With a convention for just about everything with a fan following, for a long time it seemed odd to me that there was no convention for Disney fans (especially growing up in LA, where it was impossible not to meet at least a few people who didn’t go to Disneyland practically every weekend). Disney fans always fascinated me, because there was always a certain quality that struck as almost cult worship. So it seemed odd that I had never heard of a convention devoted to Disney when so many other pop up conventions existed.
That was, until I was seventeen, when one of my old friends mentioned that she and her family had gone to D23.
“What’s that?” I had asked her. She had initially answered that it was a convention devoted to Disney, but when I looked into it, I found it was so much more than that. You see, in its most general form, is Disney’s “Official Fan Club” founded in 2009, which features articles about movie easter eggs, park history, along with character searches and other such Disney-related topics. There are multiple levels of membership for this club, the General membership being free, and the Gold membership being around $80, and the Gold Family membership being $105.
Gaining a membership seems to get you a series of discounts and offers to exclusive Disney items, including jewelry, clothes, toys, and hotel rooms at Disney resorts. Gold members also get early bird access and special prices to the biannual D23 expo. This convention, which happens in Anaheim (right next to the Disneyland Park), and Tokyo (at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort). What happens at this convention? Think of everything related to Disney ever and smash it into a convention (kind of like Comic-con). They have panels for movies, meetings with Disney legends, and plenty of vendors selling Disney items. Oftentimes as well, there will be “exclusive D23” Disney merch, sold only at the convention, making it practically invaluable to Disney fans (I will admit that I have a D23 Japan exclusive tsum tsum hat, but that was a by luck find on ebay). It’s the place to be if you are a part of the Disney-fever club.
And of course, as with any convention, there are plenty of cosplayers, or someone who dresses up as a fictional character. People get in costume as a character anywhere from Disney itself to Marvel and now Star Wars, as thousands of people want to dive fully into the atmosphere of the D23 expo.
I have never been to a D23 expo (nor do I plan on going to one), so I can’t say in great depth what exactly goes on at one of those conventions. But I could probably guess that its exactly what you would expect when you hear the words “Disney convention”.