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Inside the Disney Parks pavilion: How Imagineering successfully skirted big announcements at the 2013 D23 Expo

in Conventions, Disney, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Events, Featured, Marvel, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

When Walt Disney Imagineering was asked to prepare another extravagant pavilion for the 2013 D23 Expo, they faced a challenge twofold. Though big projects are most definitely on the way for Disney’s theme parks and resorts worldwide, they simply weren’t ready to make any big announcements in time for this year’s biennial Anaheim event. Yet, they had to present something. Moreover, fans expected something big to come out of their presence at the show. Opting out simply wasn’t an option.

So putting an emphasis on the past while simply teasing the future was what they decided to go for – and in doing so, Walt Disney Imagineering succeeded tremendously at producing a captivating and inspiring set of exhibits that consumed hours of attention for each attendee of the Expo, even without any real sneak peeks of what’s to come.

Take a quick overview tour of the pavilion in the video below, then read on for a closer look at the fantastic pieces pulled from Imagineering’s archives to show off at the Expo – along with a few surprises.


Video: Disney Parks & Resorts “Journey Into Imagineering” pavilion tour at the 2013 D23 Expo


Walt Disney Imagineering is always shrouded in secrecy. Unless you have an appointment or an Imagineer friend, gaining entry to 1401 Flower Street in Glendale, California (WDI home base) is nearly impossible. But all Disney fans wish they could explore those historic halls, so Imagineering this year decided to open them up to everyone by transporting some of their most prized possessions to the D23 Expo, recreating the experience of visiting the real location.

They called it: “Journey Into Imagineering.”

Journey Into Imagination Disney Parks pavilion at the 2013 D23 Expo

I’ve been to 1401 Flower Street and when I first walked up to the large pavilion on the Expo show floor, I certainly recognized it, highly stylized as it was.

Just like visiting the real location, all who stepped foot into this pavilion were given an Imagineering guest pass, offering access inside.

In true Disney fashion, everyone was made to feel like a welcome guest.

From the grey exterior complete with street address to the lobby behind its swinging doors, it felt like Walt Disney Imagineering.

Journey Into Imagination Disney Parks pavilion at the 2013 D23 Expo

Journey Into Imagination Disney Parks pavilion at the 2013 D23 Expo

Journey Into Imagination Disney Parks pavilion at the 2013 D23 Expo

(I wish I could offer photos of the real offices for comparison, but photography there is strictly prohibited within, for obvious reasons.)

A colorful video with plenty of Imagineering flair introduced visitors to the pavilion, spanning two sides of the “lobby” with a history lesson of what Imagineering is and what guests should expect to see inside, even including a special appearance by The Haunted Mansion’s famed Hatbox Ghost. More on his important appearance below.

12 Comments

  1. Great recap of the pavilion, Ricky!

    Just a small note: Museum of the Weird wasn’t a precursor to the Mansion. It was developed side by side, when Rolly got bored with all the typical “haunted house scares” they were developing after the World’s Fair. It was meant to be experienced at the END of the Mansion, on the way out.

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Thanks. Indeed, “precursor” was probably not the right word to use. I know the concept was intended at one time as a queue / pre-show area as well. I’ve updated the article to reflect as such. Either way, I am looking forward to the comic book!

  2. Vicki Collins

    Wow…I read it all. that was great! thank you!

  3. Chaz

    Awesome! Thanks for the recap.

  4. Julie

    I like that subtle little jab you put in there alluding to “Limited Time Magic”. I would bet good money that most Disney fans found the impromptu Dreamfinder and Figment meet and greet FAR more magical than any of the offerings Disney has managed to not promote during this promotion!

    1. I don’t think the something weird is what you’re expecting. I think it has something to do with Marvel’s Weird Wonder Tales comics. Supposedly, a link said it was based on Marvel comic books, not a comic book based on a Disney attraction. If you look at the picture of the clock with the devil face, it actually seems to be Dr. Druid who narrated the Weird Wonder Tales. I think it may be some type of attraction based on this series.

      1. Ricky Brigante

        Believe what you will, but just remember where you heard it first… 🙂

    2. Ricky Brigante

      Indeed. So far, it’s been heavy on the “Limited Time” and light on the “Magic.” There have been a few exceptions that were spectacular, but most were silly and small.

  5. Louis

    That guy with the ear ring and the 12-inch long ear lobe gives the impression that the current crop of Disney imagineers are just wierd. That ear ring makes him look like he’s from a primitive tribe in a region that has been isolated from civilization for centuries rather than the educated nations of the world, and there probably aren’t many of those tribes left with the Internet and mass communication. In other words, the ear ring looks wierd and there’s really no excuse for it, unless you make the argument that Los Angeles is descending into paganism and darkness.

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