn’t want to haul it around all day. But layers? Yep. All the layers.
- A hat. If you get cold easily, bring a hat! Something that will keep your heat in. I know you’re thinking I’m exaggerating, but I am not. It’s an ice locker down there! Maybe not glove level cold, but for sure a hat of some sort.
- Inflatable Neck Pillow. If you don’t take a mattress, then you might want an inflatable neck pillow.
- Earplugs. If you want to get any sleep, go ahead and invest in soft foam earplugs. They help.
- Eyeshade. The lights are big and bright all night long- so bring something to put over your eyes as you sleep.
- Air Mattress or blow up “banana” chairs. Think small because you have to fit in the lines that are taped on the floor. Sleeping bag size width or single pool float size mattress items were common. I bought this lightweight sleeping mattress last year and it was perfect. It inflated within 90-seconds and kept it’s shape all night. Most importantly it’s lightweight and compact weighing 1.6 lbs. I cannot stress enough how bringing a mattress of some sort is helpful.
- Light-Weight Camp Chair. It’s magical and folds down into a compact carrying case and weighs 2.2 pounds. Sports parents: you’re welcome. It’s so great! This is the no brainer option of the overnight D23 Expo list. If nothing else, bring this. Well- bring layers, but then bring a chair like this. Sitting on the concrete floor for hours is going to catch up to you for the rest of the expo. See: my experience in 2015. So bring a chair and you’ll be so thankful. NOTE: The 2019 D23 Expo recently put out that chairs were NOT allowed this year. However, they are reassessing if an exception will be made for the overnight lines. Follow their social media or webpage for details but be prepared to have your chair turned away.
- Blanket or Heat Sheet. I know I said blankets are generally a no-go, but man, I just get so cold. So I packed some heat sheets that they give to runners and a super light blanket. They helped, but, I was still cold. But I didn’t wear enough layers- so I’m still going with that as the better option.
- Refillable water bottle and snacks. In the basement, there were some food options (hours varied, was not all night long) so you can count of coffee or a bagel type thing around 6 am. But if you are looking for something earlier in the night, you might want to risk the rules and bring in something to snack on.
Blogger’s Guide to D23 Expo Packing List
This list is for the fellow bloggers, influencers, YouTubers and podcasters out there. Here’s a list of specific things we need to keep in mind when traveling to a con for coverage.
If you’re going as press or as the general public, you still want to be prepared to create the best content possible for your community.
D23 Expo Official Photography/Video Policy
Photography and videography may be prohibited at select venues, screenings and presentations. For the safety, security, and comfort of our guests, selfie sticks and drones are not allowed at D23 Expo.
Keep this policy in mind when you pack your media gear bag. No selfie sticks and you may not have all access at all panels.
The Blogger’s Guide to D23 Expo Packing List (or YouTuber’s Guide or Podcaster’s Guide… you get the point!)
- Paper and pen to take notes.
- Multiple phone chargers. You know 1 just won’t do it!
- Charging chords for all the electronic things. You’ll want these in your hotel room, at least.
- Extra batteries for anything electronic. You may not need them, but, then again… you probably will.
- External Camera (I love the Sony A600 for trips like this). The ability to zoom, take motion shots, and basically just get a higher quality image is so worth it for cons like the D23 Expo.
- Laptop or iPad (fully charged!). If you need to kill time in lines, publishing live content is an excellent way to do so.
- Headphones with microphone for Facebook or YouTube live reports from the Expo floor. You want people to hear you as well as see you!
- Zoom H1n recorder. I have a portable and mobile podcasting set up that is perfect for conventions like the D23 Expo. And the Zoom H1n is the workhors f e I need. It gets decent sound, even with a loud expo floor or panel and is perfect for on the go reporting. I added 2 lavalier lapel clip-on mics for one-on-one interviews and it’s pretty clean. Here’s what I purchased if you want to check it for yourself: Portable Recorder Case to hold the gear, Zoom H1n, Hosa Stereo Cables, Wind Screens for the Zoom, Lavalier Lapel microphones (get 2).
- Extra memory cards. You know you’ll be shooting photos and audio and video like a fool. Don’t run out of storage!
- Business Cards or branded merch like stickers to share. You’ll be in line a lot, and you’ll talk to a lot of people, and… well, network, my friends! You never know where your next connection may take you.
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.