Sunday, August 11, 2013

D23 Disney Expo with a special concert by Richard Sherman and Alan Menken!

Welcome to the D23 Expo!

On Saturday, Theresa and I left Redondo Beach at 11:00am to head over to the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. There were plenty of interesting discussion panels and things to see, but as you'll read later, we were there for just one thing.

We can always appreciate a good sidewalk chalk drawing. The Pasadena Chalk Festival is one of our must-dos every summer.

One of our favorite Disney cartoons, Phineas and Ferb, had a huge interactive exhibit in front of the expo. Dr. Doofenshmirtz has built a giant Waffle-inator and you get to fire waffles at the Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated building to save Perry the Platypus who is locked in a cage up at the top. When the waffle hits the building, the screens interact with it. We didn't spend too much time here, but it looked like fun! Only problem we saw was that none of the waffles could reach the very top where some of the targets were. Still fun though.

As we entered the expo, there was no line at all. Guess arriving at noon means everyone is already inside. We breezed through the ticket checker and didn't have anyone check our bags for food or anything else.

Our first stop was the Collector's Forum, where you could find just about anything you'd want from Disney.
Of course I stop at the booth! That's where just about all my trip reports about Disney end up, so it was fun to stop by. While there, I meet DustySage, the founder and CEO of Micechat.

The Micechat booth had so many VIP guests appearing throughout the expo, including Bob Gurr, Rolly Crump, Susan Egan, Charles Fleischer and more! While I was there, Nik Ranieri, a former Senior Disney Animator was signing autographs.

He has worked on such characters as Jafar, Ursula, Roger Rabbit, Lumiere, etc. My absolute favorite villain though is Hades and Nik is the animator who brought him to life!

Next we visited the silent auction portion of the expo floor. They had lots of interesting items available that I would love to have but have no room for at home. With an hour forty-five to go before the auction was over, this Winnie the Pooh display was already up to $5000.

The collector's forum turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the expo. Here there were lots of big Disney names, including Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula, Margaret Kerry, the original model for Tinker Bell, and great Disney Artists.

There were quite a few artists doing paintings right in front of us which was really fun to see.

One of the better cos-play costumes I saw today. Rufio from the movie Hook, as well as Peter Pan.

Theresa posing in front of the street sign bearing our last name. It's in front of the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Pavilion. The line here was around an hour wait so we decided to keep exploring.

Directions to various Disney locations. We've been to all the top 5, including Disneyland (of course), Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Castaway Cay. Still on the list, Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland and the Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

At the Jelly Belly display, an artist was creating a Jelly Belly mosaic. I've wondered how they made these and now I see the technique. Could this be one of my next mosaic projects? We'll see!

While wandering over to the D23 Arena, I saw a couple guys I happened to recognize. It's Tom Bricker and Henry Work! Tom Bricker is a well known Disney fan and an awesome photographer. His website is and I highly suggest checking it out.
Henry Work we've run into previously at Minnie's Moonlit Madness. He's and his team are Disney Scavenger Hunt masters, having won the first D23 scavenger hunt and at least three MouseAdventure events.
Tom, Henry and their wives recently returned from Tokyo Disney, one of Disney's most beautiful parks. Tom posted some of his best photos on micechat here.

The expo floor has some interesting things to see, but there's only one big reason we decided to come here today.

One of the reasons we love Disney movies so much are the great songs and music. Amazingly, one man is responsible for almost all the songs we know and love the from movies of our generation. Alan Menken wrote the songs and score for such Disney movies as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Enchanted, Tangled and more!

Months ago, Theresa had said that if Alan Menken ever performs a concert, we WILL be going. When it was announced that not only would Alan Menken be performing at the D23 expo for one night only, but Richard Sherman would be joining him, we were so in!

Because this was the whole reason we came here today. we weren't messing around when it came to waiting in line. The Disney Legends presentation started at 2pm and as soon as they cleared the area we were expecting to line up. We did get different stories from different expo workers though. We arrived in the area around 1:45pm and were told by some to come back at 3pm. Others said there was no line, even though an unofficial line was clearly being formed. We hopped into the unofficial line and once it started getting really long, the expo staff went ahead and led everyone to the queue area for the Arena. I was actually pretty impressed with how well the staff handled the crowd. Some might be a bit uninformed, but everything was kept nice and orderly. Here's a look at the line at 2:30pm.  Only 4 more hours until the concert starts.

It was an uneventful wait in the line. Here's another look at that line at 4pm. The line is getting pretty big!

Around 5:15pm, they started to let people into the auditorium! It's going to be awesome!

Finally we get to go inside! We're the first to hit the floor and looking forward to some great seats! Those poor people who have to sit in these seats with the super skewed view of the stage.

The coveted center section. Wait, what? Why can't we sit there? It's reserved? Well where do we get to sit then? Aww, the super skewed section? That no fun. There were plenty of people who weren't happy and they let the expo staff know it. First off the seating wasn't sloped at all, so we were looking at the people's heads in front of us instead of the stage. Second, we might be physically closer to the stage, but we're looking hard to the right, and only looking at the back of whoever is playing the piano. Third, by just sheer bad luck, out of the 15 seats in each row, Theresa and I were on the far far left, furthest away from center as you can get.

Like I said, people were not happy having waited over 4 hours in line to be put in these seats. We asked if we could go to a different section of the arena, like further back but more centered. The staff said to sit where we were and if we didn't like it, we were welcome to leave the arena and get into the back of the line. That did not make anyone happy.
What I think the expo seating looked like. That green area is where were seated.

With an hour or so to kill before the concert, we chatted with our seatmates and looked around the arena. We happened to see our friend Paula, who you might have seen before in my Disneyland Dream Suite trip report, and went to talk to her. We talked to her and another micechatter we recognized.

While chatting, we saw John Lassater walking in. Lots of people tried to walk over to see him and it looked like at least a few got pictures with him. Very fun! This concert is something even he doesn't want to miss.

In Paula's section, we noticed a few open seats and decided to move over. Our new seats are on the blue dot in the photo above. It's a little bit further away from the stage, but we can see the front of the piano and we can see around the people in front of us. Definitely happy to have moved!

Tim O'Day was our host and moderator for the evening.

Performing together for the first time ever and for one night only, tonight's concert features Disney Legends Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken!

Richard and Alan came out on stage together and were greeted by a huge standing ovation and the crowd only stopped after Richard Sherman motioned twice for everyone to be seated.

So we've got a problem, there's two performers and only one piano. What should we do? Richard's reaction to Alan's suggestion of Age before Beauty (and the Beast).

So Richard Sherman started us off. He said it's always nice to be here among my family again, these Disney folks are all my family.

To start the night, he performed a tribute to who he considered his lucky star and good luck charm, Annette Funicello. Annette had performed a cover of one of the songs Richard and his brother had written, "Tall Paul", and the success of that song drew the attention of Walt Disney to the Sherman Brothers. After that, Walt Disney hired them to work for the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank California, and the rest is Disney history. So of course the first song he played and sang for us was "Taul Paul."

One of T's favorite songs by Annette Funicello written by the Sherman Brothers is "Pineapple Princess" (it was Theresa's ringtone for years) and as luck would have it he played that next!

Another huge young star at that time was Hayley Mills. For a packed audience, he performed "Let's Get Together" from The Parent Trap.

At 85 years young, Richard Sherman is putting on a fantastic show. All his songs, he's performing from memory, with no sheet music needed. He's also a fantastic showman with a huge animated motions and great big smiles. His next song is all about color and is actually the theme for the nighttime spectacular show at Disney's California Adventure, "Wonderful World of Color."

He continue playing lots of great classic songs. Some we're very familiar with and others we weren't. The Ugly Bug Ball wasn't one I'd heard, but next he played "Winnie the Pooh" and T and I started smiling really big. He had no problem with the line "tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff", but stuttered on "willy nilly silly old bear." Afterwards he said his brother wrote "willy nilly silly old bear" while he wrote "tubby little cubby."

More songs from Winnie the Pooh came next including the "Stoutness Exercise" song and "The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers." Everyone in the audience was clapping and signing along when he asked us to.

We heard great stories behind the songs from The Jungle Book, like "That's What Friends Are For" and "I Wanna Be Like You". We listened to "The Age of Not Believing" from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, then Richard transitioned into songs he wrote for the parks. Hearing the "Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" song being performed by the person who wrote it was a real treat. The song of the Imagineers, "One Little Spark" is featured in Journey Into Imagination with Figment at Epcot. Also in the Imagination Pavilion was a 3D show called Magic Journeys for which he wrote the song "Magic Journeys."

In 1965, the Sherman Brothers won 2 Academy Awards for their work on Mary Poppins. There happens to be a new Disney movie called Saving Mr. Banks coming out regarding the P. L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins stories, her life growing up in Australia and her relationship with her father, the inspiration for Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins. The movie also shows her negotiations with Walt Disney. In the movie, the parts of the Sherman Brothers are played by Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak. Both Jason and BJ surprised us by showing up on stage 

They joined Richard Sherman and led us in singing "Just a Spoonful of Sugar" from Mary Poppins.

After they left, Richard sang "Chim Chim Cheree" for us.
Next was what Walt referred to as "the song." Walt would ask the Sherman brothers to come to his office in Burbank to discuss their work on different projects they were working on, but he would finish their meetings by walking over to the north window just saying "Play it." That song, "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins.
On December 5th, 2001, the 100th anniversary of Walt's Birthday, a piano was set up in front of the Partners statue at the end of Main Street and Richard Sherman played "Feed the Birds" in front of a huge crowd. As he was playing and totally unscripted, a single bird swooped down over the piano, and the crowd let out a collective gasp. Everyone took it as a sign that Walt was looking down on them and approved.
It was no surprise that afterwards everyone was on their feet cheering

Next was a song of inspiration that was featured in Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, "A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow."
He ended his performance with one of their songs that's always fun to sing, but really hard to spell, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." It had everyone clapping and singing along, and when he was finished everyone was quick to jump to their feet to give him a standing ovation!

It's hard to believe that there's even more awesomeness to go! The show itself was listed as going from 6:30pm - 8:00pm, but Richard Sherman performed all the way up to 7:35pm!

Alan Menken was up next! While Richard Sherman wrote the songs from our parent's generation, Alan Menken wrote the songs from ours!

He brought lots of sheet music out with him so we're looking forward to hearing everything he brought to perform!
He started by paying tribute to Richard Sherman and thanking him for being there and so supportive of their work. He said it was amazing to be a part of the same company that the Sherman Brothers wrote songs for and continue to write songs for. Then he said, "Here's where I began" and started playing "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid!
Continuing with songs from The Little Mermaid he performed a fantastic medley of "Under The Sea", "Poor Unfortunate Souls", "Les Poissons", and "Kiss The Girl". Both Theresa and I had huge goofy grins on our faces the whole time and of course when he started playing "Kiss The Girl" I had to lean over and steal a kiss.

Next he played a three new songs from the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid. We'll have to keep an eye out for it to see when it's coming to Los Angeles!

Next he played a wonderful medley from Beauty and the Beast including the songs "Bonjour", "Gaston", "Be Our Guest", and "Beauty And the Beast" aka "Tale As Old As Time".

"Human Again" was cut from the original movie, but included in the Broadway performance. He said he doesn't think he's ever performed this song in public before because it's pretty rigorous and he wasn't kidding. He did a fantastic job, and when it was done he had to fan himself. Also from the Broadway musical was the song performed by the Beast "If I Can't Love Here",

Continuing with all the great hits, from Aladdin he sang a melody of "Arabian Nights", "One Jump Ahead", and "Friend Like Me", and did the voices of all the characters.

Newsies, which Alan Menken said was a huge flop at the box office was next. A box office flop yes, but once it came out on home video it went crazy! It was being shown at camps and there were flash mobs performing songs from it, so someone got the idea that maybe they should make a stage version of Newsies that could tour the country. It did so well, it's playing now on Broadway. From Newsies, he played "Carrying the Banner", "King of New York", and "Santa Fe".

Next up was Pocahontas and it was Alan Menken's first time working with Stephen Schwartz. He started with a song that was cut from the movie called "In the Middle of the River", then continued with a second song that was cut from the movie but sung over the credits called "If I Never Knew You". "Colors of the Wind" followed both of those songs and it was just beautiful to hear. "Colors of the Wind" earned Alan his 7th and 8th Oscar, with the 1st and 2nd coming from "Under the Sea", 3rd and 4th from "Beauty and the Beast", and 5th and 6th from "A Whole New World." He said he really thought Oscars came in pairs at this point. The same year he won an Oscar for Beauty and the Beast, he also received a Razzy for Newsies.

The Hunchback of the Notre Dame followed, and I think "The Bells of Notre Dame" is one of my favorite opening numbers of all Disney movies. He started with that and continued with "God Help the Outcasts" and sang a powerful rendition of "Out There". 

The project after that was my favorite Disney movie, Hercules! When he announced it, the crowd let out a huge cheer and Alan said he thinks Hercules' time is coming. I was smiling from ear to ear as he belted out the gospel style songs "Gospel Truth" and "Zero to Hero". To go along with my favorite movie, "Go the Distance" is also one of my favorite Disney songs.

A movie that didn't do all that well, but still has some good songs is Home On The Range. "Little Patch of Heaven" started it off, then we heard "Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo" and heard Alan Menken yodeling. It's amazing how quickly a song can change your whole mood. You can go from cheery and exuberant to quiet and introspective in moments, and when he played "Will The Sun Ever Shine Again" it did that to me.

Enchanted was next and Alan said he was so glad he was brought back to do parodies of his own songs. "True Love's Kiss" preceded "Happy Working Song". Theresa's only disappointment was that she didn't get to hear her favorite Disney song performed, "So Close" which was composed by Alan Menken with lyrics from Stephen Schwartz. 

Theresa's favorite movie used to be Mulan, but she's has changed it to Tangled. No kidding, we can watch it and then a week later she's wanting to watch it again. Even though she didn't get to hear her favorite Disney song, she got to hear four songs from her favorite Disney movie, "When Will My Life Begin?", "Mother Knows Best", "I've Got a Dream", and "I See the Light."

After that, he held up the large remaining stack sheet music, looked at his watch and said, "I'm looking at the time, I don't know..." But the audience cheered really loud and then he smiled and held up his hand and placed the next sheet of music on the piano.

Next was "Star Spangled Man" from Captain America: The First Avenger.

He's been nominated for an Emmy for the song he wrote for the TV show The Neighbors called "More Or Less The Kind Of Thing You May Or May Not Possibly See On Broadway", and if he wins he'll have what is called an EGOT, an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. And since he has a Razzie, if he wins, he'll be the very first person to have a REGOT.

From the upcoming Broadway musical Aladdin, he played the brand new song sung by Genie "Somebody's Got Your Back"

With that, he stood up, took a bow, and headed off stage while the audience was on their feet applauding wildly.

He was only gone for a few seconds and then ran back on stage and sang "That's How You Know" from Enchanted. A quick bow and he left again to go backstage.

Host Tim O'Day came back out and said how about one last musical goodnight kiss. Welcome back Richard Sherman and Alan Menken!

Tim said, "This will be about as subtle as a forest fire. Have you two ever written a song about the world?"

Alan sat down and played "A Whole New World" from Aladdin while Richard stood beside the piano.

Richard sat down next and said "I've been told I should be either kissed or killed for having written this." Of course you know which song we're talking about. It has to be the theme from "it's a small world". Personally, I always enjoy it. Richard sang the main melody, while Alan led the entire audience in the counter melody, and you couldn't have picked a better song to end the night with. With the myself and the entire audience singing along with these two Disney Musical Legends, I had chills and experienced just an amazing moment of joy.

With the audience on their feet and roaring their appreciation, Richard Sherman and Alan Menken joined hands and took a bow together.

They embraced each other and walked off stage.

I can't think of any other concert I would have ever wanted to attend more. To be here to listen to the songs I grew up with, the songs that inspire me, the songs that bring up such deep emotions in me, being performed by the men who created them was truly magical.
When the concert ended after 2 hours and 30 minutes, all you heard from the people surround you were phrases like "Wow" and "That was amazing." Theresa and I had an absolute blast being here tonight, and I think even Baby Flowers enjoyed it. T said he was active and moving around the whole time.

I didn't record video of the concert, but there are some great videos by people who did if you'd like to get a taste of what we experienced. Check out the videos recorded by InsideTheMagic. The first part has Richard Sherman.

And the second part has Alan Menken.

Even though we're going to be showing up to our next adventure super late, more on that in another post, we just didn't want to leave. Instead we headed down to the stage to get a closer look at everything. While there, we saw a few more Disney icons including Bob Gurr, Margaret Kerry and Tony Baxter.

And we even ran into a cast member we know! Do you remember Karen? She was one of our hostesses when Ruston, Jacob, Theresa and I stayed overnight at the Disneyland Dream Suite!

A picture you might remember of Karen the next morning telling us we had to leave the Dream Suite.

It was an amazing night, but hold on, the night's not through yet! We've got one more thing planned!
Here's a sneak preview!


  1. WOW -- a lot of GREAT detail. Mom and I could feel the emotion ebb and flo as you described this WONDERFUL night -- you are such a good storyteller... SO GLAD you 3 enjoyed it.

  2. Hi, Joe and Theresa (and Baby Flowers To Come)! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful pictures and descriptions of the evening we spent listening to Richard Sherman and Alan Menken perform the "Disney Songbook" at the D23 Expo. It was truly an inspiring evening filled with stories and wonderful music that I will not soon forget. I was also amazed at Richard Sherman's ability to remember the music and lyrics to all of his songs without having a piece of music in front of him. Both Richard and Alan put on a terrific show and I also felt blessed to have been in the same room with them, listening to these Disney Legends perform their memorable music live for all of us. I'm sorry we did not have more time to catch up, but I look forward to seeing you again before too long. Thanks for posting our photo! With all my best always, Paula