For everything there is a season and for cosplay that season is definitely the summer. This year, at the third D23 Expo, Disney decided to give its formal approval to Disney cosplay fans by sponsoring its first every costume contest on Saturday, August 10, 2013.
Let’s keep things straight though. While D23 Expo is in Anaheim at the Anaheim Convention Center and a hop-skip and a jump away from Disneyland, D23 Expo is the right place to pull out the stops and dress like a Disney character. Disneyland and Disney World are not the place–no matter what your sewing skills are.
You might recall a 2012 incident where the 15-year-old April Spielman and her boyfriend were ejected from Disney World for dressing as Tinker Bell and Peter Pan. Disney actually offered the couple clothes to change into but that still “ruined” Spielman’s dreams. While Disneyland and Disney World do state “adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character” at not allowed, at D23, that’s another matter. This is the appropriate place for children and adults to dress Disney or Marvel or Star Wars. Of course, there are D23 rules.
That doesn’t mean everyone dresses up. Some people aren’t doing the Disney thing at all. Some just pull out their favorite set of Mickey Mouse ears or Disney T-shirt. Other kids and adults plunged into the cosplay With the addition of Marvel Comics and Lucas Films to the Disney family, you could see a smattering of characters from both of those movies/comics as well. But not everything from Marvel would be marvelous in this family-friendly atmosphere.
D23 Expo isn’t the place where you expect to see booth babes, even those tastefully made up as future Hugh Hefner and Star Trek Playboy bunnies. And it should go without saying that, as NYComic-Con put it “Naked is not a costume.” Indeed, putting on full body paint will wow the crowd, but not in a good way. If you require a full body wax for any costume and can’t run without potential wardrobe malfunctions, your costume should not be at D23 Expo.
Not all the wonderful costumes that I saw were entered in the first ever Disney fan costume contest: Heroes and Villains a la Mode. Sponsored by Party City, the contest was named for the infamous Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” and the five trophies used her as their model.
Entries closed on July 21, 2013. There were hundreds of applicants but the field was narrowed down to a select 40.
The finalists were judged on five categories: Original design (or inspired by), Re-creations, Craftsmanship, Young Fan and Best in Show. Serving as judges were costume designer Mona May (“Enchanted”), actor Jai Rodriguez (“Malibu Country”), and actress Devon Odessa (“My So-Called Life”). Jim Babcock served as host at Stage 23.
No character was repeated. Each contestant had the opportunity to pose in a silhouette behind a white screen before coming out, working the runway and then going over for inspection by the three judges. No music was played. Some contestants have more than enough personality to make up for that. The woman dressed as Snow White was appropriately frustrated and shocked by Babcock’s comments while the man who came as Jack Sparrow had the tipsy swagger that Johnny Depp made famous.
For D23 Expo, the family-friendliness extended to the costume designing. A mother made a costume for her daughter. An uncle made a Buzz Lightyear costume for his nephew. Family and friends came together for exquisite gowns and even for one presentation that included three generations.
Three of the five winners based their characters on movies. While only five won bronze trophies, once the contestants went out on to the D23 Expo floor they were all winners, being stopped to pose for photos. That how fans other fans.
The winners were as follows:
Cliff Secord/Rocketeer from the 1991 live action movie “The Rocketeer.”
Disney Tagonista (a dress that showed both the heroes and villains in the hand-painted skirt)
Merida from the 2012 animated feature “Brave“
Jimmy Sherfy & Katie Scarlett
Prince Edward & Giselle from 2007 live action movie “Enchanted“
Best in Show
Queen Amidala from “Star Wars” prequel trilogy.