D23 Expo: Walt Disney Studios presentation featured nothing but surprises for excited Disney fans

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

The Walt Disney Studios presentation at the D23 Expo concluded just a few minutes ago and was two-hours of nonstop surprises and excitement for Disney fans in attendance.

Beginning with a long montage of Disney’s best films over the years while a live orchestra played film scores and a choir sang, the presentation was hosted by Studios chairman Dick Cook.

Prior to the presentation, it was announced that directors Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis would be in attendance along with actor Nicolas Cage. But Disney didn’t nearly stop there. Had they announced everything that would happen in the production that took place, fans would have lined up for days in advance to see it.

Unexpected highlights included:

  • John Travolta, his wife Kelly Preston, and their daughter appeared to promote their upcoming film, “Old Dogs”
  • “National Treasure” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” producer Jerry Bruckheimer was on hand to unveil footage of the upcoming “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” film.
  • The entire cast of the Muppets rode out onto the stage in a riverboat and sang “Rainbow Connection” amongst a couple of other unique renditions of Disney songs (including Pepe the King Prawn inserting his own lyrics into “Prince Ali” from Disney’s “Aladdin”). They also announced “The Cheapest Muppets Movie Ever Made” as the next Muppets film.
  • Guillermo del Toro delivered a pre-recorded video message in which he and Disney have announced a partnership for a new line of films called “Disney Double Dare You.” The films will be family-friendly but also creepy and are inspired by del Toro’s longtime love of Disney’s Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean attractions. The goal of the new film series, which begins with “The Troll Hunter,” is to bring a bit of fun creepiness to the Disney brand.
  • After much discussion about Miley Cyrus’ upcoming film “The Last Song,” Cyrus herself appeared on stage, chatted with Dick Cook for a minute, and then performed a song from the film.
  • Finally, after the crowd was convinced that Cyrus’ performance was the finale (and some even decided left early), Dick Cook decided to add one final note and brought out actor Johnny Depp in character dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow to announce the title of the next Pirates of the Caribbbean film: On Stranger Tides, due out in Summer 2011.

As announced, Tim Burton did show up to show a 3D trailer for his upcoming “Alice in Wonderland” film, though nothing new was revealed. Robert Zemeckis offered a similarly short preview of “A Christmas Carol.” It seems that Disney wanted to avoid repeating the pair’s recent San Diego Comic Con presentations and move on to the unique, never before seen excitement stated above. After Zemeckis left the stage and a trailer for “A Christmas Carol” played, Disney did confirm that they are working on a remake of “The Beatles Yellow Submarine” with Zemeckis.

Nicolas Cage will be starring as the sorcerer in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and revealed that the movie was his idea, as he watches Disney’s Fantasia annually and wanted to adapt it for a live action film. A trailer was shown… but I’m not thrilled. References to the original incluced brief clips of dancing brooms and a blue hat with moons and stars, but most of the movie appears to be completely new, set in New York and involving a lot of magic and fire.

A few other films were referenced and some footage and other trailers were shown, including a captivating look at Disney Nature’s upcoming “Oceans” documentary.

All of this was included in the standard cost of admission into the D23 Expo. If Disney continues presentations like this one in the future, I have a feeling any concerns of low Expo ticket sales will soon disappear.


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  1. So basically D23 can be explained this way; Spend $75 to join the club and earn the right to spend money on things you can’t buy unless you join; Then pay an admission price to the D23 Expo where you will be treated to announcements and trailers on all the upcoming stuff you can spend more money on….what a deal….I didn’t join D23 and got all the same news and announcements for free. So what if I didn’t get the self affirming privilege of being there to see Johnny Depp in costume so I can brag to the non-attendees. I think I’ll survive.