Disney Channel kicked off its summer season in style with the first ever Disney Channel Go! Fan Fest, held Saturday at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Starting with a VIP brunch at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, stars from Disney Channel’s most popular small screen series turned up for a fun-filled day packed with panel discussions, live script readings, meet and greets with fans and a cavalcade down Disneyland’s famous Main Street U.S.A.
Among the actors who turned up for the all-day event included Jenna Ortega from “Stuck in the Middle”; “Bizaardvark” cast members Madison Hu and Ethan Wacker; Peyton List and Mallory Mahoney from “Bunk’d”; Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Joshua Rush and Trent Garrett (“Andi Mack”); Raven-Symone (“Raven’s Home”); Meg Donnelly and Kylee Russell (“Zombies”); and the cast from the animated comedy-adventure series “DuckTales,” including David Tennant, Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, Bobby Moynihan, Kate Micucci and Toks Olagundoye.
For Ortego, the event was an important opportunity for young Latina fans to meet a TV actress that represents them culturally.
“Growing up I looked at Cinderella [as an example],” said Ortega. “And I remember when I was five years old for my birthday I asked my mother, ‘Can I dye my hair blonde?’ I wanted to look like her so bad. And it just goes to show you that now when I meet other Latinas they’re like, ‘Hey, you look like me. I’m like you.’ And I think it’s just the sweetest thing. It just goes to show you that representation does matter and I’m super grateful to Disney for broadening the horizons. My character was supposed to be Caucasian. So, it’s been a big chance. Let’s hope that Hollywood starts opening up more.”
Raven-Symone, who’s been acting in Disney Channel series since she was 15, noted how innovative the Go! Fan Fest event is in terms of linking audiences with their favorite small screen performers.
“Not a lot of networks are doing what we’re doing today,” she said. “We’re going to have a parade, we’re signing autographs, we’re around them and doing question and answer panel discussions. It’s a more immersive type of experience than at any other network.”
Moynihan, who noted that he “does more serious work” for his role as Louie Duck on “DuckTales” than he does for his skit work on “Saturday Night Live,” on which he’s been a regular for over a decade, had never even met “DuckTales” co-star Tennent before the Fan Fest event. (Tennant records the show in London; Moynihan records in New York.)
“It’s disappointing,” quipped Tennant of meeting Moynihan. “It’s just OK,” joked Moynihan in turn. They then hugged and spoke of how “great” it was to be able to come out and meet the fans of their animated show, a reboot of the classic late 1980’s series.
“I wasn’t quite prepared for the love that this show has,” said Tennant. “People are so invested in it.”
“I came home every day from school to watch it,” added Moynihan. “And Disney Channel is now hitting it out of the park, which is the best way to do a reboot.”
For Olagundoye, the fans of their show are the most important element of what they do as actors.
“We wouldn’t have a show if it weren’t for the fans,” she said. “We don’t get to work if they don’t enjoy what we do. They are everything.”