The first day (Aug 14) of D23 Expo 2015 – The Ultimate Disney Fan Event – at Anaheim, California kicked off with lots of fireworks and surprises.
You know things are off to a great start when Johnny Depp is announced as the surprise recipient of the D23 Legends Awards and he appears in the flesh on stage!
Depp was the last of the nine people to receive the award this year. Prior to Depp, Star Wars creator George Lucas and composer Danny Elfman were honoured with the Disney Legends awards, as well as artists, producers and the first Disney ambassador appointed by Walt Disney.
This award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the Disney legacy. Some of the previous honourees include Julie Andrews, Elton John and Steve Jobs.
Depp has two upcoming films with Walt Disney Studios: Alice Through The Looking Glass (2016) and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017).
— Disney D23 (@DisneyD23) August 14, 2015
Accepting the award, Depp did what he did best – the unexpected. He started his speech with: "I don't know why I'm here. I really don't", before being distracted by a mosquito and a screaming fan, as well as making a Star Wars reference.
When he finally got back to his speech, he said: "There is a word used here and it's the word called fan. I never really liked that word because it implies someone is above and someone is beneath. So I would rather say that you are, in fact, my employer.
"Thank you for giving me this great opportunity to basically do stupid stuff for a living, and for watching. I am honoured to be inducted into this ... I will treasure it and hopefully get to meet Mickey Mouse."
Later in the day, another presentation in the same hall (seating 8,000 fans) whet the appetites of those looking forward to upcoming films from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.
There were exclusive footage and looks at what these two animation studios have in store in the near future. Some of the voice talents involved in these features also came to share the experience with the enthusiastic fans.
The two-hour presentation was hosted by John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. Following in the order of the films revealed, we list out what happened.
Zootopia (March 2016)
Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore recalled how the team went to Kenya to watch the movement of animals. The research was crucial as they needed the reality of believability when imagination comes into play.
Zootopia is set in a world of talking animals and it refers to a city where we meet a sly fox and an extraordinary police bunny. These two natural enemies become allies to solve a case of a missing otter. The directors described the film as in the vein of buddy comedy.
Surprise: Actress Ginnifer Goodwin (as a blonde!), who provides the voice for the bunny, Judy Hopps), makes an appearance. Singer Shakira voices a gazelle, and she showcased – via a video – the song for the film titled Try Everything.
Filmmaking team Nathan Greno said: "If we do our job right, this will become the definitive Jack And The Beanstalk version."
The film sees Jack, a Spanish man, climb up a beanstalk to find a new land. Only thing is, it's a land filled with giants. One such giant Jack meets is an 11-year-old girl, who assumes Jack is a living toy.
Surprise: Husband-and-wife music team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez perform a number from the film. By the way, they're the ones responsible for Let It Go from Frozen.
Directors Ron Clements and John Musker went to the islands of the South Pacific to speak to the elders there and anthropologists. Set thousands of years ago, Moana tells of a courageous girl who sets on a brave journey to revive an old tradition.
Along the way she meets a demi-god, Maui, who has his own set of issues. The musical team for Moana is made up of Opetaia Tavita Foa'i (from Western Samoa), Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Surprise: Dwayne Johnson who voices the role of Maui made time to appear on stage. Johnson, who is half-Samoan, even demonstrated a Samoan call.
The Good Dinosaur (December 2015)
New footage revealed more insights on the film's storyline which imagines a friendship between a dinosaur and a human boy. Needless to say, there were tears just from watching the clip. Sob!
— Disney•Pixar (@DisneyPixar) August 15, 2015
Finding Dory (2016)
For this, the presentation started with a clip showing Ellen DeGeneres – on her talk show – asking why Pixar has not done a sequel to Finding Nemo in which she voices the forgetful memorable fish named Dory.
Finding Dory sees Dory venturing out with Nemo and his father to find her parents. Somehow, she ends up in a marine life institute where she meets other injured sea creature.
Surprise: DeGeneres comes on stage to say: "I can't for you all to see the film." She was joined by Ed O'Neill (voicing an octopus), Ty Burrell (a beluga whale that thinks it has a head injury) and Kaitlin Olson (a whale shark that thinks it's a whale).
In #FindingDory, our forgetful blue tang encounters a cantankerous octopus named Hank, voiced by Ed O'Neill. #D23EXPO pic.twitter.com/C8Rg5o68Mv
— Disney•Pixar (@DisneyPixar) August 15, 2015
Or previously known as the Day Of The Dead film project. This film revolves around the Mexican tradition of the three-day celebration.
Surprise: Pixar revealed the actual title and noted that the story centres on a 12-year-old Miguel.
Toy Story 4 (2017)
The movie that started things rolling for Pixar 20 years ago. Lasseter himself is directing this upcoming film with co-director Josh Cooley.
Lasseter said: "Something we didn't realise when we were making it, each Toy Story film is of a different genre. Toy Story 4 is a love story."
The fourth film sees Woody and Buzz setting out to find Bo Peep. Lasseter said this is a story that's inspired by his wife, Nancy.
Surprise: Randy Newman played the piano and performed the classic You Got A Friend In Me to mark the 20th anniversary of Toy Story.
There were green Army men dropping from the ceiling of the hall too!
Some thing never gets old, only better.
Star2.com is in California to attend the Ultimate Disney Fan Event, also known as the D23 Expo 2015. Stay tuned as we bring you updates from the event.