Well, the perks such as they are. In the age of Web 2.0, Facebook, Youtube, Blogger, and Yahoo! Groups, the "community" model of D23 is antiquated to say the least. For $75US per annum, one receives four issues of the Disney Twenty-Three magazine - a glossy, 64-page advertising-free publicity publication - an additional e-newsletter, access to exclusive areas on the website and discounts on merchandise and the annual D23 convention. There really isn't community to speak of: D23 appears to operate according to a top-down monologue rather than an across-the-board dialogue.
There are plenty of examples of Disney community already in existence. Disfriends takes on the social networking model, for instance. Fans have done a great deal to develop their own gatherings, such as Mousefest and the Disney Podcast Network Westfest. Even the links between the Disney blogosphere (which we are happy to be considered a red-headed stepchild of) constitute more of a community than is available through a magazine subscription. Disney themselves have managed to provide more in the way of a community model, between the customizable aspects of Disney.com, Pixie Hollow, and even the late, great Virtual Magic Kingdom. That they should take a step backwards to calling an official fan club a "fan community" is odd and speaks more of buzzwords than content.
That, however, is a critique of form. They call it a "fan community" when in fact it is no such thing. But if we accept that it is an official fan club like those in the days of yore, how does it stack up for content? For non-members, there are still some worthwhile things to get out of it. Daily, the D23 website updates with Mickey Mouse newspaper cartoons from the classic era. The D23 Expo is also open to non-members, though at the full price of $20US extra for the 4-day pass. One could also buy the magazine at the Disney Store or Barnes & Noble for approximately $64US per year. Besides the discounts on merchandise, there does not appear to be much accessible to members that is not to others.
Given all of these critiques, we at VEx are hesitant about joining up. The truth is, we're the most interested in the convention, as part of our ongoing urge to go to some official Disneyland event at some time for some reason. Every scrap of footage we've seen from ride anniversaries and special screenings makes them look like they could be a great deal of fun, and one could certainly do worse than being able to see Sleeping Beauty on something bigger than a television. The temptation is certainly there, depending on how the budgeting for our November adventure to Japan works out.
The thing we are least interested in is the magazine. Besides the fan base being better at building community, they're also so informative as to put official publications to shame. One should head down to the Disney Store and pick up a copy to see before judging, but one wonders how much better it could get. As it stands, the idle speculation about going to the D23 Expo would be more realistic if we didn't get a membership or a magazine subscription, putting the funds towards the four-fold menace of the convention pass, park pass, motel and airfare.
Not that we wouldn't be pleased to accept a gift membership, if anyone out there wants to buy one on our behalf...