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D23's Disney Fanniversary Celebration

Your D23 gift!
What: D23's Disney Fanniversary Celebration
Where: MCA Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
When: June 24, 2012
Who: PiC and I
Why: This is the first time D23 is taking a real event on the road.

While I did take some notes, much of this is from memory, and you know how *that* goes...

Well, here's a first for this site. No pictures. That can be best explained by Becky Cline's (Director of the Disney Archives) announcement, during her introduction to the event:

"If you just get excited and you wanted to text your buddy to say 'This is awesome', one of our volunteers will see that light and think you're taking pictures and confiscate your phone and sell it on Ebay." Gotcha. Turned my cell phone to vibrate.


It is said, there are warehouses. Indiana Jones kinda warehouses. They are, the Disney Archives.

The Disney Archives was founded four years after Walt's death in 1970, when a proposal from Dave Smith to organize Disney's history put him on Disney's payroll. He cataloged everything in Walt's office, which was sealed after his death.

His new position allowed him to acquire box loads of Disney artifacts from around the company, some willingly given, some torturously separated from their creators, and stored in the archives to preserve history. Kudos to the Disney Company to think of preserving their history.

But it also meant that a lot of things that went into the warehouse for preservation, also fell into a deep dark hole for decades. It was impossible to catalog it all, and much of it wasn't. It's not like computers, storage and databases were cheap at that time.

So after decades, many of these artifacts in the archives are being unearthed for the first time since they were put into those boxes 40 years ago. Part of D23's mission, as Disney's Fan Club, is to present them to the fans.

Fanniversary (or to be correct FaNNIVERSARY 2012) is the first real D23 event they're taking on the road, outside of Southern California and Central Florida. There have been other D23 events elsewhere (I've attended several), but those have always been to preview something before the general public, not the multi-media exclusive content shows designed for the Disney Insane. (That is, the paying members of Disney's Fan Club.)

And it is for fans. PiC for the most part liked the show, but thought we were all just a few cards short of a full deck. (Not her exact words, but it conveys the meaning.) Some of it was the cheering and clapping for favorite attractions, movies, and all things Disney. If you've ever been to one of these types of events, you know what I mean...
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Fanniversary Button


Back in late 2011, one of the D23 blogs discussed the upcoming events in the next year. One of those events was something called Fanniversary, a show that would be shown across the country in the spring of 2012.

Finally around March 1, 2012, D23 released details about a series of shows around the country called "D23's Disney Fanniversary Event." (I would supply a link, but it's been removed.) Tickets would go on sale at Noon (Central Time) on March 16, 2012, for the following cities:

It was a wild schedule. Some cities would have two shows, the others only one. Some were held in the morning, but others, like Chicago, were in the evening after the venue's normal business closed. New York's show was on a Tuesday.

Obviously, the venues of choice would have been The Walt Disney Studios, The Walt Disney Family Museum, or Disney's Hollywood Studios. However, since I live in Chicago, your choice is a little more obvious.

(At the end of the show, Steve Vagnini announced that due to the popularity of the show, it would be shown in four more cities this fall. One was Dallas/Ft. Worth, and someone in the audience shouts out "Now you tell me." Obviously, some people travelled a distance to see the show...)

Tickets were $18 for D23 Members. Any tickets still available on March 30 would be released to the general public at $25. This happened at several venues.

So, on March 16, 2012, I was online at noon, and got two tickets. After which the D23 servers crashed. But I was assured that if I had a confirmation number, I was okay!

Some shows, like the one at the Disney Family Museum, sold out quickly, within a day. Others, like the one at Disney Hollywood Studios, would take more than two months. (It was shown at Premier Theater in DHS, which has a large capacity compared to some of the other venues.)

Now all I had to do was wait 3 months. D23 was kind enough to send a reminder e-mail out a week before the event, just in case you might have forgotten.

Ironically, one of the men responsible for the Disney Archives, Roy O. Disney was born on June 24 in Chicago. Or they could have planned it that way. A fitting tribute.
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Okay, I lied. I took one pic of the audience before the show.


I did some checking on the web to see what the show was like, but there was little detail. When you can't take photos or video, I guess the level of reporting goes down a little.

The venue Disney chose (The MCA Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art) was used for the D23 Bambi Screening. It's a very nice place, with great acoustics and stadium seating. It seats 300, and there were few empty seats. I'd guess occupancy was 95+%.

Unlike in February, it was a warm sunny evening and the walk from PiC's parking garage was almost pleasant. (I kid you not, we were parked on the "It's Not Easy Being Green" Kermit the Frog level, just to throw in another Disney reference. No, I don't remember what the actual floor was.)

After showing my confirmation and D23 card, I was checked off the list, and we were each given a Fanniversary button, and was asked to put it on. It's your pass into the theater, and your can't get in without it. As a D23 member, I also got a Fanniversary pennant. (Only members get one. Oh boy!)

If you have been to other major D23 events (I don't mean movie screenings, but actual D23 events), it was done in a very similar fashion. It's a multi-media presentation, hosted by two (well, usually two) cast members, using audio, still photos and video.

Fanniversary was hosted by Steven Vagnini (from the Disney Archives) and Billy Stanek (from D23). Vagnini is an old pro at this, I've seen him at other D23 events doing the same thing.

I didn't time it, but it was about one hour fourty-five minutes long. And they cover a *lot* of stuff, so the show moves at a pretty quick pace. There were outtakes from old movies, interviews from various people involved in the production (for instance, an interview with Richard Sherman about Jungle Book, who opened the video with "Hello D23 members!", so it was obviously shot for Fanniversary), short movie clips, old video and pictures from the Archives, etc.

The show opened with one of those great Disney montages, which showed short clips of how far reaching the Disney Company is today. ESPN, ABC, The Muppets, Marvel, Pixar, The Disney Studios, the Disney kid-friendly cable channels, their internet sites, Cruise and of course, the Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney, Hong Kong Disneyland...

I've probably missed a few, but here were the highlights. I don't think I put any spoilers in here if you plan to see a show this fall, but... You've been warned.
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1927 - 85th.

Oswald the Rabbit. They showed a clip of how Disney got Oswald back, a humorous story about a trade. Al Micheals went to NBC for Oswald. Disney getting back Oswald got so much media attention, that Al Micheals wrote a note to Iger about how he was in disbelief that Oswald got so much more attention that he did. (He was also quoted as saying, "I'm going to be a trivia answer one day.")

Anyway, if you remember the post I made about Harum Scarum, they showed the clip made from the drawings. What they didn't show on the Yahoo clip, was that Oswald attaches wings to the camel and they fly. Yep... Could be a reason no known print exists...

1932 - 80th.

Dippy Dawg, aka Goofy, made his debut. There was a short clip from Dippy Dawg's first appearance, then another clip from Bill Farmer, official voice of Goofy. It's confusing when Farmer does Goofy, the voice is perfect, but it's coming out of the wrong mouth. I'll bet he'd be a fun lunch guest...

Flower and Trees was released. First color animated short. Disney was halfway done with Flowers and Trees, when he decided to scrap it all and redo the film in Technicolor.

Walt gets Oscars for Flowers and Trees and Mickey Mouse. Walt over his life won 32 Academy Awards, with 59 nominations. That's something like triple the number anyone else has won. Back when Academy Awards meant something.

1937 - 75th.

Multi-Plane camera was used for the first time to create the cartoon, The Old Mill.

Huey, Dewey and Louie. Appeared first in Sunday Comics, but got further life in the TV show Ducktales. Ducktales, coincidentally is having its 25th anniversary.

Donna Duck aka Daisy Duck makes her first appearance.

1942 - 70th.

Bambi is released. They had the song Raindrops, which was the precursor to Little April Showers.

1952 - 60th.

Suzi the Little Blue Coupe. Lambert the Sheepish Lion. All sorts of memorable cartoon shorts were made that year.

Imagineering is established by Walt. They showed the first piece of Imagineering art by Harper Goff, for a Mickey Mouse park across the street from the studios which was never built. It was, however, the precursor to Disneyland.

1957 - 55th.

Old Yeller is released.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough opens in Disneyland's Castle.

Zorro makes his debut.

1962 - 50th.

In Search of the Castaways is released.

Pirates of the Caribbean opens. They had the original plan of the walkthrough wax museum type attraction, with photos of the mock-up they had in a warehouse. They also showed an early film of the first ride through on Dec 2, 1966, while they were still working on the attraction. They also had some of that great footage of the media event opening...

1967 - 45th.

The New Tomorrowland in Disneyland opens.

Jungle Book is released. There was a recorded segment by Richard Sherman discussing how "I Wanna Be Like You" came about.

The Happiest Millionaire opens in theaters. Happiest Millionaire was supposed to be a Mary Poppins follow-up with all the songs written by the Sherman Brothers, but it just didn't turn out that way...

1972 - 40th.

Walt Disney World - If You Had Wings opens. (1972-1987)

The Main Street Electrical Parade premiers at Disneyland. It was the land based version of The (1971) Electrical Water Pageant being shown as the good-night kiss on The Seven Seas Lagoon. So technically, the MSEP started in Disneyland, but has its roots at WDW. They had footage of 1972 parade. Lots of floats were 2-D flat floats, like the Electrical Water Pageant. (They also had photos of the Hercules Electrical Parade in New York. Hercules, coincidentally is celebrating its 15th anniversary.)

Mouse Factory debuts on TV. (2 seasons, 43 episodes.)

1977 - 35th.

Pete's Dragon is released.

1982 - 30th.

Tron is released. Shown was a video of Harrison Ellenshaw, the visual effects supervisor on Tron.

Epcot (nee EPCOT Center) opens. They showed a clip from The Making Of EPCOT Center. Yes, they plugged the 30th anniversary event...

1987 - 25th.

Star Tours opens in Disneyland. They had some video from the opening at Disneyland.

Disney Dollars debut on May 5. Video about the Disney Dollars, how they're made, and Scrooge's first delivery of Disney Dollars to the park.

The first Disney Store opens. I have the D23 t-shirt to prove it.

1992 - 20th.

Aladdin. (One of the clips shown was the Stitch tie in where Aladdin and Jasmine are flying on their carpet, when Stitch comes along in a spaceship and Jasmine leaves Aladdin for Stitch. It just happens to be Lilo and Stitch's 10th anniversary.)

Newsies. They had a couple of the actors that played the kids 20 years ago relating their experience.

The Mighty Ducks (The Hockey Team) is formed.

Disneyland Paris (nee EuroDisney) opens. They showed a tilt-shift video of a day at Disneyland Paris.

Fantasmic! in Disneyland debuts. Video with Barnette Ricci, the original creator and director of Fantasmic.

Anything younger than 20 years was figured to be too recent in the collective memory, so they stopped at 20, even though they flashed several clips by of newer material.

They finally closed the show with the 75th anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and the impact the film had on Disney and the movie industry. They also said they were able to salvage about 54 items from Snow White's Scary Adventures in Walt Disney World. (The attraction closed at the end of May.)
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More shows

Steve Vagnini made the announcement that due to the popularity of the show, they would continue it in four more cities.

September: Seattle, Philadelphia
October: Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth
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Final Thoughts

I'm not sure how much the shows evolved over the 8 to 10 shows they did, but Oswald's Harum Scarum was supposed to have been a recently discovered set of drawings, but opened the show. The show is presented in such a way, that any number of elements could be removed and introduced, which could make Fanniversary a yearly event for the next 5 years and beyond. We'll see.

It was a fun show, and I would recommend it to any Disney fan, and well worth the $18 ticket. It was fun and informative, and most of all, it was a road show being brought to the fans. Something D23 will have to do to keep attracting members.

(If you can see any of the shows this fall, I'd recommend it.)

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