Oprah is coming here. As are Mark Hamill, the original “Star Wars” lightsaber-wielding Jedi, and Whoopi Goldberg, actress and comedian.
And fans, tens of thousands of them, are gearing up to flock to Anaheim for a mid-July romp in all things Disney.
The D23 Expo, The Walt Disney Co.’s fan convention, is Friday, July 14, to Sunday, July 16, at the Anaheim Convention Center. The fan club’s name is a nod to 1923, the year Disney founded his company.
The biennial fan fest, held since 2009, brings together the company’s extensive entertainment, merchandise and theme parks portfolio under one roof. Tickets for Friday and Sunday from $53 to $81 are still available. Saturday’s individual-day tickets are sold out.
D23 doesn’t release the convention’s attendance numbers, but in 2013 officials estimated more than 65,000 hardcore Disney enthusiasts attended the event.
More than 65,000 Disney fans are expected to attend the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. Photo by MINDY SCHAUER, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
In recent years, the convention has been where high-level Disney executives – including the creative head of Pixar, John Lasseter, Disney Studio Chairman Alan Horn, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and CEO Bob Iger – discuss and release special previews and dates of upcoming live-action movies, animated features and television shows.
Bob Chapek, the chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, is slated to attend, signifying possible major announcements of what’s in store for Disney’s global array of theme parks including Disneyland and Disney California Adventure here in Anaheim.
There’ll be special limited-edition merchandise to mark the occasion, exhibitors, a concert by musician Alan Menken and plenty of panels, including on the reboot of the new “Ducktales” animated cartoon, a look at legendary Disney Imagineers and on televisions shows “Once Upon a Time” and “The Golden Girls.”
The actresses who gave voice to several Disney princesses – Anika Noni Rose, “The Princess and the Frog;” Ming-Na Wen, “Mulan;” Auli‘i Cravalho, “Moana;” and Jodi Benson, “The Little Mermaid” – will appear.
In 2009 and 2015, Johnny Depp showed up dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. In 2011, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlet Johanson of Marvels’ Avengers made a surprise appearance. And, in 2013, Idina Menzel performed “Let it Go” from “Frozen.”
At the most recent D23 Expo, Iger announced the creation of a “Star Wars”-themed land at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This expo, a model of the 14-acre lands now under construction in both parks will be on display, giving a peek at the starships and creatures that will dwell within.
The three-day event will kick off by honoring Disney’s latest “Legends” – individuals who have contributed in one way or another to the success of the company. Among the 10 recognized this year are Oprah Winfrey, whose talk show spent 25 years on ABC; Stan Lee and his late partner, Jack Kirby, for helping create Marvel; Julie Taymor, an Emmy and Tony award-winning filmmaker known for adapting “The Lion King” to the stage; and Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher for their roles in the “Star Wars” franchise.
Director Garry Marshall arrives at the premiere of “New Year’s Eve” in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Other events during the weekend include the Mousequerade, cosplay competition; live performances from Aimee Carrero, Lou Diamond Phillips and Susan Egan; and Goldberg hosting a celebration of music from Disney’s live-action films.
If you go
When: Friday, July 14, to Sunday, July 16
Where: Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave.
Time: Panels begin each day at 10 a.m.
Tickets: Friday and Sunday range from $53 to $81