Ultimate Roundup of Pixar and Disney Animation Announcements from D23 EXPO 2015

While I was brought out to california by Disney on an all expenses paid press junket for the D23 EXPO 2015 event, it in no way shapes my opinion or delivery of the following story.


There were so many highlights from D23 EXPO I’ve lost count, but certainly among the top of these was having THE John Lasseter stand in front of an audience of eight thousand of Disney’s biggest fans to host the Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios Panel. And naturally he did this while wearing an exclusive Hawaiian shirt which, he proceeded to launch several of into the audience with a shirt gun.

John Lasseter Disney Animation

ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 14: John Lasseter “Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films” presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

The D23 EXPO is the ultimate fan event, a gathering of ‘die hards’ and movie fanatics. It’s a place where they unleash their inner Disney magic. This year they came to buy exclusive merchandise, meet stars from Disney television networks, see exclusive footage in panels for slated movies, attend live concerts by Disney Records talent, watch musical numbers from Disney-produced Broadway shows and get the deets on what’s coming for parks.

So, naturally Disney piled up some pretty huge never-before-heard announcements for their dedicated fans. I mean really, it would have been rude not to.

I’m not just talking announcements on a teleprompter and a movie screen, I’m talking actual guest and character appearances, creating moments so intense, so magical and so down right killer, fans and press went crazy. Within seconds twitter feeds blew up and breaking news entertainment news made. So, let’s talk about the magic in the Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Panel shall we.

Here’s a Short Recap of the Panel:

Disney Animation

Zootopia March 6, 2016

Zootopia D23 EXPO

“Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films” presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

one of the things I’ve always loved about Disney Animation is talking animal movies,” with Mr. Toad being a favorite character. So, “what if we made one now; what if we made one for today’s audience?” -John Lasseter

Zootopia was the first up to announce Shakira to join the cast as the smashing Gazelle the film’s new pop star diva . She will also bring a new song ‘Try Everything’ to the film.

Gaselle Zootopia

Gazelle of Zootopia played by Shakira by Disney

Zootopia, directed by Rich Moore (Wreck it Ralph), Byron Howard (Tangled / Bolt) and Jared Bush (a head creative on Big Hero 6) who went to Animal Kingdom at Disney Orlando for research where they explored the wilds of Kenya to get an understanding of animal movement and behavior. Byron says,

It was life-changing,”

Fun fact, they researched fur and came to find that a polar bear’s fur is not white but clear. This translates to layering hundreds of thousands of clear hairs onto their polar bear for Zootopia. 

Judy Hopps is the main character and is voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin who made a guest appearance. 

The sloth scene – During the D23 EXPO Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Panel, the audience got to see Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) in a clip where they are inside the DMV. Here filmmakers make fun of the exceedingly long amount of time which can be spent in a DMV by using a sloth as the DMV worker who moves insanely and comically slow. There is no doubt this scene will be a huge win with parents watching the film.

Missed the Zootopia Trailer See it Now!

Gigantic 2018


GIGANTIC – DOWN TO EARTH — Adventure-seeker Jack discovers a world of giants hidden within the clouds, hatching a grand plan with a 60-foot-tall, 11-year-old girl. Directed by Nathan Greno (“Tangled”) and produced by Dorothy McKim (“Get A Horse!”), “Gigantic” hits U.S. theaters in 2018. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Gigantic will be an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. We saw a presentation on this, announced by Mr. Lasseter with songs written by the team of  Oscar-winning Frozen, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert LopezBoth made guest appearances at the panel for the announcement. The film is scheduled for 2018 and brings a twist to the original story with a girl as a giant.

Moana November 23, 2016

Dwayne Johnson The Rock for Moana

ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 14: Dwayne Johnson of Moana took part today in “Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films” presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Moana melted the hearts of eight thousand people during the presentation which included never-before-seen footage and an official on-stage announcement of Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson for his role as demigod Maui. The clip actually made Johnson cry, it was pretty moving. Moana looks like it’s going to be an incredible film, and one which brings to light a special cultural mythology from the South Pacific.

The film is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, and Aladdin). Filmmakers of Moana are working with South Pacific experts to bring to light the mythological details of the cultural story which dates back two thousand years and follows a young Hawaiian woman.

I was pretty excited for this film when I got the first press release on it, but after seeing the clip and Dwayne Johnson’s reaction I am 100% sold.


“We have the strongest slate in our history,” -John Lasseter

Coco TBA



Pixar announced the official name of their latest development, Coco. The film is based on the cultural and heritage-rich Mexican holiday, Dia de Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead.  It wasn’t too long ago when The Book of Life was released with the same theme by 20th Century Fox. I am very curious to see how Pixar does this one. Being a huge Day of the Dead enthusiast, so much that I have a whole sleeve of tattoos dedicated to the artwork which comes from this holiday, it is always a day brightener to see it being brought into our pop culture.

Like many, director Lee Unkrich explained his discovery of the holiday from the beautiful and colorful artwork. Like much of the artwork in Mexico, the details are magnetic and inspiring. For Unkrich it is no different as he explained that his appreciation of the colorful skeleton folk art led to his emotional investment in the holiday, which Unkrich described as a sort of

big family reunion between the living and the dead.”

The official Pixar description is

Coco is the celebration of a lifetime, where the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion.”

Finding Dory June 17, 2016

Finding Dory


Pixar announced a new character for Finding Dory to be an octopus voiced by Ed O’Neill. With a guest appearance by Mr. O’Neill himself who announced the film’s clip.

Finding Dory

ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 14: Voice actors Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olsen and Ellen Degeneres of Finding Dory took part today in “Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films” presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

The Good Dinosaur November 25, 2015

The Good Dinosaur


Here we got an up close look at the story of The Good Dinosaur a seemingly very moving story of loss, friendship and hope. Pixar unveiled a first look at three other key characters in the film to be a T-Rex trio of a father his daughter and son.

Missed The Good Dinosaur Trailer see it now!

Riley’s First Date November 3, 2015

Riley’s First Date rolled into the panel as a short made as a bonus to the DVD Blu-ray release of Inside Out November 3rd. It’s only a few minutes long but had the entire audience rolling on the floor. Could this be a setup for a second Inside Out?

Riley's First date

RILEY’S FIRST DATE.©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Here’s the official line from Pixar on the short.

Pixar Animation Studios heads back inside the mind with an all-new short. “Riley’s First Date?” made its world premiere this afternoon at D23 EXPO 2015. Director Josh Cooley, along with “Inside Out” filmmakers Pete Docter (“Up,” “Monsters, Inc.”) and Jonas Rivera (“Up”), introduced the short, which revisits Riley, now 12, who is hanging out with her parents at home when potential trouble comes knocking. Mom’s and Dad’s Emotions find themselves forced to deal with “Riley’s First Date?” The short will be included as a bonus feature in the digital HD & Blu-ray releases of Disney·Pixar’s “Inside Out,” which will be available digitally Oct. 13 and on Blu-ray Nov. 3, 2015.

Toy Story 4 June 16, 2017

JOhn Lasseter Toy Story 4

ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 14: Director John Lasseter of TOY STORY 4 took part today in “Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films” presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** John Lasseter

Directed by John Lasseter, Toy Story was revealed as a love story between Bo Peep and Woody. A revelation made by Mr. Lasseter and described by him as being inspired by his own relationship with his wife. The presentation closed the panel with descending green army men, a parade of Toy Story characters and about two solid minutes of falling confetti.

Toy Story 4 D23 EXPO 2015

ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 14: Green Army Men of Toy Story took part today in “Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films” presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Check back for the Live Action Panel on upcoming films for Marvel, Disney and Lucasfilm. You can find a roundup summary on Slash Film but I’ll be sharing the deets.

Disney film slate

Alan Horn Chairman Walt Disney Animation Studios presenting the Disney, Pixar, Disney Animation, and Lucasfilm film slate. Courtesy Disney


Tell me what you’re excited about in the comments below! I love talking movies!



About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

1 Comments on this post

  1. […] trailer yet except for what we saw in the closed screening at D23 Expo. The newest installment to the family of Disney Princesses, Moana brings us to the ancient world of […]

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