Heading into our home for the next two days, we were welcomed by some great photo opportunities — really the only ones available due to the strict no photo/video/audio rules that ensure only guests of the event were able to experience all the sights and sounds.

Kicking off the morning was D23's own Jeffrey Epstein have a sit down conversation with Chairmen of Disney Parks and Resorts, Bob Chapek. During the event, Chapek talked about things to come to the parks in the future, but always with an open ended tease. But he did spill the beans (blue beans?) that Pandora: The World of Avatar would be opening at Disney's Animal Kingdom Summer 2017 and gave a sneak peek of that and the Star Wars expansion coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios.a-conversation-with-bob-chapek_1

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This recently revealed entry bridge to Pandora – The World of AVATAR will connect to Discovery Island when the new land opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom next summer. (Disney)
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Pongu Pongu is a special drink location in Pandora – The World of AVATAR with a design that’s as eclectic as its Expat owner. (Disney)
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Windtraders is a merchandise location in Pandora – The World of AVATAR where travelers can purchase souvenirs, including Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits and more. (Disney)
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Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars-themed land will take on a whole new dimension after dark and feature adventures and surprises around each corner, including a signature attraction letting guests take the controls of the Millennium Falcon. (Disney)

Following the Bob and Jeffrey show was a presentation from Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline and film producer Don Hahn gave us a look back at the history of the True-Life Adventures and the current Disneynature films, while adding their own bit of humor.

A TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURE –– Considered the first nature documentaries, Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures consisted of 13 films that celebrated the magic of nature with a unique Disney touch. (Disney)
A TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURE –– Considered the first nature documentaries, Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures consisted of 13 films that celebrated the magic of nature with a unique Disney touch. (Disney)

These two really peeled back the curtain on the groundbreaking series that started the "nature documentaries" as we know them today. Together Cline and Hahn shared in site on the people who risked their lives to bring us the original True-Life Adventures and Hahn, who has been executive producer for many of the Disneynauture films, gave us a feeling of the sheer will and dedication — in some cases years — these film makers have to bring 90 minutes of film to the theaters

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Film producer Don Hahn and Becky Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives take the stage at D23’s Destination D: Amazing Adventures to explore Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures series. (Disney)

Thankfully throughout the day we had Dr. Albert Falls to guide us along our adventure and always bring the crowd to a good chuckle....or in some cases a groan.

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Dr. Albert Falls kicks of D23’s Destination D: Amazing Adventures. (Disney)

For me, one of the highlights of any D23 event is getting a chance to hear from Disney Legends. In this case, that included one of the few that has been at every Disney Park opening from Disneyland all the way to Shanghai: Marty Sklar. Sklar gave us a history of not only Adventureland but the Imagineers who helped build it.

CREATING A JUNGLE –– Walt Disney (right) and Harper Goff (left) take a test ride on the Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise opened with Disneyland park in 1955 and was later introduced at Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. (Disney)
CREATING A JUNGLE –– Walt Disney (right) and Harper Goff (left) take a test ride on the Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise opened with Disneyland park in 1955 and was later introduced at Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. (Disney)
Disney Legend Marty Sklar takes Destination D guests through the earliest concepts of one of the most iconic Disney theme park lands, Adventureland. (Disney)
Disney Legend Marty Sklar takes Destination D guests through the earliest concepts of one of the most iconic Disney theme park lands, Adventureland. (Disney)

After a brief trip to the local water hole or quick service restaurant, it was time to learn explore "Adventurelands" from Florida to Shanghai with Imagineers Tony Baxter, Jason Grandt, and Luc Mayrand.

Imagineers Jason Grandt, Tony Baxter, and Luc Mayrand explore Disney Adventurelands around the world. (Disney)
Imagineers Jason Grandt, Tony Baxter, and Luc Mayrand explore Disney Adventurelands around the world. (Disney)

This panel was a stand out, with great stories of Adventurelands from people who helped create them. Baxter, who not only designed one of the most extraordinary Adventurelands in Disneyland Paris but also was one of the men who helped bring Indiana Jones to Adventureland, shared stories of what changes had to be made to bring the adventures of the jungles to places where they may not translate so well.

Disney Legend and Imagineer Tony Baxter took the stage to share stories from Adventurelands at Disney theme parks around the world. (Disney)
Disney Legend and Imagineer Tony Baxter took the stage to share stories from Adventurelands at Disney theme parks around the world. (Disney)

Mayrand, Portfolio Creative Executive Shanghai Disneyland, gave a bit of the background for the Treasure Cove and Adventure Isle area of Shanghai as they would be explored in much greater detail on Day Three.

AHOY FROM TREASURE COVE –– Guests can enter a town taken over by pirates in Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland. The adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa, and the rest of the motley crew have inspired attractions and entertainment at Disney theme parks around the world. (Disney)
AHOY FROM TREASURE COVE –– Guests can enter a town taken over by pirates in Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland. The adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa, and the rest of the motley crew have inspired attractions and entertainment at Disney theme parks around the world. (Disney)
ROWING THROUGH ADVENTURE ISLE –– Guests can explore the wilds of Q’olari River by canoe in Shanghai Disneyland. Adventure Isle is the newest “adventure land” in a Disney theme park. Beginning with Disneyland in 1955, Adventureland has inspired adventures in Disney theme parks around the world, from the Jungle Cruise to Pirates of the Caribbean. (Disney)
ROWING THROUGH ADVENTURE ISLE –– Guests can explore the wilds of Q’olari River by canoe in Shanghai Disneyland. Adventure Isle is the newest “adventure land” in a Disney theme park. Beginning with Disneyland in 1955, Adventureland has inspired adventures in Disney theme parks around the world, from the Jungle Cruise to Pirates of the Caribbean. (Disney)

What would any Adventureland be without a Jungle Cruise? (Well, except Disneyland Paris...) Who better to tell us about the Jungle Cruise than a bunch of skippers?

Former skippers including Archivist Justin Arthur, Skipper Canteen’s Trevor Van Dahm, and Imagineers Chris Merritt, Wyatt Winter, Kevin Lively, and Alex Grayman took the stage to discover the legendary history of the world-famous Jungle Cruise. (Disney)
Former skippers including Archivist Justin Arthur, Skipper Canteen’s Trevor Van Dahm, and Imagineers Chris Merritt, Wyatt Winter, Kevin Lively, and Alex Grayman took the stage to discover the legendary history of the world-famous Jungle Cruise. (Disney)

Sharing stories, anecdotes, and more than a few bad puns, these former skippers took us on a trip thru the rivers of the world-famous Jungle Cruise right into how the Jingle Cruise came to be and ending with a trip to the Skipper Canteen at the Magic Kingdom. This panel had the crowd roaring with laughter at tales of antics along the rivers and even a view of a few things that never made it, including a croc punching gorilla. The worst part about this panel was that it had to end, much like Sam Eagle has in Muppet*Vision 3D, with their glorious presentation had just over a minute and a half to give us a full tour of the Skipper Canteen. But it was still very entertaining.

Guests pass an elephant bathing pool during a Jungle Cruise expedition. The Jungle Cruise opened with Disneyland park in 1955 and was later introduced at Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. (Disney)
Guests pass an elephant bathing pool during a Jungle Cruise expedition. The Jungle Cruise opened with Disneyland park in 1955 and was later introduced at Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. (Disney)

Closing out Day Two was a pair of panels that both ended up having more in common than many would have thought when we walked into the ballroom that morning. First up was a look at Disney's Polynesian Resort's 45th Anniversary with Disney artists Casey Jones and Richard Terpstra, Disney Vacation Club's Ryan March and D23's Steven Vagnini.

D23’s Steven Vagnini, Disney Vacation Club’s Ryan March, and Disney artists Casey Jones and Richard Terpstra celebrated 45 years of Disney’s Polynesian Resort with a historical look back at the iconic resort. (Disney)
D23’s Steven Vagnini, Disney Vacation Club’s Ryan March, and Disney artists Casey Jones and Richard Terpstra celebrated 45 years of Disney’s Polynesian Resort with a historical look back at the iconic resort. (Disney)

There really is nothing more fun than to hear people who are passionate talk about the history of my favorite resort. Going all the way back to the early days of Walt planning Project X, the Polynesian Village Resort was always part of the theme park area, but went thru many different ideas — even a volcano looking design tower. Vagnini, we could all tell, has a true love for one of the original resorts and really came across in all the work he poured into searching the Walt Disney Archives from rare photos and designs. But no visit to the Poly, as I call it, is complete without seeing Auntie Kau'l — a long time Cast Member of the hotel (and a heck of a hula dancer as we all found out) shared how she came to Walt Disney World from Hawaii and as she said "never went back." To end this panel, Kau'l had all 1,000+ guests stand and learn the hula.

Legendary cast member Auntie Kau’I, cultural representative Ku’ulei, and musician Kalei join Disney artists Casey Jones and Richard Terpstra, Disney Vacation Club’s Ryan March and D23’s Steven Vagnini to celebrate 45 years of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. (Disney)
Legendary cast member Auntie Kau’I, cultural representative Ku’ulei, and musician Kalei join Disney artists Casey Jones and Richard Terpstra, Disney Vacation Club’s Ryan March and D23’s Steven Vagnini to celebrate 45 years of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. (Disney)

The Polynesian Panel flowed very nicely into Jared Bush talking about Moana, a project he was a screenwriter on.

Screenwriter Jared Bush shared stories from the making of Disney’s newest animated film, Moana. (Disney)
Screenwriter Jared Bush shared stories from the making of Disney’s newest animated film, Moana. (Disney)

Bush (co-director/co-screenwriter of Zootopia) is one of those people you can sit and listen to for hours. He gave us backstory on Moana, Maui, Pua, and everyone;s favorite dumb rooster, Hei Hei, as well as how the film came to be.

DISNEY’S NEWEST HEROINE –– From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who is inspired to leave the safety and security of her island on a daring journey to save her people. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker, produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa‘i, Moana sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. (Disney)

I had the chance to talk to Bush and, of course me being a life long WWE fan, asked about Dwayne Johnson and how he would address him. He said that was a question when he came on the film and one day Chris Williams, one of the co-directors, asked Johnson and he said, "It's always Dwayne, but if you did call him 'the Rock,' it would just be Rock because putting 'the' in front of it is just super weird."

MAUI, THE DEMIGOD –– Voiced by Dwayne Johnson, Maui, the mighty demigod, is convinced by Moana to join her on a daring journey to save her people. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker, produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa‘i, Moana sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. (Disney)

After the Moana panel, all guests in attendance were invited to the beach of the Polynesian Village Resort for a early screening just for us of the film, which was a perfect way to end our second day of fun.

Guests from around the country and around the world celebrate amazing adventures at D23’s Destination D. (Disney)
Guests from around the country and around the world celebrate amazing adventures at D23’s Destination D. (Disney)

Now onto Day Three of our Great Adventure.