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Are you 23? Find out for $74.99

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Although the official D23 Web site has yet to launch this morning, pending the official announcement at the annual shareholder's meeting currently taking place in Northern California, has already made the D23 Charter Membership available for purchase in the "Boutique 23" section of their online store (link).

The annual membership is $74.99 per person (not per household), a steep jump from the $39.95 charged for the Disney Club when it launched in 2000.

Never to miss an opportunity to sell you a t-shirt, the Boutique 23 section also offers everything from a "launch day" t-shirt to a $1500 sericel. Some of the merchandise - pretty much anything with the D23 logo - is available only to members, the rest of it is simply existing Disney merchandise marketed to a new group of collectors.

So, what exactly IS D23?

More details will be released to the media during a conference call later this afternoon, but in a nutshell: it's an official Disney fan site.

The majority of your subscription fee covers the cost of the quarterly D23 magazine, a full-color glossy publication that is also available at bookstores and newstands. The cover price of each issue is $15.95. Beyond that, the decision about whether or not to join really depends on how valuable the members-only benefits are to you.

Members-only benefits:
  • One-year subscription to D23 magazine. (Non-members can purchase individual issues)
  • Membership Card and Certificate designed by Disney artist Dave Pacheco. For an additional $89.99, Disney will be happy to sell you a commemorative frame in which to display your certificate.
  • Surprise Collectible Gift. This may be *the* thing that makes the club worth joining for some Disney fans, but it remains to be seen what the gift really is.
  • Exclusive Special Events and Merchandise. Great for Disney collectors, but may not appeal to fans who don't need another $800 porcelain sculpture.
  • Subscription to bi-weekly D23 FanFare e-newsletter. Members can opt out of this newsletter, but will need to remember to visit the official Web site to stay up to date with coming events.
D23 offerings that anyone can enjoy:
  • Access to Described as "breaking news, insider info, and exclusive feature stories from every part of Disney, as well as rare classic articles and other treasures from the Walt Disney Archives. The site also includes regular items like vintage daily comics, "D Society," and "This Day in Disney." None of the content on this Web site is off-limits to non-members.
  • D23 magazine - Anyone can purchase the current issue through, or your local book and magazine retailer.
  • Access to the D23 Expo. Members receive discounted admission, but anyone can attend.
D23 Expo

The official description: It's the ultimate Disney fan experience, taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California (across the street from Disneyland), September 10-13, 2009. This four-day can't-miss event will feature incredible speakers, celebrity appearances, breathtaking exhibitions, sneak peeks, film screenings, one-of-a-kind merchandise, and so much more! There will be something for children of all ages, fans, the whole family, and friends.

My take: it looks like a less-structured version of the Official Disneyana Convention, a 4-day trade show of sorts for all things Disney. Think "Disney does Comic-Con."

Single-day admission is $37 per adult, $27 per child, and 4-day passes are available. D23 members save $7 off a one-day pass ($5 off a child's one-day pass).

So, is it worth it?

If you're the Disney fan who will rush out to purchase all four issues of D23 magazine from your local bookseller (spending $63.80 per year), you'll probably just want to go ahead and pay the extra $11.19 to receive the membership card, certificate and "surprise collectible gift."

If you're the Disney fan who will buy all four issues of the magazine AND attend the entire Expo, membership will save you a few dollars.

If you're the Disney fan who can't resist exclusive, limited-edition merchandise, then the D23 membership fee is probably less expensive than the markup you'd pay to buy the members-only pieces on the secondary market.

But if you're the Disney fan who won't read the magazine, won't attend the Expo and doesn't care about the merchandise, then you can probably save your $74.99 and just enjoy the content on the D23 Web site.

We'll have more about D23 on MousePlanet after today's conference call.


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