Arts & Entertainment

5 things to see at Disney's D23 Expo: Star Wars, Disneyland, Muppet love and more

A preview video from Disney for the 2015 D23 Expo.
A preview video from Disney for the 2015 D23 Expo.
DisneyD23 (via YouTube)

Disney's D23 Expo takes a ride into Anaheim this weekend. The Mouse has tried to keep the event special for Disney diehards, with the event on an every-other-year schedule. At the 2013 convention, more than 65,000 fans showed up, and this year could be even bigger given Disney's expanding reach in the film world. Here's what to watch for out of the convention, and the best things to go see and do if you're there.

Star Wars and Marvel lands?

What to watch: "Walt Disney Parks and Resorts" panel, Friday, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Hall D23

Disney has already announced there'll be more Star Wars at Disneyland, and Marvel has started having a larger imprint at the park around the former home of Innoventions. Rumors have swirled that new Star Wars and Marvel-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland soon, so get ready for all the Star Wars merchandise to sell out and for Disney to feature endless racks of Jar Jar Binks dolls soon.

The expectation is that the Star Wars land will be announced first, while the Marvel expansion may wait. With some of the bigger Marvel movies on the way — including Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, it might make sense that the new lands would debut in time to capitalize on cross-promotion with those films.

Disneyland also recently bought three new parcels of land, totaling 14.7 acres, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some Disney sites are predicting Star Wars will head to Disneyland while Marvel eventually opens at California Adventure. Fans are hoping this weekend will bring an announcement of a real-life world as exciting as a Marvel post-credits tease.

No new Star Wars trailer, but maybe Marvel

What to watch: "Worlds, Galaxies, And Universes: Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios" panel, Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Hall D23

Fans were hoping to see a new "Star Wars" trailer, especially after they were disappointed that no new footage surfaced at last month's Comic-Con in San Diego. Sadly it doesn't like it will happen at D23 either. Director J.J. Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that fans have to wait for a new trailer until the fall.

Sorry, fans of The Force, you'll have to go back and study the footage that's already out there when designing that new cosplay costume.

Still, there could be other surprises in store for those at D23. Set pictures from Marvel's "Civil War" have been trickling out, suggesting there might be some sort of reveal related to that — potential footage? — could make an appearance. 

At Comic-Con, Star Wars fans had the chance to see behind-the-scenes footage, and everyone who made it into the convention's Hall H were invited to a special outdoor concert/party that night with music from the films attended by its stars. There may be something like that in store for either Marvel or Star Wars fans at D23.

Sadly, Abrams has also ruled out new behind-the-scenes Star Wars footage making an appearance at D23, but that doesn't necessarily preclude them from live pulling another live stunt. They could show new stills, similar to some of those revealed as part of a video last month.

But Marvel was the star over Star Wars at the last D23, and it seems likely that pattern will repeat.

Star Wars Comic-Con reel

The new Disney Legends: George Lucas, Danny Elfman and more

When and where: Disney Legends Awards panel, Friday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Hall D23

With Star Wars returning to theaters in "The Force Awakens," it's the perfect time to honor George Lucas as a "Disney Legend" in a Friday morning ceremony. Disney didn't choose to use his ideas for a Star Wars sequel in the new film, but they're continuing to pay tribute to the man who sold his studio in an acquisition that is changing Star Wars for a new generation.

Another inductee will be Danny Elfman, the composer who's provided the ethereal signature sound on most of Tim Burton's films, composed the theme for "The Simpsons" and led classic new wave band Oingo Boingo. Among his Disney contributions: music for "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Dick Tracy" and that obvious Disney classic, "A Civil Action." His music is also in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Holiday. Just this year he co-scored "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and did the scores for "The End of the Tour" and "Fifty Shades of Grey," and his music will also be in the upcoming "Alice in Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass." We're guessing the "Fifty Shades" credit won't be focused on in this induction ceremony.

Other inductees this year include former ESPN executive George Bodenheimer, "The Little Mermaid"/"Beauty and the Beast"/"The Lion King"/"Aladdin"/etc. animator Andreas Deja, "Sleeping Beauty" artist Eyvind Earle, Disneyland Ambassador Julie Reihm Casaletto, licensing artist Carson Van Osten and soap opera star Susan Lucci. Sadly, the D23 Expo schedule includes no soap opera acting lessons.

The latest on the Kermit/Miss Piggy saga

When and where: "The Magic Behind The Muppets" panel, Friday, 10-11 a.m., Stage 23

The Muppets have made headlines recently thanks to the franchise's revival as an ABC TV show with a trailer that took cues from shows like "Modern Family," offering Muppet confessionals. They also made news after Kermit and Miss Piggy officially broke up. So the next episode of "As The Lily Pad Turns" will likely be seen in a Muppets panel on Friday morning.


How Pixar will blow your mind next

When and where: "Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films," Hosted by John Lasseter, Friday, 3 p.m.-5 p.m., Hall D23

Pixar hit another critical high point with "Inside Out," a movie that affected viewers of all ages (perhaps the parents more significantly than the kids). It's their 25th anniversary, and their new feature "The Good Dinosaur" hits theaters this fall. There's a lot more in the works, including "Finding Dory" next year and "Toy Story 4" in 2017. There's a lot more Pixar at D23, including a conversation with the filmmakers behind "Inside Out" on Friday morning, a "Toy Story" retrospective on Saturday night and a Pixar secrets panel Saturday afternoon.

The Good Dinosaur trailer

There are a ton of other things to watch at D23 Expo, including an Aladdin retrospective, "A Goofy Movie" reunion panel, a live concert featuring the original stars of some Disney Broadway musicals and much more.

You can see a full schedule of all the big events on the D23 website.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized an event involving the stars of Disney Broadway musicals. It is a concert. KPCC regrets the error.