Earlier this month, D23, Disney’s official fan club, kicked off their third annual FANniversary tour celebrating major milestones across the company. All facets of the Disney company are celebrated; from beloved characters to animated and live action films, television shows, theme parks, attractions and more – including Marvel and LucasFilm. We attended the tour’s first stop, which was held at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA. Continue reading for our recap and review of this year’s FANniversary celebration.
Upon arrival to the Studios, we checked in outside the theater and each guest was given a pennant flag, a card featuring Sleeping Beauty artwork with an offer to pre-order a newly mixed version of the soundtrack (the event was sponsored by Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection), and the choice of one of four buttons, each featuring a different anniversary. I have to say, any freebies are nice, but I would’ve preferred a postcard set featuring the various artwork, or possibly a pack of 4 small buttons rather than being limited to just 1 of the 4. The button options were Donald Duck, Mary Poppins, “it’s a small world”, and Disney-MGM/Hollywood Studios. My husband’s choice was a no-brainer since Donald is his favorite character, but I had a really hard time deciding between the other three. I really loved them all, but in the end I think I chose well. What do you think?
Before things got started, everyone was asked to turn off their phones and any recording devices, meaning I don’t have many photos from the event but I’ll try to improvise here and there. The festivities kicked off with a sizzle reel highlighting memorable moments from D23 events over the last 5 years (where has the time gone?). While it’s a fun walk down memory lane, it’s really just an extended commercial. Next, our hosts Rick Lorentz and Billy Stanek (both from the Walt Disney Archives) took to the stage and jumped right into the presentation. They had good chemistry and were happy to make the audience laugh. Throughout the presentation, they’d ask the audience trivia questions and the person who answered correctly won a prize from the Archives. Not too shabby! They kicked things off by taking a look back at the 1964 World’s Fair. Many of today’s most beloved classic attractions came from the World’s Fair, including: it’s a small world, Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and Ford’s Magic Skyway. Something I learned here is that former Imagineer and Disney Legend, Rolly Crump, is actually responsible for the exterior of Disneyland’s elaborate “it’s a small world” facade, and not the attraction’s designer, Mary Blair. However, it’s evident that Mr. Crump was inspired by Mary Blair’s style, and tried to honor that in his design.
Next up were live action films, celebrating 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), and The Love Bug (1969). What makes FANniversary fun, and sadly I don’t have photos to share, is that they’ll present never-before or rarely seen behind-the-scenes photos and footage from the sets. This is where the event really shines. It isn’t so much that you’re celebrating anniversaries, but that you’re getting a look behind the curtain that you would never be able to see otherwise. Notably missing from this section was the 50th anniversary of Mary Poppins, but more on that later.
This led into animation, celebrating Donald Duck (1934), Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Little Mermaid (1989), and The Lion King (1994). As an added bonus (in other words, this won’t happen in all cities along the tour), Disney Legend and animator, Floyd Norman, was in attendance and spoke to the audience about what it was like to work on the production of Sleeping Beauty. It was inspiring to hear how much passion he still has for the film, even 55 years later.
Also celebrated were TV shows, such as Muppet Babies (1984), Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers (1989), and something I’d never heard of (am I dating myself?), Disney Channel’s Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999). A nod was given to Marvel for their 75th anniversary where they shared a video of Stan Lee telling the hilarious story of how Spiderman came to be.
At this point, they moved on to theme parks and attractions, celebrating Disney-MGM/Hollywood Studios (1989), Pleasure Island (1989), Disneyland’s Monorail, Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage (1959), the Haunted Mansion (1969), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (1979), Splash Mountain (1989), and Tower of Terror (1994). This took up a good portion of the presentation with so much to pay homage.
D23 wrapped up the presentation with a sing-along of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” honoring Mary Poppins’ 50th anniversary. Afterward, our host Rick and Mr. Floyd Norman were available to take photos with guests outside the theater. Rick had some goodies from the Archives ready for photo ops, including the original black hat that Julie Andrews wore as part of Mary Poppins’ nanny costume, along with a “Duckster” which was an in-house award given to a very small number of people who made “notable contributions” to the company. Two of the recipients include Clarence “Ducky” Nash (voice of Donald) and Walt Disney (who was nominated by Roy Disney).
All-in-all it was a good time, and it was worth the price of admission just to be at the Walt Disney Studios. There were things we learned here for the first time, along with photos & footage we had never seen before, which was all a huge plus. It’s worth noting that there are 3 different pricing tiers: $23 for Gold/Silver D23 Members, $33 for Free D23 Members, and $40 for the general public. If I weren’t a Gold Member, or if I were attending this in any other city/venue, I don’t think I’d feel like it was a good value. Also, the goodies were a bit lackluster compared to previous FANniversary events, and I was surprised that the new head of D23, Adam Sanderson, didn’t address the audience as Steven Clark used to do at the beginning of every event. For a comparison to the two previous FANniversary events, we have recaps of the 2013 FANniversary as well as the inaugural event in 2012.
If you’re interested in attending this year’s tour, listed below are the remaining tour dates. You can go to D23.com/Events to see if there are tickets available in your area:
Have you attended this year’s FANniversary, or are you planning to? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the event in the comments. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.