One thing that was missing that I would have loved to see was some sort of free photo op area where you can "Hitchhike" with the ghosts or be in the Ballroom with the Ghosts. Or have an actual physical pirate ship wheel where you play the role of the skeleton. Memorable things like this are common at SD Comic Con, so why not at the Expo that's for Disney Fans? In '09 there were character meet and greets where the wait was about 2 minutes... this time it was almost non-existent with the exception of the talking Mickey.
I did love meeting the 1st President of Disneyland, going through the Archives, seeing fan made artwork (especially the PotC Jail Cell scene in the style of 101 Dalmatians), and seeing all of the scale models of the new additions to the parks.
There were a lot of great things at the Expo, but there were more downs than ups.
1. It can raise the ticket price to lower the number of attendees.2. It can establish some type of Fastpass-like reservation system to get a seat at presentations and to see some popular exhibits.3. It can move the whole thing to Orlando, which would eliminate the large base of locals attending the event, as Orlando has fewer local Disney fans than SoCal does. Orlando also has a larger convention center, which would be the only way to increase capacity for the event.
Disney could do a combination of 1 and 2 by implementing a tiered ticket structure, where a regular ticket would get you into the show floor and a limited number of events, but you'd need a premium ticket to get into the Parks and Studios presentations, too.
Option 3 would reduce the crowds, but also make it more difficult to haul out all the Imagineers and Studio talent to Orlando. The Imagineers would come, but some of the "talent" wouldn't, so that's a non-starter for D23 as a Studio promotion event.
So a modification of option 3 would be to move a theme park-related D23 Expo to Orlando and keep a Studio-driven one in SoCal. Do one a year, and have them alternate years. The theme park one can alternate between coasts, too.
That'd be my pick, but Disney likely wouldn't like it because one of the major purposes of D23 is to expose the legions of Disney theme park fans to the company's studio and other product offerings. So I suspect we'll likely see the regular/premium ticket split next time, instead.
In 2009 I attended a session with Dave Pachecco and Andreas Deja about merchandise design that was intimate and amazing; it wasn't my first choice, but something I went to about 15 minutes before after missing whatever else I wanted to see. This year, similar design panels happened on the tiny stage in the Living area, next to all the hoopla. Hard to hear and with few seats, there was no effort to make those sessions seem like, well, real sessions. Putting them in conference rooms, or at least making the Living stage area bigger, would have helped.
On Sunday there was only one conference room going, not two. So after Marvel, which thankfully was line-free for us, we left. I didn't want to spend hours in line to maybe get into one of the three remaining events.
Few other thoughts: - No complaints about the stuff for kids and tweens; actually think it brought balance that was lacking in '09. While not for me, the Disney Channel area was constantly hopping, and it seemed like it should have been larger. Not with more stuff, but more space (which was available).
- Use as many of the seats in the arena as possible, and make the ushers fill rows like they do at the parks: "use all available seats, slide down, etc." I was appalled that people were turned away as I saw empty seats, even for the Studios presentation. I'm not referring to the empty sections, where 750-1,000 more fans would have gladly sat, even with poor sightlines.
- The lines to get in Friday were plain insulting. Members were supposed to be able to enter at 9am. But they only had 3-4 people scanning passes. So I arrived at 8:45am, and only got in at 9:50--and I was lucky. Thankfully, they fixed this on Saturday and Sunday.
- Repeating some sessions, adding video feeds for arena shows where possible (obviously not Studios), and simply having more alternate sessions all can help. These don't require tiered pricing (which existed) or a venue change to Orlando, which really isn't feasible as employees and especially stars can't/won't travel.
All that said, I liked both D23 Expos, but I'm not sure I want to travel from NYC for another one as I liked this one far less. Will be interesting to see if it even happens again. If it does, they need to treat the guests better and not just count on us to be extras in the background for the press and consumers to buy tchotchkes. That's often how I and others I spoke with felt this year, which was a bummer after being amazed in 2009.
How about giving us what we really WANT, Disney? Like, say, what Universal did with Harry Potter.