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It's been a week since I landed back on the ground in Illinois - arriving on the LAX-O'Hare red eye at 4:35am, knowing that by 9am I'd be back in the groove and taking the girls to their theater camp. That Monday was the end of a week-long journey from coast-to-coast, the back half of which was my first visit to the D23 Expo - The Ultimate Disney Fan Event. Held biennially in Anaheim, D23 is like a Disney-only version of what Comic-Con has become - a place for the most loyal of fans to make an in-person connection to the entertainment they love from across the Disney family of companies. After finally adjusting to the jet-lag caused by jetting forward and backward in time, it's time to share more about my adventures in Anaheim, pulling back the curtain on a Disney event unlike any other.

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It's sometimes a strange thing how certain things can cause an association with others, especially when nostalgia comes into play. When DuckTales was in its original heyday, it overlapped with a dark time in my own childhood - but coming home from school and watching DuckTales is something that I remember fondly. The globetrotting adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his great-nephews were epic, and the "magic of Disney" could always be felt throughout. As a kid, I shared a desire with many to one day jump into Scrooge McDuck's money bin - something that logic would say was impossible - something only real in a hand-drawn cartoon world. Little did I know that some three decades later, DuckTales would return (premiering August 12 on Disney XD), and that Scrooge McDuck's money bin would be realized in the human world...

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I made my first trip to Walt Disney World in Florida in 1988. It was a unique experience in that I went by myself - sans parents - at age 12, the winner of a contest held by the Star Newspapers here in Chicagoland. I was a paperboy - a "newspaper carrier" - and as part of a yearly push for great customer service and increased subscriptions, the top carriers were rewarded with a trip to Disney World. I was one of them, and the experience marked my first ride in a limousine, and my first big adventure away from home (under the guidance of two chaperones). The Magic Kingdom is, indeed, a magical place, and in 2016 I returned for the first time as a parent, my wife and I taking our girls on a Florida adventure. On the west coast, I'd never been to Disneyland until December of 2015, when I attended as a guest as part of the Global Media Event for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Five hours in the park and I was hooked. I did return this week (more on that later), but at the recent D23 Expo in Anaheim, I was on the show floor, live-tweeting announcements about what the future holds for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. There's a whole lot of Marvel... a whole lot of Star Wars... a whole lot of Pixar... some new ships... new hotels... and a ton of magic to be experienced. Here's the full rundown...

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The 2017 D23 Expo was absolutely massive, and while I live-tweeted the festivities direct from the show floor, I'm still trying to collect my thoughts on everything that I've seen and heard, even now that I've been back in Illinois for a full day. At the live-action film presentation, Alan Horn, Chairman, Walt Disney Studios, introduced Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production to give an overview of what moviegoers can expect to see across Disney, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm over the next few years. For a few projects, development is still fairly early on, but ALADDIN was confirmed to be directed by Guy Ritchie, with Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Will Smith as the Genie, with original music by Alan Menken with Pasek & Paul (La La Land) handling lyrics. MULAN will be helmed by Niki Caro (McFarland, USA, Whale Rider), and JUNGLE CRUISE marks the latest Disneyland ride to get a big screen nod, with Dwayne Johnson set to star. Those announcements simply scratch the surface, as the lineup is huge, and I've got all the details below...

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At the recent D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation took to the stage in Hall D23 (introduced by Alan Horn, pictured above) to give audiences some new insight into what's coming down the pipeline from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar and DisneyToon Studios. I was in attendance for the presentation (I was tweeting live from the floor) and got a first-hand look at some incredible things that were shown for the very first time - some of which can be shared with you now, while others you'll have to wait to see. What's certain is that there's a stellar lineup ahead, including some much-requested new chapters of fan-favorite franchises, along with some completely unexpected new films. Here's the details...

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As the 2017 edition of the D23 Expo draws to a close, closing the book on another installment of "The Ultimate Disney Fan Event," the news is really just getting started. I'm still here in Anaheim, getting ready to head back to Chicago on the red eye - and much of what I've seen has yet to be revealed. I did get a rare look backstage in the growing "Hall D23," and alongside all the technical magic, much of the talent involved with the next few years of entertainment from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm was on-hand to drop the curtain on a few surprises. So what did all of these actors and filmmakers do while hanging out in the pipe-and-drape "green rooms?" They had fun, and made some videos - many of which are now on Instagram. From Jon Favreau representing THE LION KING, to the voices of the Disney Princesses, the cast of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, MARY POPPINS and a host of AVENGERS and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, take a look at some of what happened backstage...

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