By Zach Johnson
Tonight at D23 Expo, the talented actors who voice some of Disney’s most beloved characters, from Mickey Mouse to Moana, came together for Disney Character Voices, Inc: The 30th Anniversary Celebration in Hall D23 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Rick Dempsey, SVP of Character Voices, led the presentation, praising those who currently voice the characters and remembering those who did the honors before them.
The presentation featured six Disney Legends—Tony Anselmo (voice of Donald Duck), Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy and Pluto), Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel), Linda Larkin (voice of Jasmine), Paige O’Hara (voice of Belle), and Anika Noni Rose (voice of Tiana)—and special guests Bret Iwan (voice of Mickey Mouse), Corey Burton (voice of Ludwig Von Drake, Captain Hook and more), Jim Cummings (voice of Darkwing Duck, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Ray, and more), Anthony Gonzalez (voice of Miguel), Ginnifer Goodwin (voice of Judy Hopps) and Auli‘i Cravalho (voice of Moana). Below, we highlight five magical moments from Disney Character Voices, Inc: The 30th Anniversary Celebration.
1. Dempsey treated the audience to rare footage of an “embarrassed” Walt Disney recording dialogue as Mickey Mouse for the animated short Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip. Filmed in 1940, it also showed Billy Bletcher doing the voice of Pete, Mickey’s nemesis.
2. Fans auditioned on the spot for a chance to read original dialogue—written just for D23 Expo—alongside Burton and Cummings. A lucky two were chosen to join them onstage, with one voicing both Alice and Wendy (just as Disney Legend Kathryn Beaumont did) and the other voicing the Queen of Hearts. Sound-alike voice actors Burton and Cummings, meanwhile, played multiple roles—almost too many to count!
3. Like his character in Coco, Gonzalez is obsessed with music. Since his voice has deepened since the film’s release, he surprised fans by bringing out his younger brother to sing the Academy Award®-winning song “Remember Me”—together for the first time!
4. O’Hara, a fine artist, surprised Benson, Larkin, and Rose with water color portraits of their respective princesses, bringing each of the women to tears. “I saw Paige backstage, and she gave me a big hug,” a touched Rose told the audience. “Since the first time we met, she has been one of the warmest, most welcoming people… I want you to know that this is who she is; this is not for the stage. This is this woman’s heart.”
5. Cravalho closed the show by performing “How Far I’ll Go,” her signature song from Moana. Earlier in the presentation, she recalled performing it at the Academy Awards in 2017 and laughed about a recurring production mishap in which she was hit in the head!