Every couple of years, D23: The Official Disney Fan Club holds Destination D, each time focusing in on a different milestone in the Disney company. Previous Destination D events have celebrated Disneyland’s 55th birthday and Walt Disney World’s 40th. This year, Destination D celebrates the 75 anniversary of the release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” by focusing on Disney animated features. Read on for some pictures from the first day of this two day event held at the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel.
After a welcome from Steven Clark, the head of D23, there was the requisite flash-mob plus a taped greeting from John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer at PIXAR and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
The first presentation focused on the “golden age” of Disney animation, including Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men. Archives Director Becky Cline chatted with Ted Thomas (son of animator Frank Thomas), layout artist and producer Joe Hale and Disney Legend Burny Mattinson. All told great stories of meeting Walt and working with the veteran animators. In a conversation later, Hale commented that the atmosphere at the Studios was such, that if he could’ve afforded to, he would’ve worked there for free.
The next presentation focused on Roy E. Disney’s contribution to Walt Disney animation and featured his son Roy Patrick Disney, along with “The Little Mermaid” producers Ron Clements and John Musker and Creative Director and Head of Special Projects at Walt Disney Animation Studios Dave Bossert. Due to some exclusive footage being show, no photographs were allowed, however we were able to take a few following the presentation, including one of Roy Patrick Disney with a Mousecar that was given in honor of his father.
The afternoon’s sessions began with Disney animator Darrin Butters giving us a look at what’s happening in Disney animation today, including a screening of the shorts “Tangled Ever After” and “Paperman”, plus looks at “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frozen”.
The afternoon continued with some never-before-seen or rarely seen Disney animation, including “Back to Neverland” with Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams, Roger Rabbit short “Tummy Trouble” and several commercials featuring Disney characters. There were two highlights of the presentation. The first was a strange idea that was considered for the “Pomp and Circumstance” section of Fantasia 2000 that included a procession of Disney prince and princesses followed by Dumbo and several storks delivering babies to the happy couples. The second, which took the audience by surprise, was the entire Zip A Dee Doo Dah section of the seldom-seen “Song of the South”.
Rounding out the afternoon was a look at how animators applied their skills to the Disney Parks. Former Imagineer Eddie Sotto joined Imagineers Tom Morris and Tony Baxter to discuss the works of Herb Ryman, John Hench, Claude Coats and Marc Davis.
The evening session began with an exciting concert by Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix, performing both Disney songs and pop standards. The evening ended with a screening of the director’s cut of “Walt & El Grupo”, hosted by director Ted Thomas and producer Kuniko Okubo.
Presentations for the second day include looks at Tinker Bell and Snow White, plus a chat with Disney voice artists. The evening will be capped by a concert starring composer Alan Menken.