I’ve attended every one of the Disney D23 Expositions and this year proved to be the best so far. It would appear Disney has finally gotten it right. D23 2015 bristled with interest and enthusiasm and the expansive show finally had the spark that was lacking in earlier incarnations. No less a man than Walt Disney himself knew that a presentation has to have a “wow factor” in order to be successful. After three lackluster attempts, I can honestly say that this years event would have made the Old Maestro proud.
While D23 has proven to be a marvelous marketing platform allowing the company to rev up enthusiasm for upcoming movies, television shows and theme park attractions, it’s also a celebration of something even more important. The Disney legacy remains the foundation of all the amazing entertainment displayed in this bi-annual venue and that’s the real reason fans continue to show up year after year. Yet, even with all the glamour of celebrity. Even with all the announcements of newer and bigger attractions in California, Florida and around the world. The one factor that remains a constant is the Disney art. Even as the enthusiastic fans cheered the appearance of entertainment icons such as Susan Lucci, Johnny Depp and George Lucas, the real stars of the show were the creators who often labor in the shadows unseen by the general public. Of course, I’m speaking of the amazing Disney artists who make the magic happen by simply picking up a pencil or a brush and creating magical worlds and compelling characters that entrall and delight millions the world over. This years Disney Legends Ceremony welcomed three talented artists and recognized them for their amazing work and the stellar contributions they made to the Disney legacy. I confess I was nearly misty eyed to see the audience at this years ceremony rise to its feet to celebrate the work of Disney artists, Eyvind Earle, Andreas Deja and Carson Van Osten. It made me realize the fans get it. They know and understand what Disney is truly all about.
So, while it’s easy to be distracted amidst all the hoopla, glitz and glamour of Tinsel Town and the high profile celebrities who grace the stage. And, it’s true that announcements of massive projects and huge expansion tend to garner our attention. It’s comforting to know that the fans still highly regard the people too often forgotten in venues such as these. They are my friends and colleagues. The gifted individuals who continue to create compelling stories and amazing characters using tools as simple as a pencil and paper. All of it. Every last bit of it begins on the drawing board and comes from the creative mind of the artist.