I learned very quickly at the D23 Expo 2015 that one truly can “shop ‘til you drop!” First, the official Disney stores have so much cool stuff. Many of the items are D23 Expo exclusives. They are not available anywhere else. Because of this, I seriously overspent. Add in the shopping opportunities from all the vendors and you truly have a Disney shopper’s nirvana (or worst nightmare since they will have to choose between so many cool things).
The Disney Store – The first time I went to the D23 Expo, I did not understand the importance of going to The Disney Store early. The lines were super long and I figured I could just go to The Disney Store at home, so I pretty much ignored it the first couple of days. I could not understand why people were willing to wait 3 or 4 hours or more to get in! Now I know why. The Disney Store at the D23 Expo has different merchandise than what you’ve seen or will possibly ever see in any other Disney store. This is where much of the limited edition merchandise, exclusive to the D23 Expo, is sold. Some of the items are so super limited edition that they sell out in the first hours of the Expo. You’ll generally know if an item is exclusive to the Expo by a little D23 sticker on the product and limited edition items will be clearly marked limited edition. Products in The Disney Store generally include items like dolls, pins, toys, and Tsum Tsums. People will begin lining up the night before to get into The Disney Store. I completely understand if that’s not your thing (I don’t do that), but understand that the line will still be several hours on the last day of the Expo so if you’re going to wait in line to get in, you may as well do it early on before all the best stuff is sold out.
The Disney Dream Store – This is where one will find all of the D23 Expo 2017 merchandise including t-shirts, hats, glassware, and pins that say D23 Expo 2017 as well as some other limited edition pins. The pins are held at the cash registers. In the past, a list of the available pins was handed to those entering the store and you asked for them at the register when checking out. This store is also where most of the jewelry such as Alex and Ani bracelets as well as Disney music and movie collections can be found. In addition, The Disney Dream Store is where the majority of the limited edition artwork can be found (the one big exception is Disney animation cells and those are usually found in a booth on the Expo floor rather than in one of the main stores). Artists are on hand at certain times to sign their artwork, just check the schedule. Artwork is not limited to pictures for one’s wall. There are also figurines and books (authors may be on hand to sign them) and in 2015, one of the artists was on hand to create an amazing leather jacket that had embroidery of the D23 Expo logo with the castle and it was wired so that the fireworks around it actually lit up. Like all the stores, this one will have a line the first day, but I found many times throughout the Expo that I was able to walk right in with little to no wait. Some of the more popular items were sold out by then, but not many. One important note about The Disney Dream Store is that it is officially run by Disney Parks so certain Passholder and DVC discounts are usually available. Be sure to ask about a discount (and be prepared to show your Annual Pass or DVC member card) if you usually get one when shopping in the Disney Parks.
Mickey’s of Glendale – Mickey’s of Glendale is the Cast Member store located on the Walt Disney Imagineering campus, but they bring a “satellite” store to the D23 Expo and open it up to the public. If you’re looking for anything with Imagineering on it, this is your place. They have t-shirts and travel mugs and in 2015, there was even a roller duffle bag with Walt Disney Imagineering embroidered on it. There are also items usually restricted to Imagineers such as bags and shirts and coffee mugs with prints not found elsewhere and if you’re a pin lover, in 2015, there was an entire wall of pins, many of which were limited edition, all of which couldn’t be found outside Mickey’s of Glendale. The line for this store remains pretty steady throughout the Expo. Plan to wait at least an hour or two. The good news is that even by Saturday afternoon when I went in 2015, there was still plenty of stock on most items, although a few things may have sold out. I was even able to get a complete set of limited edition Star Tours pins.
IMPORTANT TIP FOR THE 3 MAIN STORES LISTED ABOVE – The D23 Expo distributes Store Passes. These are like FastPasses but for the stores. Distribution usually begins at 9am and the line for them can be long, but not usually as long as the lines to get in the stores. Just like FastPasses, there are limited numbers distributed, and they are often gone within an hour or two (at the most) of being distributed.
Expo Vendor Booths – There is also plenty of shopping to be had at the various vendor booths. While I don’t know for sure which companies will be there in 2017, there are a few “regulars” that I assume will be back. First is New Balance. The D23 Expo is the only place I’ve seen the current runDisney shoes for sale outside of the runDisney race expos. It would not surprise me to see this year’s shoes, which include the themes of the Mad Tea Party, Toy Story Mania, Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain, for sale there this year. One of my favorite booths in 2015 was the Disney Precious Moments booth. Not only did they have figurines for sale, the artists were on hand for signings and photos. While not technically a vendor booth, the Disney animation cells in the past have been sold at a display on the Expo floor rather than in any of the three stores. Many of the cells are signed by the artists and some of the older ones were actually used in the filming (Disney stopped using cells for filming after The Little Mermaid). I saw a really amazing Maleficent cell there in 2015 that I’m still regretting not purchasing. Another regular Disney booth that has already been announced is the Disney Music Emporium. The Disney Music Emporium will have Disney CDs, of course, but what they will also have is artists to sign those CDs. This year, they’ve announced that some of the artists available for signings include Dove Cameron (Descendants 2), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), Michael Giacchino (composer), Tyler Bates (composer), Jordan Fisher, and Temecula Road. See more about how to get their autographs below. In 2015, another very popular vendor was Coca Cola. At their booth, you could create a personalized Coke can as part of the Share a Coke experience. I am sure there will be plenty of vendors at which to shop for everything from books to costumes to artwork.
Autographs – I’m including a section on autographs because it is the D23 policy that the only items that can be autographed are items that were purchased at the D23 Expo. There are multiple locations at the Expo to get autographs depending on who is signing or what you want autographed. At The Disney Dream Store, artists are on hand at various times throughout the day to sign their pieces. There will be a schedule available both on the D23 app and in The Disney Dream Store. While the app will note a start and end time for the autographs, I found that the end time was not always accurate. If an autograph is important to you, get to the store prior to the start time for that artist. For music, the Disney Music Emporium uses a wristband system. You’ll need to buy the CD and get a wristband with a return time to get the autograph. Be sure to return prior to that time (at least 15 or even 30 minutes early). In addition, there is an area on the Expo floor called Autograph Central where one can purchase a photo or other items to be autographed by the actor, voice actor, animator, etc. present. In 2015, actors at Autograph Central included Dick Van Dyke, Ed Asner, Sean Astin, and Margaret Kerry. A great place to get animators’ autographs is the Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios booth. These are generally not announced ahead of time with any type of schedule, but it’s worth stopping by the booth regularly to see who’s there. Finally, if you have a tween or teen in your household like I do, you might want to check out the schedule of YouTubers who will be doing demonstrations and signings. I think my son was more excited to get Markiplier’s autograph than about anything else he did at the D23 Expo in 2015. Even better, no purchase was required for it. One of the few times I was able to keep my wallet in my purse!
A big question now is how do I get everything home? No worries – the D23 Expo has you covered. In the past, the United States Postal Service has had a booth where you can box and ship all of your purchases right from the Expo floor straight to your door at home.
Now that I’ve got you excited, here is a big tip. Research (as much as possible) what artists are going to be there, what merchandise will be available, times for various events, and make a plan. Prioritize what is important to you because there will be times that you will want to be two or three places at once. I’ve made a list below of where you can find official updates to do your own research.
- The official D23 Expo website regularly posts updates.
- @DisneyD23 is the official Twitter account for the D23 Expo. It is the best way to stay current in the days prior to and during the Expo as they use this feed to make announcements.
- D23 also makes announcements for the Expo on their official Facebook page.
- Once it’s available, download the D23 Expo 2017 app on your phone.
Can’t go to the D23 Expo 2017 or would you rather spend your time going to the panels than the stores? There is an option for you, too. Pixie Dust Delivery Service has photos and prices of some of the items that will be available at The Disney Dream Store on their Facebook page. They are taking a limited number of preorders for items that can be purchased at the Expo.
For more tips on the D23 Expo 2017,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!