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Thursday, May 23, 2024

D23 Takes Over Anaheim

Disney Fan Expo Fully Books Area's Hotels

Retailers, residents, and tourists alike flocked to the Anaheim Convention Center (ACC) this month for the sold-out D23 Expo, Walt Disney Co.’s largest fan convention that typically brings in thousands of attendees every other year.

Spread across three days from Sept. 9 to 11, the event was first held in 2009 launched by the official Disney fan club. The name D23 refers to the year Walt Disney founded the company with his brother, Roy.

D23 was last held in 2019; the 2021 edition was pushed back a year due to the pandemic. This year, the city’s destination marketing organization (DMO) Visit Anaheim anticipated 40,000 people throughout the weekend.

The 52-acre convention center was taken over by exhibitions, show panels and retail booths across the building’s three floors. ACC’s exhibit halls and rooms make up 1.8 million square feet of space where various presentations were scheduled for Disney executives to share company news and updates.

This year’s event coincided with the beginning of Walt Disney’s 100th anniversary with companywide celebrations to take place going into 2023.

The largest room, Hall D (nicknamed as Hall D23), sports 221,284 square feet and held the most popular showcases of the weekend. News across Walt Disney properties and studios, including Walt Disney Animation, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney Branded Television and Disney Parks, were announced to attendees as exclusive content.

Around 10,000 people filled the room each morning and afternoon.

New attractions, restaurants, and renovations were announced for Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort, California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and hotels on Sunday, Sept. 11 by Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro (see story, page 3).

Roll Call

With costumed characters and company executives attending the convention, visitors hailed from around the world including France, China and elsewhere.

With international and group travel on the come up for Orange County and Anaheim, D23 was a sign of the tourism industry’s proximity toward pre-pandemic levels.

The combined economic impact of D23 and four other fan conventions at ACC was estimated to bring $296 million to the destination, according to Visit Anaheim. CEO Jay Burress reported last month that the city was at 99.6% of 2019 levels in terms of visitors overall.

All the hotels at the convention center campus were fully booked for the weekend including the Sheraton Park Hotel, Anaheim Marriott and Hilton Anaheim. The neighboring Westin Anaheim Resort and Desert Palms Hotel and Suites were also at capacity.

Shopping Experiences

The weekend involved not only the company’s entertainment venues but its consumer branches as well.

While all of the event’s content and materials are under the Disney brand, company-partnered retailers were also invited to participate for a variety of shopping experiences.

Irvine-based maker of collectible pics Figpin was featured in the main arena as one of the “Friends of Disney.” At its booth, the company brought 10 convention-exclusive pins of various characters, two of which sold out within the first two days; 10,000 of each were available for $20 individually. Figpin first appeared at the convention in 2019.

The company—which ranks No. 19 on this week’s list of Fastest-Growing Midsize Private Companies (see list, page 42)—already has multiple conventions under its belt for 2022 including San Diego’s Comic-Con and this year’s Star Wars Celebration event at ACC.

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