Saturday, September 5, 2009

Reverend's Previews: Disney's D23 Expo

Magical fairies. Evil queens. Lovable bears. No, this isn’t a review of summer’s GLBT Pride events! It’s a sneak preview of the first-ever D23 Expo. Billed as “the ultimate Disney fan experience,” the expo will be held September 10-13 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The classic films and theme parks created or inspired by Walt Disney have long held a special place in many GLBT hearts. While nothing has historically said “family friendly” like the Disney brand name, the company has also been a pioneer in hiring gay and lesbian employees, supporting our community and defending us against religious bigotry, such as when the Southern Baptist Convention called for a boycott of Disney in the mid-1990’s over the corporation’s non-discrimination policies.

The D23 Expo will offer a broad array of speakers, exhibitions, celebrity appearances, film screenings, interactive experiences and exclusive merchandise to Disney fans of all ages and lifestyles. Some of the most iconic Disney props and costumes of all time will be on display, and fans will have the opportunity to meet many of their favorite Disney characters and artists.

Special sneak peeks will be provided of upcoming Disney productions such as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (will fan fave Johnny Depp, who plays the Mad Hatter, make an appearance as he did at July’s Comic-Con?), Tron Legacy, The Princess and the Frog, Toy Story 3, Rapunzel and next summer’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which will star Brokeback Mountain’s Jake Gyllenhaal in a video game-inspired fantasy. Disney’s stage productions, including the currently touring Mary Poppins, will also be highlighted.

A highlight of the D23 Expo promises to be the Disney Legends ceremony, which will be held for the first time outside of Disney property on Thursday, September 10. This year’s honorees include Robin Williams, all four stars of The Golden Girls (Beatrice Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan and Betty White), Tony Anselmo and Bill Farmer (the current voices of Donald Duck and Goofy, respectively).

Jeffrey Epstein, co-author of the bookQueens in the Kingdom: The Ultimate Gay & Lesbian Guide to the Disney Theme Parks, is involved in the marketing of the D23 Expo. Subsequently, GLBT attendees can look forward to special presentations and sights geared toward our community. (Readers can learn more about Jeffrey and the queer side of the Disney parks at the Queens in the Kingdom website.)

GLBT and other Disney fans won’t want to miss what is promising to be “the single largest gathering of all things Disney ever assembled in one place at one magical time”! The D23 Expo will be open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. Tickets are required for admission, and may be purchased by visiting the official D23 site.

Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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