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D23's Disney Fanniversary 2013 Celebration

The 2013 button, your entrance to the theater...
What: D23's Disney Fanniversary Celebration 2013
Where: MCA Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
When: March 10, 2013
Who: PiC and I
Why: D23's second annual Road Show

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


On January 13, 2013, D23 announced their second road show, D23's Disney Fanniversary Celebration 2013. They were to do 15 shows in 10 cities across the country: It's interesting to note the change in venues. Gone are Dallas/Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York, replaced with San Diego, Phoenix, Washington D.C., and Newark. Okay, you can argue Newark is just as close as New York for a lot of people. Also note that the first three were the late additions last year. Maybe in the rush to add more shows, D23 made a mistake in their demographics.

D23 structured the Fanniversary Event after major anniversaries of Disney's accomplishments through the years. Last year's event, D23's Disney Fanniversary Celebration 2012, celebrated those milestones with years ending in '2' and '7'.

This would be their second road show, celebrating those milestones in the years ending in '3' and '8'. The biggest milestone this year, would be the 90th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company...

Tickets would go on sale for D23 members on February 5 at Noon (Central Time.) Any remaining tickets would be open to the general public on Feb 12. $21 for members (up to two tickets), $35 for general admission. (That does represent a 17% increase for members, and a 40% increase in general admission price.)

So I was online at Noon on February 5 and for the first time in a long time, had no problem getting tickets. (Okay, they were a couple minutes late getting the page online.) The Disney Family Museum venue sold out quickly, like last year, but other venues would sell out as well. Chicago would sell out both shows about a week before show date.

If you've attended any of the major D23's events such as those in Anaheim or Walt Disney World, (I'm not talking about movie or location events) you will feel right at home at the Fanniversaries. You won't get the detail like you would at say the WDW 40th or the Epcot 30th events, but you will see things that no one (outside the Archives) have seen in a long time, if at all.

D23's Disney FaNNIVERSARY 2013

Fanniversary SWAG
Stuff we got...
It was a crappy day. Mid-40's, grey, slightly windy, and it's been raining all morning with a promise of more rain later. Yes, rain is better than snow, but it was 30 degrees warmer here at the same time last year. And Fanniversary 2012 was held in June last year, when the weather was even more pleasant.

PiC was once again my guest, since she's fully aware of my Disney addiction and has monthly parking near the area where Disney hold's all of their Chicago events. It's about a quarter to third of a mile from her parking garage to the Disney Store on Michigan Avenue, and to the Museum of Contemporary Art where D23 held Fanniversary 2012. (And the Blu-Ray Bambi screening, and this year's Fanniversary event.) The cost of her ticket might be around the price it would cost me to park. Welcome to Chicago...

We arrived about 1:35pm for our 2pm showing, and found ourselves waiting in a short line for registration. I presented my D23 card and a picture ID, and was checked off the list.

SWAG consisted of the D23 button (which was also the admission to the theater), as well as three promotional books on Frankenweenie (a flip/animation book), Wreck It Ralph, and a slick, glossy press kit book on Brave. They all had a page for the producer/cast member listings and the phrase "For Your Consideration", so I assume these are the press kits for the various award groups. (Academy, Golden Globes, etc.)

They also had a program this year, making note taking much easier. :-) But no pennant. Oh well. I guess I won't have a wall full of them...

Laura Sanchez was there (well, she is D23's event coordinator, and is always at these events), as well as other Disney Cast Members to help out the production.


Fanniversary 2013
The Stage prior to the show
We took seats in the front 1/3 of the theater on the right aisle. Even though we thought we'd arrived early, the place was already getting crowded. (Both Chicago shows had sold out a few days before the event.) They were showing various slides on the screen, from ads for the Lone Ranger to the D23 Expo in Anaheim, to Disney trivia questions.

Right on time, Laura made her appearance on-stage, and as resident D23 bad guy, announces that anyone caught taking pictures or video will be brought down to the royal dungeon and beheaded. Or something like that. Scores of cell phones appear and ringers are turned off, and throughout the show, we would notice Disney stalkers who would roam the auditorium looking for guests with a camera or cell phone out...

Fanniversary 2013 started off with another one of those very cool montages of all things Disney, all over the world. From the movies of Disney, Marvel and Pixar; to the Disney Parks; to the television/radio empire of ABC/ESPN and The Disney Channels; to Disney Cruise and Adventures... It is a reminder of how far spread Disney is in the Media and Entertainment world. D23 is after all, the *Disney* fan club.

I've seen a number of these, and they're all pretty cool. Disney should put all of them together on a BluRay Disc. I'd buy it... (Also wouldn't mind putting one together. :-) )

Our presenters were Rick Loretz from the Archives and Cynthia Momdjian from D23. Apparently they had done the previous three venues, noting the fine warm, sun-shiny weather in San Diego, Phoenix and Orlando. Not so much here. Welcome to Chicago, guys! The first road show at the Studios in L.A. was apparently done by D23's Billy Stanek and the Archive's Justin Arthur. I was hoping for the Stanek/Arthur team, since Stanek did last year's show and did an outstanding job, and I was hoping to say hello to Justin Arthur again. Justin was the archivist I ate dinner with during Super Scream in Great Movie Ride last year.

Not that I'm complaining about the Rick/Cynthia team, but Cynthia's voice was hoarse and read much of her material, making the entire presentation more sterile and academic than the previous D23 events. It made it feel less spontaneous, even though it is a scripted performance. The audience was also less participational (if that's a word), than other D23 events. If I'm the one who has to start some of the applause, something's wrong. Heh.

Oh well. The info contained in the show was first rate. That's what really matters.

It should be noted that last year's show in Chicago was done on Roy O's birthday. This year it was done on D23's 4th birthday. (Do you remember the "Are you D23?" campaign? D23 kicked off on March 10, 2009.) I'm sure it's all coincidence.

So here were the highlights. There are probably spoilers in here if you're going to see the show. You've been warned.

(Most of the material in parenthesis below are my comments...)
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Fanniversary 2013
The show sold out a few days before the event
1923 - 90th.

They kicked off the celebration with penultimate 1923 event, the creation of the Walt Disney Company. More accurately, it was the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. The company went through several name changes, but it wasn't until 1986 that the corporate entity was finally renamed to "The Walt Disney Company" we know today. But that'll have to wait until Fanniversary 2016...

1928 - 85th.

After losing Oswald in 1928, Walt and Roy developed a couple of new characters, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. (Mortimer and Minerva. Doesn't sound the same, does it?) D23 had a clip of Walt himself describing Steamboat Willie, and how the cartoon was done first, then the soundtrack added to the cartoon. No dubbing or multi-track mixing existed then, so all of the sound effects, music, voices, etc, had to be done live and on cue. (If you've ever listened closely to the soundtrack of Steamboat Willie, there really is a lot of sound effects in perfect sync with the orchestra...) In a later interview with Walt, he was asked if he really did the voice for Mickey. He replied as Mickey, saying his voice actors told him that if he knew what Mickey should sound like, that he should do the voice. And he knew he'd always be on the payroll, so...

For 40 years, Mickey's birthday always moved around a little, and it wasn't until 1978 (Mickey's 50th) that company decided they should really have a definitive date. Dave Smith to the rescue, who came up with an original program from the Colony Theater, showing the premier date of November 18, 1928.

Also celebrated was Plane Crazy, Mickey's first cartoon, but not the first released. Ub Iwerks drew the entire cartoon in less than a month, by himself. After the enormous success of Steamboat, it was redone with synchronized sound and released in 1929.

Also featured was John Hench, Mickey's official portrait artist. He painted four of Mickey's portraits, and all hang in the Disney Archives. The first official portrait was commissioned by Walt in 1953 for Mickey's 25th, then in '78, '88, and 1998 for Mickey's 70th. Hench was 95.

They then showed the 1938 sketches they had of Mickey's Toothache, which had everything dental chasing Mickey. (Did the ADA exist in 1938?)

(Not mentioned, as birthdays aren't generally recognized during Fanniversary, but Richard Sherman turns 85 this year. Just thought I'd throw that in there.)

1933 - 80th.

Mickey Mouse Magazine, and all of its iterations since, with the latest being Disney twenty-three.

Also mentioned was the first Mickey Mouse Watch by Ingersoll, which started an entire market for Mickey Mouse and all things Disney. A stop motion video of someone living (really too much) Disney is shown, which might become all too uncomfortable to some of us... :-)

The Three Little Pigs. Evidently, the public identified the Big Bad Wolf with the crappy economy of the time, and the movie was so popular that it was held over in theaters for months. So much so, that the pigs grew beards. Well, you had to be there. It also gave Walt his first hit song, "Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf," complete with a video clip "recreating" the song by Walt, Frank Thomas, Ward Kimball and others. (When you're watching a musical and someone just breaks out into song, and somewhere deep down inside you say, "Yeah, like that happens in real life..." It was like that.)

1938 - 75th.

Ferdinand The Bull was released, voiced by Walt himself.

The daily Donald Duck Comic Strip first appeared in February 1938, and was drawn by Al Taliaferro for 31 years until he passed in 1969. He was also responsible for the creation of Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Fanniversary 2013
The mascots of D23, Chip and Dale.
1943 - 70th.

Victory Through Air Power and Der Fuehrer's Face were both wartime movies. Victory reportedly cost $1.2 million to make at the time. Der Fuehrer's Face was originally titled Donald Duck in Nutzi Land, but the song was so popular (and pre-dated the film) that the film was renamed to the song's title. It was to be Donald's only Academy Award.

Saludos Amigos was one of the films that resulted from the Good Neighbor trip Walt took in 1941, when Walt was a cultural ambassador to South America during America's build up to WWII. Buy or rent the DVD "Walt & El Grupo" for the entire story of the trip. Interestingly, they didn't even mention the DVD at Fanniversary...

Rick brought along the Gaucho Doll, the figure of Walt received as a gift in Argentina during that trip. It wasn't scheduled to be in Chicago, and the Doll never left the stage. Didn't get a picture. sigh.

Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros were the first two films color was used by Mary Blair for effect. Of course, The Three Caballeros wouldn't be released until Fanniversary 2014...

And finally having their 70th are D23's very own mascots, and Donald Duck's arch nemesis later in life, Chip and Dale. They first appeared as unbilled characters in Private Pluto in 1943, and had their last big run as the Rescue Rangers from 1989 to 1990.

1948 - 65th.

True-Life Adventures. In total there were 13 True Life Adventure films made between 1948 and 1960, and won 8 Academy Awards. Walt had contracted Alfred Milotte for some footage from Alaska, and didn't think the people would interest anyone, but he thought the seal footage was fascinating. He had the film made, and RKO refused to distribute it. They thought no one would want to see a movie about seals. Disney got a friend to show the film for a week in late 1948 in California, long enough to get an academy award for Best Documentary. After that, RKO agreed to a nationwide release.

Roy E. Disney got his start working on the True Life Adventures. What followed was the story of Roy and the sliding ducks on ice. One of the funniest stories of the night. The lesson Roy learned was if Walt thought you had something, and you didn't, you should go out and get it to prove him right.

1953 - 60th.

Peter Pan was released. They actually showed part of the Christmas Special we saw at Magic & Merriment in 2011. They left the part out about it being sponsored by "Johnson and Johnson, makers of Baby Products and Surgical Dressings." Nothing sez Christmas like surgical dressings...

It was also the first appearance by Tinkerbell. There will be a book coming out this fall(?), called "Tinkerbell, Evolution of a Disney Character" by Mindy Johnson that will have the development artwork shown at Fanniversary.

Three were three cartoon shorts having 2013 anniversaries. Ben and Me, a tale of a mouse that helped Ben Franklin. The academy award winning Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom, the first cartoon done in Cinemascope. It and Paul Bunyan (Paul Bunyan was having its 55th anniversary) were both color styled by Eyvind Earle.

1958 - 55th.

It is the 55th anniversary of three attractions at Disneyland which are exclusive to that park, and haven't been duplicated anywhere else.

The Grand Canyon diorama in the Walt Disney Railroad, The Columbia Sailing Ship, and the Alice in Wonderland Attraction.

They had some footage of the opening of Alice. The early footage of some of the characters and Walt and the props used are priceless.

Kathryn Beaumont did a small video segment about her being asked to re-record some of her lines when the refurbed the ride in the 80's. (It is a unique ride, which goes inside, then outside, and back inside, and is on two levels.)

(Jenny and I actually got to meet Ms. Beaumont during the 2011 Magic & Merriment event.)

1963 - 50th.

The Sword And The Stone. This film was released on December 25th, and became the top grossing film of 1963. It was the last animated film released before Walt's death.

Summer Magic was released the same year, starring Haley Mills, Burl Ives and Dorothy McGuire, with music by, of course, the Sherman Brothers. ("On The Front Porch" from this movie is Richard Sherman's favorite personal song. If you've never seen the documentary "the boys, the sherman brothers' story", buy it, rent it, see it. It gets one of my highest recommendations.)

Since Summer Magic is having its golden anniversary, the Archives was gathering Summer Magic Memorabilia for a display. They came across a spindle from the front porch of the house in the movie. They couldn't figure out why they had it and only one of them, so they made a call to... Dave Smith, of course... and he replied that he was going through the backlot one day, and they were tearing down the set for Summer Magic, so he just went over, broke one off, and took it back to the archives.


It is also the Golden Anniversary of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, the world's first fully audio animatronics show. It was Walt's newest toy. (They didn't relate the Sherman Brothers story this time. See my report from WDW's 40th anniversary event for that story...) It was a 3-D version of a animated short.

Mark Davis did a lot of the design work for the Tiki Room, who at the time, was collecting artwork from the tribes in New Guinea. You know those totems outside of the Tiki Room in Magic Kingdom? (The ones that spit water.) They were created from the original Davis sketches.

We were then shown a clip of Wally Boag and Fulton Burley, who did the voices of Jose and Michael. Great stuff.

1968 - 45th.

Two movies were released in 1968, Blackbeard's Ghost, and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. A little long for a movie title...

1973 - 40th.

The Walt Disney Story opened at both Disneyland and Disney World.

Robin Hood also opened 40 years ago.

1978 - 35th.

Apparently, nothing of note happened in 1978. :-)

Fanniversary 2013
The Horizon Props from the Archives. Sorry about the overhead light reflections...
1983 - 30th.

Thirty years ago, however, Disney was very busy.

It was the first year for The Disney Channel. They showed some early previews of what was supposed to be on the cable station.

But here's something that the D23 crew probably didn't know. Chicago was kept hostage by the City Council, who probably didn't think the kickbacks they'd get from any of the cable companies was enough. So Chicago didn't get cable until the early 90's, if I remember correctly. And even then, it was a city granted monopoly, so service sucked.

So anyone living within the city boundaries couldn't see the Disney Channel at all unless they knew someone out in the suburbs.

Tokyo Disneyland also made its debut in 1983. They had clips from the unique attractions there, but it was pretty much a wash unless you understood the language... ;-)

The new Fantasyland in Disneyland opened, with a clip from Tony Baxter about his recollections of walking through Walt Disney's Fantasyland the first day of demolition. It was getting dark, and one of the attraction facades was on the ground. The lights suddenly turned on by a timer, and he turned to the imagineer he was with and said, "What have we done?", and realized the onus was now on them to put it back together to what Walt would have wanted...

Horizons (nee Century 3, nee Future Probe) opened 30 years ago in Epcot. Rick had a bunch of small props, such as the patches and metals worn by the animatronics. He'd be in the Lobby after the show for pictures. :-)

Also having an anniversary this year is Something Wicked This Way Comes.

1988 - 25th.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is 25 years old. Ugh. It can't be that old. Can't be... They dug up some unseen footage from the movie.

Oliver and Company was released the same year. It used computer animation heavily, and was the return of Disney's animated musicals.

Norway (and Maelstrom) opened in World Showcase. (This wasn't on the official program list...)

1993 - 20th.

Mickey's Toontown opened North of Disneyland.

Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas were released in 1993. They had a clip from that era of a real dorky Tim Burton, who at the time were working on a Hansel and Gretel type story.

1998 - 15th.

Animal Kingdom is 15 years old. They showed some early concept art, including a three tier carousel where the Tree of Life is...

Disney Cruise was created in 1998, when the Disney Magic set sail. Would someone please buy Rick a ticket on the Magic? Any Disney Cruise ship might do... Thanks.

Mulan was released 15 years ago. It was also Disney's first DVD release. It was also the first feature to be produced at Disney World.

2003 - 10th.

They showed some pictures of things having a 10th anniversary, but it's too recent to be included in the "collective memory". Like Pirates, Curse of the Black Pearl, which is, 10 years old. sigh. (They stopped at 20 years, last year.)

Fanniversary ended with a tribute to the Archives, which holds much of Disney's 90 years of history, done to Gavin Greenaway's Reflections of Earth. They could put the endings of these things on that Blu-Ray with all the intros I want, too.

The show was almost exactly 1 hour, 45 minutes long.

Fanniversary 2013
Rick Loretz from the Disney Archives with the Horizon Props
After the show, we were one of the first ones out of the auditorium, and I got some pics of Rick and the Horizon props. I looked at some of the other reviews of earlier shows, and I noticed each of the shows has their own item from the Archives, and it never leaves the Archivist's hands. (Go here for more information.)

Rick was good enough to bring the Gaucho doll to Chicago, but as I said before, it never left the stage, and was probably put away before he came out to the lobby.

We left the event, and it was now raining out, a constant spring rain, so I tucked all the SWAG under my coat and we did the long walk in to the parking garage. (It's longer when it's cold, windy and wet. Trust me.) The Eeyore umbrella PiC has is big enough for one and a half people, so it's raining on the left side of me, the right side remains almost dry, and the umbrella run-off is hitting my floppy green hat. Welcome to Chicago...
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Final Thoughts

I still think Fanniversary is one of the smartest things D23 has done. The events in Orlando (Sip and Scream, Magic and Merriment, Epcot's 30th Anniversary Event and Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary Event) are/were far superior in terms of content detail, you had to be at Disney World to attend. That makes the events a little tougher to attend. (I can't speak for the events in Anaheim, I've never been to one.)

Having a road show only makes sense. I've done the jump through hoops thing getting tickets to and planning trips around D23's Disney World events. (And yes, it was worth every penny. And my name is Keane, I'm one of the Disney Insane. I'm sure there's a ten step program for it someplace on the web.) But an afternoon in a theater to celebrate all things Disney is a much more doable for hundreds across the country.

Unfortunately I have to say that the presenters for the show I attended could have been better, perhaps more spontaneous, less academic. But as I said someplace up above, the content was still very good. I probably could have gotten general admission tickets to the second show to see all the detail I missed in the first, but not even PiC would have put up with that. :-)

I also have to say that at some point during the show, they should just put the Fanniversary logo up on the screen and tell everyone they can take a picture, just so schmucks like me can put a picture on their site with actual people on stage... Heh.

I do wonder what some of the others in the audience thought about it. Not the D23 members, they're there because they are Disney fans. They sold a lot of general admission tickets. I wonder if they got what they were expecting.

The way D23 has structured Fanniversary, they'll have another three solid years of non-repeating material. Last year D23 held one show in Chicago, and I'm not sure they sold out the 300 seat venue. This year they sold out two shows. So the word is getting around, if you like all things Disney, this is the show to attend.

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