Disney burnishes brands at D23 fan show

Tue Sep 8, 2009 5:40pm EDT
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By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Die-hard fans of Walt Disney Co gather this week in California for the company's first-ever fan exposition and what Disney hopes will be a show of the durability of its brands in a tough time.

Disney executives are likely to face fan queries about what the planned acquisition of Marvel Entertainment Inc, announced last week, would mean for its movie, theme park, toy and TV offerings in coming years.

The event at the Anaheim Convention Center, adjacent to Disneyland, is one of the few put on by a corporation, rather than its fans, to celebrate its history and products.

The September 10-13 event, called D23 Expo in a nod to the year Walt Disney founded his animation company, is expected to draw about 10,000 fans from all over the world for what Disney billed as unprecedented access to its archives as well as glimpses of upcoming films, TV shows, park rides and toys.

The Expo has been more than a year in the making, spurred by repeated pleas by Disney fans to Chief Executive Bob Iger -- often at the company's annual meetings.

"When Bob became CEO (in 2005) we almost immediately started getting feedback ... that they wanted to know why there wasn't an official fan club in our 85-year history," Steven Clark, head of D23 Expo, said in an interview. "It made sense to him and he said: 'What can we do?'"

Iger unveiled the Expo and a new website featuring news and a blog about the company, retrospectives and a collectibles store at this year's annual meeting in Oakland, California.

Top Disney executives, including Iger and the heads of the company's four main divisions, are taking the event seriously and plan glitzy presentations with celebrity guest stars.   Continued...

<p>Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse greet visitors with their latest Year of the Mouse costumes at Hong Kong Disneyland, 21, 2008. REUTERS/Bobby Yip</p>