D23 Expo: a lucrative, escapist and immersive Disney convention
By William Azabal
Anaheim, US, Sep 11 (EFE).- Disney has no interest in you seeing his latest movie. Rather, it is not as interested in you going to the cinema to see it as it is in you visiting one of its theme parks or buying a figurine, mug or T-shirt from any of its franchises, be it Marvel, Star Wars or Pixar.
Just before the pandemic, 40 percent of Walt Disney Co.’s income did not come from the intellectual property rights of its audiovisual productions or the box office, but from the sale of merchandise and experiences derived from its theme parks, which reeled in a revenue comparable to the GDP of a small country.
It is a marketing machine spurred on by the premieres of its different brands and by the always lucrative Disney classics, so it is difficult not to identify with the 65,000 people who packed the Californian city of Anaheim this weekend for D23 Expo.
The convention is where extremely expensive exclusive Disney products are sold and, in return, the firm compensates attendees with a series of panels during which they reveal new release dates and trailers.
In addition, the up to $500 that D23 Expo tickets can cost also helps the company organize this gigantic event every two years at the convention center in Anaheim, a commuter city of more than 350,000 near Los Angeles.
Added to this is the cost of travel, which can greatly inflate the price, as well as accommodation in one of the nearby hotels and, to top it all off, the cost of the theme park that Disney runs right in front of the D23 Expo site.
The layout of each building on the map is essential so that attendees, coming from 43 different countries, can get their hands on posters, Funko figurines and exclusive T-shirts first.
“I come from Mexico City because I am passionate about all the Disney brands, but the prices of the products are a bit high,” young Bryan Villegas told EFE while holding two large plastic bags with the day’s purchases.
His compatriot Alejandro Gasca, from the state of Puebla, smiles, grabbing more bags while declaring himself a follower of how “Disney materializes movies into tangible products.”
Meanwhile, people dressed as Anakin Skywalker, Captain America and Rapunzel roamed about among many others who emulate more Disney characters.
Strolling around the Anaheim Convention Center for a few hours reveals that the real fun at D23 Expo lies in the eccentric.
“Look at him, look at him – don’t tell me he’s not cute. We should have brought ours,” says a married couple dressed as The Incredibles when they see a Yorkshire terrier dressed as Mike Wazowski, a character from the animated film “Monsters Inc.”
D23 Expo is an immersion in a parallel reality without 3D glasses and from which one must get approximately 2 kilometers away to feel normality has returned.
Within this radius, hotels, restaurants and even stores such as 7-Elevens show their peculiar respect for the Disney brands so as not to disappoint any customer, who can eat cookies in the shape of Mickey Mouse ears or buy the logo bottle you didn’t know you needed. EFE