4 Tips for Dads: Handling the D23 Expo (With Kids!)Steven M. Johnson
The D23 Expo isn’t a Disney Park. As an event celebrating Disney history and future ventures, it offers presentations, exhibits, and announcements – all experiences that will undoubtedly be fun and rewarding for you, an adult, but maybe not so much for your children.
As a frequent visitor to educational/informative Disney experiences, I often see whole families attending, with the parents actively engaged but the kids getting antsy and bored. One memory that will always stick out to me is after attending a talk by director John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and more), I overheard one little girl complain to her parents because she “wanted to see Ariel.”
Like the little girl who wanted a Disney Princess experience, your kids may be going into events like the D23 Expo with certain expectations, more aligned with past Disney Parks vacations. What are you going to do to keep your kids from squirming in their seats all weekend? How can you make this experience — an entire weekend spent in a convention center just across the street from the Disneyland Resort — something special that your children will love just as much as you?
I present to you 4 tips for doing the D23 Expo with your children:
Come prepared. The D23 Expo is undoubtedly going to be filled with surprises, from celebrity appearances to unannounced events, but you want to be as informed as you can. And as you’ve probably experienced, nothing rolls your kids’ eyes faster than when you don’t know what’s going on! A detailed schedule has been posted here to help plan your visit.
Negotiate Before Arrival! As you can see from the schedule, there are four different venues: the D23 Arena, Stage 23, Stage 28, and the Disney Channel Pavilion. With each location hosting different events, you and your family will have to make some choices about which presentations you choose to go to. This will require some give and take on your part, maybe by going to the Phineas and Ferb presentation in the morning to keep them in a good mood long enough to sit through Undiscovered Disneyland just after lunch. However your family decides to slice it, though, these are conversations you’ll want to have long before the Expo; do you want to be that dad who tells his daughter she can’t meet the cast of Teen Beach Movie after all?
Be ready to wait. Like I said earlier, every event is going to be different and will surely draw in different crowds, but you always want to prepare your kids for the worst at events like this. I’m talking coloring books, crossword puzzles, maybe even letting your son borrow your iPhone to play Star Wars Angry Birds – all great ways to handle the lines you might have to bear during the Expo. These kinds of activities might even come in handy for presentations your children might not be interested in; better your daughter is deeply focused on a Sudoku than throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of Tony Baxter’s talk!
Rewards. I’m usually a big critic when it comes to spoiling kids, but if your children can handle a weekend-long convention, even one about Disney, they are definitely worthy of it! With the Disneyland Resort across the street they might see the experience as a Disneyland trip “lost” so be sure to let them know how much you appreciate their willingness to go along with you to the Expo. There will be lots of good shopping opportunities, such as the Dream Store and the usually-exclusive Mickey’s of Glendale, at the Expo, providing a great opportunity to treat your kids. You can find out more about the merchandise selections here.
Just like any big trip your family goes on, the D23 Expo can and should be a great experience for you. As a dad, your job is to make sure your kids have just as magical a time as you do, as you share the Disney culture you love with the family you love.
Have you experienced the D23 Expo Before? Do you have any tips for how to enjoy the experience with your children? Be sure to comment below!