Take an inside look at D23, the ultimate Disney fan club.
Before 2009, the question kept coming – from Disney fans, Guests, and shareholders alike: Why isn’t there an official Disney fan club?
“The genesis for D23 actually came from [Disney Chairman and CEO] Bob Iger – who was often asked this question,” says D23 Head Steven Clark from his office on the Disney lot. “Parks has their Annual Pass program and there is the Disney Movie Rewards program. Disney has plenty of outreach programs, but there’s never been a fan club officially sanctioned by the whole Company.”
That, of course, all changed on March 10, 2009, when D23 launched. Unlike other fan groups at the Disney Company, D23: The Official Disney Fan Club encompasses the entire breadth and scope of the Company, pulling back the curtain to give members behind-the-scenes access to what’s new and what’s next from every Disney experience, through the biannual D23 Expo – the Ultimate Disney Fan Event – one-of-a-kind member events held across the country, “Disney twenty-three,” its exclusive oversize publication, and much more. And while a large portion of D23’s efforts focus on Disney’s latest and greatest, perhaps the most invaluable D23 experiences are those that celebrate the past.
No other company looks to its past for creative inspiration more than Disney, and D23 plays a significant role in preserving the company’s unique legacy and storied history – opening the doors of the Walt Disney Archives to fans and overseeing the Disney Legends program, which are both administered through D23.
Part of letting fans in on Disney’s most spectacular tribute to its past, the Disney Legends Awards ceremony is now expanded so fans can witness the crowning achievement of Disney’s most luminous luminaries. The ceremony, which was formerly held at the Disney Legends Plaza on the Walt Disney Studios Lot in Burbank, California, was moved to the D23 Expo so fans could participate. The Disney Legends Awards are the company’s highest honor and awarded only to those individuals whose body of work has contributed significantly to Disney’s enduring reputation for creative excellence.
As part of the Disney Legends ceremony, Paige O’Hara, Lea Salonga, Anika Noni Rose, and Jodi Benson performed in a concert filled with Disney animated songs at the D23 Expo 2011 in Anaheim, California on August 19, 2011.
At the Disney company headquarters in Burbank, California, D23 opens up the doors of the Studio Lot quarterly to members for a historical tour, shopping, and a pilgrimage to the Walt Disney Archives. Additionally, D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, the largest exhibition ever curated by the Walt Disney Archives, lets fans get up close to a massive collection of original artifacts, props, costumes, models, and the work of Disney artists. On display through April 30, 2013, the exhibit highlights some of the crown jewels of the Archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.
One of the many D23 Member-exclusive events, members get to tour the Walt Disney Archives in Burbank, California. The D23 Day at The Walt Disney Studios and Archives will take place May 4, June 1, September 14, and November 2 in 2013.
To Steven, blending the past, present, and future of Disney speaks to the “additive” quality of the Disney experience. “Disney characters, stories, and songs have remained relevant for generations,” he observes. “A Disney fan enjoys more than 90 years of an amazing Disney storytelling history, and every year new characters refresh that history. Integrating the Walt Disney Archives into what we do at D23 appeals to the nostalgia Disney fans have for the great stories and characters of the past. And the Disney Legends program and ceremony – which takes place every two years at the D23 Expo – is important to the Company, because that’s how we celebrate the men and women who brought our stories to life. It’s important that we honor them and extend our gratitude to them for all their inspirational work.”
Whether it’s reliving past memories at a Walt Disney Archives exhibit or experiencing new ones through one of the fan club’s exclusive events – D23 had more than 40 events for its members last year alone – D23 is dedicated to providing the ultimate Disney fan experience … past, present, and future.