Walt Disney and Disney Pixar Animation Panel at D23 Expo

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D23 Expo is THE place for all things Disney news. From entertainment to Disney Parks to exclusive collectibles, it is the Disney mecca! I sat in on the Walt Disney Animation and the Disney Pixar panel at the Disney D23 Expo. It was equal parts exciting and informative about some of the upcoming movies in the Animation world. John Lasseter the chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and DisneyToon Studios, came out on stage with his favorite t-shirt launcher to send shirts into the crowd. It was a great way to kick off all the excitement. 

Here is the Clif notes version of the full panel (Click on the titles to jump to that section):

Speed Test – unnamed DisneyToons film

(Concept Art) © 2017 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This unnamed project looks a lot like Cars and Planes but is centered around the next level of flight and aviation. Directed by Klay Hall and Bobs Gannaway, and produced by Ferrell Barron, the theatrical feature film explores the future of aviation—taking moviegoers to the edge of discovery in the air—and beyond. “Untitled DTS Film” opens in theaters on April 12th, 2019!

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney 

First up was a look at the 21-minute short, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, that will air before Coco on November 22, 2017. Kristen Bell came out on stage to talk about and introduce the short to us. She treated us to a clip of an Olaf song that seems to break, mid song…but Disney doesn’t mess things up… Josh Gad came out on stage and sang his song for us with the animation in the background. It was a real treat and even funnier to see him and Kristen Bell joke about the fact that Olaf has his own titled film.

Credit: Disney/Image Group LA JOSH GAD

Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) teams up with Sven on a merry mission in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 21-minute featurette “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.” It’s the first holiday season since the gates reopened and Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) host a celebration for all of Arendelle. When the townspeople unexpectedly leave early to enjoy their individual holiday customs, the sisters realize they have no family traditions of their own. So, Olaf sets out to comb the kingdom to bring home the best traditions and save this first Christmas for his friends. Directed by Emmy®-winning filmmakers Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (“Prep & Landing”), produced by Oscar® winner Roy Conli (“Big Hero 6”), and featuring a screenplay by Jac Schaeffer and four original songs by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” opens in front of Disney•Pixar’s original feature “Coco” in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.

Frozen 2

The only thing we got about Frozen 2 was that they will have a new name for the movie but that hasn’t been figured out yet. We did get a wonderful look at the research trip for the executive creators. Lots of glaciers and beautiful areas. I don’t even have a picture to show you. There was not much info unfortunately.


Guests were treated to the first-ever public performance of “Remember Me” from Pixar Animation Studios’ upcoming feature film COCOAnthony Gonzalez, who provides the voice of Miguel in the film, and Benjamin Bratt, who lends his voice to Ernesto de la Cruz, teamed up to perform the song written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Capping the animation presentation, the grand finale featured more than 160 performers who descended upon Hall D23 at the Anaheim Convention Center, including the Grammy-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea and Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles under the direction of Kareli Montoya, and the Grammy®-winning Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band.

Credit: Disney/Image Group LA BENJAMIN BRATT

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself magically transported to the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on November 22nd!

Wreck it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet

 I’m a huge fan of Wreck it Ralph, it is such a clever take on a fun world. So I am equally excited about the latest chapter, Wreck it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet. We are joined by some new characters like Yesss played by Golden Globe®-winning actress Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”). “Yesss is a new character who owns the website Buzzaholic,” said Henson. “Yesss knows about everything cool and on trend. And she does spell her name with a triple ‘s.’ Yesss is very savvy, smart and sexy.” She is discribed as an algorithm to all things trending, her hair and clothes are changing all the time to stay on top of the trends.

The highlight of the entire panel happened with Sarah Silverman came out to talk about the film and give us the most epic clip of all time. It was a rough edit (storyboarding and rough animation) of a scene from the movie. Yesss is showing Ralph and Vanellope around the internet when they come to ultimate fandom, OhMyDisney.com. That’s right, Disney decided to joke about their many fandoms. We have all things Disney, Star Wars, Marvel (we even get a Stan Lee cameo naturally), and merchandise all in one place. “So Tsum Tsums are little furry sausages with faces?” Vanellope asks at one point (new favorite line).

Then we see all of the Disney Princesses walking into a backstage area that is guarded by Stormtroopers. Vanelleope wants to go mess with the Princesses so she enters with her glitch powers. Vanellope tries to convince them that she’s also a princess, but they don’t believe her at first. “Were you imprisoned in a castle?” “Were you poisoned?” “Did a sea witch take your voice?” Merida says something in thick Scottish that no one understands and then a princess whispers, “She’s from the other studio.” The princesses mention Vanellope’s clothing and then they cut to all the princesses wearing comfy clothes and pajamas. 

C-3PO enters and tells the Princesses they are needed. “We’ll be right there, R2!” says Ariel. “You know he hates being called that,” says Cinderella. “We’ll be right there, BB-8.” The audience is dying! Honestly, there were so many jokes about the princesses that I couldn’t keep up. I was laughing so hard the whole time. 

Lassetter says that the Princesses are their original voices, including Jodi Benson as Ariel, Wing Na Wen as Mulan and Idina Menzel as Elsa!

And then it happens….. They introduce every princess from the scene with the exception of a few that couldn’t make it. At this point, I’m in tears as my childhood and my daughter’s childhood all walk out on stage! It was the highlight of the entire D23 Expo for me. I CANNOT wait to see Wreck it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet in theaters March 9th, 2018!

(L-R) Actors Paige O’Hara (Belle/BEAUTY AND THE BEAST), Irene Bedard (POCAHONTAS), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel/TANGLED), Auli’i Cravalho (MOANA), Sarah Silverman (Vanellope von Schweetz/RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2), Kristen Bell (Anna/FROZEN), Kelly Macdonald (Merida/BRAVE), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana/THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG), Linda Larkin (Jasmine/ALADDIN), and Jodi Benson (Ariel/THE LITTLE MERMAID) Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2 started the moment we left off from the original film. The family still doesn’t know that Jack-Jack has powers, let alone multiple powers. “Bob’s actually home with the kids this time and I’m the one out fighting crime,” added Hunter. She joked, “I’ve been working out 13 hours a day!” We were treated to a scene from the movie that included Jack-Jack in an epic battle with a racoon. It was pretty hilarious for sure! The cast came out on stage as well to say hello. Director Brad Bird—who lends his voice to Edna—joined Lasseter on stage to welcome to the festivities the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (newcomer Huck Milner) and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). We even got a look at the new animation because technology in animation has gotten a lot better since the original movie.

(L-R) Actors Craig T. Nelson, Huck Milner, Sarah Vowell, director Brad Bird, actors Holly Hunter and Samuel L. Jackson of INCREDIBLES 2 Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4 was announced at the D23 Expo back in 2015 with only a few details about the fact that it would follow Bo Peep. It has a new director, John Cooley (Riley’s First Date short) and is set to be released on June 21st, 2019!

Unnamed Fantasy Film

Here is what I quickly jotted down about this film. Fantasy world meets everyday world. Two brothers that lost their father and go on a quest. There are elves, trolls and unicorns are like vermin. Kind of like Zootopia but with fantasy creatures.
Director Dan Scanlon, who helmed Pixar’s “Monsters University,” joined Lasseter to share a few details about an all-new original feature film currently in production at Pixar Animation Studios. According to Scanlon, who lost his father at a very young age, the film is inspired by the question he’s always asked: who was my father? The story is set in a world with no humans—only elves, trolls and sprites—“anything that would be on the side of a van in the ’70s,” said the director. “In the film, we’re going to tell the story of two teenage elf brothers whose father died when they were too young to remember him. But thanks to the little magic still left in the world, the boys embark on a quest that will allow them a chance to spend one last magical day with their father.” Kori Rae (“Monsters University”) will produce.

And that was if for the Animations panel from D23 Expo! 

Tell me in the comments what movie you are most excited about seeing!

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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