Disney twenty three winter 2013-400
© 2013 Disney

Several years ago, the Disney company took a page from George Lucas’ playbook and decided to launch its own official fan club, naming it after the year the company’s founder officially set up shop, 1923. Since then, D23 has staged several successful conventions in Anaheim, California and a number of smaller members-only events in other locations, including the Disney studio. I’ve heard mixed feedback on some of these endeavors, although diehard fans seem to be enjoying the backstage-pass concept very much—especially getting to meet living legends like Dick Van Dyke, Richard Sherman, and others.

But the newest issue of their elaborately designed and printed magazine, Disney twenty-three, is so exceptional that it may be worth the cost of joining D23 all by itself. This beautiful tribute to Mary Poppins and the new movie about its creation, Saving Mr. Banks, is jam-packed with stories, profiles, rare production art and behind-the-scenes photos. Editor Max Lark writes about Mr. Banks and how the filmmakers turned to the Walt Disney Archives to help replicate the look of the Burbank studio lot in 1963. Brian Sibley writes about his experiences with P.L. Travers working on a proposed sequel to the 1964 smash hit. Les Perkins expounds on the many kinds of cutting-edge special effects used in the original film. Alexander Rannie elicits new anecdotes from collaborators on the ‘60s classic and discusses Irwin Kostal’s music score, which made such beautiful use of the Sherman Brothers songs. Thomas Schumacher relates the challenges of translating Walt Disney’s beloved film to the stage. The illustrations throughout are extraordinary, from Peter Ellenshaw’s matte paintings to Tony Walton’s conceptual art; there’s also a drool-worthy photo spread of rare Poppins tie-in products.

No Mary Poppins fan should be without this beautiful keepsake issue of the magazine.

The D23 website offers daily updates on Disneyana contributed by leading Disney scholars and aficionados, and maintains an enormous database of Disney information. Anyone can find worthwhile reading by logging onto the site, but the best material is reserved for members only—which is also true of certain merchandise. D23 members also receive discounts at many Disney-related outlets online and in person. Check out D23.com for more details.