On Friday, the Anaheim Convention Center opened its doors to thousands of Disney fans for its bi-annual D23 Expo.
A sizzle reel took over, showcasing Disneyland and films such as Beauty and The Beast, Moana, The Jungle Book, and Kevin Durant winning the NBA Finals, celebrating with his mother. Netflix series, Captain America: Cvil War, college football, Modern Family, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Black-ish and more send encouraging, fun messages in the reel.
Footage of Hulk and Thor charging one another in the Sakaaran arena is followed by Black Panther flipping from a car. The Last Jedi trailer clips play.
Footage from recent films is accompanied by singing of "A Tale As Old As Time" accompanies several films. Groot connects the wires, fireworks erupt from the Magic Kingdom.
Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger takes the stage.
"Good morning every and welcome to the 2017 D23 Expo," Iger said. "That video is certainly a great way to kick off this year's expo and certainly a nice way to be introduced." He goes on to express how proud Disney is of creating such moments and magic for the fans. "Nothing makes us happier than pleasing all of you."
"We've got a lot to celebrate but there's even more to look forward to," Iger said. "For instance, our studio released an unprecedented stain of creative and box office triumphs, including Zootopia, Jungle Book, and Moana, Captain America: Civil War, and of course Beauty and the Best. And, we released our first Star Wars fillm, The Force Awakens."
He highlights The Force Awakens hauling in over two billion dollars at the global box office. Iger says Star Wars became a top priority at Disney, adding, "Given all of the Star Wars activity that's underway, it will be for a very long time."
The park which Disney opened Shanghai brought in more than 12 million guests. He promises a number of treats and surprises. "Exclusive looks at fantastic movies ahead from Disney, Marvel, and Lucasfilms," are coming this weekend.
At the last Expo, Iger announced Star Wars Land. He reveals that in 2019, "you'll actually get a chance to visit one of those lands and experience life in the Star Wars universe."
Iger expresses his enthusiam to reacquire Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, honoring founder Walt Disney. He teases that the studio is working on a few ideas as images take the screen of the character in various Disney films.
Back on track, Iger reveals that the Disney Legends Award is meant to honor the greatest creative achievements. A reel of Legends take over as Anika Noni Rose begins singing, "I Can Go The Distance."
Iger takes the stage again to point out the 267 people have earned the Disney Legends Award. He prompts them to stand as the audience cheers. "We are especially pleased that Disney Legend Ruthie Thompson," is on hand, Iger points out. She is celebrating her 107th birthday this year.
The first to be honored is Oprah Winfrey, as a producer, actress, talk show host, and philanthropist. A video showcases her storied career.
Her career began in television which lead to her own series which would run for more than 25 seasons. As the show grew, she felt a responsibility to grow the brand in media. "You and this show have been the great love of my life," Winfrey said.
Footage of Oprah making donations to schools and building her school are shown before footage of her role in a Stephen Spielberg film take the screen, as well as a pair of other Disney films, including The Princess and the Frog. "I am not defined by a show, I think we are defined by the way we treat ourselves and the way that we treat other people."
The lights come on and Iger introduces Oprah Winfrey to the stage.
"I will tell you, I arrived early yesterday because I didn't want to have to fight the evening traffic... I had time to go to a restaurant last night, I had a choice between Goofy's Kitchen and Steakhouse 55 so I chose Steakhouse 55," Winfrey said. "I had time to talk to my waiter whose name was Steve. I was getting Steve's story and I said, 'Tell me how long have you worked here?' Steve said, '42 years.' I said, 'Steve, 42 years! You've come in an out of that door for 42 years!'"
"I said, 'How did you stay at this company for 42 years?' He said, 'I thought and found it to be the best place to let me be me'. I said Steve, 'I felt the same way. I feel the same way about my work with Disney since 1984, launching the Oprah Winfrey show.' Every day, Disney, ABC7, let me be me."
"A Legend is about the common experience that we all hold and share," Winfrey said.
After the speech, a reel of Disney Legend Garry Marshall of Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, and Happy Days plays. His kids take the stage to accept the award. "Sit on a bench and daydream because you might just change the world."
Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Manuel Gonzalez are next to receive the Disney Legends Award. Their animated works play on the screen as the cast of ABC's Dancing With The Stars dance to iconic songs related to their work.
Stan Lee being honored at Disney Legends panel, but first, a Dancing With The Stars introduction. pic.twitter.com/8JZ35NOp2v— Brandon Davis (@BrandonDavisBD) July 14, 2017
The first video to take the screen highlights Jack Kirby, featuring footage from Marvel Studios films, but also the Fantastic Four and X-Men: Apocaylpse. "I just began to draw at a very, very young age, Kirby said. "Super heroes came naturally to me..." Kirby joined the United States army and returned to Marvel Comics, joining Stan Lee, after his service.
"Together, they created the Fantastic Four," the narrator said. The video highlights the hundreds of characters Kirby created, with Lee complimenting his imagination and creativity. "We all want to see what's beyond all horizons," Kirby said. "I feel that story first. I know those people first. When I put them down, they've already lived."
Kirby's son Neal will accept the Award on his father's behalf.
"First of all, I would like to extend our family's condolences to Stan...The loss of his wife, our thoughts are with you," Kirby said. He thanks the folks at the studio and his family for allowing his father to be honored and achieve such things. "My father, I know, would be very humble and proud to accept this award. He was probably the most humble person on the face of the planet."
"Thank you for enjoying his incredible and staggering body of work."
Next is Stan Lee, with a video showcasing his characters in live-action and on comic book pages flashing by. "I said to him, 'why don't you create characters that you like?'" Joan Lee said.
In 1961, he created the Fantastic Four, which lead to Thor, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and more books. "Peter Parker came from an effort on my part, knowing how much I hate teenage sidekicks," Lee said. "We have the juxtaposition of the bigger than life problem and the very simple home life and family life these characters have."
His cameos take the screen, with Lee claiming they are now supporting roles.
"I've done everything I want to do," Lee said. "I want to do more of everything I'm doing."
Iger introduces Lee to the stage. An emotional Lee takes the podium and expresses his excitement for the testimonial to Jack Kirby.
He tells a story of his young self. He found a book of the art of Walt Disney which, at the time, he couldn't afford. He saved his pennies, bought it, and loved it. This culminates into what an honor it is to be receiving a Disney Legends Award.
Clyde Geronimi is honored next. A reel honors his career which includes work animating Spider-Man. His sons accept the award. "I know how proud he would have been and I know how proud I am of him. My dad was a wonderful father," his son son. "It is my strong belief that this love is show in the many, many films he helped make at the studio."
Then, it is Manuel Gonzalez's turn. A video highlights Manuel's journey to New York City, where at 18-years-old, he would pursue a career as an illustrator. Manuel's son Dan takes the stage to tell a story of Walt Disney and his father working together, including jokes about Walt saying he is paying his employees too well, as he accepts the Award on his father's behalf.
Wayne Jackson, Disney Imagineer is honored next, introduced by both a sizzle reel of his career and Iger.
He thanks Iger and the committee for making him a Disney Legend. "I would like to thank everyone that had aapart in doing this," Jackson said. "In my 37 years...I had the honor of working with some very talented creative personal, architects, engineers, technicians, that made and created this attractions that have been enjoyed by so many millions of people throughout the world and they will continue to enjoy them in the future."
Julie Taymor is the last to be honored for her work with Disney, including the Broadway take on The Lion King. The musical received 11 nominations and won six Tony Awards. "I, too, grew up with the Sunday TV shows," Taymor said. "The Lion King, it's been a privlege as an artist. It's a privilege that every artist would want." She is grateful for Iger and company taking a risk on her turning The Lion King into a theater show.
Next up, Carrie Fisher is honored. A reel of her career takes the screen.
"It was 1977's Star Wars that catapulted her to international fame," the narrator said, calling her an "overnight symbol of empowerment." Footage of her roles in various films and TV series take the screen, right up to The Force Awakens, with George Lucas honoring her in a clip from Star Wars Celebration.
"Carrie has been an iconic part of the Star Wars franchise, as you saw, from the very beginning," Iger said. "We all miss her talent, her wit, and her friendship."
"This December, we will release her final film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi," adding that she brought her heart and humor to the role. "We're fortunate to have worked with her. We're incredibly proud to call her a Disney Legend.
Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, could not make it to the D23 Expo as she is filming American Horror Story, but she sent a letter to accept the honor for her mother.
"As far back as I can remember, my mom and I have been Disney fanatics. I was so obsessed with Ariel that I wanted to change my name," Lourd wrote. "She might have even loved it more than I did...Becoming part of the Disney family was truly an amazing moment for her. She secretly always wanted to be a Disney princess, so being a Disney princess and a Disney Legend would be her dream..."
Finally, Mark Hamill is being honored with the Disney Legend Award. Footage of his work in Star Wars, The Flash, and his animated role of The Joker take the screen. "Mark's career in entertainment has been touched by magic and a sense of destiny," the narrator said.
Hamill calls the ability to move so many people a "gift" and something he "will never take for granted.
"For the diehard Star Wars fans, he certainly is revered as Luke Skywalker," Iger said. "The world has held its breathe for his return to that role since that last scene in The Force Awakens. Having seen The Last Jedi and his performance, I can tell you it's worth the wait."
Iger introduces Mark Hamill to the stage.
"As an avid collector of rare Disney memorabilia, it'll be hard to top this one," Hamill said. He can't find the words to express his gratitude. He quotes Liou Gherig. "Today I consider myself the luckeist man on the face of the Earth," Hamill said, "I have to thank George Lucas."
"Would the movies be as impactful without the brilliance of John Williams' music? I don't think so I was taught in theater school that theater is a composite art and I have learned over the years, how lucky I am to have worked with some of the best there are. I would be remissed if I didn't thank the fans who, their support and affection over the years, is astonishing to me."
"To give the company its due, I have been a Disney fan as long as I can remember," Hamill said. "Thank you Disney, for telling me if I wished upon a star, my dreams would come true.
"The super cool space sis I have in Carrie Francis Fisher. I loved her. And we were like siblings. The good and the bad!"
What a great thrill it was to come back in The Force Awakens. At that time in our lives, we were comfortable with each other," Hamill said. "I know if she would here today, she would have flipped me the bird at least twice already."
Iger takes the stage to spill a secret from Star Wars. "This is Mark's best performance as Luke Skywalker to date and you will see that I am right," Iger said.
Whoopi Goldberg's reel is introduced as a "surprise" by Iger. Her accomplished career is showcased, from her acting to voice work to TV show hosting. Iger shares words about Goldberg as he introduces her, saying she sets an "impossible standard."
"She can do it all and she does it all extremely well."
Goldberg takes the stage to accept the award. She wore her own version of Minnie shoes in heel form.
"I have been a Disney person since I was little because when you live in the projects and you had a black and white TV, you knew what you gonna see every week," Goldberg said. "Every Sunday, the Wonderful World of Walt Disney would come on."
Her mother always wanted to take her to Disney but instead, she got to take her. "For me, it meant that we were okay, because Disney made you feel that no matter where you came from, you were welcome," Goldberg said. "Thank you for letting me be a Legend. I'll try not to mess it up."