This was my first D23. As big of a Disney nerd that I am, it’s astonishing how long it took me to get here. Honestly, this has been the best week of my life. It was a week full of BGN and Disney love that ended with a weekend in Anaheim, California, at D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event presented by Visa.
Over the weekend, BGN got the opportunity to cover the Studio Showcase of Day 1 at D23: Celebrate the Magic of Disney and Pixar. D23 is the official fan club for the Walt Disney Company. Founded in 2009, the organization is known mainly for its biennial event, the D23 Expo. (The name refers to D for Disney and 23 for 1923, the year Walt Disney founded the company.)
The Studio Showcase was transformation central. Joy and happiness took over everyone who walked in that hall. Seeing the faces of the fans, Imagineers, and Cast Members (as Disney employees are called) was truly a magical experience.
Takeaways from Day 1.
- Cynthia Erivo sings like an angel, and we should watch her in Disney’s new live action adaptation of Pinnochio as the Blue Fairy. Make sure you catch her performance of “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
- Hocus Pocus 2 (September 30, 2022) and Disenchanted (November 23, 2022) will be here before you know it on Disney+. The Hocus Pocus cast will include originals Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, along with Sam Richardson, Hannah Waddingham, Tony Hale, Whitney Peak, and Kornbread Jeté and Kahmora Hall from RuPaul’s Drag Race. The original cast from Enchanted will also be back for their sequel, as well as new faces to the Enchanted world, Maya Rudolph, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jayma Mays, and Julie Andrews.
- Peter Pan and Wendy will star Jude Law as Captain Hook and Yara Shahidi as Tinkerbell. It will make its debut sometime in 2023 on Disney+.
- Haunted Mansion (2023) will star a mega ensemble including Tiffany Haddish, LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Winona Ryder, Danny DeVito, Dan Levy, Jared Leto, and Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota.
- Disney’s prequel to the 2019 Lion King film will be Mufasa: The Lion King. The film is being directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and will tell the story of how Mufasa rose from humble beginnings to ruler of the Pridelands.
- Snow White (2023) will star Rachel Zegler as Snow and Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen, who raved about how much fun it was to be evil.
- The new live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid will be released May 26, 2023. It will star Halle Bailey as Ariel, Daveed Diggs as Sebastrian, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric. Other actors in the film include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Simone Ashley (Bridgerton), and Jude Akuwudike (Beasts of No Nation). Halle’s rendition of “Part of Your World” is powerful and will no doubt bring a happy tear to your eye.
- A new film called Elemental will be released in June 2023. It follows a fire character named Ember and water character named Wade in a city where fire, water, land, and air residents live together. The film stars the voice talents of Mamoudou Athie (Black Box) and Leah Lewis (Nancy Drew, 2019).
- In 2024, Pixar will have two animated films coming out. Elio starring America Ferrera and Yonas Kibreab (Obi-Wan Kenobi) will be released in theaters in the spring. Inside Out 2 starring Amy Poehler will be released in the summer.
- Coming this fall is Pixar’s first animated television series, Win or Lose. The series will follow a middle school softball team in the week leading up to their championship game. Each episode will be told from the perspective of a different character during that time.
- In November 2022, the new anthology show Zootopia+ will premiere on Disney+. The six episode, short-form series will follow various residents from the Zootopia film. Titles of the episodes include: “The Real Rodents of Rodentia,” “Duke the Musical,
“Hopp on Board,” “The Godfather of the Bride,” “So You Think You Can Prance,” and “Dinner Rush.”
- Iwájú is an upcoming series that comes from the first ever outside collaboration with Disney and Pan-African studio Kugali Media. The animated series takes you on a journey into the futuristic version of Lagos, Nigeria.
- Ariana DeBose will star in the new film Wish from the creators of Frozen. The film will tell the story of how the wishing star that so many Disney characters wish upon came to be. Ariana closed out the panel singing a song from the new film, written by Julia Michaels.
- New animated feature Strange World will come out November 23. The film stars the voice talents of Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Alan Tudyk, Lucy lui, Dennis Quaid, and Jaboukie Young-White (Rap Sh!t).
This D23 event was a two-hour plus presentation that excited and wowed fans. Throughout the panel, casts of the various new shows and films were brought out, musical performances were had, and 7,000 screaming fans walked away with posters and memorabilia to commemorate the occasion.