Disney has no interest in you seeing their latest movie. Rather, it is not as interested in you going to the movies to see it as in visiting one of its theme parks or buying a doll, mug or t-shirt from any of its franchises, be it Marvel, Star Wars or Pixar.
Just before the pandemic, 40% of the income of the conglomerate The Walt Disney Company did not come from the intellectual property rights of its audiovisual productions or the box office, but from the sale of ‘merchandising’ and the experiences derived from its amusement parks.
The popular Mickey Mouse company then pocketed a total of 24,701 million dollars, or what is the same: the annual GDP of a country like Cyprus or what experts estimate that Trump’s wall and its maintenance would have cost for ten years.
Everything responds to a marketing machine spurred on by the premieres of its different brands and by the always lucrative Disney classics, so it is difficult not to identify with the 65,000 people who pack the Californian city of Anaheim this weekend to celebrate D23 Expo.
A convention that responds to a much longer name but that, in practice, is an event where extremely expensive exclusive Disney products are sold and, in return, the firm compensates attendees with a series of panels so that they are the first to know the date or the trailers of some of its next releases.
In addition, the up to 500 dollars that D23 Expo tickets can cost also do their part for the company to decide to organize this gigantic event every two years at the Anaheim Convention Center, a commuter city of more than 350,000 residents near Los Angeles.
To all this we must add the cost of travel, which can greatly inflate the price, accommodation in one of the nearby hotels and, already put, the cost of the theme park that Disney has located right in front of the D23 Expo headquarters.
The distribution of each building on the map is essential so that attendees, who come from 43 different countries, can get their hands on posters, ‘Funko’ dolls or exclusive t-shirts before their competitors, who on this occasion are fans of the same franchises as them .
“I come from Mexico City because I am passionate about all the Disney brands, but the prices of the products are a bit high,” the young Bryan Villegas explains to Efe while holding two large plastic bags with the day’s purchases.
He is not the only one because his compatriot Alejandro Gasca, a native of the state of Puebla, smiles, grabbing more bags while declaring himself a follower of how “Disney materializes movies into tangible products.”
Meanwhile, people dressed in the costumes of Anakin Skywalker, Captain America or Rapunzel procession until this Sunday afternoon among many others who emulate more Disney characters.
Strolling around the Anaheim Convention Center for a few hours this weekend implies noticing that the real fun at D23 Expo lies in providing as much eccentricity as possible, in a date where listening to the word ‘geek’ in a pejorative tone is impossible .
“Look at him, look at him, don’t tell me he’s not cute. We should have brought ours,” says a married couple dressed as “The Incredibles” when they see a Yorkshire breed dog dressed as Mike Wazowski, a character from the animated film “Monsters Inc.”
The costumes hide it, but the vast majority of the public is of legal age, an adult in his 30s or simply very adult. Almost no trace of the children at D23 Expo.
“It was a very long trip and we preferred to leave our children with their grandparents because it would be too tiring for them,” acknowledge Agnes and Philippe, who flew in from Paris to attend the event.
D23 Expo is an immersion in a parallel reality without 3D glasses and from which one must move away approximately two kilometers to return to normality.
Within this radius, hotels, restaurants and even diversion stores like those of the 7-Eleven chain show their peculiar respect for the Disney brands so as not to disappoint any customer and that they can eat those cookies in the shape of Mickey ears or buy the logo bottle you didn’t know you needed.
Once you have crossed the two kilometres, the signs ‘Forbidden: This is not a Convention Center car park’ disappear and you come to a neighborhood that, in the rare event that a family comes with their children to D23 Expo, It would be the best place to park the car.