Disney held their biennial D23 Expo in Anaheim over the weekend, the fourth one thrown by the company. Imagine San Diego Comic-Con if it was run by one company, designed to promote Disney's upcoming slate of projects from films to theme parks.
The event drew a huge crowd, in part thanks to the increased popularity of Disney acquisitions Marvel and Lucasfilm with upcoming movies like "Captain America: Civil War" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Here are some of the things Disney wants you to be absolutely psyched about:
Star Wars Lands
The biggest announcement to come out of D23 was Star Wars lands in at both Disneyland and Disney World. They promise that both will come in at 14 acres, and while the lands becoming reality is still years away, they also announced new Star Wars upgrades like Star Tours trips from the new Star Wars movies, a Star Wars season where Space Mountain will become Hyperspace Mountain and more. So, run down to Disneyland now, because the lines once Star Wars Land becomes a reality will likely stretch from here to Endor.
We also talked with Shawn and Carmelle Marshall from the Parks and Cons website and podcast about D23, Star Wars Land before the announcement), Disney parks around the world and how the convention changed in 2015; listen to the bonus audio here:
Star Wars movies
The Star Wars movies took a backseat, as they refrained from showing off any new footage. Fans had to settle for a shot of the "Rogue One" spinoff cast, along with the announcement that "Jurassic World's" Colin Trevorrow would be taking on "Episode IX." Sorry everyone, you're just going to have to wait a whole four more months before you get to see the thing.
Captain America: Civil War
"Captain America: Civil War" showed off its first teaser trailer, with fans so psyched about one of the reveals that it even led to a trending hashtag despite no one outside of the 7,500 people who fit inside the room having seen it: #YourBucky. The reason? An emotional moment where it's revealed that Bucky remembered Captain America despite the character previously seeming an amnesiac. "You know, he remembered you. Your pal, your buddy, your Bucky," villain Crossbones says in the trailer. Excuse us while we "awwwww" and quietly cry in the bathroom.
Ellen DeGeneres has made it a long-running joke on her show that "Finding Nemo" should get a sequel based on its success, and her shilling for the movie where she voiced Dory has led to her getting her own semi-sequel/semi-spinoff, "Finding Dory." One thing about D23 is that it's a corporate event in some ways more similar to an Apple keynote presentation that a Comic-Con panel, so you can actually turn around and follow along with what the presenters are saying in many of the speeches. The script included spots for Ellen to make witty banter with other cast members, which she pointed out and made a joke of the effort to create forced witty banter, which the director tried to awkwardly laugh off.
Toy Story 4
Posters were shown for sequels to "Cars" and "The Incredibles," but one of the sequels to get the most excitement from fans was the next "Toy Story," with original director and Pixar/Disney animation head honcho John Lasseter returning to direct it. It's set to be a new genre for the "Toy Story" films — a love story between Woody and Bo Peep, inspired by Lasseter's own wife. So get ready for a date movie for all ages, even the boys first discovering girls. (There's also a Toy Story Land coming soon to Disney World.)
The Good Dinosaur
There are a lot of Pixar sequels in the works, but the one coming this November is "The Good Dinosaur." A clip shown from the movie focused on the main characters' dead parents — as they pointed out, it is a Disney movie, after all. The clip had that "Up"/"Inside Out"-type emotional resonance, so bring a Costco pack of tissues with you to the theater. (They also previewed their next all-original non-sequel, "Coco," based on the Day of the Dead.)
Moana & Gigantic
"Zootopia" is the first Disney animated film coming up, but the bigger news was on their other upcoming projects. One of the upcoming Disney animated films to get the biggest push, along with the Rock dropping in to promote it, was "Moana." It's an upcoming film set in the South Pacific, based on local legends, with the filmmakers noting that it was heavily researched. Sadly, the name of the film is pronounced "Mo-ah-na," not like Tony Danza yelling "Mona!" They've also got "Gigantic," set to tell a definitive version of the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. It's set in Spain, so feel free to talk about this one with a Castilian accent.
Frozen: The Musical
One area where Disney makes an impact that gets less attention is Broadway. D23 Expo featured Broadway performers singing songs at a variety of their panels, as well as giving them their own panel going through the history of Disney on Broadway with hit shows like "The Lion King," "Aladdin" and "Newsies." They also did an encore from the next Disney stage musical which is, of course, an adaptation of "Frozen." If you're planning a trip to New York City, get ready to have "Let It Go" stuck in your head all over again.
Disneylands around the world
While we have Disneyland in our backyards, and the Disney addicts among us still take trips out to the larger Disney World, Disney also showed off the twisted angles on Disneyland you'll see around the world. There's a brand new Shanghai Disneyland opening up where the Pirates of the Caribbean get their own land for the first time — it was noted that Disney's Chinese audience has no idea POTC was a ride before it was a movie, so the new Pirate-land will take its cue from the film, rather than the classic ride. There's also a Tomorrowland with a "Tron" roller coaster and many more slightly different takes on the Disney experience. Hong Kong's even getting an Iron Man Experience ride. Sorry U.S. Disney fans, there was no announcement of a Marvel land this year.