The 2013 D23 Expo was not only a time for Disney fans to gather in Anaheim to celebrate their excitement and passion for the brand and its decades of entertainment, but also a chance for a few particularly memorable moments, touching and special for all who witnessed them.
At the 2013 Disney Legends awards ceremony, honorees and their friends, family, and colleagues gathered to celebrate the exceptional contributions from a few individuals to the Walt Disney Company. This year’s award recipients were Imagineers Tony Baxter and Collin Campbell, animator Glen Keane, actors Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Ed Wynn, music and television pioneer Dick Clark, and Pixar co-founder / technology visionary Steve Jobs.
The full ceremony featured funny and emotional stories, surprise Disney characters, and two musical performances, ultimately a thoroughly entertaining couple of hours. It may not have had the spectacle of 2011′s ceremony featuring the Disney Princess voices and Muppets, but it was still a must-see part of of the D23 Expo.
Video: Full 2013 Disney Legends awards ceremony at the D23 Expo
Plenty of past Disney Legends were in the audience, pointed out by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who this year co-hosted the event with ABC’s Tom Bergeron.
Though all of the speeches and stories shared by honorees and their families at the Legends ceremony were memorable, there were two standout portions of the event.
In what proved to be the most sincere, heartfelt moment of the entire 2013 D23 Expo, Disney and Pixar’s John Lasseter humbly accepted the Disney Legends award on behalf of the late Apple luminary Steve Jobs, whom Lasseter considered a dear, close friend. It was, after all, Jobs who essentially gave Lasseter his illustrious career, rescuing a small group of computer animators from Industrial Light and Magic in a time when no one was quite sure what a computer animator did. Pixar was born by way of Jobs’ trust in Lasseter and his tiny team and it became quite clear that he was more grateful than he could possibly explain.
Lasseter’s touching speech left no dry eyes in the D23 Arena of thousands, as he teared up within seconds of reaching the podium on stage. With the smiling visage of Steve Jobs floating high above his head, Lasseter muscled through his emotions to deliver a humorous, clever, and beautiful speech in Jobs’ honor.
Video: John Lasseter honors Steve Jobs at the 2013 D23 Expo
Tony Baxter’s career at Walt Disney Imagineering can only be described as legendary. By following in Walt’s footsteps decades ago, Baxter developed iconic attractions such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Journey Into Imagination, and essentially the entirety of Disneyland Paris - just to name a few. He has had a hand on nearly every major attraction and theme park to open in the last few decades and after recently taking a step down from his lead role at Imagineering, the company is repaying him with not one, but the two highest honors they can offer.
On Friday, August 9, 2013 at the D23 Expo, Imagineers Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley put on a presentation initially titled “Undiscovered Disneyland,” though renamed on stage to “Rediscovered Disneyland” - a follow-up to 2011′s similar presentation.
Part of the presentation was one of Baxter’s now-famous video recreations of a classic Disney attraction. He had previously shown off the never-built Western River Expedition at Walt Disney World’s Destination D event. Now it was time for Journey Into Imagination, recreated using old video clips, artwork, and models, perfectly pieced together to harness the feeling of experiencing the attraction.
Video: Journey into Imagination recreation with Tony Baxter at the 2013 D23 Expo
(Video by Jason Flahie.)
But while Baxter surprised audiences with this trip down memory lane, Disney had a surprise of their own for him.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Staggs made his only on stage appearance at the 2013 D23 Expo to announce that Tony Baxter would soon be receiving Disney’s highest honor, a window on Main Street USA. Baxter was all smiles as he heard the news that followed a fitting tribute to this legendary Imagineer.
Video: Tony Baxter to receive Disneyland Main Street window, announced at 2013 D23 Expo
(Video by Jason Flahie.)
Then on Saturday, August 10, 2013, Tony Baxter received his Disney Legends award. Welcoming him on stage was none other than the Dreamfinder and Figment, two of his most proud creations and fan favorites. Upon reaching the podium after posing for pictures, Baxter proudly asked, “When are we bringing Dreamfinder back?”, met by excited cheers from the audience.
Video: Imagineer Tony Baxter receives Disney Legends award at 2013 D23 Expo
In the end, the Legends ceremony wrapped up with an a cappella performance by the singing group Vybrations, joined by characters on stage.
Video: Disney Legends ceremony Vybration a capella singers
Among the many exciting moments that took place throughout the 2013 D23 Expo, it was these that will be most memorable, as fans took part in witnessing Disney history unfold with the company honoring some of its most cherished and talented figures.
More photos from the 2013 Disney Legends awards ceremony: