Archive for the ‘The View’ Category

Disney Talk – "Are You 23?"

March 15, 2009

Disney’s most mysterious marketing campaign in history has finally been revealed as D23 – the official community for Disney fans.

By Blake

Originally posted March 15, 2009.

“Are you 23?”

That’s the question Disney had been asking web-goers since January 2009, on various teaser posters and on a preview website for a then-unannounced Disney event. All the website contained was the written-out question “Are you 23?” followed by “Find out March 10.” and an appearance of Tinker Bell, flying in to sparkle up a countdown clock to March 10. No other hints or indications were given of what in the world this was – or even what platform of the company it would pertain to (movies, theme parks, etc.).

Unofficial Disney discussion boards were abundant with fans chiming in their thoughts on what all the hoopla was really about, some being just about correct, but others – including myself – thinking the complete opposite. Some thought it would relate to Pixar, which was founded 23 years ago. Others thought a collection of 23 Disney classics would be released in an ultimate Blu-ray boxed set. (Personally, I think if Disney ever decided to do that, it would be a very bad idea. Not only would the set be outrageously expensive – which would cause people to not buy it – but each movie in the supposed set wouldn’t get as much publicity as it would if the titles were released separately, each gaining their own release buzz.) I thought the marketing campaign might have something to do with Adventures by Disney, which, with its new itineraries, has 23 vacation locations.

The real mystery of “Are you 23?” actually turns out to be something far greater and full of much more Disney magic than any of the aforementioned speculations. Please watch the video below – which is copyrighted by Disney, uploaded to YouTube by user thedisneyblog, and which I take no credit for – that truly encompasses the heart of what the Walt Disney Company is all about, and also contains the very special “Are you 23?” reveal from the President and C.E.O. of Disney, Robert Iger.

If that video doesn’t get you feeling nostalgic, then I don’t know what will!

So, the “Are you 23?” mystery has been leading up to D23, the official community for Disney fans. In reality, you’d think there would already be an official club for Disney fans before now. Yes, the Mickey Mouse Club was an official community, but hit its height in the 1930’s and was certainly aimed at a children’s audience. And yes, the Disney Vacation Club is an official Disney organization, but that’s not so much a club as it is ongoing vacation packages.

What does a membership to D23 include?

D23 – signifying 1923, the year that the Walt Disney Company was founded – will involve all areas of the company for an unprecedented gathering of news, special events, merchandise, and even a new Disney publication. Here’s a rundown of what a year’s membership to D23 includes:
First is a subscription to Disney twenty-three, a new quarterly magazine that features just about everything that a Disney fan would dream to be in a Disney publication. I picked up the premiere issue of the magazine the other day at Barnes & Noble, and it is indeed quite a treat. The quality of the magazine is amazing, and the stories it covers are phenomenal. What’s really great is that the magazine doesn’t center all its attention on a particular area of the company, but instead includes articles dealing with many different Disney components, including animation, theme parks, history, shows, news, and much more. It also is very current – one page even includes coverage of an event that happened just two weeks before the magazine was published. Many Disney fans were devastated when Disney Magazine stopped publication in 2005, and if Disney twenty-three had to have a 4-year pause for its gears to get flowing, then I gratefully forgive the lack of an official Disney magazine for those 4 years. It’s that good.

The cover of the premiere issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, an all-new quarterly Disney publication.
A year’s membership to D23 also includes a certificate of membership with the member’s name on it, as well as a border of Disney animated characters surrounding the name. Additionally, a “surprise gift” will be delivered to the member. Members are also e-mailed a newsletter twice a week, updating them on current Disney news. Although there are other amenities involved with a D23 membership, those involve an extra cost that is in addition to the initial joining fee. Included in the start-up fee is Disney twenty-three magazine, the membership certificate, the surprise gift, and the e-newsletter. Everything else after that requires an additional cost.
The certificate that D23 members receive.
So, how much money does a D23 membership cost? I was actually very surprised when I read that members must pay $75 to join. And that’s paid up front. Which is, obviously, a major setback. Reading the exciting details of D23 had me all set to join, but when I took a look at the rather large price, I quickly decided that I needed to seriously think through whether I wanted to join or not. Paying that much amount of money at one time without knowing the full details of what a D23 membership would result in is something I had to definitely consider.
So, for now, I think I’m going to hold off on becoming a D23 member. I’ll get the scoop from reports of members as to what the members-only specifics include and how they’re implemented before I make my decision. The Disney twenty-three magazine was the big draw for me, anyway, and I when I realized that I could pick that up anyway at Barnes & Noble for $16, it eased my decision even more. Additionally, anyone – including non-D23 members – can view the excellent new website Disney has launched for the club, The website is given daily updates, which include current Disney news, interviews, photos, articles, a “This Day in Disney History” feature, and even a daily Disney comic strip. I’m satisfied with the superb magazine and fantastic D23 website. The total cost for a year’s worth (4 issues) of Disney twenty-three magazine will end up being about $65 – which is $10 less than a D23 membership – and I won’t be paying the cost all at once, but quarterly instead. If you’re a Disney fan and are not sure what to make of D23 right now, I suggest you do the same.

A glimpse of the outstanding D23 website, which offers an extravagaza of Disney news and information.
So, what are the extra benefits in addition to aforementioned magazine, certificate, surprise gift, and e-newsletter that D23 members can participate in (but each cost an extra price)? Well, the big event is the D23 Expo, an event taking place nearby Disneyland in September 2009. Reading the details of the Expo over at the D23 website had me wanting to go, as it seems like it will be a very exciting event that will include sneak previews at upcoming Disney events, guest speaker sessions (which include Robert Iger, John Lasseter, and more), pin trading opportunities, special exhibits from the Disney Archives, and much more. However, even if I was a D23 member, I most likely wouldn’t be able to make it to the event anyway. Keep that in mind as you make your decision to become a member or not.
Another extra-cost benefit to D23 members are advanced screenings for Disney movies. The only one of these that is currently planned right now is the Pixar film Up, which is being released on May 29. The details of the advanced screening event for Up have not been announced yet, but my main concern involving these advanced screenings are how many people the D23 members can bring with them, and what locations these screenings are taking place at. The D23 website currently not yet offering theses specifics was another reason I decided to not join D23 quite yet.
Additionally, “Boutique 23” offers D23 members special club-related merchandise, which include tee shirts, polo shirts, jewelry, and more.
Ultimately, when it comes down to deciding whether to join D23 or not, it all depends on what amount of money your budget allows you to spend and how often you think you’ll be able to attend the member-exclusive events, whether they be advanced screenings, meets in the Disney parks, or the Expo in September. I highly recommend the Disney twenty-three magazine to any Disney fans regardless of whether you’re joining D23. One year (4 issues) of the magazine does come with a D23 yearly membership, though individual issues are sold in Barnes & Noble as they’re released.
A Disney-fied Week
D23 was among the many significant Disney-related events that happened this week. D23 was officially announced on Tuesday at the Walt Disney Company Shareholders Meeting by Robert Iger. Other major announcements of the meeting included the move of the release date for the upcoming hand-drawn Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog (which features the first-ever African-American Disney Princess) from Christmas Day to December 11 (to avoid competition with Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel), which I think is a very clever move. Also announced at the meeting were the names of the two upcoming Disney Cruise Line ships. The two new ships will be called the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.
Robert Iger also appeared on The View on Wednesday to further talk about D23. The View was broadcast all week long from the Disney Legends Plaza at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Disney characters escorted the hosts out each day, and special segments were featured on each episode that highlighted the history of a different character. On Wednesday, Whoopi Goldberg took a peek into the Walt Disney Archives, which served as a very entertaining segment and also a fascinating look into Disney history. Also on Wednesday’s The View, John Lasseter appeared with a large handful of balloons to talk about Up and also share a clip from the film.

Pixar’s John Lasseter appeared on The View – which was broadcast from the Walt Disney Studios last week – on Wednesday, March 11, to promote the upcoming Pixar film Up, in theaters May 29.

Another component that played into this week being a big one for Disney was the introduction of Remy from Ratatouille at Epcot, where the tiny rat interacts with guests at Le Chefs de France restaurant in an entirely new way as part of Disney’s Living Characters Initiative program. Tuesday saw the release of Pinocchio on a 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray, which includes many exciting bonus features. Lastly, on Friday, Race to Witch Mountain (which is a re-make of the 1975 Disney movie Escape to Witch Mountain) was released in theaters.

Pinocchio was released on Blu-ray & 2-disc DVD on Tuesday, March 10, 2009.

All of these events made me very proud to be a Disney fan this week. I saw Disney in the public spotlight probably more than I ever had before, and that was definitely a great feeling. To see D23 in the news and the general public already getting excited for Up – which is nearly two-and-a-half months away – is fantastic. I knew I wasn’t the only one that loved Disney, but I guess I didn’t see how many people actually appreciate the Disney magic on a daily basis. And D23 – whether I’m joining or not – is definitely a true example of phenomenal modern Disney magic at its best.
By Blake; posted March 15, 2009. All images and video (C) Disney.