Day Three started with a look at one of the books I have been looking forward to since my first trip to Disneyland in 1978: Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai. Collecting park maps has always been a must do with each visit to the park and this book puts together a great history of those maps that date back well before Disneyland was even done, when Herb Ryman and Walt Disney spent the lost weekend creating the first view of Disneyland that would sell the idea to the bankers. If you're like me, this book is a must have — and it arrives just in time for Christmas!
Once the book was closed on the maps (sorry — too many trips on the Jungle Cruise), we moved on to a look at the new Adventures around Walt Disney World.
Imagineer Wyatt Winter took us to the Frozen land of Norway in Epcot to give us a look at how the new Frozen Ever After attraction was created and showed amazing footage of the newest electric Audio-Animatronics used in the attraction, including how they compare to the scenes from the film.
My favorite panel of Day Three has to be Entertainment Show Director Tom Vazzana talking about the newest nighttime spectacular, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!, at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Vazzana was pure energy talking about the new show and how it all came to be. He shared a trade secret of how the amazing effect of the "snow" and laser playing off each other came to be, pure luck! The way Vazzana described it, one night while putting the show together, "Laser Dave" turned on the laser as the "snow" was falling and the way it sparkled it just worked perfect. Vazzana also shared with us that he wanted to make sure this spectacular showed love to Orlando after the year the city has had; Orlando is mentioned three times just to make sure we all feel the Christmas love.Following one of the most high energy presentations of the weekend, it was time for one of the funniest with Imagineers Jason Grandt and Alex Wright taking us on a Magic Journey through 45 years of Walt Disney World.
Grandt and Wright may be Imagineers in title, but are true Walt Disney World fans at heart. These two put on a show that left everyone wanting more, they took us from the early days of planning the Magic Kingdom and its hotels through some of the early attractions all the while laughing and sharing personal stories and photos.
I have meet very few with such a love for If You Had Wings (and wall carpet) as these two. Between stories, photos, and home video I felt like I took a ride on a classic attraction that was gone before I ever had the chance to ride it. They talked about attractions long gone and even showed us plans from the 70s for a cove to be built next to the Polynesian Village so that the legendary wave machine could be turned back on for a surfing area of the Seven Seas Lagoon.
One of the most anticipated panels of the weekend had to be the Pandora - The World of AVATAR with James Cameron (writer, director, producer of AVATAR) and Imaginner Joe Rohde. This panel was a bit strange as Cameron and Rohde played characters who have visited Pandora. This meant that the entire presentation was done as if this planet was real and the new expansion of Disney's Animal Kingdom was a gateway.
Throughout the presentation, photos of the new area taken by Rohde were shown and were absolutely stunning — Pandora will be a photographers dream. They also did touch upon the Flight of Passage attraction stating you will connect to some of the remaining AVATAR's as seen in the "documentary" Cameron made years ago as you soar over Pandora.
By far the most beautiful pictures show were from the NA'VI River Journey attraction that looks like it will be the real show stealer of the new area of the park.
Of coursem they couldn't just close this presentation with photos. Rohde wanted to share video he shot of the NA'VI Shaman of Song sending us, the D23 members, a special message:
As the afternoon started to roll on Senior Production Designer for WDI Chris Merrit took the stage to talk about a new book he and Pixar's own Pete Docter are co-authoring about Disney Legend and one of Walt's "Nine Old Men," Marc Davis.
Focusing more on Marc's time with WED Enterprises the book promises to have many great stories and pieces of history Chris and Pete have uncovered while going through not only the Walt Disney Archives but also a closet and desk at Marc's house. One of the "best gag men in the business" as Marc has been referred to many times some of the art that was displayed that will hopefully make it into the two book set due out in 2018 will keep Disney fans busy for days.
As our adventures continued Tony Baxter took the stage with Steven Vagnini took the stage once again to talk about projects very close to his heart, the Indiana Jones Adventure and to explore more of his history with WDI as they took us on Imagineering Adventures.
Baxter talked in great length about his history but really took us on the story of the great adventures in Disney Park, ranging from one of his first projects, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, through the creation of Splash Mountain and really shedding some great light on one of the biggest adventures, the Indian Jones Adventure in Disneyland.
If I had to choose one story out of the entire weekend that I loved hearing, it would have to be Baxter giving a great backstory on the Indiana Jones Adventure's lost effect of the "roof crumbling" that lasted for about two months after the attraction first opened in 1995. It was later turned off due to it running pretty much nonstop, but I was one of the lucky few that got to experience it before that.
Continuing our Imagineering Adventure, Luc Mayrand came back to the stage to talk about two of the most amazing adventures of Shanghai Disneyland, both based around Pirates of the Caribbean.
Giving many of the attendees their first look at the amazing Battle for the Sunken Treasure attraction and Eye of the Storm stunt show that makes up the Treasure Cover section of the park did nothing but make me want to return to Shanghai and revisit these amazing adventures because there is nothing like either anywhere else in the world!
Heading around third base we had a chance to learn about what goes into keeping the animals of Disney's Animal Kingdom safe and on a schedule as the park starts to extend into the evening hours with Dr. Scott Terrell, Director, Animal and Science Operations.
Dr. Terrell not only shared many of the details of what goes into making sure the animals get the rest they need and make sure they are at maximum health for all guests to see, he also brought along a few of the residents of the park to show off.
The final presentation of the day was from the man who knows adventure better than most: Imagineer Joe Rohde.
Rohde wrapped up the day by telling stories of the creation of Disney's Animal Kingdom and his personal adventures in bringing new stories to life in the parks. He also shared a funny story about how he started his earring to pay tribute to that tradition in different parts of the world, but now the people that used to do that are all wearing Gap clothing.
Oh, before I forget, the "parting gift" from D23 to guest in attendance was a night of fun on them at Magic Kingdom, and I would say that is a good way to wrap up the event!
To wrap up my experience of the D23's Destination D: Amazing Adventures, I have to say this was one of my favorite events ever. I have been to all the D23 Expos and all but one of the Destination Ds along with countless other events, but this one had a fun feel from start to finish and was well run with a wide variety of topics covered to keep even the most die hard fan happy. I personally enjoyed walking out between sessions and seeing D23 VP Michael Vargo taking time to speak with anyone in attendance and making sure everyone was having a good time. To all the Cast Members and volunteers that helped make this event a success, THANK YOU!
For those of you unable to make it to Destination D, you still have plenty of time to join me and thousands of other Disney Fans and the 2017 D23 Expo in Anaheim so get your tickets and every bit of information you need HERE.